New Age Teachings In The Church
As we have summarized this month, New Age teachings, while offering some well-defined positions, are often offered in various terms, depending on what the hearers will tolerate. This has made it possible for New Age proponents to offer their admittedly religious teachings in public education, and distinctly non-Christian religious teachings in Christian churches. New Age ideas are easy to spot, even in a church: the concept of a one-world humanity, which, it may or may not be stated, is really the next step in our ongoing evolution; the idea of self-improvement through "getting in touch with yourself"; or self realization; the idea that mankind is now struggling to reach a more spiritual level of existence; self-actualization; self-worth; meditation; values clarification; the idea that reality is not just "there,"; reality is what you make it - and non-reality is what you make it; and focusing. In a church the use of Bible studies which focus on the participants' thoughts, feelings or opinions rather than on what God is saying as well as reliance on secular (evolutionary world view) counseling rather than Scriptural Law /Gospel counseling usually become means by which New Age thought gains influence in a church.
Because so many churches have joined the world in teaching that evolution is a scientific fact rather than an alternative religion, much of modern Christendom is half way to the New Age fold already. As we have pointed out many times, the reason for this shifting with the wind is that these churches long ago gave up the Biblical world view which is rooted in creation.
In offering self-worth and self-focusing techniques which stress human perfection (or even the worth of human effort in spiritual matters), churches are offering an alternative for sole reliance on Christ's atonement for our sins. It is interesting that 2 Peter discusses this very thing in the context of the nature of Scripture. 2 Peter 1:16-21 points out the nature of Scripture as the supernaturally revealed Word of God which is given to us to show us Christ and what He means in the everyday thinking and conduct of our lives. Chapter 2:1 then begins with a discussion of those who, in later times, will quietly introduce new teachings, heresies, into the church - heresies which deny the very Master Who bought us. This is very clearly happening in many churches today - and it is possible because people have first been misled about the nature of Scripture. Now, not even knowing what it says, they believe whatever they are told. Linked to the very same evolution which denied the Creator, people are ready to welcome flattering words about their own potential which offers the good news that they are soon to step into the next level of human evolution. The veneer of God is kept on all of this, since most people accept the reality of a God anyway - and after all, "the church is in the God business."
And this is exactly what happens. Church teachers who should have their view deeply rooted in a profound understanding of the Bible, simply don't. So, having lost their message and Biblical purpose, they begin to see themselves as being in the "God business" - helping people feel better about themselves (because this is what they think Christianity is all about) - and trying to add a veneer of God to all of human activity.
This sad state of affairs is not new to God. Old Testament Israel left the God Who revealed Himself to them as a personally loving and caring God with the help of the Bible teachers of that day. Jeremiah 2:26-28 includes princes as well as prophets (false prophets) as those who deceived God's people, leading them to think that the creation itself (the stones and the trees, much like evolution) were their parents. God challenges them to seek their help from the creation if they think that the creation made them. And this is exactly what the New Age movement does - it seeks man's salvation in the same evolutionary forces which it thinks created us. And note that this deception took place with the help of the priests and prophets who had violated their calling to God!
God's point here is central. God does not seek to prove that He exists. His purpose is to call man into an intimate relationship with Himself - something which nothing in the creation can offer.
Jeremiah 4:9-10 highlights how the religious leaders of Israel were in the "God business" rather than in God's business. As you note in reading these verses they were telling the people flattering things - making them feel good - even though it was a deception. In other words, instead of being faithful to God, they were offering people what they wanted to hear, which is good marketing, but poor faithfulness.
In Jeremiah 4:18-26 God further describes the results of this unfaithfulness, and in warning them of judgment recalls His work of creation - challenging the teaching that the rocks and trees are their parents. It is God Who claims ownership of us because He is our Creator! How applicable to today!
These false teachers can make a good living, today or 3,000 years ago, but they are serving themselves, not God. Philippians 3:17-20 describes these same people in the New Testament church for the warning of those who truly want to know God. Ultimately their activity destroys the Gospel message "they are enemies of the cross of Christ."
The lesson here is that we, as God's people, need to know how to spot those who are in the "God business" and those who are in God's business, realizing that one profession leads people to judgment while the other leads people to a personally loving and caring God. We need to know this for our own protection and we need to know this in order to fulfill our commission to make disciples.
May God grant each reader faithfulness unto eternal life through the grace of God in Christ Jesus!
Copyright Â© 1985 Bible Science Newsletter, Pastor Paul A. Bartz. Creation Moments, Inc. PO Box 839 Foley, MN 56329