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Gnosticism of the 20th Century: The New Age Or An Old Lie?
Craig Branch

Many people are becoming aware of what is commonly referred to as “The New Age Movement.” To most people, these diverse beliefs and practices seemed to grow out of nowhere.

The term “New Age” is somewhat misleading as it actually refers to a coming new era, a new state of existence – the “dawning of the Age of Aquarius.”

Adherents claim that this new state of utopian global bliss and consciousness will occur when enough people are converted or initiated.

Actually the beliefs and practices are very, very old. Their root lies in the dawn of time and began to grow and branch out throughout Biblical and modern history.

As Brooks Alexander writes, “…these presuppositions have been systematically expounded in such esoteric disciplines as astrology, alchemy, reincarnation, yoga, magic, Taoism, tantra and Zen. Today, because of the wide spread cross-fertilization of these and other schools of thought, new forms of this basic world view are being created,” (Special Collection Journal, Spiritual Counterfeits Project, Vol. 6 Number 1, 1984, p. 14).

This basic world view states that all reality is one undifferentiated cosmic energy or consciousness (monism). There is no personal God, but all is God; or God (an impersonal force) is all (pantheism).

Man is therefore a divine entity and “salvation is equated with the discovery of this higher Reality with its laws,” (Ibid, p. 16).

The attainment of this experiential knowledge (gnosis) leads to self-realization which “Leads to the mastery of spiritual technology and the attainment of psycho-spiritual power,” (Ibid).

Matter, sin, and finiteness are therefore an illusion.

Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines gnosis and gnosticism as the gaining of spiritual knowledge reserved only for special initiates, “Distinguished by the conviction that matter is evil and that emancipation or salvation comes through this special knowledge.”

Closely related and associated with gnosticism is occultism.

Classically the word “occult” means hidden or secret teachings and practices. But “by `secret’ it is not meant that the positions taken are not available in most instances. Rather, the beliefs and practices are secret in the sense that performance of the rites is considered to be effective only when performed by those who are deeply initiated in the lore of the cult,” (Cults, World Religions, and the Occult, Ken Boa, p. 139).

Therefore, a working definition of the New Age would be a revival of ancient eastern mystical/occult beliefs and practices based on gnostic roots.

It involves the belief that spirituality or godhood is gained by the use of magical/mystical practices which transcend the illusory physical universe and senses.

This pagan philosophy has its historical root in Genesis 3:1-5. Satan in his temptation of man seduces Eve by questioning the character, benevolent rule and word of God (vs.1).

Satan also denies the reality of death (as does reincarnation), and promises that if man partakes of the forbidden, secret knowledge (occult/gnosis) then he will be raised up on the level of God, independent of Him (vs. 3-5).

“…the tempation of the autonomous and infinitized self remains the alpha and omega of spiritual pride,” (Special Collection Journal, p. 22).

From this unfortunate beginning, the embodiment of this philosophy can be historically traced through the Bible. Ancient Babylon in its mystery religions consistently reflects this heresy.

Throughout the Old Testament, these practices are exposed and condemned (Deut. 18:10-14; Isaiah 47:8-15).

For instance, the Ziggurats of Babel (Genesis 11) and the entire Chaldean culture were deeply rooted in the esoteric science of astrology.

This philosophy expressed in the Samarian and Egyptian cultures as well. God lays bare the deceitfulness of this paganism in Isaiah 47:8-10.

Eschatologically, mystery Babylon demonstrates that it is preeminently a religious system throughout the ages culminating in the final judgment (Revelation 17 and 18).

Continuing to trace the history of this heresy, Paul addresses the Stoic philosophers at Athens (Acts 17:16-34) who were the pantheists of that day. Paul also confronted this heresy in Ephesus (Acts 19:17-20).

Sections of the New Testament, especially in Colossians and 1 John were written specifically responding to the gnostic beliefs of that day.

In more modern times, this gnostic/occultic philosophy has continued to evolve in expressions like Indian Shamanism, transcendentalism, spiritism and spiritualism, New Thought, Rosicrusianism, Theosophy, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Zen, Kabala, Sufism, Yoga, Christian Science, Mind Sciences, Unity, Silva Mind Control, Edgar Cayce, Transcendental Meditation, Witchcraft, firewalking, Church Universal and Triumphant, parapsychology and many more.

“That which has been is that which will be, and that which is done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun,” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

Historically the effect of the perennial heresy has always been death and so it will be in the future: “For this reason in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong,” (Revelation 18:8).

As C.S. Lewis cogently remarked, “And Pantheism in that sense has, in the long run, only one really formidable opponent – namely Christianity,” (Miracles, pp. 84-85).

http://www.watchman.org/reltop/gnostic.htm

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“The Jesus of the New Age Movement”
Part Two in a Two-Part Series on New Age Christology PART 1 is HERE
by Ron Rhodes

In her best-selling book, Out on a Limb, Shirley MacLaine recounts how a friend once said to her: “You know that nothing is recorded in the Bible about Christ from the time he was about twelve until he began to really teach at about thirty years old. Right?” “Yes,” MacLaine replied, “I had heard about that and I just figured he didn’t have much to say until he got older.” “Well, no,” her friend responded, “a lot of people think that those eighteen missing years were spent traveling in and around India and Tibet and Persia and the Near East. They say he became an adept yogi and mastered complete control over his body and the physical world around him[he] tried to teach people that they could do the same things too if they got more in touch with their spiritual selves and their own potential power.”[1]

Did Jesus travel to the East to study under gurus? Did He become “the Christ” as a result of what He learned and accomplished there? Are there mystical “gospels” that have been suppressed by the church, keeping us from knowing the real Jesus? In this article, we will look at these and other important questions related to the Jesus of the New Age movement. We begin by examining the claims of a controversial Russian writer.

THE LIFE OF SAINT ISSA

As the story goes, in 1887, Nicolas Notovitch – a Russian war correspondent – went on a journey through India. While en route to Leh, the capital of Ladakh (in Northern India along the Tibetan border), he heard a Tibetan lama (i.e., monk) in a monastery refer to a grand lama named Issa (the Tibetan form of “Jesus”). Notovitch inquired further, and discovered that a chronicle of the life of Issa existed with other sacred scrolls at the Convent of Himis (about 25 miles from Leh).

Notovitch visited this convent and was told by the chief lama that a scroll did in fact exist which provided details about the Prophet Issa. This holy man allegedly preached the same doctrines in Israel as he earlier did in India. The original scroll, the lama said, was written in the Pali language and later translated into Tibetan. The Convent of Himis possessed the Tibetan translation, while the original was said to be in the library of Lhassa (the traditional capital of Tibet).

Notovitch eventually persuaded the lama to read the scroll to him, and had it translated from Tibetan by an interpreter. According to Notovitch, the literal translation of the scroll was “disconnected and mingled with accounts of other contemporaneous events to which they bear no relation,” and so he took the liberty to arrange “all the fragments concerning the life of Issa in chronological order and [took] pains to impress upon them the character of unity, in which they were absolutely lacking.”[2] He went without sleep for many nights so he could order and remodel what he had heard.

From the scroll, Notovitch learned that “Jesus had wandered to India and to Tibet as a young man before he began his work in Palestine.”[3] The beginning of Jesus’ alleged journey is described in the scroll this way:

When Issa had attained the age of thirteen years, the epoch when an Israelite should take a wife, the house where his parents earned their living began to be a place of meeting for rich and noble people, desirous of having for a son-in-law the young Issa, already famous for his edifying discourses in the name of the almighty. Then it was that Issa left the parental house in secret, departed from Jerusalem, and with the merchants set out towards Sind, with the object of perfecting himself in the Divine Word and of studying the laws of the great Buddhas.[4]

According to Notovitch, the scroll proceeds to explain how, after briefly visiting with the Jains, young Issa studied for six years among the Brahmins at Juggernaut, Rajagriha, Benares, and other Indian holy cities. The priests of Brahma “taught him to read and understand the Vedas, to cure by aid of prayer, to teach, to explain the holy scriptures to the people, and to drive out evil spirits from the bodies of men, restoring unto them their sanity.”[5]

While there, the story continues, Issa sought to teach the scriptures to all the people of India – including the lower castes. The Brahmins and Kshatriyas (higher castes) opposed him in this, and told him that the Sudras (a lower caste) were forbidden to read or even contemplate the Vedas. Issa denounced them severely for this.

Because of Issa’s controversial teachings, a death plot was devised against him. But the Sudras warned him and he left Juggernaut, establishing himself in Gautamides (the birthplace of the Buddha Sakyamuni) where he studied the sacred writings of the Sutras. “Six years after, Issa, whom the Buddha had elected to spread his holy word, had become a perfect expositor of the sacred writings. Then he left Nepal and the Himalayan mountains, descended into the valley of Rajputana, and went towards the west, preaching to diverse peoples the supreme perfection of man.”[6] Following this, we are told, Issa briefly visited Persia where he preached to the Zoroastrians. Then, at 29, he returned to Israel and began to preach all that he had learned.

