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Wants to be a god?

So many people seem to be convinced that the Bible teaches that we are gods. The Mormons, the New Agers and yes, there are a growing number of Christians that believe this as well. Each of these have a different variation on what this means. The Christian view comes from the influence of heretical word/faith teachers that distort the Scripture.

We would be surprised how many people actually say this or insinuate it indirectly. They point to Jesus, who said in John 10 “I said ye are gods.” Many use this statement Jesus said as a Bible doctrine for believers. Let’s look at several famous Bible teachers statements on this Scripture.

“We want to be gods. Jesus said, ‘I said ye are gods’ (John 10:34). It is with the attitude of gods in the world that Jesus wants the Christian to live.” (John G. Lake: His Life His Sermons, His Boldness of Faith, Kenneth Copeland Publications, 1995, p. 13).

Is this the attitude Jesus wants? Not according to Scripture, he wants us to be dependent upon God and deny self and walk humbly, hardly a prerequisite for a god.

Lake also says “I want you to hear what Jesus said about himself. God was in Christ, wasn’t He? An incarnation. God is in you, an incarnation, if you were born again. You are incarnate. “ (ibid p. 196).

The mistake is-born again does not mean incarnate; it means to be regenerated. To go from something that has no life to being alive, to something that had no relationship with God to having one.

It’s not surprising that Kenneth Copeland would publish Lakes statements like these since he agrees with it. As he has stated: “You don’t have a god in you, you are one,” “We are a class of gods.” “Every Christian is a god.” Benny Hinn also agrees and states unequivocally “you are god” “Christians are little gods.” “I’m a God-Man.” With well known men like these teaching this its not surprising so many who listen to them have picked this up.

The fact that Gurus, New Agers, Mormons and some who claim Christianity all claim we are gods and have godlike powers is strikingly similar to what Maharishi Mahesh yogi says “When you know that you are God, YOU WILL BEGIN TO LIVE GODHOOD…”’ Margo Adler a witch says, “We are gods and might as well get good at it.” Anton LaVey explains the core of Satanism “here is one of the essential points of Satanism, attain his own godhead in accordance with his own potential. Therefore, each man, each woman, is a god or goddess in Satanism.” J.Z. Knight who Channeled the fallen spirit Ramtha pointedly says through her “You are God.” Sung Myung Moon leader of the Moonie cult says this, as do so many others. Maitreya the false new age Christ (one of many) says “May this manifestation lead you to see each other as the gods you are.”

What manifestation is this? It’s called the mystery of iniquity that has been in the world since the fall. As David Spangler puts it– “Lucifer prepares man in all ways for the EXPERIENCE OF CHRISTHOOD (Burns: Jay Gary, The Millennium Doctor http://www.cth.com/au/corp/despatch/JayGarybk3.htm, p. 2,3, quoting David Spangler). In new age language it means Christ is the way-shower.

It should be obvious to any Christian familiar with the Scripture that to call oneself a god is a doctrine of fallen spirits, what the Bible calls demons.

Helena Blavatsky in her “the secret Doctrine” wrote: “It is claimed that there exists, for untold ages, a body of supermen”… these according to her view were initiates, the Brotherhood of the Great White Lodge and light. They are known to Theosophists as ‘the Masters.’ The teaching of Theosophy, therefore, consists of information either directly imparted by them” (E.R.Mcneil Theosophy to Christian faith pp.1-2) Blavatsky wrote further “Satan is the door-keeper of the Temple of the King; he standeth in Solomon’s porch; he holdeth the key of the Sanctuary, that no man enter therein, save the Anointed having the arcanum of Hermes” (v. 20 and 21). [Vol. 2, Page 233). She is explaining the Luciferic initiation of those who have realized they are more than man- but supermen.

The Latter Rain movement still growing in its influence has similar affections. In the book the Pattern Son Bill Britton writes at Jesus was the “Firstfruits among many brethren and the PATTERN for many more “sons” to come. He calls this group the Manchild Company – they are the anointed ones and have the right to be called Christ. These are the ones who have reached a “very high level of anointings.” It is the same spirit that is moving these people and many others today to this realization that they are god. It does not matter whether one calls it the divine spark” or self-realization or the higher self, or “god” within every man, it all leads to the same place. Or as Neale Donald Walsch, in his bestseller book “Conversations with God” writes “You are already a God. You simply do not know it.” Isn’t it Interesting how so many spiritual diversities can agree.

Creflo Dollar who claims he is a teacher of Christianity sums it up for everyone believing this, quoting Jn.10:34 and Ps.82:6 he states “Now, notice what He says here, “Ye are gods” small g. You are gods? Somebody says “You trying to say we’re gods?” No, I’m not trying to say we’re gods. He already said it. But what I want to know is Lord, how can we be gods? And He answers it in the next phrase. Because you are the children of the Most High. See if you are truly a child of God, if you were born out of God, you got to be a part of the God class. I know I’m not God. But I’m a child of the Most High…I’m a part of the God class…. But then the next verse says, “Because you did not believe you were gods, you’re going to die like men.” But it says you’re gods. And I said now, Lord, wait a minute here. How we going to prove this? Because I kept hearing over and over again all this week, we need to have a God training class for Christians. So they can start acting … “(Our equality with God through righteousness 1/21/2001)

Notice he says Because you did not believe you were gods you will die like men. Is this what the Scripture is actually saying? It only takes a few extra words to confuse and change the meaning.

Ps. 82:6-8 ‘I said, ‘You are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High. But you shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.’ Lets set the record straight, this Scripture does not mention little gods. Nowhere in Scripture is there a teaching of little gods along with big God, but false Gods verses the true God. So in reality to claim to be a little god is to put one in the category of a false God.

Lets go back to the beginning, when Lucifer a fallen angel shows up in the garden. Speaking to Eve he says “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). When both she and Adam ate of the tree that God told them not to, they knew what evil was experientially, by believing that this fruit would make them like God it caused them to lose their righteousness God originally gave them.

After the fall Adam begot his first son Cain and other sons and daughters in his own image and likeness. All those after are in this same image. This is why the Only true God became a man. When a Christian accepts the heretical teaching of subordinate gods to a greater god they are aligned with the originator of this lie, the teaching of the occult and those who incorporate its message. They are on their way to a great deception, the very one that Paul warns in 2 Thess.2, those who refuse the truth will believe THE LIE!

Anything created disqualifies it from being God. Adam was not a god (as Kenneth Copeland and the Mormons say), and Satan is not a god. Satan is called the “god of this age” because he is worshipped, not because he really is a god by nature.

He has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.(2 Cor. 4:4). In other words he blinds people to see Christ alone is God. Satan did not tell the truth but lied to Eve when he said, “You shall be like God,” and he continues to use the same lie to people today.

Paul taught that Christ (2 Cor. 4:4) ALONE ‘is the express image of God (his person) (Heb.1). No prophet ever thought of them-self as the express image of the invisible God, or that if you have seen them you have seen the father, they knew better. There are too many today who are exalting mans nature to be something the Scripture says it is not. Only Jesus is the exact image of God in man. Man has the image of God but this does not make a creature God, godlike, or in the same class. There is only one God and he always existed, this is why no creature can ever be equal to its eternal creator.

The Hebrew word for “likeness” (demuth) simply means similarity or resemblance, not identity. The term itself actually “defines and limits” the word “image” (Hebrew: tselem) in order “to avoid the implication that man is a precise copy of God, albeit miniature” (R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, eds., Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, 2 vols. Chicago: Moody Press, 1981, 1:192.)

God never said man is a god or in a god class as some claim. In fact, if we look at past and future history we can identify the ones who claim this.

The past- Isa. 14:12-14 “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.”

It was Lucifer who through the king said he would be like God in the past. Ezek 28:2-6 “Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Because your heart is lifted up, and you say, ‘I am a god, I sit in the seat of gods, in the midst of the seas,’ yet you are a man, and not a god, though you set your heart as the heart of a god (Behold, you are wiser than Daniel! Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Because you have set your heart as the heart of a god…” v:9 “Will you still say before him who slays you, ‘I am a god’? But you shall be a man, and not a god, in the hand of him who slays you.”

The future- 2 Thess. 2:3-4 “the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”

Everyone who claims to be a god, the true God shows they are not, by bringing death to them. Jesus will slay the antichrist, the man of sin who will be worshipped as god by the word from his mouth. Zeph. 2:11 “The LORD will be awesome to them, for He will reduce to nothing all the gods of the earth”

Let’s not forget in our modern time one of the worst collective murders in history. It was Jim Jones who let the idea of being a god completely deceive him and near 1,000 people were affected by going to their deaths with him. He said “It is written that ye are gods. I’m a god and you’re a god” (Jim Jones, quoted in J. Reston, Jr. and N. Adams, “Father Cares: The Last of Jonestown” program on National Public Radio, 23 April, 1981.)

