Confused by an Angel: The Dilemma of Roma Downey’s New Age Beliefs by Gregory Reid is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet. The Booklet is 14 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklets are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of Confused by an Angel: The Dilemma of Roma Downey’s New Age Beliefs, click here
By Gregory Reid
Roma Downey first came into our lives and hearts as “Monica,” the angel-in-training in the successful television series Touched by an Angel. A feel-good, moral, and New Age tinged show, many people’s memory of Downey was her angel character saying, in an angelic Irish brough, “God luvs ya!”
Years passed. Suddenly, Roma Downey and her husband Mark Burnett lit up the media sky with their successful television miniseries, The Bible. Christians—especially those with fond memories of Monica—were thrilled at the presentation of the Bible by what seemed to be the newly evangelical team of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, founder of the Lightworkers media company. The church embraced them—no questions asked. (Note: Even the name of their production company, Lightworkers should have been a strong indication. In the New Age, a lightworker is “any being dedicated to the cultivation of inner presence and the elevation of awareness in self and other selves. This being is called a lightworker and is an evolutionary step toward a state of ‘LightBeing.’”1)
Unfortunately, our longing for affirmation and importance in “the real world” and desire to be accepted and “relevant” in this media-soaked age has created a church that will accept anyone who utters the name “Jesus” as one of us without asking any questions as to what they really believe.
Thus is the case of the meteoric rise and wholesale embracing of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey.
After The Bible series came the movie Son of God. It was the most highly promoted Christian event I can remember in forty years. Soon Burnett and Downey were on nearly every Christian television and radio program.
They sound like us. They say the right things. And in some ways, they are more Christ-behaving and giving than many professing Christians.
But they are not of us. Roma Downey is, in fact, a New Age initiate. She is not just a “dabbler.” She hasn’t merely gotten a few unsanctified New Age ideas. She is, in fact, a deeply committed follower of the New Spirituality and its ideas.
5 Reasons Why I Believe Roma Downey is a New Age Initiate
1. A Graduate of a New Age University
In 2010, Roma Downey graduated with a Master’s Degree in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica in California. USM is a New Age training center. The school’s founder, the late John-Roger, is one of the most well-known New Age teachers over the last thirty years.2 Experiencing an auto accident when he was young, a spirit he identified as the “mystic traveler” began to speak to him, then “through” him. Everything he did and taught was based on that experience. He was a “trance channeler,” and his organization, MSIA or Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness, is well known in the New Age world. This is some of what he and his organization teaches:
When a person participates in MSIA and works with the Mystical Traveler, that person is, if anything, “submitting” to himself/herself, to the Christ within, to the God within. And that is really a joyous surrender to love. . . . [T]o be an initiate of the Traveler is to devote yourself to the God within you, to devote yourself to Spirit, to returning to your home, the Soul, from which you originally came before you incarnated onto this earth. It means devoting yourself to working out the karma you’ve accrued while being here and to releasing yourself from that karma through grace and your good works, so that you are free to rise into the heart of God.3
If you feel you aren’t worthy of God, that you’re too small or not as good as God, then stand up. Face God on equal terms, as a co-creator and one who also owns the sun, the moon and the stars.4
This is the teacher—and the foundation of the education—that Roma Downey is proud to have learned under and graduated from. Of her education at USM, Downey claims:
It’s heightened my awareness . . . The skills I learned at USM are so simple and effective . . . It was a beautiful exploration . . .USM is at the cutting edge of transforming people. (*)
There is no way she could have gone through this university without knowing exactly what it stands for. A believer in Jesus Christ and in His Word would have never gone to such a school, and if a person became a born-again believer after attending, she would publicly renounce her participation. Unfortunately, Roma Downey was still finishing her degree in spiritual psychology when she gave her interview about the Bible series.5
What kinds of things was Downey learning in her education at Santa Monica University? Let’s take a look:
Experiencing enhanced spiritual awareness through knowing yourself as a Divine Being having a human experience.