According to Notovitch’s “scroll,” by the end of Issa’s three-year ministry, Pilate had become so alarmed at his mushrooming popularity that he ordered one of his spies to accuse him falsely. Issa was then imprisoned and tortured by soldiers to force a confession which would permit his being executed. The Jewish priests tried to act in Issa’s behalf, but to no avail. Issa was falsely accused and Pilate ordered the death sentence:

At sunset the sufferings of Issa came to an end. He lost consciousness, and the soul of this just man left his body to become absorbed in the Divinity. Meanwhile, Pilate became afraid of his action and gave the body of the saint to his parents, who buried it near the spot of his execution. Three days after, the governor sent his soldiers to carry away the body of Issa to bury it elsewhere, fearing otherwise a popular insurrection. The next day the crowd found the tomb open and empty. At once the rumor spread that the supreme Judge had sent his angels to carry away the mortal remains of the saint in whom dwelt on earth a part of the Divine Spirit.[7]

Following this, some merchants in Palestine allegedly traveled to India, came upon some people who had known Issa as a casual student of Sanskrit and Pali during his youth in India, and filled them in on Issa’s demise at the hands of Pilate. And, as the story concludes, The Life of Saint Issa was written on a scroll – author(s) unknown – three or four years later.

Reactions to Notovitch

This alleged manuscript generated a number of lively responses. Let us briefly look at a sampling of these.

F. Max Muller. In October 1894, preeminent Orientalist Max Muller of Oxford University (who himself was an advocate of Eastern philosophy and therefore could not be accused of having a Christian bias) published a refutation of Notovitch in The Nineteenth Century, a scholarly review. Four of his arguments are noteworthy: (1) Muller asserted that an old document like the one Notovitch allegedly found would have been included in the Kandjur and Tandjur (catalogues in which all Tibetan literature is supposed to be listed). (2) He rejected Notovitch’s account of the origin of the book. He asked how Jewish merchants happened, among the millions of India, to meet the very people who had known Issa as a student, and still more “how those who had known Issa as a simple student in India saw at once that he was the same person who had been put to death under Pontius Pilate.”[8] (3) Muller cites a woman who had visited the monastery of Himis and made inquiries about Notovitch. According to a letter she wrote (dated June 29, 1894), “there is not a single word of truth in the whole story! There has been no Russian here. There is no life of Christ there at all!”[9] And (4) Muller questioned the great liberty Notovitch took in editing and arranging the alleged verses. Muller said this is something no reputable scholar would have done.

Notovitch promptly responded to Muller’s arguments in the preface to the London edition of The Life of Saint Issa which was published the following year (1895). But his response did little to satisfy his critics. He said: (1) The verses which were found would not be in any catalogues because “they are to be found scattered through more than one book without any title.”[10] (But in his first preface he said the Convent of Himis contained “a few copies of the manuscript in question.”[11]) (2) Regarding the unlikeliness of Jewish merchants encountering those who knew Issa as a child in India, Notovitch said “they were not Jewish but Indian merchants who happened to witness the crucifixion prior to returning home from Palestine.”[12] (Even so, it would still be unlikely that – among the millions in India – the merchants would come upon the precise people who knew Issa as a child.) (3) As for editing and arranging the verses in The Life of Saint Issa, Notovitch said that the same kind of editing was done with the Iliad and no one ever questioned that. (But how does this legitimize Notovitch’s modus operandi?) (4) As to the refusal by the lama of Himis to affirmatively answer questions about the manuscript (as he apparently did with the lady who wrote Muller), Notovitch says this was because “Orientals are in the habit of looking upon Europeans as robbers who introduce themselves in their midst to despoil them in the name of civilization.”[13] Notovitch succeeded only “because I made use of the Eastern diplomacy which I had learnt in my travels.”14 (This was a convenient rationalization, for Notovitch could always point to a lack of “Eastern diplomacy” on the part of a European challenger whenever a monk refused to corroborate the Issa legend.)

Assuming (wrongly) that his response to Muller laid criticism of his work to rest, Notovitch suggested that in the future his critics restrict themselves solely to the question: “Did those passages exist in the monastery of Himis, and have I faithfully reproduced their substance?”[15]

J. Archibald Douglas. J. Archibald Douglas, Professor at Government College in Agra, India, took a three-month vacation from the college and retraced Notovitch’s steps at the Himis monastery. He published an account of his journey in The Nineteenth Century (June 1895), the bulk of which reproduced an interview with the chief lama of the monastery. The lama said he had been chief lama for 15 years, which means he would have been the chief lama during Notovitch’s alleged visit. The lama asserted that during these 15 years, no European with a broken leg had ever sought refuge at the monastery.

When asked if he was aware of any book in any Buddhist monastery in Tibet pertaining to the life of Issa, he said: “I have never heard of [a manuscript] which mentions the name of Issa, and it is my firm and honest belief that none such exists. I have inquired of our principal Lamas in other monasteries of Tibet, and they are not acquainted with any books or manuscripts which mention the name of Issa.”[16] When portions of Notovitch’s book were read to the lama, he responded, “Lies, lies, lies, nothing but lies!”[17]

The interview was written down and witnessed by the lama, Douglas, and the interpreter, and on June 3, 1895, was stamped with the official seal of the lama. The credibility of The Life of Saint Issa was unquestionably damaged by Douglas’s investigation.

Nicholas Roerich. In The Lost Years of Jesus, Elizabeth Clare Prophet documents other supporters of Notovitch’s work, the most prominent of which was Nicholas Roerich. Roerich – a Theosophist – claimed that from 1924 to 1928 he traveled throughout Central Asia and discovered that legends about Issa were widespread. In his book, Himalaya, he makes reference to “writings” and “manuscripts” about Issa – some of which he claims to have seen and others about which people told him. Roerich allegedly recorded independently in his own travel diary the same legend of Issa that Notovitch had seen earlier.

Per Beskow – author of Strange Tales About Jesus – responded to Roerich’s work by suggesting that he leaned heavily on two previous “Jesus goes East” advocates: “The first part of his account is taken literally from Notovitch’s Life of Saint Issa, chapters 5-13 (only extracts but with all the verses in the right order). It is followed by ‘another version’ (pages 93-94), taken from chapter 16 of Dowling’s Aquarian Gospel.”[18] (We will consider the Aquarian Gospel shortly.)

Edgar J. Goodspeed. Notovitch’s The Life of Saint Issa refused to die; it was republished in New York in 1926. This motivated Edgar J. Goodspeed, Professor at the University of Chicago, to publish a Christian response. He commented that “it is worthwhile to call attention to [The Life of Saint Issa] because its republication in New York in 1926 was hailed by the press as a new and important discovery,”[19] even though first published over thirty years earlier (1894).

Three of Goodspeed’s arguments are noteworthy. (1) Goodspeed suggests a literary dependency of The Life of Saint Issa on Matthew, Luke, Acts, and Romans. This would not be odd except that The Life of Saint Issa was allegedly written three or four years after the death of Christ, whereas Matthew, Luke, Acts, and Romans were written two or three decades later. An example of this dependency relates to how The Life of Saint Issa attempts to fill in the silent years of Jesus between the ages of twelve and thirty: “these two ages are taken for granted by the author of this work, who unconsciously bases his scheme upon them. We know them from the Gospel of Luke alone, and the question arises: ‘Has the author of Issa obtained them from the same source?'”[20]

(2) Notovitch describes Luke as saying that Jesus “was in the desert until the day of his showing unto Israel.” This, Notovitch says, “conclusively proves that no one knew where the young man had gone, to so suddenly reappear sixteen years later.” But, says Goodspeed, “it is not of Jesus but of John that Luke says this (1:80), so that it will hardly yield the conclusive proof Notovitch seeks. At this point in Luke’s narrative, in fact, Jesus has not yet appeared.”[21]

(3) Goodspeed comments that The Life of Saint Issa does not purport to have been deciphered and translated by a competent scholar: “The lama read, the interpreter translated, Notovitch took notes. He could evidently not control either the lama or the interpreter, to make sure of what the Tibetan manuscripts contained.”[22]

Throughout the twentieth century, many individuals have responded positively to the work of Notovitch, including Janet and Richard Bock (makers of the film, “The Lost Years of Jesus”), Swami Abhedananda, Sai Baba, Paramahansa Yogananda of the Self-Realization Fellowship, and Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. Evidence abounds that the Issa legend is alive and well today.

Max Muller, J. Archibald Douglas, and Edgar J. Goodspeed have all presented solid refutations of the legend. These should challenge any serious Issa advocate to reevaluate his or her position. I shall offer further arguments later. But first, it is necessary to examine additional features in the New Age profile of Jesus.

THE AQUARIAN GOSPEL OF JESUS THE CHRIST

Another major source for the New Age Jesus is The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, written by Civil War army chaplain Levi Dowling (1844-1911). The title page of this “gospel” bears the words: “Transcribed from the Book of God’s Remembrances, known as the Akashic Records.” (Occultists believe the physical earth is surrounded by an immense spiritual field known as “Akasha” in which is impressed every impulse of human thought, will, and emotion. It is therefore believed to constitute a complete record of human history.) Hence, unlike Notovitch whose conclusions were based on an alleged objective ancient document, Levi’s book is based on an occult form of subjective (nonverifiable) illumination.

The bulk of Levi’s gospel, first published in 1911, focuses on the education and travels of Jesus. After studying with Rabbi Hillel (a Jewish scholar), Jesus allegedly traveled to India where he spent years studying among the Brahmins and Buddhists.

