The New Age Movement (NAM) is both a religious and a social movement. In fact, Western culture is currently experiencing a phenomenal, spiritual, ideological, and sociological shift. It is a religious world view that is alien and hostile to Christianity. It’s a multi-focused, multi-faceted synthesis, in varying degrees, of the Far Eastern, mystical religions, mainly Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Western Occultism, adapted to and influenced by Western, materialistic culture. It sometimes appears in secularized forms.
Prominent expressions of the NAM were carried on into more modern times in Europe and America by Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), transcendentalists like Thoreau, Emerson, and Wordsworth (early 1800s), and Theosophy introduced by Madame Helena Blavatsky (1831-1891) (The New Age Rage, pp. 22-24). The decade of the sixties witnessed a revival of Eastern mysticism as traditional values were being challenged. Zen, Carlos Castañada, the Beatles, Transcendental Meditation, and yoga all became popular.
The New Age Movement consists of an incredibly huge and well organized network consisting of thousands of groups, trusts, foundations, clubs, lodges, and religious groups whose goal and purpose is to prepare the world to enter the coming “Age Of Aquarius.” A small sampling of only a few of the organizations involved would include: Amnesty International, Zero Population Growth, California New Age Caucus, New World Alliance, World Goodwill, The Church Universal and Triumphant, The Theosophical Society, the Forum, Planetary Initiative for the World We Choose, the Club of Rome, Church Universal & Triumphant, Christian Science, and the Unity School of Christianity. This list, by no means all inclusive, demonstrates the diversity of organizations operating in economic, political, and religious spheres of influence.
The New Age movement is not a unified, traditional cult system of beliefs and practices, even though its roots derive from Eastern religions and the occult. It has no official leader, headquarters, nor membership list, but instead is a network of groups working toward specific goals. One of its main goals is to bring to the forefront a one-world leader who is called “The Christ” or “Maitreya.” Nevertheless, it is estimated that there are millions of worldwide followers of various New Age practices and/or holders of one or more of the major beliefs of the New Age.
The NAM has gained significant influence, affecting almost every area of the culture — sociology, psychology, medicine, the government, ecology, science, arts, education, the business community, the media, entertainment, sports, and even the church. The movement expresses itself in widely divergent and various mutated forms, from the blatantly obvious to the subtle. It is expressed in organized religious forms such as Christian Science, Unity, and even forms of Witchcraft. Yet, it shows up in secular forms as well, in various human potential seminars, and much in between, i.e., transcendental meditation, some alternative holistic health practices, and certain curriculum in public (and private) schools.
The book Networking lists over 1,200 organizations, centers, cooperatives, groups, communities, and networks in fields ranging from health care and spiritual growth, through politics, economics, and ecology, to education, communications, personal growth, and intercultural relations. There is hardly any area of human interest that does not have some people somewhere exploring it from a New Age point of view. Due to the lack of a central organization and the diversity of emphasis adhered to by the various New Age groups, there are literally hundreds of publications. Some popular publications and journals are New Age Journal, Body Mind Spirit, Yoga Journal, Gnosis, East West, Noetic Sciences, and Omega.
The major goal of the New Age Movement is to bring peace to the world upon entering the Age of Aquarius. This will be accomplished primarily through the leadership of “the Christ” (also known as “Lord Maitreya”), who will supposedly come to teach us to live at peace with each other. Some of the other stated goals of the movement are to establish a World Food Authority, World Water Authority, World Economic Order, and an entirely New World Order. It should be noted here that one of the requirements for a person to enter the New Age is that he or she will have to take what is known as a “Luciferic Initiation,” a kind of pledge of allegiance to the Christ of the New Age and to the New World Order. The primary goals of the movement then, are to prepare the world to receive the Christ and to enter the Age of Aquarius, thus establishing the New World Order.