Tools for spiritual evolution.
Working with the patterns associated with each of the eight chakra centers in service to deep healing physically, mentally, emotionally, and within the unconscious, with the focus of further awakening to the Authentic Self.6
From their own curriculum description, we read:
[Spiritual Psychology] empowers them to convert their everyday life experiences into rungs on the ladder of Spiritual Evolution . . . Spiritual Psychology is the study and practice of the art and science of human evolution in consciousness.
Practically, it means learning how to surrender—or let go of— anything that disturbs one’s peace. It also means sacrificing our illusions of separation. Essentially, this “surrendering” and “sacrificing” is work that can and has been called “healing,” which includes healing on the physical, mental, and emotional levels in service to the deeper revelation of who we truly are as Loving, Peaceful, Compassionate, and Joyful beings. We refer to this level of awareness as the Authentic Self. . . . And, by the way, assuming we get through the current challenges, these very same skills will be exactly the same ones that will be highly valued as we transform into a more peaceful highly globalized world.7
2. Involved With Channeler’s CD
Roma Downey recited a rosary prayer for a CD called Practical Praying by John Edward.8 Edward is a psychic medium best known for his TV show in which he has talked to the dead. Downey has been on his show and allowed him to “channel” her “mother.”9
3. Resonates With Famous New Age Gurus
Roma Downey is an avid reader of New Age material by well-known New Age/New Spirituality writers Tony Robbins and Eckhart Tolle, both who are worlds away from any biblical truth. Tolle, for instance, teaches that divinity (i.e., God) is within all human beings. His spirituality resonates with someone like Matthew Fox, author of The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, a book that teaches a christ-consciousness is in all people. Contrary to what a Bible-believing Christian would say, in a women’s magazine article, Downey says:
My kids go to school about a 40-minute drive away. . . . On the way back, I get my own selections—books on tape by Eckhart Tolle, Tony Robbins . . . My husband says I’m so self-realized I’m practically levitating.”10
4. Has Deep Connections with a Major New-Thought Teacher
Roma Downey’s acknowledged mentor is Della Reese, her angel-boss Tess on Touched by an Angel. In addition to co-starring together for eight years on the T.V. show, Della Reese is Downey’s daughter’s godmother11 and also officiated at the 2007 wedding of Downey and Mark Burnett.12 Given the fact that Downey has been so influenced by Della Reese, it’s important to take a few moments to examine Reese’s beliefs.
Reese, a well-known and acclaimed singer and actress for many years, is also the pastor of Understanding Principals for Better Living Church (UpChurch) in southern California. Her own mentor is the late minister Johnnie Colemon,13 founding pastor of the megachurch Christ Unity Center in Chicago and a pioneer of the “new thought” movement, a New Age metaphysical teaching based on “healing meditation and positive thought.”14 On Reese’s church website, she expresses her views on God:
God is everywhere, evenly, equally present! Omnipresence. (There is no spot or situation where God is not!)
God is all the power in the universe! Omnipotence. (God is all there is, there is nothing else!)
God is all the wisdom/intelligence in the universe! Omniscience. (In the beginning, God!)
All humankind is made in the image-likeness of God. We are all spiritual beings having a human experience.15
While these ideas have shreds of scriptural backing, Reese is actually presenting a New Age view of God’s omnipresence and power. In her 2013 book, Metaphysically Speaking, Reese states, in speaking of herself (and all people):
All that God is I am, and all that God has is mine. I am omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent. (I am evenly present, all knowing, and all powerful.) I am life, intelligence, love and power. I am the temple, in which God lives. I am that from which all love springs, and I am wisdom, power, strength and substance. I am absolute wholeness and perfection.16
Reese believes that man has all of the attributes of God, making him omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient—like God. On her website, she gives a list of some of the people (and books) she admires and emulates, calling them “Great Spiritual Leaders.” Her list, of which I am naming a few, clearly reveals Reese’s New Age/New Thought spiritual affinities—
A. New Age guru Eric Butterworth—Discover the Power Within You. Researcher and author Ray Yungen discusses Butterworth’s book:
In line with Unity teaching, the book [Discover the Power Within You] expounds on the “Divinity of Man” as perceived through mystical practice. . . . Eric Butterworth teaches that God isn’t “up there.” He exists inside each one of us, and it’s up to us to seek the divine within.17 (emphasis added)
B. Dr. Barbara King—Transform Your Life. The Reverend King is an interfaith New Thought minister whose mentor is also Johnnie Colemon. On King’s website, she greets visitors with the saying Namaskar (i.e., namaste, meaning the god in me greets the god in you).