Jesus supposedly became interested in studying in the East after Joseph (Jesus’ father) hosted Prince Ravanna from India. During his visit, Ravanna asked “that he might be the patron of the child; might take him to the East where he could learn the wisdom of the Brahms. And Jesus longed to go that he might learn: and after many days his parents gave consent.” So “Jesus was accepted as a pupil in the temple Jagannath; and here he learned the Vedas and the Manic laws.”[23]

Jesus then visited the city of Benares of the Ganges. While there, “Jesus sought to learn the Hindu art of healing, and became the pupil of Udraka, greatest of the Hindu healers.”[24] And Jesus “remained with Udraka until he had learned from him all there was to be learned of the Hindu art of healing.”[25]

Levi proceeds to chronicle a visit to Tibet, where Jesus allegedly met Meng-ste, the greatest sage of the East: “And Jesus had access to all the sacred manuscripts, and, with the help of Meng-ste, read them all.”[26]

Jesus eventually arrived in Egypt, and – in what must be considered a climax of this account of the “lost years” – he joined the “Sacred Brotherhood” at Heliopolis. While there, he passed through seven degrees of initiation – Sincerity, Justice, Faith, Philanthropy, Heroism, Love Divine, and THE CHRIST. The Aquarian Gospel records the bestowal of this highest degree: “The hierophant arose and said, upon your brow I place this diadem, and in the Great Lodge of the heavens and earth you are THE CHRIST. You are a neophyte no more; but God himself will speak, and will confirm your title and degree. And then a voice that shook the very temple said, THIS IS THE CHRIST; and every living creature said, AMEN.”[27]

Later, following his three-year ministry as THE CHRIST and his subsequent death, Jesus’ resurrection is described by Levi in terms of a “transmutation” which all men may accomplish. He made many appearances to people all over the world to substantiate this transmutation. For example, he appeared to the “Silent Brotherhood” in Greece and said: “What I can do all men can do. Go preach the gospel of the omnipotence of man.”[28]

THE READINGS OF EDGAR CAYCE

Like Levi, Edgar Cayce claimed the ability to read the Akashic Record while in a trance. During his life, he gave over 16,000 readings, 5,000 of which deal with religious matters. It was from the Akashic Record that Cayce set forth an elaborate explanation of the early years of Jesus.

The person we know as Jesus, Cayce tells us, had 29 previous incarnations: “These included an early sun worshipper, the author of the Book of the Dead, and Hermes, who was supposedly the architect of the Great Pyramid. Jesus was also Zend (the father of Zoroaster), Amilius (an Atlantean) and other figures of ancient history.”[29] Other incarnations include Adam, Joseph, Joshua, Enoch, and Melchizedek.

This particular soul did not become “the Christ” until the thirtieth incarnation – as Jesus of Nazareth. The reason Jesus had to go through so many incarnations is that he – like all other human beings – had “karmic debt” (sin) to work off.

Jesus received a comprehensive education. Prior to his twelfth year, he attained a thorough knowledge of the Jewish law. “From his twelfth to his fifteenth or sixteenth year he was taught the prophecies by Judy [an Essene teacher] in her home at Carmel. Then began his education abroad. He was sent first again into Egypt for only a short period, then into India for three years, then into that later called Persia. From Persia he was called to Judea at the death of Joseph, then went into Egypt for the completion of his preparation as a teacher.”[30] During his alleged studies abroad, Jesus studied under many teachers (including Kahjian in India, Junner in Persia, and Zar in Egypt), and learned healing, weather control, telepathy, astrology, and other psychic arts. When his education was complete, he went back to his homeland where he performed “miracles” and taught the multitudes for three years.

JESUS THE CHRIST AND HIS TEACHINGS

There are many differing views regarding how Jesus attained “Christhood.” As we have seen, Levi said Jesus went through seven degrees of initiation, the seventh being THE CHRIST. Cayce said Jesus became “the Christ” in the thirtieth incarnation. Many modern New Agers say the human Jesus merely “attuned” to the cosmic Christ, or achieved at-one-ment with the Christ by raising his own “Christ-consciousness.” But, however, Jesus attained “Christhood,” New Agers agree that he was a teacher par excellence of New Age “truths.”

New Agers generally do one of two things with the teachings of Jesus. Some merely reinterpret the gospel sayings of Jesus to make it appear that Jesus was actually teaching New Age “truth.” Others add that long-lost (New Age) sayings of Jesus have been rediscovered. These “rediscovered” sayings can have one of two sources: reputed ancient extracanonical writings (like the “Gnostic gospels” which were allegedly suppressed by the early church and rediscovered at Nag Hammadi in 1945) and the Akashic Record. Let us now consider samplings of each of these.

The Gospel Sayings of Jesus. According to New Agers, we must all seek first the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 6:33), recognizing that the “kingdom” has reference to our inner divinity.[31] For indeed, Jesus said “Ye are gods” (John 10:34). The parable about those who foolishly build a house on sand (Matt. 7:24-27) teaches us that those who fail to recognize their divinity will not be able to stand against the storms of life.[32] But if we come unto Jesus, we will find rest, for his yoke (i.e., yoga) is easy and his burden is light (Matt. 11:28-30).[33]

“Newly Discovered” Sayings from Extracanonical Sources. Jesus taught a form of pantheism according to The Life of Saint Issa, for he said that “the Eternal Spirit [God] is the soul of all that is animate.”[34] He also taught that all humans have unlimited potential: “I came to show human possibilities; that which I am, all men will be.”[35] And, according to the Gnostic gospels, Jesus spoke of “illusion and enlightenment, not of sin and repentance.”[36] Indeed, man can save himself: “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you.”[37]

“Newly Discovered” Sayings from the Akashic Record. According to Levi’s Aquarian Gospel, Jesus was just a way-shower: “And all the people were entranced, and would have worshipped Jesus as God; but Jesus said, I am your brother man just come to show the way to God; you shall not worship man.”[38] Jesus also taught pantheism and monism: “The universal God is one, yet he is more than one [i.e., he takes many forms]; all things are God; all things are one.”[39] Jesus also tells us that “the nations of the earth see God from different points of view, and so he does not seem the same to every one.”[40]

THE ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN RESPONSE

A Christian response to the New Age rendition of Jesus may begin with the observation that the accounts of Jesus going East have irreconcilable contradictions. This fact alone should make any objective investigator suspicious of the reliability of these documents.

Each of the accounts differ, for example, regarding the beginning of Jesus’ trek. The Life of Saint Issa portrays Jesus departing secretly from his parent’s house with some merchants on their way to India so he could perfect himself by studying the laws of the great Buddhas. Levi’s Aquarian Gospel depicts Prince Ravanna from India asking Jesus’ parents if he can escort Jesus to India where he can learn Indian wisdom. Cayce’s reading of the Akashic Record has an Essene teacher sending Jesus to India to study astrology and other psychic disciplines.

What is particularly revealing is that both Cayce and Levi allegedly obtained their “revelations” by reading the Akashic Record, yet their readings blatantly contradict each other. Since both Cayce and Levi are highly respected in New Age circles, how do New Agers account for the obvious failure of at least one of them to properly “read” the Akashic Record? Furthermore, if one of these top-rated New Age seers cannot be trusted, which one can be?

Not only do the accounts disagree with each other, they all disagree with the gospel accounts in the New Testament. And the New Testament has solid, irrefutable manuscript evidence – something that should be considered by those wanting to replace it so easily with Gnostic gospels or alleged ancient manuscripts claiming that Jesus went East.

The New Testament gospels are based on eyewitness testimony. Moreover, they were written very close to the time of the events which they report. It is crucial to recognize that the four canonical gospels are all dated much earlier than the Gnostic gospels. The earliest Gnostic gospels date from A.D. 150 to 200. The New Testament gospels date from A.D. 60 to 100 – approximately one century earlier. Clearly, the New Testament gospels are the authentic and reliable source for information on the life and teachings of Jesus.

On the other hand, all of the “Jesus goes East” accounts contain historical inaccuracies, several of which have already been mentioned. Other examples include: (1) Levi’s Aquarian Gospel said Herod Antipas was ruler in Jerusalem. Antipas, however, never ruled in Jerusalem but in Galilee. Dowling meant to say Herod the Great. This is especially significant since Levi’s transcriptions are claimed to be “true to the letter” in the introduction of his Aquarian Gospel![41] (2) Levi’s reference to Jesus visiting with Meng-ste was probably meant to be the great Chinese sage, Meng-tse (tse, not ste). Dowling apparently didn’t realized, however, that Meng-tse died in 289 B.C.

The deeper one probes, the clearer it becomes that the Jesus of the New Age movement lacks any basis in history. To many, The Life of Saint Issa appeared to provide this. However, the world still awaits bona fide hard evidence that can be physically examined by all interested parties. Even a photograph would be helpful. But as Notovitch lamented: “During my journey I took a considerable number of very curious photographs, but when on arrival at Bombay I examined the negatives, I found they had all become obliterated.”[42] I don’t want to be cynical, but

In order to find a New Age Jesus in authentic documents, New Agers are forced to deal with the language of the New Testament in a manipulative fashion. Tal Brooke comments: “It is a little like the problem of the Marxist who wishes to change the common understanding of the United States Constitution so that a gradualist skewing of word meaning can enable a socialistic interpretation of words whose intended meanings in the original were clearly different.”[43]

Though the New Testament does not directly address this issue, there are strong indirect evidences that Jesus never traveled East for eighteen years. First, Jesus was well-known as a carpenter (Mark 6:3) and as a carpenter’s son (Matt. 13:55). That His carpentry played a large role in His life up to the time of His ministry is clear from the fact that some of His parables and teachings drew upon His experience as a carpenter (e.g., building a house on rock as opposed to sand, Matt. 7:24-27). Moreover, the people in and around Nazareth displayed familiarity with Jesus, as if they had had regular contact with Him for a prolonged time. At the beginning of His three-year ministry, Jesus “went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read” (Luke 4:16). After He finished reading, “all spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. ‘Isn’t this Joseph’s son?’ they asked” (Luke 4:22). This implies that those in the synagogue regarded Jesus as a local resident.