Satan’s methodology is to lower Jesus’ nature and exalt man’s to be equal to Christ using the same lie he deceived himself with. We should understand from the Scripture that to claim to be a God, big or small is what Lucifer did to himself and influenced man into sin.

With this background lets to the passage that people are using to prove they are little gods.

John 10:32-39 Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?” The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods” “If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken),”do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me;” but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.”

Notice Jesus answered them by pointing to the Old Testament, and is using it to argue His exclusive deity as the Son of God, having a unique relationship to the Father that no other has. Jesus is responding to the Jewish leaders who had accused Him of blasphemy. In Jn.10 Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees. Are the Pharisees gods? Would someone that did not believe in Christ being the Son of God and were his enemies be considered a little god by Jesus?

To understand him further we must go to a context of a passage quoted by Jesus to see what he was trying to convey. Psalm 82:1-8 “God stands in the congregation of the mighty; he judges among the gods. How long will you judge unjustly, and show partiality to the wicked? Selah. Defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy; free them from the hand of the wicked. They do not know, nor do they understand; they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are unstable. I said, “You are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High. But you shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.” Arise, O God, judge the earth; for You shall inherit all nations.”

In its context it can only mean something that is not flattering. Jesus in John 10 is mocking them as if to say, You all think you’re gods yourselves (rulers) and rightly so (this is a tongue and cheek expression). But you do not recognize THE God among you. The Pharisees were blinded to who Jesus truly was.

Ps. 82:6-8 ‘I said, ‘You are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High. But you shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.’ This was addressed to the judges of Israel they were called gods not because they were divine but because they represented God when they judged the people. The word Elohim is used for God, men and angels, but it is never used for man or the angels to imply they are God but as rulers of certain positions in the world. The word here is Elohim, it is applied to an aspect of God, as God was also to be ruler and judge over the people so He installed human rulers to do the same (see Deut.19:17-18). God called the unrighteous judges of Israel “gods” (Elohim). The Psalm Jesus is quoting is a put-down of corrupt judges and leaders who were abusing their authority and it has a lot of irony in it. The word Judges is found in Ex.21:22; 22:8-9 it is Ha Elohim (other scriptures of how the acted are found in Deut.1:16;16:18; 25:1; 2 Sam.11:7).

As with any verse we need to read it in its complete context to get the whole meaning the author is writing. Then we are to go to other passages that may relate to it. Remember this is God’s word and will not contradict itself. Isa. 3:13-15 “The LORD stands up to plead, and stands to judge the people. The LORD will enter into judgment with the elders of His people and His princes: “For you have eaten up the vineyard; the plunder of the poor is in your houses. What do you mean by crushing My people and grinding the faces of the poor?” Says the Lord GOD of hosts.

Jesus uses this to pronounce sentence on leaders who were not ruling over the people correctly. Instead they were showing partiality to the wicked and neglected defending the weak. They are wicked in that they do, they do not champion the cause of the poor or helpless. This is what Jesus is referring to in John 10 when he reminds them by quoting Ps.82. They are rulers with the authority God gave in this office. Considering this quote is in the gospel of John that upholds the deity of Christ, it makes this even more severe that certain men would take this out of the context and apply it to themselves. As v.5 says “They do not know nor do they understand; They walk about in darkness; All the foundations of the earth are unstable.”

He is conveying that if unjust judges are called to rule with power and authority, how much more the Son of God whose authority they willfully rejected. Jesus is being sarcastic in a way only those familiar with the Scripture would understand. They accused the only man who ever could legitimately call Himself “God” of blasphemy. And Jesus’ response is if God called men “gods,” (rulers) then Jesus is not blaspheming if indeed He is God.Jesus’ point is that the word of God cannot be broken (v.35) and then points out he was sent into the world by the Father and called himself the Son of God. So He could not be blaspheming. This was all done according to the Scripture. They were given authority to rule by God but they would not bow to his authority. They did not recognize the true God was among them who called himself the Son of God.

Notice Ps.82:6 also says they ‘will die as mere men and fall as one of the princes’, the prince that fell was Satan. This is sarcasm. Jesus is saying ‘the scripture cannot be broken’ referring to the Psalm. They thought they were like God but they will die as mere men. Then they will know the difference between the true God and their own mortality of man. Ps.82 ends with verse 8 ‘Arise, O God, judge the earth; for You shall inherit all nations.’ This points to only true God who can be called God, who eventually will judge and rule over everyone justly.

Let us go elsewhere in Scripture to see if the New Testament supports the teaching of men being gods. Paul and Barnabas were mistakenly called gods: “And when the multitudes saw what Paul had done, they raised their voice, saying in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have become like men and have come down to us.” And they began calling Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker … But when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you in order that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth….” (Acts 14:11-15). Paul did not say, “we are not Zeus and Hermes but you are right, we are gods.” He said we are of the same NATURE as you and He turned them to the only true God, the creator. Here Paul and Barnabus unequivocally denied they were divine or any type of god. Were they ignorant of their new nature? No, not at all. They knew the true God and knew their relationship to him as men; so they could never claim to be more than they really were.

If the little god theory was true Paul would not have said this but he did not believe what some men teach today and would certainly identify it as a teaching not from God but from the devil.

To imagine that we are gods when we are saved is to misunderstand our condition, even though we are new creatures in Christ. Even though the Holy Spirit has taken up residence in our lives, it does not mean that we have been deified! If man is deified, surely we also have to accept the doctrine that we are sinless! Yet, the Scriptures deny that we are sinless, even after our salvation (1 John 1:9).We are still sinners waiting for the full redemption of the body that has the sin nature.

There is something spiritually and fundamentally wrong with people who say they are gods.

And what is the affect of those who call themselves little gods? They believe they can call things into existence, they will be rich and successful like the big god they serve.

Isa. 41:21-24 “Present your case, says the LORD. “Bring forth your strong reasons, says the King of Jacob. “Let them bring forth and show us what will happen; let them show the former things, what they were, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare to us things to come. Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods; yes, do good or do evil, that we may be dismayed and see it together. Indeed you are nothing, and your work is nothing; he who chooses you is an abomination.”

Here God challenges those who claim they are in control like God, and those who listen to them instead of the true God are disgusting to him. For he began his challenge to them all so they can come to a true understanding of God.
V.20 “That they may see and know, and consider and understand together, that the hand of the LORD has done this, and the Holy One of Israel has created it.

Ps. 86:8 “Among the gods there is none like You, O Lord” Ps. 95:3 “For the LORD is the great God, and the great King above all gods.” The Scripture says there exists ONLY ONE GOD; therefore any other that is called god is false by its nature. Genesis 1 says “In the beginning God.” If you were not there with him as him, then you are not God or a god.

As Paul clarifies in1 Cor. 8:5-6 “For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.”

The greatest evil is to call oneself God when they are not. Since there is only one true God no one can ever be in the same class as a creature created by God. This is a delusion of unprecedented proportions to call oneself a god, it is the height of arrogance. It is the same sin in the beginning that caused Lucifer, the greatest creature God created to fall. And it is this same deception that will be rampant in the end.

Here’s what the God of the Universe says in Jer.10:11: “The God’s that have not made heaven and earth will perish.” This means any who claims to be God [god] are in the same category according to the one true God. This certainly means all Gods with a small g or a big G. Nowhere in Scripture is there a teaching of little gods verses big God, but instead false Gods verses the true God. In reality, to claim to be a little god is to put one in the category of a false God. All those who say this will find themselves sharing the same fate of false gods. If you are one of those who believes this, its time to reconsider. You may well receive the same punishment as those other false gods who are not the one true creator.

http://www.letusreason.org/Wf36.htm

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VISUALIZATION: God-Given Power or New Age Danger? (Part Two) by John Weldon and John Ankerberg

Summary

Although visualization can be adapted to almost any philosophy, in its popular usage it is loosely tied to a monistic or pantheistic world view that sees humans as divine and creators of their own reality. The practice itself en-hances and perhaps even sets up the development of the monistic (“all is one”) states of consciousness foundational to the New Age movement. Visualization is commonly used in occult practice, from casting spells to contacting “inner advisors” or spirit guides. As such, Scripture prohibits New Age visualization. Yet even alleged Christian forms of visualization are insufficiently critiqued, of dubious value, and subject to abuse.