C. Ernest Holmes—The Science of Mind. The late Ernest Holmes (1887-1960) was “the founder of the Church of Religious Science, and his book The Science of Mind is regarded by many in the occult as a New Age “Bible.”18 According to apologist Dave Hunt, The Science of Mind “teaches that Man controls the course of his life . . . by mental processes which function according to a Universal Law . . . that we are all creating our own day-to-day experiences . . . by the form and procession of our thoughts.19 Author and lecturer, Mike Oppenheimer explains that Holmes “believed what nearly every occultist does: ‘Man, by thinking, can bring into his experience whatsoever he desires.’”20 This is not a biblical concept but is definitely a New Age one, rooted in the idea that man is God.
On Della Reese’s website, she also lists Rabbi Morris Lichtenstein (How to Live), Charles Roth (Mind: The Master Power), Norman Vincent Peale, and Robert H. Schuller.
Reese’s base theology clearly comes from New Spirituality teachers. To her, Jesus should not be considered as the only way to the Father. Rather, He is just a “way-shower,”21 someone who points the way (as opposed to being the Way). As Downey’s spiritual mother and cherished mentor, it is not an exaggeration to say that Della Reese has had a significant influence on Downey’s own metaphysical New Age beliefs.
5. Gives Hearty Endorsement for Book Promoting Spirit Guides and Panentheism
Roma Downey endorsed a New Age book titled Loyalty to Your Soul by Ron and Mary Hulnick (published by the New Age publisher, Hay House). Of the book, Downey stated:
As a USM graduate, I know firsthand the value I received from participating with Ron and Mary in the Master’s degree Program in Spiritual Psychology. I am so grateful to have Loyalty to Your Soul to sweetly remind me of all I have learned. . . . The teachings in this beautiful book have sent me on a journey to the very center of my own being where, wrapped in the safe wings of Love, I feel as though I have come home.22
Downey’s endorsement in the Hulnick’s book is nestled in with prolific New Agers like Barbara Marx Hubbard, Joan Borysenko, and Gay Hendricks (The Corporate Mystic). By the way, Neale Donald Walsch (Conversations With God), the New Ager who said, “Hitler didn’t hurt anyone . . . he didn’t inflict suffering, he ended it,”23 wrote the foreword to Loyalty to Your Soul. Clearly, Downey read the Hulnick’s book and resonates deeply with it to say what she did about it. To get an idea of this “journey” that Downey is on, listen to a few quotes from Loyalty to Your Soul:
Lord, God of all Creation, we ask now that we be cleared, filled, surrounded, and protected with the clear Light of the sacredness of Spirit. We ask for the presence, protection, guidance, and Love of the Divine Beings [spirit guides] who work with each of us.24 (from the “Invocation”—emphasis added)
When people speak of spirituality, they simply mean awareness of the sacred reality of the Divine Essence within and beyond all creation.25
Those familiar with New Age teachings will recognize such statements as being the core essence of the occult (that man is divine) and that there are spirit guides who help us through life. Loyalty to Your Soul is a contemporary version of A Course in Miracles (the New Age “Bible”).