It is important to note that when Jesus stood up to read, He did so from the Old Testament Scriptures. And the Old Testament – for which Jesus often displayed reverence (cf. Matt. 5:18) – (1) contains numerous warnings and admonitions about staying away from false gods and false religious systems (cf. Exod. 20:2; 34:14; Deut. 6:14; 13:10; 2 Kings 17:35); (2) clearly distinguishes between the creation and the Creator, unlike Eastern thought; and (3) taught the need for redemption, not gnosis (knowledge). It is no coincidence that Jesus is often seen quoting from the Old Testament in the gospels, but not once does He quote from (or even mention) the Vedas!

While some in Nazareth were impressed at the graciousness of Jesus’ words, others were offended that He was attracting so much attention. They seemed to be treating Him with a contempt born of familiarity. We read in Matthew 13:54-57: “Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. ‘Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?…Where then did this man get all these things?’ And they took offense at him.”

Among those that became angriest at Jesus were the Jewish leaders. They accused Him of many offenses, including breaking the Sabbath (Matt. 12:1-14), blasphemy (John 8:58-59; 10:31-33), and doing miracles in Satan’s power (Matt. 12:24). But they never accused Him of teaching or practicing anything learned in the East. The Jews considered such teachings and practices to be idolatry and sorcery. Had Jesus actually gone to the East to study under “the great Buddhas,” this would have been excellent grounds for discrediting and disqualifying Him regarding His claim to be the promised Jewish Messiah.

It is noteworthy that the self-concept of the New Age Jesus is that he is just a man who became enlightened in the East, eventually achieving Christhood. The self-concept of the New Testament Jesus, however, is one in which He singles Himself out as God (cf. John 8:58).

It is understandable why the “Jesus who went East” refused to accept worship (cf. Dowling). The New Testament Jesus, by contrast, accepted worship on numerous occasions because He knew Himself to be the one and only God (note especially Matthew 28:17). Of course, only God can be worshiped (cf. Ex. 20:4-5; Deut. 6:4-5, 13). It is thus significant that even when Jesus was just a babe, the Magi (from the East) “fell down and worshiped Him” (Matt. 2:11).

The final word on this matter must belong to God the Father, for there is no higher authority in the universe. He Himself is quoted as saying to Jesus: “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever” (Heb. 1:8). It is Jesus – the second Person of the Trinity – that we as Christians look forward to seeing; ‘we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). And, as Christians, we exult in the truth that Jesus has a name that is above every name, and that at His name, every knee will bow – in heaven and on earth and under the earth (Phil. 2:9-10).

A CLOSING REFLECTION

What if – despite all the arguments presented above – a manuscript should one day surface in India which speaks of Issa? Would this prove that Jesus did in fact go East during His youth?

Christians acknowledge that news of Jesus eventually reached India and Tibet as a result of the missionary efforts of the early church. It is conceivable that when devotees of other religions heard about Jesus, they tried to modify what they heard to make it appear that Jesus and His teachings were compatible with their own belief systems. It is possible that – sometime between the first and nineteenth centuries – these unreliable legends were recorded on scrolls and circulated among the convents in India. This would not be unlike the distorted versions of the life of Jesus that emerged among the early Gnostics (and recorded in the Gnostic gospels).

But for such a manuscript to be convincing, it would have to have the same kind of irrefutable manuscript evidence as the New Testament, the same quality of eyewitness testimony, and be written very close to the events on which they report like the New Testament. Until such an authoritative document surfaces, is it wise to base one’s eternal destiny on a manuscript that has as little evidential support as Notovich’s?

Douglas Groothuis issues this challenge: “Should any supposed record of Jesus’ life come to the fore, let it marshal its historical merits in competition with holy writ. The competitors have an uphill battle against the incumbent.”[44]

NOTES AND GLOSSARY ARE HERE
http://home.earthlink.net/~ronrhodes/JesusNAM.html

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“The Christ of the New Age Movement”
Part One in a Two-Part Series on New Age Christology PART 2 is HERE
by Ron Rhodes

“Who do you say I am?” (Luke 9:20, NIV) The question was first asked of Peter by Christ nineteen centuries ago, and has continued since then to the present day to be the litmus test of spiritual authenticity. Perhaps never in the history of the Christian church has this question been more relevant than it is today. One reason for this is that New Agers have taken the New Testament sculpture (if you will) of Christ, crafted an esoteric/mystical chisel, and hammered away at this sculpture until a completely new image has been formed.

The new sculpture is one that fits nicely on a display shelf with sculptures of Buddha, Krishna, and other “holy men.” This Christ is broad-minded and nonjudgmental. He is a “Master” among “Masters,” who – with the others – is leading the human race into a New Age of enlightenment and harmony.

Fundamental to any discussion of New Age Christology is the recognition that New Agers distinguish between Jesus (a mere human vessel) and the Christ (variously defined, but always divine, and often a cosmic, impersonal entity). Part One of this series will therefore focus on the Christ of the New Age, and will provide a brief history of the various views as to his (or its) identity, his purpose, how he aims to accomplish this purpose, and his relationship to humanity. Part Two will focus on the Jesus of the New Age, and will address such issues as the “lost years” of Jesus (as described by Levi Dowling, Edgar Cayce, and others), his supposed training in Eastern/occultic concepts, his “attunement” to the Christ, and his “New Age teachings.”

Regarding methodology, this article will anchor on two reference points – one primary and one secondary – from which the history of New Age Christology will be traced. The primary reference point will be Theosophy; the secondary reference point will be the teachings of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby. We might liken Theosophy and Quimby’s teachings to two trees which grew side by side, having been planted close to the same time (the mid to late 1800s) in the same soil, fertilized with common ingredients (nineteenth-century transcendentalism, the philosophy of Emmanuel Swedenborg, the influx of Hindu monism, etc.). Certainly, in many respects these two have distinct beliefs and different goals, but they both took root and flourished in the same mystical climate. Taken together, these represent an appropriate starting point for a study in New Age Christology.

THEOSOPHY AND ITS OFFSHOOTS

Theosophy, founded in 1875 by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, teaches that each human being evolves through seven planes of existence (the physical plane, the astral plane, the mental plane, etc.). Each plane a person evolves through brings him or her ever closer to union with the Absolute (God). Theosophists reason that this process can take a very long time, hence requiring innumerable reincarnations.

According to “revelations” received by Blavatsky, it is not only individuals who evolve; the human race as a whole also evolves. So far there have allegedly been three races: the Lemurian, the Atlantean, and the Aryan. Each of these three (which Theosophists call “rootraces”) are divided into “subraces.” Mankind is now in the third rootrace – the Aryan rootrace – and is about to enter the sixth subrace of the Aryan rootrace.

Theosophy teaches that at the beginning of each subrace, the Supreme World Teacher (also known as “the Christ,” the bestower of divine wisdom) enters the body of a disciple in order to assist and guide the spiritual evolution of man. Each “incarnation” reveals more to man about God than the previous one. The five incarnations of Christ in the five subraces of the Aryan rootrace were Buddha (in India), Hermes (in Egypt), Zoroaster (in Persia), Orpheus (in Greece), and Jesus (at the River Jordan, where the Christ came upon Jesus at His baptism).[1]

Jesus is said to have volunteered his body for use by the Christ. Annie Besant, who took over Theosophical leadership when Blavatsky died, said: “For Him [the Christ] was needed an earthly tabernacle, a human form, the body of a man. The man Jesus yielded himself a willing sacrifice, ‘offered himself without spot’ to the Lord of Love, who took unto Himself that pure form as tabernacle, and dwelt therein for three years of mortal life.”[2]

Theosophists reject any suggestion that Jesus died on the cross to pay for man’s sins. Man saves himself through continual reincarnations. This spiritual evolution leads men further and further away from the physical plane and closer and closer to spiritual planes of existence. Because of this process, every human being – regardless of race or religion – is a potential “Christ.”

Human beings who continue to evolve through reincarnation eventually become “Masters.” This is a group of formerly historical persons who have finished their earthly evolutions and voluntarily help lesser-evolved human beings to reach their level.

Because Theosophists believe the fifth subrace of the Aryan rootrace (the subrace of intellectual man) is about to give way to the sixth subrace (the subrace of spiritual man), they believe another incarnation of the Christ will soon take place. Note that since this will be the sixth appearance of the Christ in the Aryan rootrace, it is not spoken of as the “second coming.”