Some have heralded the practice of visualization as one of “two important ‘new’ concepts in 20th century American life” (the other important concept being meditation).2 According to its New Age advocates, visualization, which combines mental concentration with directed imagery, is a powerful tool for achieving personal and corporate goals and changing physical, psychological, and spiritual reality.

In Part One of this series we examined the nature, influence, and varieties of visualization, as well as the reasons people use it. In this concluding installment we will consider the world view commonly associated with visualization, dangers inherent in its practice, its occult aspects, and the question of whether Christian visualization can be a safe and biblical practice.

WORLD VIEW

Because the practice of visualization can be adapted to almost any philosophy and uniquely colored by it, there is no well-defined world view we could present that would always be representative. But if we restrict our discussion to the popular and occult types of visualization (as opposed to the academic and Christian types — see the chart in Part One), while recognizing the very real potential for cross-fertilization between the various types, we can see the emergence of a broad outline. Some principal components include the following:

1) Pantheism or monism: an underlying divine energy — the one power or cosmic reality — interconnects everything.

2) Humans are divine in their true nature and control their personal destinies; they are an integral part of this divine energy and can experientially realize this through proper technique and instruction.

3) The mind of each human has “infinite” potential; the “higher self,” unconscious mind, or some such concept provides the connecting link to the infinite, and is believed to be the repository of vast wisdom and power.

4) Visualization is an important technique that taps the higher self and initiates contact with the ultimate cosmic reality.

Andrew Wiehl observes in his Creative Visualization, “In all the Universe there is but one power, the power within yourself.”3 Shakti Gawain in her later book by the same title claims we are linked to “divine omnipresence and omnipotence” and that our “higher self” is “the God-like being who dwells within you.”4 Because of this, “there is no separation between us and God” in that we are “divine expressions” of God, the creative principle.5 In the words of other proponents, “Imagination…empowers [us] to tap the endless and unborn potentials of universal mind,”6 and, “Visualization allows a person to travel into the mind to a space where the possibilities of matter, time and space are unlimited.”7

When used in an occult program, visualization techniques can thus become seemingly powerful instruments for securing New Age goals: “At a practical level, visualization has an uncanny ability to improve the quality of our lives. It does this through its power to heal the body and spirit, to reconstruct the past and to reveal our hidden truths….The most dramatic visualizations touch the deepest part of ourselves — our essence, our core, and allow us to experience connections beyond ourselves, what some describe as cosmic consciousness.”8

Indeed, the visualization process itself may tend to alter the person’s world view. As noted in Part One, Dr. Mike Samuels is an authority on the subject. He discusses the mechanics and implications of the process:

When a person consciously visualizes he gains the ability to hold his mind on one object, to concentrate. This one-pointedness of mind is a state [of meditation] that has special properties: alertness, clarity of thought, identification with the object, and a feeling of participation in the visualization.

The feeling of identification-participation causes the person to be less involved with himself as an entity separate from the world around him. He goes beyond the boundaries, the limitations of his physical body, beyond the awareness of his personality….

Time and space disappear….A person who has the experience feels that it unites him with the universe. He feels he is a part of creation rather than an observer of it….This purity of vision…is associated with tremendous energy surrounding both the visualizer and the image, and the unity of the two. Such energy cannot help but affect the world around it.9

The world view of visualization just discussed is obviously not Christian. The Bible denies that people are one essence with God or the universe because it declares that only God has eternality — for He “alone is immortal” (1 Tim. 6:16) — and only He is an infinite being. Thus the one and only God (John 17:3) who existed from eternity (Ps. 90:2) created the entire material and spiritual universe, including humanity, from nothing. God did not emanate something of Himself in the process of creation so that everything in creation partakes in the nature of God. To the contrary, as the following Scriptures declare, God created the universe merely by speaking it into existence: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1); “The universe was formed at God’s command” (Heb. 11:3); “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made…For he spoke, and it came to be” (Ps. 33:6, 9).

People are not a part of God. Their minds do not have the “infinite” powers attributed to them by visualization philosophy, nor are they a source of true spiritual wisdom apart from spiritual regeneration or rebirth (Prov. 28:26; Jer. 17:9; Mark 7:20-23; James 3:14-17). Furthermore, visualization has no power to initiate contact with God or gain knowledge of Him. Biblically, those who wish to personally know the one true God must come to Him by faith through the true Jesus Christ (John 17:2-3; Col. 1:15-20; 2:9; Heb. 11:6; 1 Pet. 2:24) — not by trust in their own inner vision, a spirit guide masquerading as Christ, or by an alleged mystical union with some abstract impersonal concept of the divine.

DANGERS

It should be recognized that when the mind is manipulated into novel states of consciousness, there is always a potential for spiritual deception and danger. This is true regardless of a person’s motive or environment (i.e., the spiritual context in which he or she is operating). The number of well-meaning people who have embarked on a visualization program for physical health, psychological understanding, or spiritual advancement and ended up involved in the occult is not small. Books on visualization carry numerous anecdotes of how even the well-intentioned and seemingly nonoccult use of visualization catapulted people into the New Age movement, psychic development, and/or spirit contact.

Visualization allegedly has the capacity to place the mind into a certain brain wave pattern conducive to the development of psychic abilities.10 If this is true (and our research leads us to think that it is), how do we view the practice of visualization in Christian psychotherapy? What about visualization techniques practiced in education in general, or among children?11 Prominent educator Jack Canfield states, “When students are participating in a guided imagery experience they are in an altered state of consciousness.”12 To what degree does a belief that is conditioned or manipulated by visualization affect our behavior and our world view? What are the long-term effects of visualization itself, irrespective of the environment in which it occurs? How neutral is a systematic program of repeated visualization exercises?

Experts in both the theory and practice of visualization warn of its potential dangers. For example, H. V. Guenther and leading Tibetan Buddhist guru, Chogyam Trungpa, assert in The Dawn of Tantra: “Certainly practicing visualization without the proper understanding is extremely destructive….Tantric scriptures abound with warnings about using visualization.”13 Practicing occultist J. H. Brennan, whose Astral Doorways cites visualization as an “excellent doorway,” still warns that to mix certain things — such as yoga postures and visualization techniques — without knowing exactly what one is doing “is asking for psychosis.”14

As noted, many people have embarked on a visualization program and converted to occultism as a result. This poses another danger of the practice because, as we have documented elsewhere, occultism is hazardous to people physically, emotionally, and spiritually.15

THE OCCULT

Coauthor Weldon became interested in evaluating the practice of visualization a number of years ago. While examining the latest New Age trends at a local metaphysical book shop, a large bright yellow text with a colorful caduceus caught his eye. The Well Body Book16 was a holistic health home medical handbook. (It was right next to The Well Cat Book and The Well Dog Book.)

He began thumbing through the book and noticed that it stressed visualization exercises. In fact, the ability to visualize was said to be necessary “for understanding many parts of the book.”17 In the acknowledgments, coauthor Mike Samuels, M.D., gave thanks to “Rolling Thunder,” a well-known native American shaman, “who taught me about healing,” as well as to “Braxius, my imaginary doctor.” However, it turns out “Braxius” is the personal spirit guide of Samuels and, therefore, not what a Christian would call imaginary. The story of their meeting is found in Samuels’s coauthored book, Spirit Guides: Access to Inner Worlds,18 a text that utilizes visualization techniques to encounter spirits.

To date, The Well Body Book and Spirit Guides: Access to Inner Worlds have sold over half-a-million copies. The authors have received a “large number” of letters “from readers who have begun to use spirit guides in their [own] lives.”19 Visualization was the basic method used to contact the spirit world.

This is why the relationship between visualization and the occult is our greatest concern. If visualization can lead to spirit contact, it should concern everyone. As we will later document, in spiritistic writings the spirits themselves often recommend visualization practices as important components for securing occult goals, including spirit contact.

In the following section we will examine the occult potential of visualization by showing: (1) the role of visualization in developing psychic abilities; (2) the use of visualization in occult ritual; and (3) the relationship between visualization and spiritism.

