15 Characteristics Of New Age Spirituality

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By Mike Shreve| The New Age Movement is a term that covers a lot of territory spiritually. It can reach all the way to the left and embrace the dark side of the occult like Wicca, witchcraft, and even Satanism. It can reach all the way to the right and embrace things like success seminars and positive thinking teachings that do not even deal with a basic concept of God yet incorporate certain New Age principles. It is generally a movement within our society and world based on a man-centered (humanistic) approach to the revelation of who we are and what our destiny is.

Originally, the term “New Age” stems from a belief in an astrological age called the “Aquarian Age” (you may remember the song “The Age of Aquarius” popularized by the Broadway play “Hair”). According to certain astrological teachings, we are presently moving from the Piscean Age (an age of knowledge and scientific advance) into the Aquarian Age (an age of spiritual enlightenment and harmony on the planet). Most New Agers subscribe in some way to the idea that we are transitioning spiritually into a new era during which drastic, positive, spiritual changes will soon take place on our planet. This will culminate in a much higher level of consciousness and spiritual atmosphere for the inhabitants of this world.

Within this context, it could be said that Christians believe in a ‘New Age’—for most Christians believe in the coming Kingdom Age: a time when the Messiah will reign on this planet for an amazing era of peace, harmony, and heaven-on-earth conditions (some believe for 1,000 years—which could be a literal or a figurative span of time, Revelation 20:1-6). However, it must be emphasized that the correct interpretation of this exceptional new age, within the framework of prophetic passages in the Bible, is much different than the one described by New Agers. So, the biblical phrase “Kingdom Age” and the modern term “New Age” refer to two different concepts that contradict each other in many essential areas of doctrine.

One source offers this unique observation:

“The New Age Movement is in a class by itself. Unlike most formal religions, it has no holy text, central organization, membership, formal clergy, geographic center, dogma, creed…The New Age is in fact a free-flowing spiritual movement; a network of believers and practitioners who share somewhat similar beliefs and practices, which they add on to whichever formal religion that they follow.”[1] 

The key statement in this quote is, “They share somewhat similar beliefs and practices.” So, what are these “similar beliefs”? What are these “similar practices”? Though there is great diversity among New Agers on various issues (which they celebrate and do not consider to be a problem), they tend to agree on the following fifteen things:

1. Fascination with the Supernatural— True New Agers are passionate seekers who want spirituality, not mere religion. Rules, regulations, rituals, rites—all of these pale in significance when compared to the personal experience of supernatural reality. However, there are few, if any, boundaries defining which spiritual experiences are valid and right. Instead, supernatural phenomena promised through various worldviews are usually embraced as equally legitimate, syncretistically fused together into one belief system. Various mystical practices are aimed at either exploring the supernatural realms or awakening various powers or states of consciousness within the seeker.

2. Pluralism—All New Agers hold to the belief that all religions are different and equally valid paths to ultimate reality and no one worldview can fully unveil the truth. All religions are one.

3. An Impersonal God—Most New Agers agree that Ultimate Reality is an impersonal cosmic energy: a non-thinking, non-hearing, non-seeing, non-speaking, non-emotional, non-volitional, non-responsive life-force from which all personal beings originate and into which all personal beings will ultimately be absorbed. Some New Agers subscribe to both an impersonal and personal aspect of the Godhead, but often, the personal aspect of the Godhead is only a temporary illusion on the way to the ultimate state.

4. Pantheism—The belief that the universe is an emanation of God and that, therefore, all things have a divine essence. In absolute pantheism, God does not exist apart from the natural cosmos. All is God and God is all. Some New Agers do not embrace pantheism, but a modified view called panentheism—All is in God and God is in all.

5. Monism—Most New Agers share the belief that all things are of one essential substance, giving rise to statements like, “I am the universe. I am one with all things.” There is no room for a dualistic view of God transcending creation, and being apart from creation, in this mindset. Because All is God, therefore, All is One.

6. Sacredness of Nature—Because everything in the natural universe is believed to have a divine essence, often New Agers practice nature worship, sometimes even declaring a goddess associated with the earth (Gaia or Gaea) and could, therefore, be termed “earth religion.”

7. The Divinity of Man—Those who subscribe to this philosophy deify human beings, teaching that all have a divine essence, giving rise to affirmations like, “I am God. You are God. We are all God.” The problem with this point of view is simple: in ascribing divinity to man, the next logical step is ascribing evil, darkness and sinfulness to God. All things, including the evil rampant in this world, are emanations of God. Ascribing a dual-nature to ultimate reality is what the popular yin-yang symbol out of Taoism represents (both darkness and light in Ultimate Reality).

8. The Power to Personally and Subjectively Create Reality—New Agers tend to believe that reality is subjective not objective, that any person can create his or her own reality by embracing certain beliefs, or by making certain affirmations, declarations, or confessions. This gives rise to statements such as, “You can have your truth. I can have my truth, and we can both be right simultaneously” (even if the viewpoints appear to contradict each other).