The New Age Movement professes a broad-minded openness to all religions, but its basic underlying philosophy represents a carefully calculated undermining of Judeo-Christian beliefs with various combinations of gnosticism and occultism. [Gnosticism is an ancient world-view stating that Divine essence is the only true or highest reality, and that the unconscious Self of man is actually this essence. It is through intuitional discovery, “visionary experience or initiation into secret doctrine” (not the plenary revelation of propositional truth in the Bible), that man becomes conscious of this true Self (Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 10, 1968, p. 506; New Bible Dictionary, J.D. Douglas, ed., pp. 473-474).] It bears a remarkable resemblance to the apostate world religion that H.G. Wells claimed as his own and predicted would one day take over the world. It also fits the description of “The Plan” for establishing the new world government that is described in various psychic communications from alleged E.T.’s and ascended masters. There is one more connection: the New Age Movement fits the description of the Antichrist’s religion — a rejection of the Judeo-Christian God and the declaration that Self is God. (Source: The Seduction of Christianity.)
Douglas R. Groothuis, author of Unmasking the New Age and Confronting the New Age, identifies six distinctives of New Age thinking: (1) all is one; (2) all is God; (3) humanity is God; (4) a change in consciousness; (5) all religions are one; and (6) cosmic evolutionary optimism. Norman Geisler details 14 primary “doctrines” of New Age religions: (1) an impersonal god (force); (2) an eternal universe; (3) an illusory nature of matter; (4) a cyclical nature of life; (5) the necessity of reincarnations; (6) the evolution of man into Godhood; (7) continuing revelations from beings beyond the world; (8) the identity of man with God; (9) the need for meditation (or other consciousness-changing techniques); (10) occult practices (astrology, mediums, etc.); (11) vegetarianism and holistic health; (12) pacifism (or anti-war activities); (13) one world (global) order; and (14) syncretism (unity of all religions). [HJB]
The New Age also encompasses a wide array of notions: spiritualism, astrology, bioenergy, Chi energy, chakras, nirvana, Christ-consciousness, Native American Spirituality, Prajna, out-of-body/near-death experiences, reincarnation, and the occult disciplines, as well as unorthodox psychotherapeutic techniques and pseudoscientific applications of the “healing powers” of crystals and pyramids. Some commonly used New Age terms are: guided imagery, reincarnation; positive thinking; human potential; holistic; holographic; synergistic; unity; oneness; transformation; awakening; networking; communal sharing; one-world/globalism/new world order (i.e., one language, one government, one currency, one religion); cosmic consciousness; etc. (See New Age Dictionary below.)
It is important for Christians to recognize even the most disguised forms of the New Age Movement. Some New Age practices are: rebirthing; inner healing; biofeedback; yoga; I Ching; reflexology; black and white magic; fire-walking; trance-channeling; therapeutic touch; transpersonal psychology; witchcraft; parapsychology; Magick; Tai Chi; Shamanism; hypnotherapy; acupuncture/acupressure; TM; martial arts; Zen; Relaxation; Erhard Seminar Training (est); Silva Method (formerly Silva Mind Control); visualization; etc. Some prominent New Agers are: Alice Bailey, Alvin Toffler, Dr. Barbara Ray, Benjamin Creme, Levi Dowling, George Trevelyan, Fritjof Capra, Abraham Maslow, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Ruth Montgomery, Shirley MacLaine, J.Z. Knight, Marilyn Ferguson, David Spangler, Jeremy Rifkin, Norman Cousins, Elizabeth Clare Prophet, John Denver, George Lucas, and Norman Lear.
Many New Agers attach great importance to artifacts, relics, and sacred objects, all of which can be profitably offered for sale: Tibetan bells, exotic herbal teas, Viking runes, solar energizers, colored candles for “chromotherapy,” and a plethora of occult books, pamphlets, instructions, and tape recordings. Crystals are the favorite New Age object. These are not only thought to have mysterious healing powers, but are considered programmable, like a computer, if one just concentrates hard enough. Other New Age objects would include the rainbow; butterfly; pyramid; triangle; eye in triangle/pyramid; unicorn; Pegasus (winged-horse); swastika; yin-yang; goathead on pentagram; concentric circles; rays of light; crescent moon; etc.
