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new age QUESTION from pamela antonovs November 4, 2000 what must i watch out for when i find myself in such a group?
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, O.L.S.M. on January 28, 2001 Dear Mrs. Antonovs:
I am not sure of your question. Are you asking, what must you watch out for when you find yourself in a new age group?
You must watch out for the door, find it quickly and LEAVE such a group.
The New Age is an embrella term referring to a plethera of people, organization, ideas, philosophies, and practices. It may contain elements of secular humanism, marxism, modernism, witchcraft, spiritism, and the occult. It can include philosophies of animism, pantheism, American Indian spirituality, eastern philosophy such as Taoism, Hinduism and Zen Buddhism. It can be any one of these or combination of these. What is it not is Christian.
But given the broad nature of what the New Age is about, some central commonalities do exist among new agers in one form or another. Borrowing from Douglas Groothuis book, Confronting the New Age there are at least 8 common themes:
1) Evolutionary Optimism: this teaches that we are on the edge of a quantum leap in man's evolution. A new dawning of the age of Aquarius, of a utopia. While a dooms day scenero may take place first, after the disasters will come a new enlightenment in which society's fetters on man's soul will be destroyed and man will be able to fulfil his destiny to become christs. As Christians we know that God's Salvation History does not evolve man into christs and utopia, but that history will have an end with the visible and literal return of Jesus Christ.
2) Monism: This means all i sone and one is all. Ther are no boundaries in this worldview, just waves on one cosmic plasma ocean. If we can just understand how we are one with the trees and the bugs and other human being we would not hurt others or the planet. In this worldview there are no distinctions of value. A tree is as important as a human being. Christianity teaches that God's creation has many diversities of created things and that there is a natural hierarchy to those created things. Certainly man is the penacle of that hierachy of creation.
3) Pantheism: That Oneness is god. God is all things, all things are god. Thus not only do we have a oneness with the tree, but the tree is god, we are god, all things are god. This is the worldview in which Shirley MacLaine proclaims, I am God. Such self-deification is, of course, utterly contrary to Christianity that teaches that man is a creation of God and not a god himself.
4)Transforamtion of Consciousness: New age ideas are not to be thought they are to be experienced. Thus in new age groups some form of technique is used to create altared senses of conscienceness and to explore the world through such experiences. This quest of enlightenment through conscienceness may express itself through non-Christian meditation, drugs, yoga, martial arts, the use of tarot cards, crystals, forms of ESP. The idea is to seek a transcendental experience to find one's own identity as god, sometimes called the higher self. There is no sin, only society foisting upon the soul blocks to discovering one's self-god. Christianity teaches not a transcendental consciousness seeking the self-god, but a realization of the need for atonement and repentance from sin.
5) Create Your Own Reality: from numbers 1-4 above naturally leads to a creation of one's own reality. Since we are our own god, we create our own universe. Therefore there can be no objective reality, no objective morality, no objective sin. Reality, morality, and sin are whatever we choose to make it. Christianity, of course, teaches that there is an objective reality, an objective morality, and an objective sin. Christianity teaches that there is a God and Creator of the Universe who has place in motion natural and moral law that is immutable.
6) Unlimited Human Potential: Of course given all the things we have just talked about, it stands to reason in New Age thought that mankind has unlimited potential. We can be gods. The only thing standing in our way is society and its institutions that hold us back. We need to rid ourselves of the fetters of society and truly realize our potential to se self-actualized (to be self-gods) and to have the power of gods (ESP and the like). Christianity says we are finite beings, mortals. We are but creatures, not gods. While our potential may be realized at higher levels that we mgiht be experiencing, that potential is the natural potential of God working through us. Even so, we are finite beings, not gods.
7) Spirit Contact: Because new age wishes to claim a spirituality, but not one that includes the Christian God, new age has a whole host of spiritual practices and beliefs. Its priests are the people who channel spirits, the mediums, and conjurers. Christianity teaches to avoid all occultic and spiritistic endeavors and to trust in God alone.
8) Masters from Above: Oftentimes intertwines with the new age thinking is the UFO buffs. Since new age cannot acknowledge a Christian God who is the creator and may not be fully satisfied with a purely non-spiritual evolutionary humism, they will often look to the stars for an explaination of our beginnings -- we are descendants of ET. and/or ETs are always more sophisticated than mankind is and without the fetters of society that we have and this a utopian fantasy sometimes develops toward ET. Christian teaching is that we were created by God, that our souls were individually created by God and not evolved or borrowed from others, or recincarnated, or descended from ET. In some of the actual phenomena that takes place that appears to be UFOs and ET must be interpreted by new agers as anything but what Christians might understand them to be at times -- angels and demons. Christians must consider that some of the unidentified phenomena may indeed be angelic or demonic. Even the Bible described events of an angelic nature that could look like a UFO.
9) Religious Syncretism: the New age is a grab bag of Eastern mysticism, Western occultism, neopaganism, and human potential psychology. New age can be very faddish in its religious nature, running from Indian spirit quests to LSD to the Ba Aramamdah bubba dah and his latest mediation technique. Christians need no such grab bag. We have THE BAG. The Cross of Jesus Christ, the God of the Universe, the Savior of the World, the God of Gods and Lord of Lords.
NOTE: Centering Prayer that has been made popular from Fr. Keating is a form of prayer that tries to combine new age idea with ancient Christian prayer. It is NOT a Christian form of prayer, although it may appear to be so, and should not be used by Christians.
Hope all this helps
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