A Need to Warn
While I bear no animosity toward Mark Burnett or Roma Downey and truly love and care about them, I have great concern for their spiritual state. I fear that the likelihood of them finding the true Jesus Christ is greatly hindered by the evangelical leaders and pastors who have surrounded them, adored them, courted them even—without discerning whether they are of the biblical Christian faith. Questions are not being asked to uncover their true beliefs. If these leaders really care about Burnett and Downey, they would seek out the truth about their beliefs and warn them of the dangers of New Age thought. Such forthrightness could potentially help Burnett and Downey come to find a relationship with Him that is based, not on the false premises of the New Age but rather “on the repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21).
When the History Channel movie series was first released, I had deep concerns because I knew where Roma Downey stood spiritually. Then when Son of God was going to be released, I saw the overwhelming acceptance and embracing of Downey and her husband.
When a major Christian book retailer started stocking The Story of God and All of Us, a book based on the movie The Bible with Downey and Burnett as authors, I felt I needed to inform the bookstore’s representatives of my concerns. I received a brief e-mail reply in which the representative said, “yes, we are aware of some issues,” but they decided to release it “for the greater good” in spite of the issues. What he ended with completely floored me:
I listened to Roma Downey tell about her involvement in making the miniseries and was impressed by her powerful Christian testimony.
It was as if nothing I had brought to his attention made him think that Roma Downey was anything but someone “with a powerful Christian testimony.”
It became clear to me that people were unwilling to consider these concerns. With all this in mind, would it not be of great importance, considering Downey’s vast influence on Christians, to ask some very crucial questions. Roma Downey says in interviews she loves Jesus, and that has been the basis of the broad acceptance of her and her movies by Christian leaders and pastors.
Here is the simple truth: Either Mark Burnett and Roma Downey know exactly what they are doing and are aware of their role in bringing about synchronicity between Christianity and all faiths, or they do not know the difference between what they believe and what the Bible teaches. If it is the first, then Christians are in real danger in letting them even deeper into their circles of influence. If they do not, then Christians who are accepting them are indeed poor stewards of God’s things and God’s house. What’s more, if those in positions of influence know that Roma Downey represents another belief system foreign to the faith we hold dear and choose to ignore this for the greater good of spreading the good news, then they should be in great fear. For it is their responsibility to care for the flock:
For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. (Acts 20:29)
Last year at the 2014 National Religious Broadcasters Convention, I had a unique opportunity to personally hand Roma Downey a copy of my friend Warren B. Smith’s testimony book, The Light That Was Dark.26 I do not know if she has read it, but I do believe God, in His mercy, is reaching out and trying to save her and Mark Burnett. I have written this booklet with the understanding that these are people Jesus died to redeem, and He loves them. Scripture tells us:
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
Questions for Roma Downey
I have put together a set of questions that needs to be asked and answered by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey:
Do you believe Jesus is the only way to God?
Do all humans have the “Christ spirit?”
Is every human being divine or containing a divine essence?
Do you believe the Bible to be the infallible Word of God and the final authority of truth?
Knowing that the Bible forbids necromancy, are you sorry you worked with John Edward?
Is what you learned from John-Rogers University compatible with your Christian faith?
Do you now see the error in endorsing New Age books that promote spirit guides and the divinity of man, two concepts clearly rejected in the Bible?
These are reasonable and crucial questions, and it’s the responsibility of Christian pastors and leaders to ask them rather than continue to promote people who by all appearances are following another Jesus and another gospel than the one to which the Scriptures attest.
