You have encountered new age teaching, no doubt about it. Whether its by watching the latest episode of Iyanla Vanzant, attending that new yoga class or participating with an environmentally friendly volunteer group you’ve likely been encouraged to meditate, center yourself or “just be” at some point or another. The “new age” is not in fact “new”. The movement has been around since the 60’s and 70’s and possibly even further beyond that. The teachings that make up “new age” teachings are a plethora of humanism, mixed with pick and choose spirituality that can leave people feeling even more confused about God, than before they joined. Much worse, many people become trapped within these cults that promote brainwashing, extreme aestheticism and in some cases a perverted world view of themselves and the world.
Although there are no boundaries associated within the movement, many sources say that the “new age” movement as we know it began in the 1960’s through the teachings of David Spangler. David Spangler is considered one of the founding figures of the “new age” movement and a self described “practical mystic”. He claims to have been reincarnated and to have had multiple mystical encounters since he was young. He has spent most of his life giving lectures and talks on subjects like channeling spirits and other personal perceptions on spirituality. Here is a quote from David Spangler’s website itself:
“Since 1965, I have worked clairvoyantly with a group of non-physical beings from the inner worlds of spirit. They identified themselves as being part of an inner school whose purpose was to explore and develop a spiritual teaching around the process of incarnation.”
It seems that even prior new age teaching is out of date as there is “new” new age though and world view. Truly, the hallmarks of this movement are relativism, self autonomy and spiritualism. There is, as it seems, no standard for what is true or not true as long as it feels good and this is exactly the problem with the new age movement.
Many within various new age groups also promote the idea of extra-terrestrial contact and UFO’s and that possibly the universe is ran by aliens and we need to prepare a landing strip of some sort for the great mother ship to land and take us home. Cults like this are especially dangerous, considering the mass suicides that have taken place within the Jim Jones movement in Guyana and the Heaven’s Gate group led by Marshall Applewhite where 39 members of the group who had committed mass suicide in order to reach what they believed was an extraterrestrial spacecraft following Comet Hale–Bopp.
Considering this as just a short intro on the history of the New Age movement, but one movement we as Christians must learn about and become aware of more as it’s teachings seem to be filtering into everyday life more frequently than ever. It seems not a day goes by that I don’t run into someone who is experimenting with Buddhism, strange forms of spiritual healing or tarot readings. Some do this innocently as a fad or bandwagon, others are serious spiritual searchers looking for more to life that what presently exists.
Despite the disappointing direction people take down the “enlightened path”, this gives us great hope. What this says to us is that people are hungry. They are hungry for a true spiritual encounter that goes beyond institutionalized religion and reaches into their everyday lives. They are desperate to know God, or at least connect to some type of spirituality that offers hope, positivity and a better life. What they don’t know is that being a follower of Jesus is less about joining a religion and more about discovering a even better way of living. Jesus offers a life of love and spiritual power built on truth which we can stand on no matter how we feel and that these characteristics can be tasted both in this life and the next.
The catch is, to come to Jesus we must lower our view of ourselves in humility and come to Him as who we are, a broken sinner in need of forgiveness. What has been your experience with those in the new age movement? Do you find any similarities between Christianity and the hodge podge of new age mysticism? How do we build bridges in the lives of those seeking spiritual encounters and help lead them to Jesus?
Post your comments below.