1. Psychic Development. The fact that visualization is often used to develop psychic powers is recognized by numerous experts in both the occult and visualization. For example, “The capacity to utilize visual imagination is a regular part of the training for psychics and healers in the Philippine spiritist churches.”20 As noted, lifelong occultist J. H. Brennan acknowledges the need for successful visualization to contact the astral realm where spirits dwell.21 In fact, as Samuels and Samuels observe, “People who have experienced astral travel say they do so by visualizing themselves separating from their physical body, then floating away from it.”22

Parapsychologist Milan Rzyl observes that “the ability to visualize sharply is central to good psychic performance.”23 Thus, for example, psychic Jack Schwarz utilizes visualization and creative imagery in a meditative context to develop and use his psychic powers.24 According to Samuels and Samuels, “The receptive visualization state is a state in which a person can receive extrasensory perceptions of another person’s mind (telepathy), of objects or events (clairvoyance), of future events (precognition), and of psychic diagnosis.”25

2. Occult Ritual. Occult magician David Conway devotes an entire chapter, “Visualization and the Training of a Magician,” to the importance of visualization for magic ritual in his Magic: An Occult Primer. For example: “The technique of visualization is something you will gradually master, and indeed must master if you are to make any progress in magic….It is our only means of affecting the etheric atmosphere. It enables us to build our own thought forms, contact those already in existence and channel elemental energy we need down onto the physical plane.”26

3. Spiritism. Conway also provides an example of a visualization practice used during magic ritual whose goal is to “produce, in reality, the spirit, god, or demon imagined through ritual.” No one knowledgeable in occult ritual has any doubt about the dangers here, least of all Conway.27 Visualization at this point becomes an integral factor in the fostering of spirit possession:

The adept imagines that the god-form or the most congenial of the planetary or sefirothic forms is materializing behind his back. He visualizes this in as much detail as possible. Slowly, as the altar candles flicker, he will sense with a sureness which precludes all doubt that the visualized form is in fact towering inside the circle behind him. On no account must he turn his head to look at whatever is there; any temptation to do so must be sternly resisted: the form may be unbearably hideous or else possess a beauty that may literally be fatal. In the meantime, the adept should endeavor to continue his mantra, although by now his heart will no doubt be beating furiously. Whatever else happens he must not move, even when he senses that the form is so close as to be almost touching him. Above all he must not panic but should comfort himself with the thought that he is safe enough provided he stays where he is.

At last — and he will certainly know when — the god-form will take control of him. To begin with, the adept will feel an exquisite giddiness somewhere at the base of his skull and quickly convulsing the whole of his body. As this happens, and while the power is surging into him, he forces himself to visualize the thing he wants his magic to accomplish, and wills its success. He must put all he has into this [effort] and, like our friends the Bacchantes, must whip himself into a veritable frenzy. It is at this point that the force evoked will be expelled to realize the ritual intention. As he feels the force overflowing inside him the adept, while still visualizing the realized magical intention, bids it go forth to fulfill his wishes.28

In magic ritual we see the full power of visualization: directed imagery, meditation, force of will, and certainly faith. But what many do not realize is that although visualization can be used deliberately in magic ritual for spirit contact and spirit possession, the very same things can be encountered in normal visualization practice or even through purely make-believe fantasy rituals.

Fantasy Spirits? “Philip” and the “Group Spirit”

The story of “Philip,” the “imaginary” spirit, is illustrative.29 A group of psychic investigators and parapsychologists with the Toronto Society for Psychical Research came together to see if they could create the physical phenomena found in a seance and produce a materialized spirit through their “collective mental power [i.e., imagination and visualization] alone.” They named him “Philip,” giving him an imaginary past, personality, and so forth.

They eventually succeeded — quite beyond their expectations — and remain puzzled to this day. Indeed, they have been awed over the subsequent events. What entered their parlor was not an imaginary spirit, but a genuine, living spirit being with its own personality and power — certainly not part of the group’s “collective” mind or energy. Incredibly, however, the group continued to believe that this independent spirit entity and the phenomena it produced were merely the result of their own “imaginative powers.”

One result of this experiment — as knowledge of it spread through articles, a book, and a film — was to camouflage spiritistic phenomena in the guise of human potential. “Philip groups” began all over the world, attempting to duplicate the phenomena of the Toronto group. Thus “the most important feature of this book is the fact that it specifies the method by which the physical PK [psychokinesis] force can be generated by ordinary people and thus made available for study.”30

The only problem was that the contacted “imaginary” spirits “act with their own personalities and idiosyncrasies and not as though they were a part of your subconscious mind.”31 Therefore, many “Philip groups” ended up in actual spirit-contact and necromancy.

Not surprisingly, then, in modern channeled (spiritistic) literature, the spirits actively endorse visualization, recommending specific exercises for learning how to contact them and become a channel:

Enter into the trance state you have practiced. . . .Imagine yourself going higher and higher, transcending ordinary reality and entering into a higher dimension of love, light, and joy. . . .Imagine that many beings of light are coming closer to join you. Feel their love and caring for you. Open your heart to receive them. Imagine the doorways opening between your reality and theirs. Sense the presence of many loving and high beings all around you. . . .Your guide and the guides are aware of you and hold a special welcome for you as you join more closely with them. Imagine that there is a doorway in front of you. . . .When you are ready, walk through this doorway. . . .Ask for the highest guide and teacher who is aligned with you to come forward. Imagine that your guide, a special guide, is coming forward. Sense this guide, feel his or her love for you. Be open to receive. Feel your heart welcoming this guide. Feel the response. Believe that it is really happening! Your imagination is the closest ability you have to channeling, and it is the easiest connection your guide has to you at first. . . . Greet your guide. . . .mentally carry on a conversation with this guide. . . .Ask your guide to begin doing all that he or she can to open the channel, now that you are committed and ready to verbally channel.32

Even cancer therapists O. Carl Simonton and Stephanie Matthews-Simonton, who utilize visualization in a professional setting for cancer therapy, accept this theme of using “imaginary” spirit guides for supposed healing processes. An examination of their book Getting Well Again indicates that they are encouraging nothing less than a form of spiritism.

Consider another illustration of how visualization can be used to contact the spirit world. In Mind Games: The Guide to Inner Space, leading consciousness explorers Robert Masters and Jean Houston tell others how to utilize visualization and trance to develop psychic awareness and monistic consciousness, and then to raise and contact what they term a “Group Spirit.” This is all done as a means to advance the cause of psychic development. Participants actually offer “obeisance” to a materialized spirit masquerading in the form of the collective group consciousness of the “players.”33

Yet, as in the case of “Philip,” this “mental” entity is described as “an entity with an independent existence of its own”34 and as “an actual, intelligent being, conscious and powerful.”35 In truth, the participants in such exercises hold a seance under another name.36

The process described by Masters and Houston is little different from the visualization process described by magician Conway earlier in which magic ritual is used to conjure the spirit that possesses the magician. Further, the purpose is also similar — inspiration and guidance from the entity (the reader may recall that Jean Houston was recently in the national news for directing Hillary Clinton to engage in “imaginary” consultations with Eleanor Roosevelt and other deceased entities):

Go and stand before the place we have designated to be the residing place of this entity we have evoked. Request inspiration in the form of a dance or a song or a chant, something that can be performed by you now, as an offering and in celebration of the spirit of our group….

After that, as instructed by the guide, each player successively will stand near the center of the circle, receiving inspiration, and then carrying out whatever movements or sounds or other behavior the person feels motivated to do and experiencing this motivation as coming directly from the Group Spirit….

The Group Spirit will appear to you in a dream and you will be able to gain a clear and detailed impression of its appearance, and you may be able to enter into a conversation with it, and various things might be revealed to you.37

Jack Canfield also recommends spiritism under another name. He encourages teachers to assist their students to perform a guided imagery exercise developed by Paula Klimek, who is with the Center for Holistic Education. This occult exercise is to be used by students as early as the sixth grade: “It is a very powerful experience which can help students become aware of their essential nature, their highest potential, their unique gift to the world, and their life purpose.”38

But this exercise deliberately attempts to have children contact and develop a relationship with their “special guide”:

You are about to meet a special guide, your own special guide. A guide whom you may ask what the purpose of your life is. . .Meet this guide and pose your question. . .Feel your guide’s unconditional love and strength and beauty. . .Let whatever happens happen. . .communicate with your guide in whatever way possible. . .Listen to your guide. . . .39

Another example of visualization-induced spiritism can be found in Shakti Gawain’s Creative Visualization:

Each one of us has all the wisdom and knowledge we ever need right within us….The inner guide is known by many different names, such as your counselor, spirit guide, imaginary friend, or master. It is a higher part of yourself, which can come to you in many different forms, but usually comes in the form of a person or being whom you can talk to and relate to as a wise and loving friend….

Go to your inner sanctuary [through visualization] and spend a few minutes there, relaxing, getting oriented….See in the distance a form coming toward you, radiating a clear, bright light….

