New Age Movement, now old?

Here’s a piece I wrote for CHRISTIANITY MAGAZINE 32 years ago. This was current in 1988 and several years after. I’ll let you read it and see if you believe any of this continues in our time.

The New Age Movement

Warren E. Berkley

In every generation there is a variety of movements, fads, belief systems and philosophies offered to the public and pushed by its advocates. So it is fitting for the people of God to “search the Scriptures,” “test the spirits,” and be ready to “cast down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” (Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:1; 2 Corinthians 10:5). Our day is no exception, and one growing school of thought is known as The New Age Movement.
“New Age” has become a rather broad, “umbrella” term; not everything that bears the label is evil or wrong. But the primary concept, as advanced by the prominent actress, Shirley MacLaine, and others is: we are all divine beings with divine (supernatural) potentials. And, through knowledge, enlightenment and meditation, we can discover that we are divine. Then, in concert with other “enlightened ones,” we can create a new world, and usher in a new age. This, I believe, is not only an unrealistic dream; it is biblically incorrect and, therefore, spiritually destructive. The New Age religion is one of those high things of men that arrays itself against the knowledge of God. Here are some of the specific tenets that have been developed out of this core concept:
1. We are all divine. New Age people want to tell us that we don’t really know who we are; we are actually deity! Ramtha (the 35,000-year-old ascended master who is said to communicate through J. Z. Knight) says that “God has never been outside of you—IT IS YOU!” Dr. Beverly Galyean (who headed three federally funded projects in the L.A. public schools) has said: “… we all have the attributes of God …” The King of Tyre once said: “I am a god, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas!” Ezekiel said to him: “Thou art a man, and not God” (Ezekiel 28; see also Ecclesiastes 5:2; Romans 1:25–26; Deuteronomy 4:35).
2. We all have unlimited divine potentials. Once the New Age guru indoctrinates his disciple to the fact he or she is deity, the next step is to allege that there are new powers now available, previously unknown and unused. The influence of this idea has reached the realm of televangelism. Robert Schuller says: “You don’t know what kind of power you have within you … You make the world into anything you choose. Yes, you can make your world into whatever you want it to be.” Yet, the Bible tells us there are some things we cannot do (see Matthew 6:24; Titus 3:5; John 8:21; 13:33; Proverbs 3:5; Jeremiah 10:23).
3. There are no absolutes. This only follows. If we are all god (as the New Agers allege), with supernatural powers that need to be discovered and used; if there is no single, personal God (as in the Scriptures), there is no absolute standard. Do away with a personal, singular God—and you throw the concept of an absolute standard out the same door! Many New Age writers are absolutely sure that you can’t be absolutely sure of anything. Biblical Christianity—by definition—takes the Bible as its yardstick (Isaiah 8:20; Matthew 28:18; 2 John 9).
4. Reincarnation. Belief in reincarnation may be more widespread than you think. It might surprise and disappoint you to see a list of prominent people who believe in reincarnation (John Denver, Peter Sellers, Glenn Ford, Loretta Lynn, Gen. George S. Patton, and Sylvester Stallone). Reincarnation involves repeated death; dying as you leave one life, dying as you leave another, and so forth. But the Bible says, “It is appointed for men to die once.” Case closed.
5. Pantheism. This is the belief that there is no single, personal God; but that everything is God. One of the “forefathers” of New Age thinking, Edgar Cayce, said: “Life isn’t a bit different today from what it was a million years ago. Life is one. God is life—whether in the oyster, the tree or in us …” We believe that “God alone is the Lord, the most high over all the earth” (Psalm 83:18; see also Isaiah 6:3; Romans 1:23).
In his refutation of the Shirley MacLaine book and ABC mini-series, Dr. Frank LaGard Smith has said: “New Age thinking can be faddish, chic, and trendy—something to talk about at cocktail parties. Yet the irony is that in many ways the New Age movement is only a return to ancient times—times of superstition, magic, and sorcery. When you think of the interest in astrology, tarot cards, psychic healers, and trance mediums, you can see the truth of what Solomon said: There is nothing new under the sun. Far from being progressive, the New Age movement is best characterized as mass societal regression” (Out on a Broken Limb, p. 184).
God was—long ago—displeased with His people, because they were “filled with eastern ways” (Isaiah 2:6) Let our message to this age be that Jesus Christ is “the way, the truth, and the life,” and that no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).
Source: Berkley, W. E. (1988). The New Age Movement. Christianity Magazine, 5(9), 7.

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