Annie Besant first announced the coming of this Messiah in 1906. Her aim was to groom Jiddu Krishnamurti for the role of World Teacher or Messiah. In 1925 she claimed for this young Indian man the title of “Messianic Leader and Reincarnation of the World Teacher.” But by 1929, Krishnamurti became convinced it was all a mistake. On November 20 of that year, he “refused to receive further adoration [saying frankly], ‘I am not an actor; I refuse to wear the robes of a Messiah; so I am again free of all possessions.'”[3] Theosophy’s Christ remains to appear.

Under the leadership of Annie Besant, dissension took its toll on Theosophy. The result of growing discontent within the Society was a four-pronged theological fork in the road. Theosophy continued along its traditional path (the first prong). But Rudolf Steiner broke away to form the Anthroposophical Society in 1912 (the second prong); Alice Bailey broke away to establish the Arcane School in 1923 (the third prong); and Guy and Edna Ballard broke away to lead the “I AM” movement in the 1930s (the fourth prong). Each “prong” has made an impact on New Age Christology.

The Christ of Anthroposophy

Dr. Rudolf Steiner was an active member of the Theosophical Society and headed the German charter of the group. However, when a Theosophical subgroup, the “Order of the Star of the East,” began promoting Krishnamurti as the new incarnation of the Christ, Steiner threatened to expel any member of the German charter who joined the Order. Annie Besant retaliated by canceling Steiner’s charter. Steiner then founded the Anthroposophical Society in 1912, and most of the German membership of Theosophy joined with him.

Steiner’s emphasis represents a significant departure from his Theosophical roots. Instead of arguing for a Christ who periodically incarnates into individuals as each new “subrace” begins, Steiner’s emphasis is on what the Christ accomplished through his decisive “incarnation” in the human Jesus.

Steiner’s Christology is based on his investigation into the “Akashic Records.” Occultists believe that the physical earth is surrounded by an immense spiritual field known as “Akasha” in which is impressed – like a celestial tape recording – every impulse of human thought, will, and emotion. It therefore constitutes a complete record of human history. Steiner claimed to be able to “read” the Akashic Records, thus enabling him to investigate human history without use of written records. Based on this, he discovered that the descent of the Christ on the human Jesus was the absolutely central event of human evolution.

In Steiner’s theology, the Christ’s descent on Jesus became necessary because man’s consciousness had progressively become too focused on the material realm and had completely lost touch with the spiritual nature behind physical reality. The danger was that this situation could become permanent.

To prevent this, the Christ’s initial goal was to “incarnate” into a human being (Jesus) so he could accomplish his greater goal of “incarnating” from Jesus into the “etheric earth.” Occultists believe an etheric earth exists behind the physical earth. The etheric earth is thought to be made up of a fine energy substance from which is created the mold for every form that is manifested in the physical plane. Every material object on the physical plane has an etheric counterpart. All material forms in the physical universe find their ultimate source in this energy substance of the etheric realm. The Christ desired to enter this etheric earth so he could bring about spiritual changes among people living on the physical earth. But in order to transfer from his spiritual realm to the etheric realm, he needed a human instrument through which to work. This instrument was found in Jesus.

The Christ “incarnated” into Jesus, and three years later was crucified. At the crucifixion, the Christ left Jesus’ body and “incarnated” into the etheric earth:

The blood flowed from the wounds of Jesus Christ. This blood must not be regarded simply as chemical substance, it must be recognized as something altogether unique. When it flowed from His wounds and into the earth, a substance was imparted to our earth which, in uniting with it, constituted an event of the greatest possible significance; this blood passed through a process of ‘etherization’…since the Mystery of Golgotha, the etherized blood of Christ Jesus has lived in the ether of the earth. The etheric body of the earth is permeated by what the blood that flowed on Golgotha became.[4]

Because of this, “ever since the Mystery of Golgotha man lives in a spiritual environment, an environment that has been Christianized because it has absorbed the Christ impulse.”[5]

Having mystically entered the etheric earth via his “etherized” blood, the Christ now seeks to “mass incarnate” into all humanity. This will lead to man’s redemption. Steiner says that the “Christ impulse will penetrate humanity. He belongs to the whole earth and can enter all human souls, regardless of nation and religion.”[6] This, says Steiner, is the true “second coming.”

The Christ of the Arcane School

Alice Bailey had been an active member in the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society (an inner group of trusted members who faithfully practiced Theosophy). But she eventually became critical of the organization’s policy that one could not become a disciple of a Master (which Bailey believed she already was) unless one was notified by Annie Besant (who seemed to have overlooked Bailey in this). This led to her dismissal from the Society, and shortly thereafter in 1923, she and her husband Foster founded the Arcane School.

Like Theosophy and Anthroposophy, Bailey believed that Jesus was a medium who allowed the Christ to use his body. But Bailey distinguished her beliefs from Anthroposophy by arguing that the “second coming” referred to the Christ coming in a single Avatar, not in all humanity.[7] According to Arcane thought, the Christ – along with his disciples, the Masters – will draw closer and closer to humanity and eventually appear on the physical plane. Bailey said this return necessitated three conditions that either have already come or are currently coming to pass: (1) catastrophic planetary conditions; (2) a spiritual awakening; and (3) a steadily mounting invocative prayer. This last condition involves use of The Great Invocation, a prayer which is intended to speed the reappearance of the Christ.

Preparation for the Second Coming is hence the responsibility of “attuned” human beings. Those who know about this Coming are to help create conditions of “spiritual alignment” which will ultimately draw the Christ forth into our midst. Without this, the Christ is impotent to act.

Bailey believed the Christ will come again in a way which will create no divisions or separations between men, either religious, social, or ideological. When he comes, it will be to establish through precept and example (in world service) the principles on which an interdependent world may create a new civilization.

While Bailey taught that the Second Coming will be in a single Avatar, she also affirmed that he will be mystically manifested in humanity: “There is a growing and developing belief that Christ is in us, as He was in the Master Jesus, and this belief will alter world affairs and mankind’s entire attitude to life.”[8]

The Christ of the “I AM” Movements

Guy and Edna Ballard were Theosophists up until Guy was contacted by Saint Germain, an “Ascended Master” who allegedly appeared to him in a physical body. Saint Germain informed him that he lived on Mount Teton with ninety-eight other Ascended Masters.

Saint Germain appointed Guy, Edna, and their son Donald as the only “accredited” spokespeople for the Ascended Masters. Saint Germain also taught Guy about the “Great Creative Word” (I AM). The “I AM Presence” is said to be in each person and represents a point of contact with divine reality. One can attune to the I AM Presence by chanting I AM decrees. Such chanting reportedly brings about dramatic results in the life of the one chanting.

The Ballards’ Christology is distinct in that Saint Germain is considered more important (in the dawning Aquarian Age) than Jesus, and is the primary object of worship among “I AM” devotees. Jesus – himself an “Ascended Master” – allegedly said that Saint Germain is “the Greatest Blessing that has ever come to mankind.”[9] The reason for this devotion to Saint Germain is that he has brought the Violet Consuming Flame: “The conscious use of the Violet Consuming Flame is the only means by which any human being can free himself or herself from his or her own human discord and imperfection.”[10] The I AM presence is invoked by chanting decrees, and this in turn activates the Violet Flame. The Violent Flame then burns away undesirable conditions in one’s life. Of course, this nullifies any need for Jesus’ work on the cross.

THE NEXT GENERATION

Having discussed the foundation for New Age Christology in Theosophy, Anthroposophy, the Arcane School, and the “I AM” movement, this article will now examine three representative contemporary New Age leaders to illustrate how this Christology has progressed historically.

Benjamin Creme and his Arcane Roots

From 1977 to the present Benjamin Creme has traveled around the world proclaiming that the coming of Maitreya (the Christ) is imminent. Maitreya, says Creme, is the leader of the Planetary Hierarchy and has been living incognito among human beings since 1977 when his consciousness entered a specially created body of manifestation, the “Mayavirupa.”

Creme originally claimed that by the end of spring 1982, Maitreya would reveal himself via worldwide television on the “Day of Declaration,” after which time would begin a new era of planetary happiness. This Christ would come not as a religious, political, or social leader, but as an “educationalist” who would solve all the world’s problems in these areas and usher in the New Age of love, peace, and shared wealth.

Obviously 1982 has come and gone and the Christ remains to appear. The most common explanation for the Christ’s no-show is that the media prevented it. Since the media represents humanity, the media’s apathy is indicative of the broader apathy of humanity. And since the Christ’s manifestation cannot occur against man’s wishes, his “declaration” has been delayed.

Some of Creme’s ideas are noticeably similar to Theosophy. For example, he divides the world and humanity into astral, ethereal, and physical planes. He also subscribes to the idea that the Christ inhabited the body of Jesus for three years.

But despite some Theosophical overtones, his ideas are primarily a reflection of Alice Bailey’s writings, particularly her book The Reappearance of the Christ. In this book are found almost everything Creme was later to propagate: the Age of Aquarius, world service, The Great Invocation, “overshadowing” (the occult means used by a Master to inhabit a human disciple’s body), and “transmission groups” (enlightened groups who “transmit” spiritual energy to the minds of other people in order to raise the Christ-consciousness of the planet).[11]

Despite such similarities, there are at least three notable differences between Creme and Bailey. First, Creme is a date-setter regarding Maitreya’s coming (i.e., spring 1982). Bailey was convinced the Christ would appear – and she had some idea about the general timing (sometime after 2025) – but she refused to set exact dates. She wrote: “It is not for us to set the date for the appearance of the Christ or to expect any spectacular aid or curious phenomena. If our work is rightly done, He will come at the set and appointed time.”[12]

Second, Bailey used the term “Christ” to refer to a person whereas Creme uses it in reference to an office or function. The present holder of this office, says Creme, is the Lord Maitreya, who has held it now for 2,600 years. It was Maitreya who – while holding this office – manifested himself through his disciple, Jesus, by the occult method of overshadowing.