Greet this being, and ask him or her what their name is….Ask your guide if there is anything he or she would like to say to you, or any advice to give you at the moment….

Also your guide may change form and even name from time to time. Or you may have the same one for years. You may have more than one guide at the same time.

Your guide is there for you to call on anytime you need or want extra guidance, wisdom, knowledge, support, creative inspiration, love or companionship. Many people who have established a relationship with their guide meet them every day in their meditation.40

The above process is similar to those found in many other practices, for example, using the imagination to create “imaginary advisors” in New Age seminars such as est (The Forum), Mind Psi Biotics, or Silva Mind Control. Various cults and humanistic or fringe psycho-therapies that have reached millions of people do the same.

From a biblical perspective there is little reason to doubt that visualization techniques can and do result in the contact of genuine spirit beings, however they may be redefined as part of the human imagination or “nervous system.”41 Until recent times, visualization had been relegated to occultists and shamans. But now, medical doctors, athletes, teachers, artists, businesspersons, and even clergy are employing new, updated forms of visualization. Unfortunately, because many psychologists, physicians, and others have little understanding of the mechanics of spiritual deception, they have unknowingly allowed themselves to become pawns in a battle whose players are invisible to them.

QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS

A number of variables may affect the specific outcome of visualization techniques. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen, neither good motives nor a neutral environment are a sufficient safeguard against spiritual deception or other potential dangers. However, the context of visualization (whether the therapist’s office, personal meditation, magic ritual, etc.) and the content of visualization (i.e., the world view into which the practices are structured) are important for determining the relative potential for alignment with the occult.

Certainly, any claim to benevolence is ruled out when visualization is used to develop psychic abilities, enter altered states of consciousness, or magically control the environment, or is used for channeling or other forms of spirit contact. While some of the seemingly innocuous visualization techniques in certain forms of psychotherapy are undoubtedly not the same as visualization programs in the world of the occult, there are still unanswered questions about the possible impact of long-term visualization practices. For example, in education and in Christian or secular psychotherapy, do we know the consequences of sustained visualization practice among children or patients? Can we be sure that long-term visualization practice will never open the door to the experience of so-called “higher consciousness”?

Is there such a thing as neutral visualization in the long-term? When people consecrate themselves into an intensive program of visualization, do they really understand where this may lead? Practices that initially seem innocuous, such as Transcendental Meditation (TM), nevertheless, in the final analysis, can have considerable impact on a person physiologically, emotionally, and spiritually.42 We might ask how a simple sound, a mantra repeated 15 minutes twice a day, could produce such dramatic changes as those brought about by TM. But we could ask the same thing of a simple visualization technique. Perhaps there is more going on here than meets the eye. Perhaps spiritistic influence is a greater possibility than is usually supposed.

Consider someone using visualization to induce astral projection. What factors actualize the event? Intent? Occult environment? Psychophysical changes induced by visualization conducive to trance? The spirits? (Indeed, it is the spirits themselves who often claim to induce and, to a degree, control out-of-body experiences.43) What are the parameters of the psychophysiology of visualization? Where do they end, and where does spiritual deception begin?

Christian Visualization?

Many Christians have used some form of visualization. They argue that in rejecting visualization, the church is ignoring aspects of the creative imagination that are really legitimate. The comments of researcher Stanley Dokupil are perhaps relevant:

One of the reasons the New Agers are making such inroads is that the evangelical church has proven itself to be unimaginative, and overly linear in its thinking. The unconscious is real and there are powers there I believe that are not necessarily evil. Certain individuals by their nature are more inclined toward the full use of their imaginations than others, artists, therapists, certain other creative types, etc. If the church doesn’t provide a discerning guidance for these people, other than outright dismissal of all borderline phenomena as satanic, then the church is not only poorer for having lost these people but will have to pay for it by having God’s gifts used against His own church. The works of Jonathan Edwards, such as Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God, The Distinguishing Marks of a Word of the Spirit of God, A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections, as well as Elizabeth Winslow’s biography of Edwards are very informative here.44

Obviously, we cannot recommend the kinds of visualization we have been discussing in this article. The spiritual risks are too clear. So if the church is going to accept some aspects of the practice of visualization, it will need to sort out the godly uses of the imagination from occult varieties.

Otherwise, how does a Christian therapist using an “inner Jesus” as a guide, friend, and advisor ensure his or her client against spiritism? What safeguards can be provided to ensure that imagination will not lead to unanticipated reality and that a spiritistic Jesus will not appear? Spiritistic Jesuses appear all over the place in the occult, from dictating occult texts such as A Course in Miracles to direct appearances in the temples of the Mormon Church and to various occultists.45

Is the “Jesus” who manifests inwardly in inner healing to guide, comfort, or erase bad memories an entity who must appear at the beck and call of the emotionally needy? If so, how is this different from the familiar spirit of the channeler?

Apart from the occult, how much power does visualization really have? If people were gods-in-embryo with divine energy at their disposal, and if their thoughts actually did create reality, then visualization should create literal miracles — but this is not the case. Given biblical teaching, visualization is mostly impotent and would seem only marginally useful at best even in its allegedly “neutral” or “Christian” therapeutic aspects. In other words, isn’t it true that living in harmony with God’s ordering of the world and obeying His moral standards are vastly more important to physical and spiritual health than are manipulation of mental pictures through visualization — even in a Christian context?

Another issue to face is where the Christian should be deriving his or her personal identity. Is our self-image to be determined from our creative imagination or from the Word of God? Do the popular visualization techniques applied in a Christian context really conform to reality? Belief can certainly affect our behavior but such belief must be based either upon reality or something possible. New Age and much Christian positive confession imaging do not count as true what is true; they only imagine and visualize as true what one wants to be true but really is not true — and, if people are honest, what continues not to be true.46

If visualization truly puts us in contact with our inner being, our subconscious, what can we expect to accomplish but perhaps the welling up of that reality that Jesus spoke of? “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean’” (Mark 7:20-23). Perhaps this is the reason why many authorities have warned about the psychological danger resulting from using visualization to explore the unconscious. But New Age theorists and most visualizing church members must regard the biblical doctrine of human depravity as anathema. To find the “divine” within, with its suggestion of universalism, the words of Christ must be ignored or reinterpreted.

Therefore, is the visualization program that seeks to remold human depravity into divinity really based on reality? Whose reality? If a Christian has been forgiven, regenerated, justified, joined to Christ, adopted, and positionally sanctified, how important is a spiritual program of visualization? These doctrines are spiritual realities and facts one need only understand and accept to integrate.47 While the imagination might help a Christian to see such realities as personally true, this perception is not something that needs to be attained through a daily program of visualization.

God has promised Christians many things — that He will finish the work He began in us (Phil. 1:6), that our inner man is being renewed day by day (2 Cor. 4:16; 3:18), that we will stand before Him blameless, perfect in body, soul, and spirit — for “the one who calls you is faithful and he will do it” (1 Thess. 5:24).

Christians are to be renewed daily by the Holy Spirit, prayer, and the Word of God. They are not to be renewed by a transpersonal psychology using Eastern metaphysics or inner work through visualization. The power of the Word of God to build a truly integrated person in those whom it “renews” makes modern visualization pale by contrast. Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Where then is the spiritual power of visualization? Will an hour a day of our busy lives be better spent in visualization or in prayer? Will an hour a day be better spent on the therapist’s couch talking to an imaginary “inner Jesus” or in the Word of God hearing from the real Jesus? And what of our children? Will secular or New Age visualization methods in the classroom finally be in their best interests?

In our culture, visualization practices are here to stay. This underscores the necessity for Christians to bring a thoroughgoing, biblical critique to this occult method.

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VISUALIZATION: God-Given Power or New Age Danger? (Part One) by John Weldon and John Ankerberg

Summary

Visualization is the use of mental concentration and directed imagery in the attempt to secure particular goals, whether physical, psychological, vocational, educational, or spiritual. Visualization attempts to program the mind to discover inner power and guidance. It is often used as a means to, or in conjunction with, altered states of consciousness (e.g., as produced by meditation), and is frequently used to develop psychic abilities or make contact with spirits. There are at least four identifiable types of visualization in our culture: academic, popular, occult, and Christian. Although there are boundaries separating these types, they are usually fairly fluid, and there is much potential for interrelationships between them. The practice of visualization, a directed form of mental imagery and concentration, is having broad and substantial impact in our culture.

