Why is the subject of New Age versus Christianity a vital one? Because no Christian in our society is immune from exposure to New Age influences. A mixture of high-sounding ideals and motives could make some New Age teachings palatable to Christians. In addition, many people are unclear as to exactly what is unchristian about the New Age and thus ignorantly absorb and impart such influences to others. Our purpose is to alert our students regarding this confusion and warn them of those who are influencing society in the direction of dangerous values and vision.
As we approach a topic of this magnitude and complexity, you are not, as a teacher; expected to be an authority on this ideology or to address all the unanswered questions on this exceptionally broad and varied subject. The focus will be to point out, based on Bible doctrine, the wide divergence between New Age teachings and the message of the Word of God.
The students will be able to recognize how the beliefs of the New Age movement differ from Christianity, in order to remain established in the Truth.
Genesis 1; Exodus 3:14,15; Job 7:17; Psalms 8:1-4; 51:5; 103:15; Ecclesiastes 5:2; 12:7; Isaiah 35:1-10; John 3:3; 11:25; Acts 4:12; Romans 3:23; 5:8-10; Colossians 1:15-17; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 Timothy 1:17; 2 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 9:24-28; 11:3; 1 John 1:9; 4:1-3; Revelation 20:1-10; 22:12-14
Question 1 - New Age proponents tell us that mankind is ready to move away from outdated Christian beliefs into an age of enlightenment. They say that the world's philosophical, religious, and political structures will be overhauled as part of a great transformation of consciousness and culture. They teach that a new spirituality is emerging, that it will permeate our entire planet, and will result in global peace and prosperity. One of the reasons the movement has attracted such a wide following in America is that it focuses on issues of supposed survival and the betterment of humanity. While the arms race, world hunger, ecological concerns, and political upheavals make the headlines, New Age proponents forecast an era of peace, harmony, and truth.
The Bible also teaches the coming of a time of peace, but it greatly differs from the New Age theory in describing its arrival and results on earth. Read Revelation 20:1-10 and Isaiah 35:1-10, and briefly outline the conditions that will exist during Christ's Millennial Reign.
Response 1 - The Bible tells us there will be an era of peace when Christ's kingdom is set up on this earth during His Millennial Reign. History is moving according to the sovereign plan of the Creator and Ruler of the universe, who "worketh all things after the counsel of his own will" (Ephesians 1:11). Our hope for the future does not rest in mankind's stepping forward in some sort of evolutionary or spiritual leap but in the promises and power of God who is supreme over all.
According to Revelation 19:14,20,21; 20:1-3, the events immediately preceding Christ's rule on earth begin with His return to earth with His saints and the armies of Heaven. This will be followed by the destruction of the wicked, the Beast, and the false prophet at Armageddon, and then the confinement of Satan to the bottomless pit for a thousand years. Then a time of peace for this world will begin. Christ will rule in righteousness from the capital city of Jerusalem. (See Zechariah 8:1-8, 20-23.) The saints will judge the earth, after having been awarded cities to rule based on their faithful service. Peace will reign everywhere, to the extent that even the animal kingdom will live in harmony.
Question 2 - A part of New Age teaching is the belief that "all is one." This is called "monism." In essence, it means that humanity, nature, and God are one. The universe is presented as a sort of seamless garment, and any apparent dualism or separation between elements is not real. New Age followers teach that everything in existence is of the same essence, and that everything is God. There are not many selves, but one Self. They attribute the current world problems to a "nonholistic" view of the universe. In contrast, summarize the Christian view of God's creation—humanity and nature—based on the Biblical account in Genesis 1, Psalm 8:1-4, and Hebrews 11:3.
Response 2 - The Christian viewpoint holds that God's creation is not an undivided unity but a diversity of objects, events, and individuals. The Genesis record of creation shows God creating particular things in a certain order. God separated the light from darkness, the day from night, the earth from the sky, and the land from the seas. He created plants and animals according to their various kinds. Finally, God created man in His own image. Thus, the world is not a conglomeration of undifferentiated unity but a grouping of created entities. Union exists only through the plan and purpose of God.
Question 3 - New Age proponents also teach that "all is God." This is called "pantheism." They say that whatever is, is God and that there is nothing that is not God. God is not thought of as a personal Being but as an impersonal energy, force, or essence that is in everything, including man. Thus, God becomes more of an "it" than a "He." The Bible affirms that all is not God-that, in fact, God as Creator stands distinct and far above His creation. Look up the following verses and summarize what each teaches regarding the nature of our God: Genesis 1:1; Genesis 1:26; Exodus 3:14,15; Ecclesiastes 5:2; Colossians 1:15-17; 1 Timothy 1:17.