Third, Christ and Buddha are the central figures in Bailey’s theology, while Maitreya is supreme in Creme’s thinking. Bailey mentions Maitreya on occasion, but never as the leader of the Hierarchy, as does Creme.

Creme’s following has understandably declined since 1982.

David Spangler and his Anthroposophic Roots

Like Rudolf Steiner, David Spangler understands Christ to be a cosmic spirit who utilized Jesus’ body to make the transfer from His own realm (the spiritual realm) to Jesus’ realm (the realm of matter).

Spangler sees the Christ as a cosmic principle: “Any old Christ will not do, not if we need to show that we have something better than the mainstream Christian traditions. It must be a cosmic Christ, a universal Christ, a New Age Christ.”[13] The Christ is not so much a religious figure, “but rather a cosmic principle, a spiritual presence whose quality infuses and appears in various ways in all the religions and philosophies that uplift humanity and seek unity with spirit.”[14]

Spangler believes a central purpose of the Christ is to act as a “universal educator.” He uses “educate” in the sense of the Latin root educare, which means “to lead out.” Most often he speaks of the Christ “leading out” man’s “inner divinity.”[15] The “universal Presence that calls out of form and spirit the higher potentials of Divine life waiting to be released into expression, is the Christ.”[16]

Like Steiner, Spangler believes the Christ entered the etheric earth at the crucifixion. By so doing, the Christ was able to reverse man’s “downward trend” toward a physical-oriented consciousness. The Christ is thus an “occult savior.”[17]

Spangler utilizes Christian terms to describe what the Christ accomplished through Jesus. For example, Spangler says that the Christ was occultly crucified (which resulted in placing his cosmic presence within the cross of matter, space, and time). The Christ was laid in a tomb (the tomb representing a level of life characterized by “great density” [i.e., the physical world], as opposed to the “low density” spiritual realm he was accustomed to). There he would stay until the resurrection (the outflowing of Christ-energies from the etheric earth) and ascension (the ascension of Christ-consciousness in humanity). Through this sacrifice, the cosmic Christ became a savior in that he no longer stood outside the evolution of the earth, but entered into that evolution by becoming incarnate into the earth.[18] There he would function as a guide of man’s spiritual evolution.

Like Steiner, Spangler believes the Christ is now incarnating into humanity from the etheric realm. This is not unlike what occurred in Jesus 2,000 years ago, for Jesus “was the prototype or the expression of the reality of the Christ consciousness which is inherent in us all.”[19] Spangler concludes that human beings can actually become “the Word made flesh.” In fact, he says that the Word will eventually be made all flesh.[20]

Elizabeth Clare Prophet and her “I AM” Roots

While the Ballards’ “I AM” movement has considerably declined since its heyday in the 1930s, another “I AM” movement has achieved high visibility and much popularity in New Age circles. This is the Church Universal and Triumphant, founded in 1958 by Mark Prophet and now headed by his widow, Elizabeth Clare Prophet.

Foundationally, certain aspects of the Prophets’ theology can be traced directly to Theosophy. These beliefs include (1) Masters who guide man’s spiritual evolution; (2) revelations to man from these Masters; (3) the Christ’s use of Jesus’ body; (4) human evolution through progressive stages; and (5) the belief that Blavatsky’s revelations marked the beginning of the Aquarian Age.

Beyond these similarities, the Prophets derived most of their theology from the Ballards. This is seen not only in their emphasis on the I AM Presence, but also on the prominent role of Saint Germain.

Elizabeth Clare Prophet says the I AM Presence has become hopelessly distorted within man due to negative energies from within and without. These negative energies impede spiritual progress, but are effectively combated by the “Violet Consuming Flame” which is poured out on the world by Saint Germain. This Flame changes negative energy into positive energy. It is therefore an antidote to sin.

This makes Jesus’ work on the cross unnecessary. In fact, Mark and Elizabeth Prophet dismiss the idea of Jesus’ atonement on the cross as an “erroneous doctrine which he himself never taught.”[21] Like the Ballards, the Prophets believe that Jesus attained Christhood as did other Ascended Masters. The “Christ” of “I AM” theology represents the divinity within all men: “God dwells in every man and not alone in His son Jesus the Christ. The only begotten Son of the Father, full of grace and truth, is the Christ whose Image the Lord has reproduced over and over again as the Christ-identity of every son and daughter who has come forth from the infinite Spirit of the Father-Mother God.”[22] The Prophets conclude that “to become the Christ, then, is the goal of every child of God.”[23]

PHINEAS PARKHURST QUIMBY

Unquestionably, Theosophy and the groups that emerged from it are the source of many of the essential tenets of New Age Christology. But Phineas Parkhurst Quimby (who died in 1866) and the “metaphysical” groups his philosophy spawned also played a significant role.

Quimby espoused the metaphysical idea that the source of physical healing lies in the mind. He was convinced that physical diseases were caused by wrong thinking or false beliefs. These false beliefs are remedied by “the Christ.”

Like other metaphysical writers, Quimby distinguished Jesus from the Christ. Quimby credited Jesus with discovering the “Truth” of how to correct the error of sickness. “Not that He as a man was any better,” said Quimby, “but He was the embodiment of a higher Wisdom, more so than any man who has ever lived.”[24] This “Truth” or “higher Wisdom” discovered by Jesus was an impersonal mind-principle Quimby called “the Christ.” Quimby’s metaphysical concept of the Christ spawned several important movements.

New Thought

New Thought developed slowly during the nineteenth century after Quimby’s death in 1866. Quimby did not create an organization himself. But individuals he helped adopted his ideas and passed them on to others, adding to or modifying them along the way. Mary Baker Eddy’s Christian Science is a major example of this, though this tradition is too exclusive to meld with today’s New Age movement. However, several smaller, more inclusive metaphysical groups also emerged, and in the 1890s the term “New Thought” surfaced as a way of describing them.

The Christ of New Thought was an outgrowth of Quimby’s metaphysics. The Christ was considered not a person but an impersonal Divine Nature or Principle. Jesus was believed to have embodied or appropriated the Christ-principle as no human had before. He had fully realized his Christ-nature. But Jesus was not a savior to mankind; he was merely a “way-shower.” Salvation is based not on Jesus but on the recognition of the Divine Nature or Christ-principle within.

Unity School of Christianity

The Unity School of Christianity, an offshoot of New Thought, was founded by Charles and Myrtle Fillmore in 1891. They are distinguished from mainstream New Thought by their belief in reincarnation.

In Unity, salvation is attained by “at-one-ment” with God – a reuniting of human consciousness with God-consciousness. Jesus attained this; all men can: “The difference between Jesus and us is not one of inherent spiritual capacity, but in difference of demonstration of it. Jesus was potentially perfect, and He expressed that perfection; we are potentially perfect, [but] we have not yet expressed it.”[25]

United Church of Religious Science

The United Church of Religious Science, another offshoot of New Thought, was founded by “Dr.” Ernest Holmes who wrote The Science of Mind in 1926. This book later became the textbook for Religious Science. Holmes was extremely eclectic, attempting to syncretize the metaphysical ideas he sifted from New Thought with psychology, philosophy, and the various world religions.

His ideas about Jesus, the Christ, and mankind are similar to other New Thought groups: “Every man is a potential Christ. From the least to the greatest the same life runs through all, threading itself into the patterns of our individuality. He is ‘over all, in all and through all.'”[26] Jesus was merely a way-shower who embodied the impersonal Christ.

NOTABLE MENTIONS

The groups and individuals described above have all contributed to the emergence of a mystical and esoteric theological climate. This has paved the way for numerous other individuals and groups to hop on the New Age bandwagon and offer their own reinterpretations of the person and work of Christ. Two of the more notable developments are the following:

A Course in Miracles. According to this New Age textbook, the “Son of God” was created by God in a state of “wakefulness.” Later, however, the Son fell asleep and had a dream of being separate from God. In the dream, the Son denied that he was created by God, asserting instead that he created himself. This usurping of God’s role as Creator marked the beginning of ego, and led the Son to conceive of himself as being separate from God.

God then created and commissioned the Holy Spirit to awaken the Son. But the Son wrongly interpreted the coming of the Holy Spirit as judge.

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The New World Religion

(Part 1 in a continuing series)

In my first book En Route to Global Occupation I summarized the economic, political and spiritual aspects of the one-world/New Age movement, showing their interaction in the pursuit of a global civilization. My latest book The New World Religion picks up where En Route left off, bringing people up-to-date on the most recent developments while examining the one-world movement’s spiritual roots and religious goals.

In order to achieve their occult objective, New Agers had to deal with the “problem” of Christianity which had been the main obstacle to their success. Christians had to somehow be neutralized or, if possible, seduced to unwittingly support their agenda. The modern ecumenical movement, as I documented in my book, has played a key role in accomplishing this mission.