It involves the deliberate manipulation of the mind, individually or in conjunction with an assistant, to alter one’s consciousness toward a specific goal — often the seeking of some form of secret knowledge or power. Perhaps the most authoritative general text on the subject, Seeing with the Mind’s Eye: The History, Techniques and Practices of Visualization, observes, “If there are two important ‘new’ concepts in 20th century American life, they are meditation and visualization.”2

The book’s authors continue, “The growth of interest in visualization since the 1960s is part of a new climate of thought in the West. This new climate has manifested in an interest in all forms of imagery, in the experience of Eastern religions and philosophy, in hypnotism, and in hallucinogenic drugs and altered states of consciousness in general.”3

Visualization is prominent in modern humanistic/transpersonal education and increasingly finding its way into even conventional educational curriculum. Jack Canfield is Director of Educational Services for Insight Training Seminars in Santa Monica, California, past president of the Association for Humanistic Education, and consultant to over 150 schools, universities, and mental health organizations. In “The Inner Classroom: Teaching with Guided Imagery,” he asserts: “Guided imagery is a very powerful psychological tool which can be used to achieve a wide variety of educational objectives: enhance self-esteem, expand awareness, facilitate psychological growth and integration, evoke inner wisdom, increase empathy, expand creativity, increase memory, facilitate optimal performance, evoke a more positive attitude, and accelerate the learning of subject matter.”4

The reason visualization is being lauded today as an extremely powerful psychological tool for inner healing and personal transformation is that proponents claim it works dramatically. In this first of a two-part series, we will examine the nature and influence of visualization, the reasons people use it, and the different kinds of visualization. In all of this we will see that the spiritual implications of visualization practice are significant.

THE NATURE OF VISUALIZATION

New Age visualization claims to work by using the mind to influence one’s perceptions and personal reality. Proponents claim that by properly controlling each person’s alleged mental power, they can influence and change a person’s ideas, consciousness, and even his or her physical and spiritual environment.

For example, visualization can supposedly be used to change one’s self-image from negative to positive by holding a positive image of oneself in the mind. Visualization may also serve to uncover a claimed “inner divinity” that can allegedly manipulate reality. By creating the proper mental image and environment and then holding it or projecting it outward, practitioners claim they can exercise mental power over every aspect of their lives. Related practices are also used in magic ritual to call on spirits in order to secure such goals.

Because the mind is potentially so powerful, proponents say, proper visualization methods can affect health, finances, educational abilities, relationships, vocation — and even one’s destiny. In many Hindu and Buddhist religions, for example, the thought or image one holds at death is believed to powerfully influence one’s next life. This is one reason given for adopting mental training exercises such as visualization.

THE INFLUENCE OF VISUALIZATION

Visualization and imagery practices are being pursued by millions of people in America. These practices are having a growing impact in diverse fields, from New Age medicine and education, to a variety of occult practices, to certain schools of psychotherapy (i.e., the Jungian, humanistic, and transpersonal schools), to human potential seminars. The text Seeing with the Mind’s Eye observes the following: “In the last hundred years spec-specialists in different fields have begun to rediscover the existence and meaning of visualization. Historians, religious scholars, archaeologists, physicians, and psychologists have begun to study the nature of the inner image as it relates to their area of specialization. There is no widely accepted overview of visualization at this time. There is only a general striving toward understanding in many fields, from many viewpoints.”5

Many scientific journals on visualization have emerged, such as the Journal of Mental Imagery. They document the impact of visualization in psychology, education, the arts and literature, linguistics, mythology, anthropology, sociology, religion, and even thanatology (the study of death and dying).6

Different forms of visualization exist, with different goals. But even a brief perusal of the general influence of visualization is impressive.

Medicine. Visualization is used widely in New Age medicine. The relevance of visualization techniques here will become evident as we proceed. For now, we may observe that a central tenet of much New Age medicine is the manipulation of mystical life energies such as chi and prana. Visualization promoters also claim that the practice of visualization can “produce” and manipulate this energy:

Physicists have also begun to study subtle body energies and their effect on the world outside the body. Throughout history, philosophers have recognized this energy and given it many names. The Chinese called it chi, and the Indians prana or kundalini, the Japanese ki; 20th century parapsychologists have referred to it as bio-plasmic energy….Russian and Czechoslovakian scientists have studied bio-plasmic energy in association with healing, telepathy and psychokinesis. They have found that through visualization a woman named Nelya Mikhailoya can change her bio-plasmic energy fields….Studies like this tend to confirm occult belief in such concepts as auras and astral bodies. These experiments demonstrate how a visualization [technique] can produce energy which directly affects objects in the external world.7

Education. Visualization is now employed in education, such as in counseling, creative writing, and problem-solving courses. It is also used to develop altered states of consciousness in students in order to acquire the capacity to reach “inner guides” or allegedly tap the “higher self” and its powers. It is used for enhanced learning potential, self-esteem, and stress reduction.

Occultism. Shamans, spiritists, magicians, and witches routinely use visualization. Many people are familiar with American shamans Carlos Castaneda and Lynn Andrews, whose books have sold in the multiple millions. Their writings stress that visualization is a key ingredient for success as a shaman. According to hypnotherapists Richard Dobson and Natasha Frazier, “In the last few years shamanic trance techniques have been taught or explained almost entirely as a form of visualization.”8

Visualization is widely used in psychic healing. For instance, psychic healers Amy Wallace (granddaughter of Irving Wallace) and Bill Henkin observe in The Psychic Healing Book: How to Develop Your Psychic Potential Safely, Simply, Effectively: “Visualization is one of the most potent and widely used techniques in [psychic] healing. It has been stressed for centuries in schools of Eastern mysticism and is used in nearly every contemporary school of ‘consciousness-raising.’”9

Visualization is common to numerous occult religions. These include Rosicrucianism, Tantrism, and the mind sciences (New Thought, Divine Science, Unity School of Christianity, Religious Science, etc.).

In essence, occult practitioners of all stripes use visualization. For example, Kreskin, the psychic and famous “mentalist,” confesses he “rehearses constantly through mental imagery.”10

Psychotherapy. Visualization is also widely used in psychotherapy. According to one source, “The use of the imagination is one of the most rapidly spreading new trends in psychology and education….It is interesting to notice that many of the modern pioneers of imaginative techniques, Hans Karl Leuner and Robert Desoille among them, have stressed the compatibility of such techniques with all main schools of psychology.”11 Mike Samuels, M.D., who coauthored Seeing with the Mind’s Eye with his wife, is a committed spiritist and author of Spirit Guides: Access to Inner Worlds.12 In their book, Mike and Nancy Samuels devote almost two hundred pages to the use of visualization in modern psychology, medicine, parapsychology, art and creativity, and the occult or, as they call it, “the spiritual life.”13 They discuss visualization techniques used within many psychological disciplines and methods, including Freudian, Jungian, induced hypnagogic reverie, aversive training, implosion therapy, hypnotherapy (the spiritistic ability of automatic writing is classified here), behaviorist systematic desensitization, induced dream work, Kretschmer’s meditative visualizations, Leuner’s guided affective imagery, Gestalt psychodrama, psychosynthesis, and others.14

The Journal of Mental Imagery is sponsored by the International Imagery Association which conducts regular meetings for the academic community. The brochure for the Sixth American Imagery Conference held in San Francisco, “Timeless Therapeutic Images,” observed:

A rapidly growing body of scientific findings from psychology, psychiatry and neuropsychology has found that fast and extensive emotional, physiological and psychological change can occur through mental imagery….The image resides at the core of consciousness….It effortlessly joins the inner self with the outside world, permits the positive to confront and overcome the negative, leads us to an appreciation of art in Nature, [and] forges new paths in consciousness through new perception.15

As the Spiritual Counterfeits Project in Berkeley, California warns, many such conferences “may best be described as an amorphous blend of secular scientific materialism and a (sometimes) disguised brand of occult philosophy….[At one conference attended] the primary focus during the conference…was on the use of imaging in order to contact one’s personal inner advisor or spirit guide.”16

The practice of psychosynthesis is a fringe psychotherapy blending various Eastern and Western methods of self-awareness. It was developed by Robert Assagioli, who for years was the Italian director of Lucis Trust, the occult organization founded by New Age leader Alice A. Bailey.17 It makes extensive use of visualization and imagery in order to contact the “higher self,” which can become the means for psychic development and spirit contact.

Along similar lines, a psychic named Bob Hoffman (with the supposed help of a dead friend, Dr. Siegfried Fisher) and a psychiatrist named Ernest Pecci, developed a system of psychic psychotherapy called the Fischer-Hoffman technique, later renamed the Quadrinity Process. “This system involves imagining an inner sanctuary and a spirit guide in order to aid in receptive visualization.”18 One Quadrinity teacher, Jean Porter, reveals its occult application through her book, Psychic Development (Random House, 1974).