Response 3 - Summaries of these verses should bring out that our Creator-God is not an impersonal force, energy, or essence but a living, personal being of infinite intelligence, power, and holiness. He is distinct from His creation. He is not an a moral entity but a moral agent who has set forth standards of holiness and righteousness. He is a loving God who calls His people to repentance and faith.
Question 4 - A natural progression from the New Age belief, that all is God, is the teaching that we are all gods. New Age followers believe that each of us are in different stages of development in terms of our human potential but that we are all gods in embryo. Their goal is to see this "god within" awakened in each person. They teach that all knowledge, power, and truth are in every human being, and they encourage mankind to recognize, honor, and even worship self as God. This teaching stands in stark contrast to the Bible. Using the following Scriptures, summarize the Christian's view of man: Job 7:17; Psalms 51:5; 103:15; Romans 3:23.
Response 4 -Using these verses as a basis, your students should conclude that man is a creature formed by God in God's own image. Because of disobedience, however, man fell from a right standing before God. Man is born with a sinful nature and is destined for damnation unless he is spiritually reborn. Broaden your discussion to include the point that man is not infinite, omnipotent, omniscient, nor omnipresent as God is. In addition, the Bible repeatedly condemns human pretenders to the divine throne. See Isaiah 14:13-15; Ezekiel 28:1,2; Acts 12:21-23.
Question 5 - If all is one, and all is God, why do we see such chaos and turmoil in the world today? The New Agers' answer to that question is that all of mankind has not reached the stage of enlightenment. They say that the three ideas (all is one, all is God, and we are God) must be not only recognized by the mind, but also awakened at the core of each person's being. Such awakenings, they believe, may come either spontaneously or as the result of meditation, yoga, drugs, biofeedback, visualization, hypnosis, or other techniques. In pursuit of such an awakening, many New Agers are being drawn into the use of "spirit guides" which, supposedly, give direction in the decisions and choices of life. This awareness—whether termed cosmic consciousness, selfrealization, enlightenment, God consciousness, or something else—is proclaimed as vital for the resurrection of individuals, and of civilization, and as necessary for spiritual power and well-being. How does this teaching conflict with the Christian view of salvation? See John 3:3; Acts 4:12; Romans 5:8-10; Hebrews 9:24-28; and 1 John 1:9.
Response 5 -These verses present the Biblical stance, that the problem of humanity is not ignorance of our divinity but the reality of sin and rebellion against a holy God and His moral law. As Christians, we believe that salvation comes only through belief in Christ's death and resurrection and through repentance for sin. We are then saved from the guilt and power of sin and are given power to go and sin no more. At that point, we are no longer morally estranged from God because of sin, and we are once more in harmony with our Creator and with His law.
Question 6 - A belief in reincarnation is at the heart of the New Age religion. New Agers teach that the soul progresses or regresses from one life to the next, according to its own "karma" (good or evil deeds). Death is simply a step in an evolutionary process. The followers of this philosophy believe that after death we will reappear as another person or thing, in an ongoing effort to reach our highest self, or godhood. The life we are living today, they say, is neither our first nor our last. The lessons we learn here will go with us into our next life. We will not have to repeat them, but will progress in the next life toward greater perfection by learning new lessons. Contrast this belief with the Biblical position on death and on life after death, using Ecclesiastes 12:7;John 11:25; Hebrews 9:27,28; and Revelation 22:12-14.
Response 6 - The Biblical viewpoint of death is that every man will die unless raptured at Christ's return. After life on earth, each person will stand before God and be judged by Him for his or her actions during life on earth. Heaven or Hell will be their eternal abode, dependent upon how they responded to God's call to salvation.
Question 7 - There is no question about the fact that New Age thinking has penetrated our culture. It has found a foothold in schools, business training programs, the arts and entertainment media, and even church doctrine. Its teachings have an appeal based on the human hunger for spiritual experiences and for meaning in life. The New Age thinking promises answers to those deep needs, predicts order where there is chaos, and claims to give to individuals the power to control their own lives. However, Christians need to recognize that New Age and Christian viewpoints are diametrically opposed. Thus, it is vital to take steps to guard against that thinking. We can become aware of New Age doctrines, activities, and goals—as we have done in this lesson—but what are some of the steps Christians must take to avoid the deception of this New Age thinking? See 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 2 Timothy 2:15; and 1 John 4:1-3.
Response 7 - The key to standing fast is to know what we believe and why. This is done through careful study of the Word of God, and through familiarizing ourselves with Scriptures that confirm our Christian faith. We must hold every thought or doctrine up to the light of the Word of God and reject any teaching that does not align. Finally, we must pray that the Holy Spirit will lead and guide us into all truth and will help us to clearly discern and distance ourselves from any false teaching.