New Age music is a term applied to the works of various composers and musicians who strive to create soothing audio environments rather than follow song structures. Born of an interest in spirituality and healing in the late 1970s, it is often used as an aid in meditation. The defining features of New Age music are harmonic consonance, contemplative melodies, nonlinear song forms, and uplifting themes. New Age performers may use traditional ethnic, acoustic, electric, or electronic instruments, or even sounds from nature. New Age music is meditative, almost invariably instrumental style with roots in Oriental, jazz, and classical music; often derivative, New Age compositions can sound like minimalist music or like lush evocations of the natural environment. Prominent New Age musicians include electronic-music pioneer Brian Eno, multi-instrumentalist Kitaro; solo-piano artist George Winston, vocalist Liz Story; harpist Andreas Vollenweider, and electric violinist Jean-Luc Ponty.
Athletes are using guided imagery. Graduate schools of business are invoking Zen, yoga, and tarot cards in teaching courses on creativity in business (e.g., Stanford Graduate School of Business). Stock market gurus employ Fibonacci numbers and “wave theory” in their forecasting, both based upon astrology. Even some churches teach that the best way to get to know God is to visualize Christ, ignoring that visualization is a powerful occult device. (Visualizing an entity, even God or Christ, ultimately puts one in touch with a masquerading demon.)
In summary, the term “New Age” is an informal term derived from astrology, which indicates that this earth, if not the cosmos, is on the verge of an evolutionary transition from the Piscean Age (rationality) to the Aquarian Age of spirituality, bliss, and harmony of all things. Even though it is undergoing a significant revival, the “New Age” is hardly new. In fact, it is very old. A better term would be the “Old Occult.”
Keeping in mind that the myriads of New Age groups are quite eclectic, drawing from several religious traditions mentioned earlier, the following is a general description of the more prominent unifying themes of the NAM. i.e., the highlights of what New Agers believe concerning their source of authority, God, Christ, sin and salvation, good and evil, Satan, and future life:
1. Source of Authority. New Agers claim no external source of authority — only an internal one (“the god within”). They believe the individual is the standard of truth, saying that “truth as an objective reality simply does not exist” (Shirley MacLaine, It’s All in the Playing) (cf. 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21; Matt. 5:18). [HJB]
2. God. New Agers confuse the Creator with His creation and think that God is part of creation, not separate from it. They borrow from Eastern religions the belief in monism — that “all is One” — only one essence in the universe, everyone and everything being a part of that essence. Everything is a different form of that essence (energy, consciousness, power, love, force). But the belief in monism is really Hinduistic pantheism (all is God). New Agers view God as an impersonal life force, consciousness, or energy (M. Ferguson, Aquarian Conspiracy, p. 382; S. Gawain, Living In the Light, pp. 7-8) (e.g., the “Star Wars Force”), rather than a Person. They believe that every person and thing is “intertwined” with God (evolving spiritually to the state of “the Christ” being), and use Luke 17:21 (“the kingdom of God is within you”) to support this idea (despite the fact that “within you” in this passage means “in your midst”). They claim every human has a divine spark within him because of being part of the divine essence. The state of God is called by various terms among different New Age groups, i.e., God-consciousness, Universal Love, Self-Realization, the I AM, Higher Self, Brahman, Nirvana, etc. New Agers are obviously part of a religion of idolatry and self-worship. [HJB]
3. Jesus Christ. A major idea in New Age thinking is that of the “Christ Consciousness.” In other words, Christ is an office rather than an individual, such as Jesus, whom Christians know to be THE CHRIST. This idea of “Christ Consciousness” asserts that Jesus was not the only Christ, but that He equipped Himself to receive the “Christ Consciousness” (i.e., He was a great “spiritual master” who attained Christ Consciousness), as supposedly also did Buddha, Krishna, and Mohammed. [This is an old occult Gnostic teaching which stems from the ancient Babylonian mystery religions. New Agers also reinvent the historical Jesus by claiming that he spent 18 years in India (during His “silent years”) absorbing Hinduism and the teachings of Buddha.] New Agers believe that Jesus received the Christ Consciousness at His baptism, and that it left Him at His crucifixion.