An early pioneer in the academic use of visualization was German psychiatrist Johannes H. Schultz. From his clinical experience with hypnosis,19 he developed what is called “Autogenic Training.” This is a form of therapy using autosuggestion, visualization, deep relaxation, and other techniques. According to visualization authority Samuels, it “is the most thoroughly researched and widely applied of all the systems of visualization in healing. Autogenic training has many characteristics in common with hypnotherapy (especially autosuggestion), certain psychic healing techniques, relaxation healing techniques…ancient yogic techniques, and the more recent healing techniques taught in mind-control courses.”20

In fact, some enthusiasts promote Autogenic Training as a method of developing occult states of consciousness for those who don’t want to take the time to follow an Eastern path:

Persons who, for whatever reasons, are not inclined to engage in any of the Eastern meditative techniques…might do well to consider autogenic training. It is a remarkably thorough and systematically designed practice with an end result comparable to that of diligent meditation….

In essence, the final stages of autogenic training may be compared to the breakthroughs of consciousness obtained through meditative techniques of various kinds.21

Wolfgang Luthe, one of Schultz’s students is “now the acknowledged authority on Autogenic Training.”22 He is author of Autogenic Training and, with Schultz, the technical seven-volume Autogenic Therapy, which cites some 2,400 case studies. Schultz observes that the autogenic program of visualization exercises may be improved by the use of meditation: “All the positive effects of the standard exercises are reinforced by this meditative training.”23 One part of the meditation has the patient “ask questions of his own conscious inner self,”24 a technique which has not infrequently become the means to spirit contact.

The influential psychoanalyst Carl Jung, himself a student of the occult,25 developed his own visualization method called “active imagination.” This potentially dangerous technique is considered a “powerful tool in Jung-ian psychology for achieving direct contact with the unconscious and obtaining greater inner knowledge.”26

Jungian analyst Barbara Hannah is a teacher at the prominent C. G. Jung Institute. In Encounters with the Soul: Active Imagination as Developed by C. G. Jung,27 she frankly admits the danger of active imagination and reveals in detail how it can powerfully influence the mind. She urges “great caution” before anyone employs this method.28 Hannah also confesses that active imagination employs a time-honored method to contact the “gods.”29 Indeed, there is little doubt that it may facilitate contact with what can only be termed spirit guides.30 However, these spirits are typically internalized as powerful psychodynamics; that is, they are conceptually normalized as part of the internal “structure” of the unconscious mind.

Human Potential Seminars. Most of the popular “think yourself rich” (or healthy, sexy, happy, etc.) seminars and texts endorse and use visualization. Modern New Age seminars, such as Silva Mind Control31 and the Forum (formerly “est”), collectively have millions of graduates, on whom they have used varying visualization techniques. In one’s mind, one can create “projection screens” on which to picture desired images — whether seeing oneself with greater self-confidence, learning abilities, or less weight, or imagining one’s white blood cells warding off viral invaders or specific illnesses. Further still, a secret inner sanctuary or mental laboratory may be constructed where one may contact “inner advisors” or spirit guides for assistance in decision making and direction in life.

The Church. Not unexpectedly, the modern impact of visualization in health, science, education, psychotherapy, and other areas has resulted in visualization techniques being used by more and more Christians. Jon Trott and Eric Pement note that “visualization exercises are increasingly finding their way into Christian churches.”32 In The Seduction of Christianity, author Dave Hunt devotes two chapters to the harmful influence of visualization within the church. He observes, “‘Visualization’ and ‘Guided Imagery’ have long been recognized by sorcerers of all kinds as the most powerful and effective methodology for contacting the spirit world in order to acquire supernatural power, knowledge and healing. Such methods are neither taught or practiced in the Bible as helps to faith or prayer.”33

Hunt distinguishes visualization proper from the nonoccult use of the imagination. He observes:

The visualization we are concerned with is an ancient witchcraft technique that has been at the heart of shamanism for thousands of years, yet is gaining increasing acceptance in today’s secular world and now more and more within the church. It attempts to use vivid images held in the mind as a means of healing diseases, creating wealth, and otherwise manipulating reality. Strangely enough, a number of Christian leaders teach and practice these same techniques in the name of Christ, without recognizing them for what they are.34

As more people turn inward or seek “enlightenment,” as interest in parapsychology and psychic development increases, as mind-altering techniques are utilized more and more in the medical, educational, sports,35 and psychotherapeutic communities, and as mind science philosophies and human potential New Age seminars grow in impact, the use of visualization will increase proportionately. Such an influence will continue impacting the church. But as Part Two will document, the world view of the visualization promoters is rarely Christian. Instead, it is often blatantly occult or humanistic. As Stanley Dokupil comments, “Imagination is fast becoming the focus of much of New Age thought and method.”36

WHY PEOPLE USE VISUALIZATION

We now turn to the claims visualization proponents have made. They can be summarized under three dominant themes: (1) the quest for personal power; (2) the quest for inner knowledge or spiritual enlightenment; (3) the quest for physical health. The following citations are representative for each category.

1. The Quest for Personal Power. Psychic Harold Sherman says, “There is tremendous power in imagery.”37 Andrew Wiehl claims in Creative Visualization: “Wonders have been performed, seeming miracles wrought, through visualization. It is a God-given power available to anyone.”38

2. The Quest for Spiritual Enlightenment. Jack Canfield remarks, “To me the most interesting use of guided imagery is the evocation of the wisdom that lies deep within us.” He proceeds to discuss how students can contact their own spirit guides as “wisdom counselors.”39

Mike Samuels observes, “Philosophers and priests in every ancient culture used visualization as a tool for growth and rebirth….Most religions have used visualization as one of their basic techniques in helping people to realize their spiritual goals. Visualization intensifies any experience.”40 In Visualization, est-graduate Adelaide Bry asserts that the practice has the power to “reveal our hidden truths” and to allow us to experience personal connections to “cosmic consciousness.”41

A journal devoted to Robert Assagioli’s method of psychosynthesis claims, “Imagination is superior to all nature and generation, and through it we are capable of transcending the worldly order, or participating in eternal life and in the energy of the super-celestial. It is through this principle, therefore, that we will be liberated from the bonds of fate itself.”42

3. The Quest for Physical Health. Consciousness researcher Kenneth Pelletier of the Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute in San Francisco teaches: “The greatest potential of autogenic training and visualization [is as]…a potent tool in a holistic approach to preventative medicine.”43 In his Positive Imaging the late popular “positive thinker” Norman Vincent Peale cites shamanistic researchers Jeanne Achterberg and G. Frank Lawlis as stating: “Imagery may well prove the single most important technique for modern health-care.”44

Unfortunately, people may get more than they bargained for when they use visualization techniques for personal power, spiritual/educational enlightenment, or physical/mental health. Visualization programs usually come with additional baggage — various accompaniments, world views, and physical and spiritual dangers. But before we examine this additional baggage, we will first note the different varieties of imagery and visualization. This will help us to avoid confusing related, but distinct, practices.

TYPES OF VISUALIZATION

Visualization is essentially a powerful and directed use of the imagination with a wide variety of specific goals and methods. One problem in writing briefly on this topic is that the many different types of visualization make a general analysis difficult. The academic varieties do not have the same goals or necessarily the same methods as do the occult or Christian forms of visualization, so a valid critique in one area will not necessarily be valid in another. For example, those interested in imagination in the context of an occult world view do not have the same purposes or even practices as Christians who may attempt to use the imagination for what they see as godly purposes.

The chart on this page helps distinguish the types of visualization. It reveals that boundaries between the categories are rarely absolute; often it is more a matter of degree.

FOUR TYPES OF VISUALIZATION

1 Academic:

*Autogenic Training
*Jungian methods
*Imagery studies
*Secular or Transpersonal Psychotherapy

2 Popular:

*New Age therapies
*Mind Science practices
*Personal or business-oriented
motivational/achievement programs and seminars

3 Occult:

*Ritual magic
*Shamanism
*Psychic healing
*Spiritism
*Hinduism
*Buddhist practice
(such as the use of mandalas)

4 Christian:

*Christian psychotherpy
*Inner healing
*Jesus visualization
*Visualization with Scripture45

Between types 1 and 3, and 3 and 4, some boundaries are concrete, but potential interrelationships exist.

Between types 2 and 3, boundaries are fairly fluid.

Between types 1 and 4, and 2 and 4, boundaries are more fluid; potential and actual interrelationships exist.

