UNDERSTANDING THE CULTS
In this twelve-part series we are taking a brief look at some of the major cults,
past and present, that have found adherents in the United States. Your pastor can
help you if you’d like a more in-depth study of a particular group.
Imagine thinking that the magazine that you are currently holding is God (god), as was the tree from which the pages were made, as is the ground from which that tree grew, as is the sun which the tree used to produce its food.
No, you aren’t living in the latest sci-fi movie that revolves around some mysterious, universal “force” to develop its plot. These are the tenets of what is commonly referred to as “The New Age Movement.”
The New Age Movement is difficult to define, but not impossible. The basic premise of this pagan religion is that God (god) is all, and all is God (god). Rather than being a personal Being with a specific will, intellect, and intentions, God is defined more as an impersonal essence that is at work in the universe allowing and even causing the universe to constantly develop into a higher state of existence. But don’t let the fact that it is called “The New Age Movement” fool you into thinking that this belief is actually new. It is an ancient occultic idea that is to be found in all of the basest paganism which many cultures have believed. Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism, Native American mysticism, and the pantheism of ancient Europeans all have their roots in the basic tenets of what we now call “The New Age Movement.”
The New Age Movement, as such, is not actually a separate religious belief system. It is rather an adaptation and modernization of ancient mystical beliefs. As a term, “The New Age Movement” was coined and defined in the 1970’s by a self-described theosophist named David Spangler. Spangler claimed that he had discovered new waves of spiritual energy that were ushering in a “new age” of heightened spiritual consciousness. This would result in international peace and the abolishment of racism, poverty, violence, and war. While most followers of Spangler’s teachings still believe this movement into the New Age is yet to come, there have been some leaders within the ideology that have, in the past, predicted the actual arrival dates, none of which, of course, occurred.
One of the main reasons many have been attracted to the New Age Movement ideology is out of desperation for cures for various ailments, including psychological ailments, which they have not found in western medicine. The use of crystals, acupuncture, yoga, and transcendental meditation have been promoted as means by which the current ailments afflicting our society as well as our bodies and minds can be reversed and even removed. Without specifically questioning the benefits of such approaches, the mysticism within the New Age Movement attributes supernatural abilities to such practices by claiming supposed divine energies at work through them, thus leading those afflicted down a path of idolatry in search of a higher mode of existence.
Besides the idolatry, one of the main theological problems with the ideas behind the New Age Movement is the failure to recognize that the cause of all of man’s afflictions, from the global to the personal, is not a failure to attain a higher spiritual consciousness, but rather a corruption of the original design, which is sin. With the corruption of sin in the world and in our own minds and bodies, what we witness in the world is much brokenness, finally revealing itself in death. The only treatment for sin is the blood of Jesus Christ, Who is the very image of the invisible God (see Colossians 1:15).
The true God is not an impersonal force that haphazardly permits mankind to develop into higher states of being through vague flows of spiritual energy. Rather, He is a very personal Being Who took specific steps to rescue us from sin by giving and offering up His Son for us all. In this age in which we are currently living, this grace of God that has appeared is teaching us, already, “to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives” as we are “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:12-13 ESV).
Frank Gantt is pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Loganville, Georgia.