September 9, 2013

Counterfeit Religions XXVII: The New Age Movement

Diving, Astrology, Tarot Cards & New Age Mysticism

I affectionately call this religion: Kook Central. As I am rounding out this series, I did not want to forget one of the more ubiquitous belief systems in Hollywood er, uh...the world.

Divination, astrology, and the use of tarot cards all come from a common belief in the ability to predict the future, or fortune telling. These and similar practices have existed since ancient times. In the modern age they are most often associated with the movement known as New Age.

The New Age movement has its roots in the nineteenth century Theosophy movement or Theosophical Society formed in New York City in 1875. It essentially refers to the pursuit of divine wisdom through the union of the physical and metaphysical worlds (as if things of the physical world are divine). These foundations were further exacerbated by the injection of psychology and a modern fascination with Eastern religion, philosophy and/or mysticism.

The New Age movement exploded in popularity and went mainstream in the 1970s in conjunction with the abuse of the psychedelic drugs of the era and the endorsement of celebrities from Hollywood - a devilish and detrimental combination. It continues to prosper because of health “experts” like Andrew Weil and Deepak Chopra. Thankfully even the mainstream populace and the scientific community have already begun to discredit this movement as pseudoscience or quackery as it should.

The problem with this "religion" is that is has been through so man permutations and changes that at times it is nearly unidentifiable. It has absorbed so much quackery and mystic nonsense that it is hard to know where the legitimate beliefs of true New Age begin and where they end. As stated before, it has absorbed eastern and western metaphysics, occult, spiritualism (usually Native American or other aboriginals) and things like environmentalism  parapsychology and even alchemy. Many within the movement itself would probably not be able to accurately define the limits of the movement. It has blended a little of the old and a little of the new.

Core Tenants

Please note that this is not a complete list. I would not be able to complete it because I cannot even accurately define the full extent of the movement and that is part of its danger. The New Age movement is clearly a syncretistic blending of many beliefs and takes many of its cues from other worldviews and religions. Because of this it is another shape-shifting pseudo-religion that has its fingers in many belief systems but is firmly rooted in none of them. This of course provides a convenient escape hatch for its believers to remain unattached, uncommitted and aloof from the dogmas and doctrines of religions that actually require certain behaviors and morality out of people. In this way the New Age is wishy-washy and non-committal and frankly, spineless in its approach to truth and reality. Probably more so that the other religions it latches onto as a host. New Age is ontologically parasitic in this manner. Due to New Age’s loose attachment in a parasitic manner to other beliefs it can be considered monotheistic, polytheistic, and non-theistic all at the same time (so much for actually forcing someone to actually believe something with certainty). It can piggyback many religions such as Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, and Neo-Paganism, while also channeling psychology, physics, and natural sciences. Because it has its tendrils in nearly everything and pinning it down and separating it out from other belief systems is virtually impossible. I will merely state some of its common beliefs and tactics used to deceive and manipulate people.

New Agers believe strongly in the “interconnections” of mind, body, and spirit (trichotomy). Because of these interconnections a New Ager usually believes that through some cosmic synergistic event or effect, human beings are on the verge of a massive evolutionary or development paradigm shifts. Related to this shifting they also expect a philosophical and cultural shift towards a more Utopian existence and a shift toward total understanding and peace. Never mind that the world appears to be getting more and more violent by the day. I guess facts and reality do not matter to the adherents of this fantasy (er…religion). From this existential cosmic paradigm shift we get the idea of a new age coming (hence the name New Age).

Because of the aforementioned characteristics, New Age experts engage in a wide variety of self-actualization practices, including meditation, holistic healing, and divination practices like tarot card reading and astrology. Divination itself which is unbiblical is the attempt to determine the future, often through communication with supernatural forces. Most often the only things these gurus or experts succeed in summoning are demons and demonic forces. The also seem to believe in what can only be termed secret knowledge for human betterment or self-realization. Frankly, this is nothing more than modern Gnosticism or secret divine knowledge only revealed to a few special people or gurus.

New Age's idea of god is abstract at best and totally incorrect at worst. The god of this belief system can apparently be seen in different ways and takes on many different personalities as is evident by the fact that New Age can integrate itself into other existing belief system taking on a partial personality of any given religion's god making it a syncretism or blending of beliefs. In doing this it makes both beliefs wrong.

The two most common forms of divination are astrology (discerning the future by the stars and planets) and cartomancy (using cards to discern one's fate). Astrological divination is commonly associated with position of the stars and planets at the time of one's birth. This has been around since ancient times in Babylon. The Bible called them soothsayers who divided the heavens into constellations or "houses" for orientation, astronomical and astrological purposes. It is believed by many learned people that the astronomers of Babylon published a monthly table of the leading events that might be expected to happen. We have a similar corollary in today’s world…the zodiac and our horoscopes. As a matter of fact the term zodiac derives from Latin word zōdiacus, which in turn comes from the Greek phrase ζῳδιακὸς κύκλος or zōdiakos kuklos, meaning "circle of animals", derived from the stem ζῶον / zōon "animal". The name is driven by the fact that half of the original signs of the classical Greek zodiac were divided into zodiacal ecliptic and were placed into groupings of stars (constellations/celestial sphere/eliptic) and were represented as animals.

The danger of this religion is not in actual or outright adherence to all their beliefs. The danger lies in its subtlety and ubiquitous nature in our culture. New Agers make up a tiny minority of the population but it is some of their subtle ideals that creep into other religions that have many more believing in it. Once inside the the Christian belief system it draws people off through subtleties and lies thereby watering-down biblical truth. It is not uncommon to even have Christians accept fortune-tellers and Tarot Card readers into their homes as “entertainment” at a party. It also creeps into people’s lives in the form of horoscopes and even in our meals in things like Chinese fortune cookies. The general attitude is that these things are harmless because they are novelties or entertainment. 

I have news for people…they’re deadly. 

They infiltrate unseen and set up shop in our lives contaminating our thinking processes to the point that we cannot tell right from wrong. These predictions are not so much predictions as they are the “power of suggestion”. The suggestions come from the powers of this world and influence even good Christians to do things that they would not normally do because a “teller” told them such-and-such would happen as a warning. This thereby influences behavior (usually in fear). 

The answer is clear in the Bible, we are to be led by the Spirit of God, not the spirit of the world.

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