New Age Theology
New Age Theology – Introduction
Like every other worldview, New Age theology forms the foundation for all other aspects of its worldview. However, the New Age movement (Cosmic Humanism) differs from Christianity, Islam, and the secular worldviews in that it embraces neither theism nor atheism.
Cosmic Humanism begins by denying the preeminence of any purported special revelation over any other. That is, Cosmic Humanists believe that the Bible is no more the word of God than is the Qur’an, or the teachings of Confucius. New Age advocate David Spangler says, “We can take all the scriptures, and all the teachings, and all the tablets, and all the laws, and all the marshmallows and have a jolly good bonfire and marshmallow roast, because that is all they are worth.”1
Obviously, if the Bible is valuable only as fuel, this nullifies the significance of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Cosmic Humanist sees Christ’s life as important only in the sense that it showed humanity to be capable of achieving perfection, even godhood. An article in the New Age publication Science of Mind states, “The significance of incarnation and resurrection is not that Jesus was a human like us but rather that we are gods like him—or at least have the potential to be.”2
This interpretation of Christ allows the New Age theologian to postulate, as John White does, that “The Son of God...is not Jesus but our combined Christ consciousness.”3 Jesus is looked on as one of a select company, having achieved Christ consciousness. Every person is encouraged to acquire this same level of consciousness.
How can anyone hope to achieve such a divine consciousness? Because everyone is a part of God. Cosmic Humanists believe that we and God are ontologically one. “What is God? God is the interlinking of yourself with the whole.”4
New Age Theology – Every Person is God
The core of New Age theology: I am God. “Each of us has access to a supraconscious, creative, integrative, self-organizing, intuitive mind whose capabilities are apparently unlimited,” says John Bradshaw. “This is the part of our consciousness that constitutes our God-likeness.”5
Most Cosmic Humanists state the case more forcefully. Ruth Montgomery supposedly channeled a spirit that spoke through her, claiming, “We are as much God as God is a part of us...each of us is God...together we are God...this all-for-one-and-one-for-all...makes us the whole of God.”6 White states that “sooner or later every human being will feel a call from the cosmos to ascend to godhood.”7
Meher Baba declares, “There is only one question. And once you know the answer to that question there are no more to ask....Who am I? And to that question there is only one answer—I am God!”8 Shirley MacLaine recommends that every person should begin each day by affirming his or her own godhood. “You can use I am God or I am that I am as Christ often did, or you can extend the affirmation to fit your own needs.”9
Special revelation need not exist in books or in any other form outside of us, because each of us has our own special revelation in our higher consciousness, our own ability to get in touch with the part of us that is God. Inner soul-searching becomes the only significant means of discovering truth. By asserting that man is God, the Cosmic Humanist grants each individual the power of determining reality by creating or co-creating truth.
New Age Theology – All Is One
It is important to understand that the belief that every individual is God and God is every individual is tied inextricably to the concept of consciousness. Because New Age theology has this “all is one” mentality, Cosmic Humanists necessarily believe that humanity can become attuned to all the powers of its godhood by achieving unity of consciousness. “Once we begin to see that we are all God,” says Beverly Galyean, “that we all have the attributes of God, then I think the whole purpose of human life is to reown the Godlikeness within us; the perfect love, the perfect wisdom, the perfect understanding, the perfect intelligence, and when we do that, we create back to that old, that essential oneness which is consciousness.”10 Robert Muller says, “Only the unity of all can bring the well-being of all.”11
The concept of humanity’s unity, the idea that all is one, tends to support the theological concept of reincarnation. Virtually every “orthodox” adherent of the New Age movement believes that each individual’s soul was present in other material forms earlier in history and that it will manifest itself in still other forms after its present body dies. The body may pass away, but the soul will continue its quest for godhood in other bodies. This belief in reincarnation caused MacLaine, when recalling her daughter’s birth, to muse, “When the doctor brought her to me in the hospital bed on that afternoon in 1956, had she already lived many, many times before, with other mothers? Had she, in fact, been one herself? Had she, in fact, ever been my mother? Was her one-hour-old face housing a soul perhaps millions of years old?”12
In order to understand oneself (and one’s path to godhood), a person must be cognizant of at least some of his or her past lives. Gary Zukav explains: “If your soul was a Roman centurion, an Indian beggar, a Mexican mother, a nomad boy, and a medieval nun, among other incarnations, for example, ...you will not be able to understand your proclivities, or interests, or ways of responding to different situations without an awareness of the experiences of those lifetimes.”13 Reincarnation can serve little purpose unless people can know about and learn from their past lives.
New Age Theology – Everything is God
Reincarnation, however, is not the only logical consequence of a theology based on the unity of God and man and the concept that all is one. If we cannot delineate between God and ourself, how can we be certain that we can delineate between other living or dead things and God? Indeed, if all is one, perhaps everything that exists is God.
And so it is. Stars are God, water is God, plants are God, trees are God, the earth is God, whales and dolphins are God, everything is God. Cosmic Humanists worship the creation and the creator at the same time. For them, there is no difference.