Most people do not realize that today’s ecumenical movement is an integral part of the broader one-world movement. The seeds for twentieth-century ecumenism were sown in the late 1800s. During that time there was a growing interest in achieving unity for the alleged purpose of building an earthly utopia. Masonically-inspired organizations, ranging from the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn to the Theosophical Society, were busy laying the groundwork for the next century, which they hoped might finally usher in their long-awaited new world order.

Against this backdrop, religious leaders from around the world gathered in Chicago for an unprecedented ecumenical event – the 1893 Parliament of the World’s Religions (also known as the Parliament of World Religions). The people who attended this international conference came from a variety of faiths. Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Roman Catholics, Protestants, and a host of others prayed and dialogued together for seventeen days. This was the largest interfaith leadership conference of its kind up to that time.

In the following decades, two catastrophic world wars were fought, each adding to the one-world movement’s momentum. World War I resulted in the League of Nations and World War II led to the United Nations. Both were created in the name of world peace. These institutions would give the secret societies a focal point around which they could rally religious leaders. The public, worn down from years of war, was ready to accept a new approach to maintaining peace. The United Nations was presented as the only hope for peace between nations and unity among the world’s religions.

Riding this crest of postwar sentiment, global planners seized the moment, attempting to unite the Protestant denominations through one organization. Although the spirit of ecumenism had been alive for decades, the founding of the pro-U.N. World Council of Churches in 1948 marked the beginning of the modern ecumenical era.

Strongly influenced by the Masonic Lodge and with funding from major “old money” sources such as the Rockefeller Foundation, the World Council of Churches (WCC) embarked on its mission. From the time of its first meeting in Amsterdam its purpose was clear: to help create the religious atmosphere for achieving a new world order. In a report issued in 1994 at one of its meetings in Jerusalem, the WCC confirmed this intention, stating: “After the second world war, the establishment of the World Council of Churches in 1948 signalled the resolve of the ecumenical community both to work for the fuller unity of the church and to participate in the struggle for a new just world order.”

While the efforts of the World Council of Churches have been paramount in bringing some of the Protestant denominations together, no event would give greater momentum to the ecumenical movement than Vatican II. The Catholic Encyclopedia proudly boasts, “The greatest religious event of the twentieth century, whose teachings and clarifications have yet to reach their full impact, was the twenty-first Ecumenical Council, called Vatican II or the Second Vatican Council.”

Vatican II, which opened on October 11, 1962 at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, added fuel to the growing ecumenical movement and helped pave the way for the acceptance of interfaithism. Pope John XXIII resided over the Council’s proceedings. According to M. Basil Pennington, a prominent Catholic priest, the Council urged “all Christians…to act positively to preserve and even promote all that is good in other religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, and other world religions.” To carry out this interfaith directive, the Vatican Council established the Secretariat for Non-Christians, which would eventually be renamed the Secretariat for World Religions.

Years later, Pope John Paul II would take the Council’s initiatives a step further by holding an actual interfaith summit in Assisi, Italy (discussed in my book). This 1986 gathering, consisting of leaders from the world’s major religions, and initiated by the Pope himself, would represent a visible transition from “ecumenism” to “interfaithism.”

Although these terms are often used interchangeably today, historically the public has viewed ecumenism as an effort aimed at unifying Christian churches. Interfaithism, on the other hand, has been perceived as a broader attempt to unify the world’s religions. In spite of the public’s perception, beneath the surface, ecumenism and interfaithism have been intertwined. The fact is, ecumenism has been used by New Age religious planners as a springboard to interfaithism. Once most of Christendom had been brought together under a false unity, it was thought that Christianity might be prepared to go the next step by merging with the other religions.

Regarding the spiritual condition of the world in the latter days Jesus warned that “even the elect” would be deceived if that were possible (Matt 24:24). What better way to deceive believers than through a false unity which has the appearance of Christianity, but is actually rooted in pantheism and the occult?

During the next few months, as religious and political events unfold and the new millennium approaches, we will keep you abreast of ways in which the New Age/one-world movement is advancing its agenda – especially as it relates to Christians. It is my sincere hope and prayer that our articles will not only inform you but will encourage biblical discernment and obedience to God’s Word!

http://www.garykah.org/article10.html

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NEW AGE ARTICLES with relevant videos.

The New Age Movement: What Christians Should Know by Dr. Dale A. Robbins.

New Age Movement W/ Constance Cumbey (hidden dangers of the rainbow) video with article

The New Age/Old Occult Conspiracy

The Church of Oprah Exposed by Watchman

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What is ‘New Age’ Religion, and Why Can’t Christians Get on Board?

Barbara Curtis

Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer

 

If you haven’t run into it before, it would be hard to avoid it now. Oprah’s rolling out the red carpet for the New Age: a weekly online class with New York Times bestselling guru Eckhart Tolle and a daily broadcast with Marianne Williamson, whose Course in Miracles was beckoning seekers thirty years ago when I was tripping through the wonderland of discovering my own divinity and wielding the powers of the universe to create my own reality.

Ah, but I didn’t know Jesus back then – that is, I didn’t know him as the Son of God. I knew him only through my guru, who taught that Jesus was a great spiritual master and who blended quotes from the New Testament with quotes from the Bhagavad-Gita to produce a spiritual foundation for people like me – too hip, too cool, too sophisticated to tie themselves to the narrow-minded thinking of Christianity.

As someone plucked out miraculously from the New Age, I can only hope that Christians who love and trust Oprah will not blur the lines of their faith. Oprah has stated that though she was raised as a Baptist, she no longer believes that Jesus is the only way to reach God. It sounds so much more rational and compassionate, doesn’t it?

Why can’t we all just get along?

There are questions we don’t have the answers to. And there are questions that are not seeking an answer, but rather opening a door leading to “a wider path” – questions like the one posed long ago: “Hasn’t God said that you could eat of every tree of the garden?”

The New Age is based on concepts that sound almost irresistible. Like Eve, some hear the spiels of modern gurus like Tolle and Willamson and begin to think the faith of their fathers is too rigid, too narrow – that God would never impose an “irrational” boundary between us and “full knowledge of the spiritual realm.”

Sometimes the lie creeps in subtly as Christians begin to research natural or holistic medicine – alternatives which can be very God-honoring but for years were shunned by Christians, thus becoming New Age territory by default. Or a doctor may recommend yoga or meditation to reduce stress. No matter how uplifting and innocent some New Age practices appear, Christians need discernment in these areas, just as at the seashore they need to know where the undertow begins.

The more we understand the distinctions between New Age religion and Christianity, the less vulnerable we are ourselves and the better able to address the confusion of people who may be – as I once was – earnestly seeking the truth.

What exactly is the New Age? Impossible to narrow down, the New Age is actually a vast smorgasbord of beliefs and practices. Each New Ager fills his tray with whatever assortment fits his appetite. All is liberally seasoned with self-centeredness. It’s really a Have-It-Your-Way religion – thus its modern appeal.

Although there are many branches of New Age thought – ranging from meditation to firewalking – they stem from an ancient stock. The roots of the New Age tree spread around the globe to India. One might think that the desperate, degraded human condition of a land dominated by Hinduism would speak louder than words about the truth of the religion. But New Agers seem blind to the contradiction.

Instead the typical New Ager believes: 

  • God is in everything (pantheism)
  • All things are one (monism)
  • Man is God
  • Mind creates reality
  • One’s own experience validates the truth

New Agers do not believe in evil. Therefore, they do not accept man’s problem as separation by sin from God. Instead, they believe that each of us has forgotten his or her own divinity. Therefore, the New Age solution is to seek “higher consciousness” through meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, diet, crystals, channeling. spirit guides, and more. Each of these diverse practices has the same purpose: to awaken the god in man.

While these practices may seem too far out to pose much of a threat to those abiding in the truth, Christians need to be on guard. In the past twenty years, New Age influence has been steadily creeping into our culture in schools, corporations, and doctors’ offices. Since Star Wars, movies have become dominated by New Age spirituality. Reincarnation, karma, the cosmic consciousness – all these once obscure ideas have become commonplace.

A true understanding of New Age practices makes one thing clear: Eastern practices cannot be blended into Christianity to produce something better. New Agers are Universalists, believing that all paths lead to God. They fault Christians for being intolerant and narrow-minded. But God’s word anticipates this: “Enter the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the path that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13, NIV)

The good news is that, in a way, the New Ager’s broad acceptance holds the key to getting him back on the straight and narrow. Most New Agers hold Jesus in high regard, believing Him to be a great spiritual teacher, or guru. Many study the words He spoke, although they put a different spin on them.

How can we reach those under such subtle deception? The answer is Jesus Himself. Since Jesus is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” He Himself can be the common ground on which the New Ager and the Christian can meet, though one stands in darkness and one in light.

Here is a five-step approach to discussing Jesus with new Agers:

1. Whom do you believe Jesus is?

2. Whom did Jesus say He is?

3. What did Jesus say about other spiritual paths?

  • “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

 Jesus was either who he said He was or He was a fraud. Given His claims, we can’t logically believe he was only a great teacher, for He would have been teaching falsehood rather than truth (this is an argument by C. S. Lewis).

5. Jesus alone is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

New Agers are in a lot of confusion. That’s because they haven’t found the Truth, but only what fits into the spiritual perspective they have constructed. As in the Garden of Eden, the lie has never changed.

