by Ray Yungen
The current popularity with meditative mysticism presents a very new and perplexing challenge for evangelical Christianity. We are beginning to encounter the New Age or Aquarian Christian. This new term describes someone who remains in his or her home church and professes the Christian faith but has also incorporated various aspects of the New Age or Aquarian mindset into his or her life. New Age author David Spangler was very optimistic about the possibility of this integration when he wrote, “The point is that the New Age is here … it builds itself and forms itself in the midst of the old.”1
What has fueled the momentum of this trend is the buffet-style dining approach that has become a hallmark of American religious sensibilities in the last twenty years—you take what you want and leave the rest. Americans are picking and blending religions as if they were ordering espressos: pick your espresso blend, but you still get coffee—pick your spiritual path, but you still get God. Whatever suits your spiritual tastes, you bring together. The result is hybrid New Age spirituality.
I recall a conversation once with a woman in a coffee bar. We chatted on spiritual subjects, and her comments led me to believe she was an evangelical Christian. Towards the end of our friendly conversation she dropped a bombshell on me when she blurted-out, “Well, we all have the Christ consciousness!”
In another incident, a local pastor shared with me how a woman he had long known as a strong solid Christian was almost swept up by New Age thinking. Her young adult son had been addicted to drugs and went through a drug rehabilitation program. In the process, his counselor introduced him to New Age spirituality. He, in turn, shared it with his mother, giving her a book to read titled Conversations With God (a New Age bestseller).
Incredibly, she found herself being swayed by the book’s arguments and began to doubt whether or not her evangelical Christianity was indeed the only way to God. Her desire to see her son aligned with God left her mind open in welcoming the possibility that various mystical paths were equally genuine in finding God. It took this pastor nearly two hours to help this woman understand the error of her thinking. Keep in mind this woman was a solid and devoted Christian who had been living her Christian faith for decades. If these Christians can be swayed, what about people who are even more vulnerable to what is going on in the larger culture?
The New Age message has such a positive ring that it is necessary to look behind the appealing facade to see what is actually there. If one goes to a massage therapist who does Reiki one should know the true nature of that practice. If your doctor wants you to meditate, you should know the spiritual dangers of non-biblical meditation. As the world moves further into becoming a full-fledged mystical society, it will become increasingly difficult to escape the ideas and practices described in this chapter. Christians must become aware of what is happening in order to make informed choices about things that may adversely affect them spiritually. In addition, many of our friends, family members, and co-workers will be seeking spiritual solutions to the uncertainties of our society and the world in which we live as a whole. The following account brings this point home like no other. A Christian in Georgia emailed me with the following story:
At work a colleague who is a deacon at the local Baptist church was telling me about his visits to a local woman for “Therapeutic Massage.” He said she used “some kind of Indian technique.” I asked him if it was Reiki and he said “Yeah that’s it. She’s a Reiki practitioner.” I told him what I had read in your book about Reiki and he got defensive. He said, “I don’t care what it is as long as it works.” I was floored. I said, “You are a deacon. How can you make such a statement?” He said, “There are several deacons at my church that believe in Reiki.” I pleaded with him to do some research on the subject and I sent him an email with quotes off some sites that promote Reiki. Later he told me he could see where I was coming from but that as long as he didn’t believe in the spiritual aspect of it, he didn’t see why he shouldn’t participate in it. I was surprised that there was a Reiki practitioner in the middle of rural Bible Belt America. I guess nothing should shock me anymore.2
One book on the Chakra* system clearly shows:
Many people who have open crown chakras have had a profound spiritual experience in which their usual sense of being separate and apart falls away and there is a feeling of being at One with All and Everything. There is a profound sense of merging.… There is, in essence, a feeling that All of This Is God, and I Am a part of all of this so I, too, Am God.3
This concept of course, has its source in the spirit world. The “Reiki News” provides this evidence:
Imagine my surprise during my first Reiki class when I observed the astral images of guides and healing spirits pouring forth bright shimmering rays of healing energy at the hands of novice practitioners. 4
Interest in Reiki and other mystical practices are accelerating to such a degree that most people will come face to face with this sooner or later. One popular counselor made the following assessment regarding the growing momentum of New Age practical mysticism:
We cannot overstate how profoundly their impact is being felt in education, business, medicine, and psychotherapy. It is safe to say that the prevailing religion in America … is no longer Christianity but is instead New Age.5
It would not surprise me if the majority of people in America have a family member or close friend who does mantra meditation, practices yoga, has either encountered Reiki or Therapeutic Touch, or is an avid fan of the Oprah Winfrey show. How could anyone possibly conceive that any of these seemingly benign or even helpful methods or talkshows might have a connection to Satan or that which is against God? A brother in Christ whom I met for coffee one day gave me the answer to that question: He referred to the Scripture in which Eve took of the fruit, and while it had the appearance of something good, the results of her partaking were detrimental.
So when the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. (Genesis 3:6)
Secondly, and just as important, what actually constitutes that which is satanic? Virtually everyone in Christendom equates that term, satanic, with things dark and sinister. However, the Bible paints a far different picture of Satan—one that fits the New Age movement perfectly. Satan said, “I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:14). He did not say he would be the Most High; he said he would be like the Most High. The word “like” here means to correspond to. How could Satan accomplish this mission?
It is important to understand that Satan is not simply trying to draw people to the dark side of a good versus evil conflict. Actually, he is trying to eradicate the gap between himself and God, between good and evil, altogether. When we understand this approach it helps us see why Thomas Merton said everyone is already united with God or why Jack Canfield said he felt God flowing through all things. All means all—nothing left out. Such reasoning implies that God has given His glory to all of creation; since Satan is part of creation, then he too shares in this glory, and thus is “like the Most High.”
Contrary to this belief of good and evil merging and man or creation becoming “like the Most High,” man and God can only be brought together through the Cross. If the all-is-one view were true, then salvation through a Redeemer would become unnecessary and Jesus’ death on the Cross would be rendered altogether futile and pointless. In order for the Cross to make any sense, there must be a separation between God’s perfect nature and Man’s sin nature. We know Satan has only one enemy—the Cross; he knows that without it no human being can be restored to God.
The Bible says the message of the Cross is the power of God, and while there are two opposing spiritual realms, God has always and will always, prevail. Satan can never thwart God’s ultimate plan. And yet, today’s Western society is enticed by practical mystics who deny, by their own proclamations, God’s plan of eternal salvation. Will the majority of mankind come to believe that all is one and there is no line to be drawn in the sand regarding good and evil? The Bible admonishes, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.” (Isaiah 5:20)
Yet, such a plan now exists and will shape future events—events that will alter the course on which millions will advance.
(from A Time of Departing, from chapter 5, “Discernment”)
1. David Spangler, “The New Age is Here” (New Thought magazine, Spring 1989), p. 6.
2. A personal email sent to Ray Yungen in 2005.
3. Joy Gardner-Gordon, Pocket Guide to the Chakras (Berkley, CA: Crossing Press, 1998), p. 31.
4. Glenn Derrick, “Reiki and Chi Kung” (Reiki News, Winter 1994, http://www.reiki.org//reikinews/reikin19.html, accessed 12/2005), p. 12.
5. Neil T. Anderson, Terry E. Zuehlke, Julianne S. Zuehlke, Christ Centered Therapy: The Practical Integration of Theology and Psychology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2000), p. 61.