The belief that everything is God and God is everything is known as pantheism. This ancient concept forms the theological foundation of the New Age movement. “Everything has divine power in it,” says Roman Catholic New Ager Matthew Fox, and this divine force is what gives the planet its “sacredness.”14 An example of pantheistic theology occurs in a New Age children’s book entitled What is God?: “There are many ways to talk about God. Does that mean that everything that everybody ever says about God is right? Does that mean that God is everything? Yes! God is everything great and small! God is everything far away and near! God is everything bright and dark! And God is everything in between! If everything is God, God is the last leaf on a tree, if everything is God, God is an elephant crashing through the jungle.”15
The god-as-cosmic-energy concept has been popularized in George Lucas’ now classic film series, Star Wars. In a 1999 interview with Bill Moyers, Lucas explained why he made the series, “With Star Wars, I consciously set about to re-create myths and the classic mythological motifs. I wanted to use those motifs to deal with issues that exist today....I see Star Wars as taking all the issues that religion represents and trying to distill them down into a more modern and easily accessible construct....I’m telling an old myth in a new way.” What Lucas fails to mention is “the old myth” he refers to is Eastern religion, not western Christianity. In this way, New Age mysticism was thrust from the big screen into the consciousness of countless viewers, young and old.16 Weaving pantheistic religion throughout Star Wars was not an accident. While most viewers enjoyed this film saga for its entertainment value, producer Lucas sees his role as an educator as well as entertainer. He notes, “I’ve always tried to be aware of what I say in my films because all of us who make motion pictures are teachers, teachers with very loud voices.”17 Likewise, Irvin Kershner revealed his religious intention for directing The Empire Strikes Back. Kershner stated in one interview, “I wanna introduce some Zen here because I don’t want the kids to walk away just feeling that everything is shoot-em-up...but that there’s also a little something to think about here in terms of yourself and your surroundings.”18
New Age Theology – Conclusion
The all-encompassing God of New Age theology is not a personal God,19 but merely a cosmic force. There is no transcendent God “out there” apart from His creation. God is the creation. Marilyn Ferguson states, “In the emergent spiritual tradition God is not the personage of our Sunday School mentality....God is experienced as flow, wholeness...the ground of being....God is the consciousness that manifests as Lila, the play of the universe. God is the organizing matrix we can experience but not tell, that which enlivens matter.”20
Unlike the Marxist and the Secular Humanist, the Cosmic Humanist believes in a supernatural realm consisting of spiritual relationships. However, the New Age version of God differs infinitely from the Christian concept of God. While the Christian believes that God created us and all that exists and that we can know His will only through the general revelation of nature and conscience and the special revelation of the Bible, the Cosmic Humanist believes that every person and all reality is God, and therefore that any “truth” our inner self discovers is God’s truth. If we fail to realize our godhood in this lifetime, never fear! We’ll soon have another incarnation and another chance to achieve Christ consciousness.
Ultimately, every person will achieve godhood, and total unity will be restored. New Age theology, like fairy tales, guarantees a happy ending.
Rendered with permission from the book, Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews (Rev. 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.
1 David Spangler, Reflections on the Christ (Forres, Scotland: Findhorn Publications, 1982), 73.
2 Science of Mind (October 1981): 40–2. Cited in Ray A. Yungen, For Many Shall Come in my Name (Salem, OR: Ray Yungen, 1989), 164.
3 John White, “A Course in Miracles: Spiritual Wisdom for the New Age,” Science of Mind (March 1986): 10.
4 Kevin Ryerson, Spirit Communication: The Soul’s Path (New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1989), 106.
5 John Bradshaw, Bradshaw on the Family (Pompono Beach, FL: Health Communications, 1988), 230.
6 Ruth Montgomery, A World Beyond (New York, NY: Ballantine/Fawcett Crest Books, 1972), 12.
7 John White, ed., What is Enlightenment? (Los Angeles, CA: J.P. Tarcher, 1984), 126.
8 Meher Baba, quoted in Allan Y. Cohen, “Meher Baba and the Quest of Consciousness.” Cited in White, What is Enlightenment?, 87.
9 F. LaGard Smith, Out On a Broken Limb (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1986), 181.
10 Cited in Francis Adeney, “Educators Look East,” Spiritual Counterfeits Journal (Winter 1981): 29. SCP Journal is published by Spiritual Counterfeits Project, P.O. Box 4308, Berkeley, CA 94704.
11 Benjamin B. Ferencz and Ken Keyes, Jr., Planethood (Coos Bay, OR: Vision Books, 1988), 92.
12 Quoted in Smith, 12.
13 Gary Zukav, The Seat of the Soul (New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1999), 29.
14 Matthew Fox, in an interview with Laura Hagar, “The Sounds of Silence,” New Age Journal (March/April 1989): 55.
15 Etan Boritzer, What is God? (Willowdale, CA: Firefly Books, 1990), 26.
16 “Of Myth and Men: A Conversation between Bill Moyers and George Lucas on the meaning of the Force and the true theology of Star Wars,” Time, April 26, 1999, 92.
17 Quote attributed to George Lucas in www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/database/lucas_g.html.
18 Irvin Kershner, Rolling Stone, July 24, 1980, 37.
19 One of India’s Swamis, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada (d. 1977), has cast the Bhagavad-Gita into a “theistic science” mould and identifies Lord Sri Krsna (Hare Krishna) as the Supreme Personality of the Godhead. According to Prabhupada, Hare Krishna (or God) descends to earth once every eight trillion, six hundred million years. See A.C. Prabhupada, Bhagavad-Gita: As It Is (Los Angeles, CA: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, 2004), xviii, 33.
20 Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy (Los Angeles, CA: J.P. Tarcher, 1980), 383.
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