But neither has the Truth. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see immediate results from sharing with New Agers. In many cases – like my own – when they finally come to Christ, it’s because God had been planting seeds and watering for a long time. Just keep praying and loving and sharing the words of  Jesus (from experience, I’d say they really won’t hear much else).

And remember, God loves New Age seekers too!

Barbara Curtis, now a prolific Christian writer, was a New Age seeker for seven years before learning the truth about Jesus Christ in 1987. She lives with her husband Tripp in a rapidly-dwindling nest with 6 of their 12 children in Waterford, Virginia

http://born4battle.wordpress.com/2008/04/25/what-is-new-age-religion-and-why-cant-christians-get-on-board/

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WILLIAM COOPER-The New Age Conspiracy.pt1-4

 

New Age Movement

New Age or Old Occult?*

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).


Endnotes

“Old Occult” — The New Age Movement is a modern revival of very ancient, divergent, religious traditions and practices. The actual original root is squarely centered in Genesis 3:1-5, and reverberates throughout the movement’s continued historical expressions. In the original lie, Satan questions God’s word, His authority and benevolent rule (v. 1), disputes that death results from disobedience (v. 4), and claims that through the acquisition of secret or Gnostic wisdom man can be enlightened and can be “like God” (v. 5).

Many of the occult practices and beliefs revived by the modern NAM were a part of very early pagan cultures. Many practices common to the NAM, such as witchcraft/sorcery, spiritism, divination, (clairvoyance; seeing the future), necromancy (consulting the dead), and astrology, are clearly and strongly condemned in Scripture (Deuteronomy 18: 9-17; Isaiah 47: 9-15). These and other occultic practices were spread through the ancient magic and mystery religions of the Chaldeans, Egyptians, and most notably, the Assyrian-Babylonian culture (Ancient Empires of the New Age, pp. 15-62). Noting the scope of its continuing presence, the Bible informs Christians of Babylon’s eschatological implications. The lie of Genesis 3 is significantly developed in Babylon (Isaiah 47) and continues to its ultimate state of development, revealed as Satan’s one-world system at the end of the age (Revelation 17-18).

Three major world religions whose beliefs and practices are entwined with the NAM are Hinduism, a product of 5,000 years of development, Buddhism, circa 560 B.C., and Taoism, circa 500 B.C. (Eerdman’s Handbook to the World’s Religions, pp. 170, 221, 252). Another prominent occultic influence in Europe was Druidism, the religion of the Celts, which extended from 300 B.C. into the middle ages (Ibid., pp. 114-19).  [Return to Text]

Reincarnation — Christians should be able to demonstrate that the Bible does NOT teach reincarnation. When Jesus calls John the Baptist “Elijah,” He is clearly speaking metaphorically. Luke 1:17 demonstrates that John was filling the office of Elijah, fulfilling the prophecy of Malachi 4:5-6. In fact, Elijah was seen with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration in Matthew 17:1-3. The meaning of the resurrection is the opposite of reincarnation (Hebrews 9:27; 1 Cor. 15:12-28). Point out that if God is an impersonal force, then love and forgiveness are not possible. These are personal attributes as opposed to impersonal karmic law. Fundamentally, intercessory prayer is absolutely necessary. The battle for the souls of men is won through God’s grace, intervening and drawing them to Himself.  [Return to Text]

http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/Cults/newage.htm

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The New Age Movement

Kerby Anderson


 

 

Rudyard Kipling once wrote that “East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.” But that can no longer be said now that a pantheistic Eastern philosophy has spread to this country. The primary vehicle for this transmission of ideas has been the New Age Movement.

Evidence of Eastern philosophy’s arrival can certainly be seen in many ways. Statements by movie stars, the growth of Eastern cults, and the popularity of films like the Star Wars trilogy testify to the growing influence of New Age ideas. In the movie The Empire Strikes Back, for example, Yoda espouses pantheistic ideas to his Jedi disciple, Luke Skywalker: “You must feel the Force around you. Here, between you and me. Between the rock . . . everywhere. Yes, even the land.”

Defining the New Age

The New Age Movement has taken on a variety of names including the Human Potential Movement, the Third Force, the Aquarian Conspiracy, Cosmic Consciousness, and Cosmic Humanism. Although most refer to it as the New Age Movement, many in the movement do not like that label, and many others would not even consider themselves part of the movement, even though they may hold to many of the core beliefs of the New Age Movement.

Accurately defining the New Age is a formidable task for several reasons. First, the New Age Movement is eclectic and diverse. It is not a cohesive movement but is exceedingly diverse in its composition and ideology. The unifying factors are shared ideology rather than a shared organizational structure.

Second, the New Age Movement is difficult to define because it emphasizes and encourages change. The New Age Movement is syncretistic and therefore evolutionary in its nature. Many proponents change their perspectives, and so it is frequently difficult to pin down the major beliefs of the New Age Movement.

Major Tenets of the New Age

Even given the diversity and transitory nature of the New Age Movement, there are still a number of major tenets generally held in common by most groups within this movement.

First is the belief in monism. New Agers believe that “all is one.” Everything and everyone is interrelated and interdependent. Ultimately there is no real difference between humans, animals, rocks, or even God. Any differences between these entities are merely apparent, not real.

Second is the belief in pantheism. Since New Agers already believe that “all is one,” the next logical assumption would be that “all is god.” All of creation partakes of the divine essence. All of life (and even non-life) has a spark of divinity within.

The third major tenet of the New Age follows as a logical conclusion from the other two. If “all is one” and “all is god,” then we should conclude that “we are gods.” We are, according to New Agers, ignorant of our divinity. We are “gods in disguise.” The goal, therefore, of the New Age Movement is to discover our own divinity.

Fourth, we discover our own divinity by experiencing a change in consciousness. The human race suffers from a collective form of metaphysical amnesia. We have forgotten that our true identity is divine and thus must undergo a change of consciousness to achieve our true human potential (hence the name, the Human Potential Movement).

A fifth tenet is reincarnation. Most New Agers believe in some form of reincarnation. In its classic form, the cycles of birth, death, and reincarnation are necessary to work off our bad “karma” and to reach perfection. The doctrine of karma says that one’s present condition is determined by one’s actions in a past life.

The Western version of reincarnation held by many New Agers places much less emphasis on bad karma and postulates an upward spiral towards perfection through reincarnation. This view has been espoused by such people as Shirley MacLaine, Sylvester Stallone, George Patton, and Henry Ford.

A final major tenet is moral relativism. New Agers think in terms of gray, rather than black or white. Denying the law of non- contradiction, New Agers will often believe that two conflicting statements can both be true. They will therefore teach that “all religions are true” and “there are many paths to God.”

A Biblical Evaluation

When the tenets of the New Age Movement are examined, they are not really new at all. The New Age is really old occultism in new linguistic garb. Many of these concepts can be found in basic form in Genesis 3. Notice these statements made to Eve in the Garden: “You will be like God” (pantheism), “You will not surely die” (reincarnation), “Your eyes will opened” (change of consciousness), and “Did God really say” (moral relativism).

First, a Christian view of reality rejects the concept of monism. The Bible teaches that God’s creation is not an undivided unity but a diversity of created things and beings. The creation is not unified in itself but held together by Christ in whom “all things hold together” (Col. 1:17).

Second, Christianity is theistic, not pantheistic. New Agers teach that God is an impersonal force, while the Bible teaches that God is an imminent, personal, triune, sovereign God. God is separate from His creation rather than merely a part of the creation as pantheism would teach.

Third, we are created in God’s image (Gen. 1:26) and therefore have dignity and value (Psalm 8). New Agers teach that we are gods and thus have divinity within our humanity.

Fourth, New Agers flirt with the occult in their attempt to achieve a change in consciousness. Although these practices are frequently described in benign terms such as parapsychology, they involve direct contact with spiritual entities. The Bible warns against the danger of these practices and lists such activities as divination and spirit channeling as detestable practices (Deut. 18:9-13) that are to be avoided.

Fifth, the Bible teaches resurrection of the body (1 Cor. 15), not reincarnation of the soul. Likewise, the doctrine of karma is foreign to the gospel. Salvation comes from grace, not through the works in this life (Eph. 2:8-9) or in any other alleged past life. We will not be reborn after death. Hebrews 9:27 clearly teaches that “it is appointed for men to die once and after this come judgment.”

Finally, the Bible teaches absolute truth. God has clearly communicated to us his moral law (Ex. 20:1-17), which we are to obey. Contrary to the New Age teaching that “there are many paths to God,” Jesus clearly taught “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

© 1992 Probe Ministries


 

About the Author

Kerby Anderson is the president of Probe Ministries International. He received his B.S. from Oregon State University, M.F.S. from Yale University, and M.A. from Georgetown University. He is the author of several books, including Genetic Engineering, Origin Science, Living Ethically in the 90s, Signs of Warning, Signs of Hope, and Moral Dilemmas. He also served as general editor for Marriage, Family and Sexuality.He is a nationally syndicated columnist whose editorials have appeared in the Dallas Morning News, the Miami Herald, the San Jose Mercury, and the Houston Post.
He is the host of “Probe,” and frequently serves as guest host on “Point of View” (USA Radio Network). He can be reached via e-mail at kerby@probe.org.

 
 

 

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