In January of 2015, Roma Downey was asked to host one of the largest contemporary Christian music events in decades. Over thirty well-known veteran musicians shared the platform with Downey. Some of those performing included Michael W. Smith, Newsboys, Don Moen, Mark Schultz, Sandi Patti, Travis Cottrell (Beth Moore’s worship leader), Chuck Girard and Love Song, Steven Curtis Chapman, Steve Green, Dallas Holm, The Imperials, and Nicole Mullen. A Lighthouse Trails report expressed concerns over the implications of this event:
It is a sad state of affairs when a concert, billed as “the greatest night in the history of contemporary Christian music,” uses a highly New Age- and Catholic-influenced celebrity to help open and close the event, which is basically making a statement to viewers as well as the church at large that Christianity is compatible with all beliefs.27
If we are willing to ignore or accept the clear biblical conflicts, which Downey has presented to us for the greater good, then how much more will we be willing to overlook next time? The evangelical/Protestant church is already on a steady slide to doctrinal dissolution and rejection of the biblical essentials of the faith through the “new Christianity” that has surfaced in countless churches, ministries, and Christian colleges and seminaries. Every compromise is a snowflake in the avalanche we are witnessing.
What happens when the average Christian or church-goer goes to see a Downey movie and thinks, “I wonder what else Roma has done?” And then he finds himself getting Downey’s CD done with necromancer John Edward or reading Eckhart Tolle or Tony Robbins or heading to Della Reese’s UpChurch website and slowly becoming seduced by another Jesus? This will be the “fruit” of Roma Downey’s influence on millions of people, both Christian and non-Christian. Where are the warnings by Christian leaders and pastors about dangerous seductions coming into the church and compromising truth?
The New Age that Roma Downey promotes exalts man to an equality in holiness, virtue, and essence with God. If indeed the New Age is right and man really is divine, then the sacrifice Jesus Christ made on the Cross would not have been necessary. And in fact, if man truly is divine, then Jesus dying for the sins of the world would be of no effect and would be in vain for He would have died for those who were just as holy and good as He was.
Let us pray for Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, that their eyes would be opened and that they would come to repentance, turning away from the New Age “gospel” and to Jesus Christ wholly. Let us remember that we too were once in darkness and ignorant of the true Savior, and He redeemed us from a dark pit. Let us also do all we can to hold our leadership’s feet to the fire to ensure they do not promote those things which weaken and even destroy the testimony of God in the world today.
And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard (Colossians 1:21-23)
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4. John Morton, D.S.S., MSIA Spiritual Director, “Your Ultimate Safe Harbour” (New Day Herald, http://www.msia.org/newdayherald/archives/10543-your-ultimate-safe-harbor.
6. USM Brochure, www.universityofsantamonica.edu/PDFs/USM_Brochure.pdf.
10. First for Women magazine, 03/31/14, pp. 44-45.
15. UpChurch website: http://www.upchurch.org/index.php?page=teachings.
16. Della Reese, Metaphysically Speaking (Lett Reese International Publishing, 2013, Kindle Edition), location 109.
17. Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2nd ed.), pp. 102-104.
18. Warren B. Smith, A “Wonderful” Deception (Magalia, CA: Mountain Stream Press), p. 43.
19. Dave Hunt, Seduction of Christianity (Eugene, OR: Harvest House), p. 21.
20. Mike Oppenheimer, “The Secret Behind the Secret” (http://www.letusreason.org/Popteac38.htm, citing Ernest Holmes in The Science of Mind (Peerless Communications, 2011 Kindle Edition, which is the 1926 Complete Unedited Edition), Kindle location 1243.
22. Her endorsement of the book is inside the front cover of the book.
23. Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God: an uncommon dialogue, Book 2 (Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads, 1997), p. 56.
24. Hulnick Ph.D., H. Ronald; Mary R. Hulnick Ph.D., Loyalty to Your Soul (Hay House. Kindle Edition, from the Invocation).
25. Ibid., p. 8.
26. Warren B. Smith, The Light That Was Dark (Magalia, CA: Mountain Stream Press): This book chronicles the life of Warren B. Smith when he was heavily involved with the New Age. Smith describes the role that A Course in Miracles played in his and his wife’s lives. In essence, what Roma Downey is endorsing and promoting is the spirituality of A Course in Miracles, the quintessential New Age “bible.”
To order copies of Confused by an Angel: The Dilemma of Roma Downey’s New Age Beliefs, click here