What is the New Age?

Posted on March 3, 2010

By Justin Edwards

The following list from CANA (Christian Answers for the New Age) gives definitions to the “isms” of the New Age, which will be important to understand as we discuss the reality of this movement within the church. Other important terms to understand are pantheism and panentheism and I have included these below.

Pantheism: The view that God is everything and everyone and that everyone and everything is God. Pantheism is similar to polytheism (the belief in many gods), but goes beyond polytheism to teach that everything is God. A tree is God, a rock is God, an animal is God, the sky is God, the sun is God, you are God, etc. Pantheism is the supposition behind many cults and false religions (e.g., Hinduism and Buddhism to an extent, the various unity and unification cults, and “mother nature” worshippers).

Panentheism: This view is essentially a combination of theism (God is the supreme being) and pantheism (God is everything). While pantheism says that God and the universe are coextensive, panentheism claims the God is greater than the universe and that the universe is contained within God. Panentheism holds that God is the “supreme effect” of the universe. God is everything in the universe, but God also is greater the universe. Events and changes in the universe effect and change God. As the universe grows and learns, God also increases in knowledge and being.

The New Age borrows from and synthesizes many views:

Humanism – Man is inherently good.

Relativism – There is no absolute reality or moral standard.

Subjectivism – There is no absolute, objective external truth. Truth is based on personal experience and perception.

Pluralism – All spiritual beliefs are equally valid.

Adaptations of Eastern Religions:

Hinduism – All is one; one is all (monism). God is an impersonal force, part of the universe, and/or beyond knowing. Material reality is an illusion and is inferior to spiritual reality. Reincarnation: the soul returns to another body after death. Spiritual growth is the constant process of evolving.

Buddhism – Suffering is caused by desire. Detachment from desire is practiced to end suffering. The self/identity does not exist. Spiritual insight is gained through meditation techniques such as centering and mindfulness.

Taoism – One reality, the Tao, is split in opposite forces. These opposite forces are yin and yang. There is a life force, chi (or qi, ki). Health and spiritual growth come from balancing the chi (basis for most alternative healing).

Postmodernism – Man is good; there is no objective truth; there are no absolutes and no authority.

Occultism and Paganism – The earth/nature is exalted as the source and sustainer of life. There is one divine force or life force linking people, nature and the universe. Access to and manipulation of this force is possible. Divination techniques such as astrology, numerology, spell casting, tarot cards, and psychic techniques are usually practiced. Rituals are performed according to seasons and moon phases in the belief that this harmonizes one with nature.

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