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A Christian response to the New Age movement [part 4]

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CHAPTER FOUR - The Christ of the New Age

 

One of the many confusions which may mislead Christians encountering the New Age movement Is the view of Christ which they express. We should not be deceived by statements professing admiration for Jesus, but test whether the Jesus they are referring to is the one revealed in the Gospels. As the New Age teaching bears a strong resemblance to the Gnostic heresies which

plagued the Early Church, the tests of true understanding of the person of the Lord Jesus Christ given In 1 John and the exposure of false prophets in 2 Peter and Jude are very relevant to our response to this question.

 

World Teacher

 

In the New Age view Jesus was a great teacher, a Messiah for his time, but not the Messiah for all time. Helen Shuchman summed up this view in her Course in Miracles, a New Age programme which some liberal churches have adopted, but which is profoundly anti-Christian. She says: 'Jesus was an historical person, but the Christ is an eternal transpersonal condition.'

 

By separating the historical person of Jesus from his title Christ/Messiah the spirit of antichrist is revealed as 1 John 4:2-3 teaches. "This is how you can recognise the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the-spirit of the antichrist." The implication of Helen Shuchman's statement is that 'Christ' as a condition came upon Jesus at some time in his life (usually considered to be his baptism) and left him when his mission ended. That same 'Christ condition' had previously come upon other great religious teachers of other faiths and will come upon the New Age 'messiah' who is believed to be coming for our Time. This is actually the Hindu idea of the 'avatar', the divine mediator who comes at different times of world history to bring in new revelations for that period or age. La Vedi Laffeny and Biid Hollowell writing in The Eternal Dance (p.2) express this view, 'We acknowledge the World Teacher who appeared as Jesus the Christ, also known variously as the Lord Matreya and the Bodhisattva, as well as other appearances of the Christ through such personalities as Melchizedek, Krishna and Mithra.'

 

New Age 'Christ'

 

Since the New Agers believe that the present age is the astrological age of Pisces, which is the sign of the fish, a sign associated with Christianity, this idea actually becomes a formula for rejecting Jesus as the Christ, because they believe that the Piscean Age is a 'dark violent age' which is giving way to the Aquarian Age - 'a millennium of love and light.' In order to bring us into this New Age a new messiah will have to come, receiving the 'Christ spirit' which is 'transpersonal' (i.e. can go from one person to another living in another time). New Age writings abound with expectations of a new messiah coming for our age and a consequent rejection of Jesus as Messiah.

 

In April 1982 the Tara Centre publicised the coming of a New Age Messiah through full page newspaper advertisements in many countries:

 

'The Christ is now here . . . pointing the way out of our present crisis ... He comes not to judge but to aid and inspire . . The World Teacher, Lord Matreya, known by Christians as the Christ. And as Christians await the Second Coming, so the Jews await the Messiah, the Buddhists the Fifth Buddha, the Moslems the Imam Mahdi. and the Hindus await Krishna. These are all names not One individual. His presence in the world guarantees there will be no third World War . . . With His help, we will build a new world.'

 

I was horrified to see on a Christmas Day concert in 1988 on BBC TV the most blatant expression of this hope when in the midst of traditional Christmas carols the song A child is born was sung. This song has the following words which were not sung but spoken in a dramatic, prophetic manner, 'The world is waiting, waiting for one child; black, white, yellow, no-one knows. A child that will grow up and turn tears to laughter, hate to love, war to peace and everyone to everyone's neighbour, and misery and suffering will be words to be forgotten forever.'

 

This is a clear expression of the New Age dream and the expectation of another messiah, who is obviously not Jesus Christ, coming to save us. Coming in the midst of traditional Christmas carols about the birth of the Lord Jesus it shows very clearly the religious confusion of our time.

 

Divinity Denied

 

Many in the liberal churches have accepted this line. Liberal theology has demythologised the Gospels robbing them not only of the miracles, the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection, but even questioning the divinity of Christ. Liberal theologians are agreeing with New Agers that Jesus was a normal man who had 'Christ consciousness' to a marked degree. Dr Rodney Romney, pastor of First Baptist Church, Seattle writes in his book Journey to Inner Space, finding God in us:

 

'This Jesus came to be called the Christ, meaning the Anointed One of God. It was a title he neither invited nor disclaimed. Yet what he did was even more startling. He inferred that each person was potentially a Christ. He claimed nothing for himself that he did not claim for his disciples. The task he gave his followers is to realise the Christ within their own consciousness and to know that the kingdom of God is within them. If they search for it outside themselves they will never Find it. Although Jesus did say I am the way' he meant that he was the Way-Shower to God. He was not God and never claimed to be'.

 

Inter-faith Teaching

 

This apostasy leads straight into the super ecumenical view being expressed by many church leaders, including Dr Runcie, as archbishop of Canterbury, that the spirit of God can be discovered in expressions of all the great world religions. 'We should recognise that other faiths than our own are genuine mansions of the spirit with many rooms to be discovered, rather than solitary fortresses to be attacked... All the centuries that the Spirit of God has been working in Christians, he must have been also working in Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and others... We must learn to recognise the work of the Spirit at the centre of each of our faiths ... and ... to explore together the moments of revelation and the spiritual treasures which our respective faiths have handed down to us... We need both courage and humility to recognise this work of the Spirit among us in other faiths.' (The Sir Francis Young husband Lecture, Christianity and World Religions, May 1986).

 

Christian Response

 

Against all this the Bible-believing Christian must recoil in horror, recognising it to be the apostasy which will mark the latter days and give rise to the one the world is waiting to accept as messiah, who is the man of sin, the antichrist. The Bible is absolutely clear that Jesus Christ alone is God incarnate, unique in his status as Messiah and mediator:

 

"I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men, by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men" (I Timothy 2:5).

 

Anyone coming after Jesus Christ claiming to be a Messiah or a mediator between God and man, or bringing a new revelation about how to find God must be a deceiver or antichrist, of whom the Lord warned us there would be many in the end times. "False Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect - if that were possible" (Matthew 24:24). When Jesus Christ returns it will not be a private event revealed only to a few at a secret location, but a public event visible to all humanity:

 

"So if anyone tells you, 'There he is out in the desert,' do not go out; or 'Here he is in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man" (Matthew 24:26-27). "Look, he is coming with the clouds: and every eye will see him.." (Rev.l:7).

 

Moreover we cannot save ourselves by discovering the 'Christ' within:

 

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works so that no one can boast" (Eph.2:8-9).

 

Obedience to God and an ongoing relationship with him brings true spiritual enlightenment and growth, not mystical experiences or attempts to discover 'Christ consciousness' within ourselves.

 

"God's elect ... chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood." (I Peter 1:2).

 

Questions

 

Why is it so important to 'test the spirits' in the light of information given in this chapter? How would you do this in practice?

 

Why is the astrological view of the Piscean Age and the Aquarian Age incompatible with biblical Christianity?

 

Why is the literal application of verses like John 14:6, Acts 4:12, I Timothy 2:5 under attack from so many quarters both inside and outside the professing church? How would you defend the view that these verses point to the unique stains of Jesus as Messiah?

 

Why is the teaching of Jesus on his second coming given in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21) helpful if we are to avoid some of these deceptions?

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