4. Sin and Salvation. There is no place for the concept of sin in the New Age. There can be no sin because there is no transcendent God to rebel against. There are no rules or absolute moral imperatives. New Agers have a “New Thought” view of sin, which knows nothing of a representative man (Adam) by whose sin all men sinned. Nor does New Thought teach that there is any original sin, but that man’s true essence is divine and perfect. Indeed, it finds nothing which is of the nature of sin. Instead, it speaks of “troublesome desires” which appear to be natural human impulses which direct men from consciousness to their identity with God, and, therefore, are troublesome but hardly sinful. Since New Agers believe that each person is god, thereby having endless potential for self-improvement, sin is denied as the Bible defines it (man being inherently sinful and utterly depraved — Rom. 5:12). Sin is merely ignorance of one’s “inner divinity.” Because sin does not exist, there is no need for repentance or forgiveness, and Jesus did not die for our sins. They think that any perceived lack that man might have is merely a lack of enlightenment, thereby eliminating the need of salvation or a Savior. [In fact, salvation is not even an issue for New Agers. The soul is part of the universe and never dies. It is reborn or reincarnated in different physical bodies in a succession of future lives. The good or bad “karma” earned in the present lifetime determines one’s subsequent incarnation. Humans should seek to progress to higher states of consciousness and higher planes of existence. There are many different paths to the goal of spiritual perfection. No one path is the only correct path. The assumed cycle of reincarnation and karma presupposes a salvation by works, contrary to the principle of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8-9).]
5. Man’s Destiny. The salvation of the world depends upon human beings. When enough people harmonize their positive energy and turn their thoughts to peace, the world will be cleansed or negative elements and New Age ideals will be realized in an era of spiritual enlightenment. Since man is intrinsically divine and perfect, his only real problem is ignorance of that fact. Man has a perception of finiteness which is, in reality, an illusion (Ken Keyes, Jr., Handbook to Higher Consciousness, pp. 125-29). Salvation in the New Age is for man to become enlightened through experiential knowledge (gnosis). New Age groups offer various occultic techniques to enable individuals, and ultimately the world, to evolve into this oneness (unitive) consciousness (James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy: An Experimental Guide, pp. 243-60). These techniques may include altered states of consciousness (often transcendental meditation), yoga, crystals, channeling (spirit guides), psychics, past-life therapy, acupuncture, etc.
6. Good and Evil. Mimicking the Eastern religions, New Agers distort the distinction between good and evil. They believe that because “all is One,” ultimately there is neither good nor evil. They think that a person can transcend his consciousness and go beyond the bounds of moral distinctions, so that even murder sometimes becomes an acceptable way of serving one’s gods (e.g., Charles Manson). [HJB]
7. Satan. The traditional view of Lucifer as the devil or Satan is clearly absent in New Age literature. Rather, he is described as a mighty being of light and the “Ruler of Humanity,” as Alice Bailey, foundational apostle and leading writer of the New Age Movement, puts it. As to the history and achievements of Lucifer, Benjamin Creme, a leading lecturer and proponent of the New Age, says, “Lucifer came from the planet Venus 18.5 million years ago; he’s the director of our planetary evolution, he is the sacrificial lamb, and the prodigal son. Lucifer made an incredible sacrifice, a supreme sacrifice for our planet.”
8. Future Life (Reincarnation). New Agers believe in the ancient [Hindu] Eastern religious concept of reincarnation — that through a long process of rebirths, man can eventually reach spiritual perfection (cf. Heb. 9:27). New Agers often place animal rights above human rights, because many New Agers believe animals are reincarnated souls. They also teach the Hindu principle of “karma” — that what a person sows in this life, he will reap in the next life in his reincarnated state. This belief in reincarnation has led to believing in the power of “spirit guides” or “channels” — those who allow spirits from another dimension to speak through their bodies. [HJB] These entities always seem to repeat the three-fold error: (1) There is no death, (2) man is god, (3) knowledge of self is salvation and power (Brooks Alexander, Spiritual Counterfeits Project). New Agers misrepresent church history, the doctrines of Christianity, and often twist Scripture to support the idea that original Christianity taught reincarnation. They wrongly argue that the early church suppressed the doctrine and censored its teaching (Kenneth Ring, Heading Toward Omega, p. 158).