By Warren B. Smith
Author of A “Wonderful” Deception
One of the many examples of the New Age implications of The Message ["Bible"] is seen in Eugene Peterson’s paraphrasing of the Lord’s Prayer. Where most translations read “on [or in] earth, as it is in heaven,” Peterson inserts the occult/New Age phrase “as above, so below.” The significance of this mystical occult saying is seen clearly in As Above, So Below, a book published in 1992 by the editors of New Age Journal. Chief editor Ronald S. Miller describes how the occult/magical saying “as above, so below” conveys the “fundamental truth about the universe”—the teaching that “we are all one” because God is “immanent” or “within” everyone and everything. Miller writes:
Thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt, the great master alchemist Hermes Trismegistus, believed to be a contemporary of the Hebrew prophet Abraham, proclaimed this fundamental truth about the universe: “As above, so below; as below, so above.” This maxim implies that the transcendent God beyond the physical universe and the immanent God within ourselves are one. Heaven and Earth, spirit and matter, the invisible and the visible worlds form a unity to which we are intimately linked.1
Miller continues describing the meaning of “as above, so below” by quoting Sufi scholar Reshad Field:
“‘As above, so below’ means that the two worlds are instantaneously seen to be one when we realize our essential unity with God. . . . The One and the many, time and eternity, are all One.”2 (ellipsis in original)
In 2004 when I searched “as above, so below” on the Internet, the first entry listed further defined this “key” New Age term:
This phrase comes from the beginning of The Emerald Tablet and embraces the entire system of traditional and modern magic which was inscribed upon the tablet in cryptic wording by Hermes Trismegistus. The significance of this phrase is that it is believed to hold the key to all mysteries. All systems of magic are claimed to function by this formula. “‘That which is above is the same as that which is below’ . . . The universe is the same as God, God is the same as man.”3
Most of the references, either on websites or in books and magazines containing the phrase “as above, so below” describe the term as having the same occult/mystical/New Age/esoteric/magical sources. One website states:
This ancient phrase, “As above, so below” describes the Oneness of All That Is.4
In Deceived on Purpose, I discuss my concerns over Rick Warren placing such great emphasis on Eugene Peterson’s The Message. When I looked up Ephesians 4:6 in The Message,Peterson’s paraphrase (like the New Century Version) also definitely lends itself to the New Age interpretation that God is present “in” everyone. In The Message, Peterson introduces his readers—with no parenthetical warnings or explanations—to the concept of ‘Oneness’:
You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.5
The “as above, so below” God “in” everything “Oneness” message of Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase The Message sounds strikingly similar to the same “as above, so below” God “in” everything “Oneness” message of the New Age/New Spirituality. Such a teaching is contrary to what the Bible teaches. We are only “one” in Christ Jesus when we repent of our sins and accept Him as our Lord and Savior. Galatians 3:26-28 states:
For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (emphasis added)
1. Ronald S. Miller and the Editors of New Age Journal, As Above, So Below: Paths to Spiritual Renewal in Daily Life (Los Angeles, CA: Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc., 1992), p. xi, quoted in Warren B. Smith, Deceived on Purpose, op. cit., p. 32.
3. “As Above, So Below” (http://www.themystica.com/mystica/articles/a/below_above.html).
4. See: http://www.mothermaryspeaks.com/as_above_so_below.htm.
5. Eugene H. Peterson, The Message (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress), Ephesians 4:6.