The New Age Movement (referred to as NAM throughout this article) is said to be the fastest growing belief system in America, There it has infiltrated deeply into the education system and received great impetus from well-known entertainers of stage and cinema, the most notable being Shirley MacLaine.
NAM is not a cult in the traditional sense, as it has no recognized headquarters, no governing body, no set creed and no doctrinal statement of beliefs. It is not a single organization, but a network of organizations which inter-connect and overlap with each other. These reach out into every level and sector of society, including education, films, ecology, religion, politics, health, music, diet, technology, industry, government and the arts. NAM is so extensive in the western world that it has become part of the general ethos and thinking of society, being mentioned in soap operas, reported extensively in the media and much of its phraseology is now in common usage.
The central plank of this mishmash of ideas is that a new age is about to dawn. This is called the Aquarian Age. Aquarius is an astrological symbol for the water carrier and represents man’s ability to carry his own burden: therefore he does not need God to help and support him. This age is said to supersede the Age of Pisces, the fish, which is also the symbol of Christianity. So New Agers believe a golden age is imminent, when man will have no need of God. It will involve a one world system, with one government, one religion, one financial system and one police force. Globalism will have been achieved and man will be supreme. Thus NAM is sometimes called ‘The Deification of Man’.
This new age will dawn when enough people worldwide are ‘tuned in’. This essentially Hindu belief happens when people’s ‘individual con-sciousness’ is altered sufficiently to tune into the ‘universal consciousness’. Anything which can be used to bring about this altered state of conscious-ness for the individual is acceptable, including the use of drugs, yoga, hypnotism, meditation, scream therapy, braindrive machines, sitting in pyramids, astral travel and occult activity. There are numerous doors into the mind-transforming world of NAM.
In modern times NAM has gained impetus from the turbulence of the 1960’s, when many young people turned to drugs and ‘dropped-out’ of society. The anthem ‘Aquarius’ was sung in the musical ‘Hair’ which was used to introduce disaffected young people to NAM. Many of those drop-outs have now dropped back into society and occupy positions of influ-ence whilst still retaining NAM ideas.
The Theosophical Society (founded by Madame Blavatsky in the 19th century) has given a philosophical framework for NAM. Blavatsky em-braced Hindu ideas, was opposed to Judeo-Christian beliefs, assumed an evolutionary process whereby revealers of truth (known as avatars) such as Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius, Zoroaster, Moses and Krishna, lead to-wards enlightenment. This is a sort of ‘spiritual’ evolution towards a golden new age. Alice Bailey developed these ideas in a prodigious output of writing and many new agers are following her plan, whereby from 1975 NAM members were allowed to start publicizing the New Age goals and objectives. Thus, what had previously been secret could now be openly propagated.
NAM is a blend of eastern religious ideas, occultism, psychic phenom-ena and ‘me-ism’. The latter simply means that there is a great emphasis upon looking within, to find the inner self, to realize my potential, or to develop my conscious awareness. It could be described as ‘selfism’. How-ever, the cement which holds the edifice together is belief in reincarnation, or as it is more technically called, transmigration of the soul. This is the eastern idea of cyclic rebirth, where a person keeps paying for past misdeeds until the bad is balanced by good. Without reincarnation it would appear that many could die before the arrival of the New Age. So reincarnation holds out the promise that people will live in the ‘golden’ new age to come, even though they may have to pass through many lifetimes before they finally arrive there. Needless to say the idea of reincarnation finds no support in the Bible.
NAM is tolerant of all religions except monotheism (belief in one God). So Christianity is seen as an enemy to be ruthlessly destroyed. The God of the Bible is rejected for monism (that all is one) and pantheism (that all is God, i.e. that God is not separate from creation). Jesus Christ is seen simply as an avatar or world teacher who helped bring some enlighten-ment. Alice Bailey viewed Jesus as a ‘Master’ who acted as a bodily vehicle for the ‘Cosmic Christ’ 2,000 years ago.
Salvation is viewed as the working out of bad deeds for good through reincarnation (known as the process of karma). Absolute standards are rejected in favour of relativism, Also heaven and hell are rejected, as is the second coming of Christ. There is, however, an expectation that a sort of Messiah figure (known as Maitraya) will be revealed in the relatively near future.
Below are listed six pointers for identification of a New Ager or a New Age group:
1. A commitment to furthering the New Age.
2. Belief in monism, pantheism, reincarnation, spiritual evolution and ascended masters.
3. Occult activity such as channelling or mediumship, astrology (called: ‘The Religion of the Aquarian Age’), psychic healing, numerology, magic, inducing altered states of consciousness, use of pyramids or crystals.
4. Use of terminology such as ‘higher self, ‘self-realization’, ‘cosmic consciousness’, ‘universal energy’, ‘chakras’, ‘kundalini’ and ‘yin and yang’.
5. Certain political ideas such as ‘new world order’ or ‘planetary citi-zens’.
6. Today a lot of concern is rightly expressed over issues like health and the environment. Unfortunately, many approaches to dealing with these needs are undergirded by New Age philosophy. These would include aspects of holistic health, green parties and therapy groups such as EST (now known as ‘Forum’), Lifespring and Silva Mind Control seminars.
Findhorn in the north of Scotland is the first New Age community. It offers an on-going educational programme in the principles of New Age spirituality. Ancient pagan and druid sites such as Glastonbury and Avebury are places of pilgrimage and supposed psychic power for many New Age travellers.
Committed New Agers are determined to usher in the Age of Aquarius, but many others are part of the New Age and unaware of it. They may have become involved through genuine concern for the environment, anxiety over their health or sadness at the loss of a loved one. Many are involved and do not believe all aspects of the New Age, indeed they may practise some New Age activities and be unaware of the central aims.
A deep concern is that NAM has infiltrated the Christian church, with St. James, Piccadilly, being a well-known centre for many New Age activities. Also many Christians, because of a lack of careful and prayerful considera-tion, have become involved by turning to treatments by practitioners of alternative medicine or holistic health, joined ‘green’ or environmentally-concerned organizations, or opened up their lives to New Age ideas through yoga, or seminars organized for industry to realize the full poten-tial of employees.
Christians must be aware that it is easy to be dominated by ideas from society portrayed through the media. Our ideas should be formed by the Lord as revealed through His Word. We need to show genuine love and patience when ministering the Gospel to people involved in NAM. They often take life seriously, have well-meaning motives and view Christians as hard, uncaring and old-fashioned (locked into a way of thinking which has no relevance for today). We must reveal the loving heart of the Saviour and show that the Gospel is truly relevant for our generation.
Further information: ‘New Age Movement’ by Paul Young (price £1 + p+p) obtainable from 33 Kings Terrace, Maesteg, Mid Glamorgan, CF34 OHD.