VARIETIES OF VISUALIZATION

There are three general varieties of visualization:

1. Programmed Visualization is an active process used individually; for example, the practitioner holds a positive image in the mind in order to “create” the desired object or situation. It can be performed on the psychiatric couch or in magic ritual.

2. Receptive Visualization is a passive process; it “lets the movie roll” after an initial theme, setting, or the like is developed in the consciousness. The method is passive in that it receives whatever comes into the mind, which is usually interpreted as special guidance of some kind, such as instructions from one’s “higher self,” “inner guide,” or “divine consciousness.”

3. Guided Visualization, also termed guided imagery, employs a friend, counselor, or family member in either a therapeutic or occult, New Age context. The therapist suggests a scene — such as a meadow or a forest — and the patient imaginatively elaborates upon the scene as a key to his or her own “inner processes” and “unconscious conflicts.” Guided imagery may also be done by a leader of a New Age seminar or practice who helps the audience construct a particular mental environment for contacting a spirit guide. Silva Mind Control, with some eight million graduates, is one example.

These general types of visualization can be described loosely under a number of terms: guided fantasy, mental imaging, active imagination, directed daydreaming, inner imagery, and so forth. But it should be remembered that visualization is not the same thing as imagery. Visualization involves imagery, but the imagery is purposely directed toward a particular goal.

How does imagery differ from visualization? There are different forms of imagery, many of which we all experience. For instance, a “memory image” is a reconstruction of a genuine past event tied to a specific occasion, like the vivid recollection of one’s first date retained over a period of many years.

An “imagination image” is the construction of an imaginary image that may or may not contain elements of past perceptions or events but in any case is arranged in a novel way. One might, for example, imagine how one’s home would look with a new car parked in front, or how the living room would look with the furniture rearranged. One might also imagine what it would be like to be in heaven (or hell), or how one of the biblical prophets dealt with a difficult situation — or what one would do in his place. This is similar to “daydream fantasy” in which there is a combination of memory and imagination images.

In the sleep imagery of dreams we also find past perceptions reconstructed in novel arrangements.

Other types of imagery are experienced only rarely. In hallucinations we find internal imagery that is wrongly believed to be external. In supernatural visions we find externally induced, internally occurring imagery. These revelations may be either true or false, depending on whether they are from God or the devil (Matt. 4:8; Ezek. 1:1).

There are many other varieties of imagery. Typically, however, these kinds of imagery are not visualization. They lack the accompaniments, commitment, and trust involved in the visualization process and its specific techniques. All this is why it is important to distinguish imagination and imagery from visualization proper.

ACCOMPANIMENTS OF VISUALIZATION

Visualization is rarely used by itself. The typical accompaniments of visualization include: (1) relaxation, (2) meditation (sometimes accompanied by yoga-like controlled breathing and postures), (3) the cultivation of will power, (4) various forms of self-hypnosis, and (5) faith or trust in the “guide” (whether human or spirit) and in the process of visualization itself.

Relaxation is, of course, a vital and necessary part of everyday living. But when combined with visualization and meditation techniques, it can be transformed into an occult process. In “Relax Your Way to ESP,” a well-known psychic researcher, the recently deceased D. Scott Rogo, refers to the research of parapsychologist Rhea White, who discovered that of the greatest psychics “by and large many of [them] began with relaxation.”46 These psychics also stress the importance of suggestion and visualization.47

In Creative Visualization, New Age psychic Shakti Gawain observes, “It’s important to relax deeply when you are first learning to use creative visualization.”48 Jack Canfield even encourages classroom students to practice a variety of occult or potentially occult relaxation techniques just prior to the visualization process, including breath awareness, breath imagery, breath control, progressive relaxation, autogenic training, polarity, and chanting.49

In the following excerpt from Opening to Channel, two spirit-guides, “Orin” and “DaBen,” offer advice for relaxation which “helps you become accustomed to the state of mind that is best for a [spirit] guide’s entry.”50

Exercise from Orin and DaBen

Achieving a Relaxed State

Goal: This exercise is basic preparation for going into trance. We want your experience of channeling to be relaxing, easy, and joyful….

Steps:

1. Find a comfortable sitting position, either on a chair or the floor, which you can easily hold for ten or fifteen minutes.

2. Close your eyes and begin breathing calmly and slowly, taking about twenty slow, rhythmic, connected breaths into your upper chest.

3. Let all your concerns go. Imagine them vanishing. Every time a thought comes up, imagine it on a blackboard, then effortlessly erase it, or imagine putting each thought into a bubble that floats away.

4. Relax your body. Feel yourself growing serene, calm, and tranquil. In your imagination, travel through your body, relaxing each part. Mentally relax your feet, legs, thighs, stomach, chest, arms, hands, shoulders, neck, head, and face. Let your jaw be slightly open, and relax the muscles around your eyes.

5. Put up a bubble of white light around you. Imagine its size, shape, and brightness. Play with making it larger and smaller until it feels just right.

6. When you are calm and relaxed and ready to return, bring your attention slowly back into the room. Savor and enjoy your state of calm and peace. . . usually it is sufficient to practice every day for twenty minutes or so for one to two weeks to grow accustomed to deeper relaxation and inner stillness. This regime is not absolutely essential, but helps you become accustomed to the state of mind that is best for a guide’s entry.51

Relaxation, then, is an important component of successful visualization.

Meditation is a second component. Visualization is often conducted within a meditative environment, such as a structured program of internal concentration using a mantra or word of psychic power. As we have shown elsewhere,52 almost all meditation other than biblical meditation develops psychic powers, inculcates a nonbiblical, occult world view, and can open the door to spirit contact. Gawain observes that “almost any form of meditation will eventually take you to an experience of yourself as source, or your higher self.”53 What she means by “source” here is ultimate reality or God.

The systematic use of will power for effective visualization is stressed in magical and occult texts, particularly for ritualistic purposes. To a degree it parallels the popular usage, although often for different goals.54 Regardless, without willful intent and commitment, visualization does not exist. Thus,

Programmed visualization…is the deliberate use of the power of your own mind to create your own reality….there is nothing too insignificant or too grand for you to visualize. Our lives are limited by what we see as possible….A basic rule of visualization is: you can use visualization to have whatever you want, but YOU MUST REALLY, REALLY WANT WHAT YOU VISUALIZE. (emphases in original)55

Hypnosis can be another component of visualization. In fact, some visualization and progressive relaxation methods are indistinguishable from hypnosis.56 Hypnosis may be part of or joined with visualization in both the popular and the academic varieties. As far as the latter are concerned, interest in hypnosis is usually sparked by the fact that one’s ability to visualize and one’s susceptibility to hypnosis are related: “Imaginative involvement, or absorption in fantasy experiences, and high imagery are known to be positively related to measured hypnotizability….Today the intimacy between imagination and hypnosis are [sic] clearly recognized and studied by appropriate scientific methods.”57

Faith or trust is held to be an integ-integral factor regulating the effectiveness of visualization. As is clear from the material cited below, without such trust a person cannot expect much in terms of results. Yet, faith is rarely placed in the biblical God or Christ but rather in one’s own alleged inner powers, mental capacity, or “intuitive” abilities; or in cosmic energy, the universe, and so forth. The following statements note the importance of faith: “To put it another way, in attempting this or any other technique for self realization, one needs to trust that it can work.”58 “Have faith that it will materialize as you picture it, and never for a moment doubt it….Just as an attorney must understand law in order to practice it…so must we understand the law of the Universe and co-operate with it in order to have our desires realized. The more faith and enthusiasm we put into our mental imaging, the sooner it will work out for us.”59

CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS

Our discussion of visualization thus far suggests a number of conclusions: (1) We all routinely experience certain types of imagery. (2) Imagery is a component of visualization but may be studied in and of itself, apart from visualization. In other words, imagery studies may be strictly scientific and neutral, or they may be placed into a larger metaphysical world view. (3) Imagery is therefore not necessarily visualization. Visualization demands the exercise of will and faith within a context of relaxation, meditation, and often self-hypnosis. (4) In general, the classes, types, and methods of visualization can be, to one degree or another, fluid in their interrelationships. (5) The components of visualization often regulate its outcome. That is, they place it within a certain context, a certain world view, and to that degree influence the method’s effectiveness, impact, and spiritual implications.

In Part Two we will examine the world view that commonly accompanies the practice of visualization. We will also consider the dangers associated with visualization, its occult aspects, and the question of whether Christian visualization can be a safe and biblical practice.

http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Estates/6535/visual1.htm

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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 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.

 
 

 

http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/newage.html

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