9. A Weak View of Satan and Sin–Usually New Agers either have no belief in Satan (the devil) or a weak view of him. Some deny his existence, equating Satan with merely the negative attitudes that dominate the world system. ‘Demons’ are merely unbeneficial or negative attitudes that tend to dominate the hearts of men and carry them away from the truth. Some groups differentiate between Satan and Lucifer, lifting the latter to the level of a divine being, even a ‘god.’ Lucifer (meaning the Light bearer) is at times described as the one who brings wisdom and enlightenment.

10. A Weak View of Salvation and Forgiveness—In New Age spirituality, man’s problem is not sin; it is ignorance—ignorance of his own divine essence. Man does not need to repent, as one accountable to God; he needs to be enlightened, as one who is God. So, the term “sin” is normally not used. In that worldview, we do not need forgiveness from God, neither should we ask for it—which would be a sign of spiritual immaturity.

11. Enlightenment—Most New Agers avidly seek after an ‘enlightened’ state of mind and have many terms for it (Samadhi, Nirvana, Christ-consciousness, God-consciousness, Self-Realization, Self-Awareness, etc.). Many means are used to accomplish this: chanting, meditation, yoga disciplines, etc. It should be noted that there is a huge difference between the Christian experience of being ‘born again’ and the experience of enlightenment, as described among New Agers. The born-again believer comes into a relationship with God (through the washing away of sin by the blood of Jesus) and by the Spirit of God entering into a person from without. The supposed enlightened person realizes that he or she is God by awakening an innate divine essence that is within all people.

12. Reincarnation—Most New Agers believe in the evolution of the soul through numerous incarnations. Usually, that evolution is positive and progressive, while in Hinduism and some other belief systems, the soul can shuttle back and forth between human and animal states, higher and lower states. Those who subscribe to Buddhist beliefs have a very different view of reincarnation than interpretations based on Hinduism. But some aspect of reincarnation is usually embraced.

13. Evolutionary Optimism—Most New Agers accept the coming of a ‘New Age’: a time of greater spirituality and harmony on this planet, a time when many of the problems facing humanity will be resolved.

14. The Coming of a Messiah—Though great differences of opinion exist concerning the exact nature of this person, most New Agers await a Messiah-like figure who will be the pivotal person, heralding and fully bringing into manifestation this ‘New Age’ in all its facets. New Agers tend to assert that the Messiah of Judaism, the Christ of Christianity, the Fifth Buddha of Buddhism, the Imam Mahdi of Islam, Saoshyant of Zoroastrianism and Kalkin of Hinduism are all prophetic foretellings of the same individual. However, the legends and traditions concerning these hoped-for individuals are so different (except for Judaism and Christianity), they cannot logically be merged into person. Some New Agers, instead of believing in an individual Messiah, feel there will be an upward shift to Christ-consciousness in every person in this world and that this ‘consciousness-shift’ will usher us into a new era.

15. A Global Family Outlook—Because of their monistic, pantheistic and syncretistic doctrinal basis, most New Agers are all-inclusive in their belief system, not exclusive. All-inclusive means “including all people, all cultures, and all religions into one unified whole.” Love for others is usually the proclaimed motivation for choosing such a tolerant perspective. However, it makes choosing a correct worldview unnecessary, even discouraged. Those who have an exclusive view of truth are labeled unenlightened and uncooperative with this next scheduled ‘paradigm shift’ in society (the emerging of the Aquarian Age). Though some aspects of this ‘one world’ mindset may be good (genuine compassion for all members of the human race), in many ways it will pave the road toward things that are not good—a one world religion, a one world banking system, a one world police system and a one world political system that will eventually become tools in the hands of the Antichrist (the man of sin, the son of perdition) to impose his deceptive control of the planet.

Though the above fifteen points are very simply defined, basically, the embracing of these beliefs signifies someone who can be labeled an adherent to “the New Age Movement” or “New Age Spirituality.

[1] www.religioustolerance.org/newage.htm, April 24, 2010, first paragraph

This article was originally featured on The True Light and was republished with permission.

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Mike Shreve was a teacher of Kundalini Yoga at four Florida universities (University of South Florida, University of Tampa, New College, and Florida Presbyterian). He also ran a yoga ashram in Tampa. About 300 students were following his teachings. Then in 1970, an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ changed his heart, his life, and his worldview. The next year, along with another brother in the Lord, he began hitchhiking across America (during the Jesus Movement Era) preaching on college campuses and in downtown areas. Eventually he began ministering in churches, Bible schools, and open air gatherings overseas as well. He has written 15 books (3 of which have been #1 on Amazon in their genre). One of his greatest joys is helping other Christian writers become published authors through the publishing company he runs called Deeper Revelation Books. He has an earned Bachelor of Theology degree and an honorary doctorate, given to him by Faith Theological Seminary because of his extensive work in the area of comparative religion. His website is www.thetruelight.net