What is New Ageism?
(The image above is of Alice Ann Bailey, a theosophist who was one of the first writers to use the term 'New Age'.)
The New Age movement is difficult to define because its identity is not confined to a single belief system and it does not possess an organising body to control and perpetuate its existence. The term ‘New Age’ can mainly be attributed to Alice Ann Bailey. She was a theosophist who under the guidance of her 'spirit masters' wrote a considerable number of books in which she predicted a coming 'saviour' who would appear during the Age of Aquarius. New ageism's mystical/occult teachings are appealing to many differing faith based belief systems, human philosophies and organisations. The absence of a clear identity has enabled New Age philosophies to subtly filter through into many facets of society and find acceptance on a worldwide basis within a multitude of religious and non-religious organisations.
The following are just some of the characteristics of New Ageism:
New ageism can be found within many religious and occult practices throughout the world. “In addition to Hinduism, it has major elements of Transcendental Meditation, spiritism, astrology, theosophy, neopaganism, and the 1960s hippie movement.”1 It [new ageism] has even given assent “to the Old and New Testaments, perverting their meaning and attributing a hidden, occult message to their words.” 2
New Ageism demonstrates a willingness to accommodate any religious belief in an effort to add credence to its foundational teaching that within every person and every religious system dwells the essence of divinity. (ie pantheism)
Age of Aquarius:
Another common thread belief associated with the New Age movement is an expectation of a future period of enlightenment for mankind, known as the ‘Age of Aquarius’. “This is the New Age vision of Utopia, a new world order with one world government run on the principles of socialism and practising New Age religion.” 3
According to New Age philosophy this ‘Utopia’ can also be experienced on an individual level, commonly expressed as self-actualisation, self-fulfilment, self-realisation, autonomyand other such like terms, many of which will be familiar to practitioners involved in health and social care provision.
Man is god:
New Ageism is essentially pantheistic; denying the existence and absolute supremacy of the One and only True God they claim that ‘god is all and all is god’. This New Age belief teaches that man is his own deity and therefore is more than capable of independently solving his own problems and chartering his own destiny. New Ageism denies the Scriptural teaching of man’s innately sinful nature and necessity for salvation. It also denies the requirement for moral absolutes such as those summarised in the 10 Commandments; being divine, every person is capable of deciding how to live in a way that will be right for them. It does not take a lot of imagination to work out that widespread implementation of this unscriptural philosophy would lead to utter chaos throughout society! God’s Law provides the best moral authority available to mankind. Throughout the history of this world, countries who fashioned their governmental standards on God’s Moral Law prospered far and above those who had little or no regard for it. Sadly many nations that once honoured God’s Law have replaced God’s moral absolutes with new age/humanistic philosophies (eg. Human Rights legislation). Sadder still there are professing Christians, whilst claiming to admire the Puritans teachings, despise and disregard God’s Law, believing that it has no relevance for the days of Gospel Grace we now live in. The Puritans of course had great respect for God’s Moral Law and undoubtedly accepted it to be important for the following reasons:
As a schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ (Gal 3v24)
As a means to regulate and restrain society. (1Tim1vv8-10)
As a rule and guide for a Believers life (Psalm 119v11)
In the absence of the restraining influence of God’s Law, wickedness and immorality are enabled to abound. Evidence of this will soon be clearly seen as God’s Laws are increasingly forsaken and lawlessness is enabled to escalate to unprecedented levels prior to the Lord’s return. (2Tim 3v13; 2 Thess 2vv1-10)
Reincarnation is another commonly held belief within New Ageism and is a natural outcome of their ‘man is deity’ teaching; as a self-perpetuating force, man after his death may be reinvented in a variety of different forms. This is in direct variance with God’s word which clearly teaches that when man dies he will either spend eternity in heaven or eternity in hell, depending on their acceptance or rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour whilst on this side of eternity. There is no Scriptural evidence for reincarnation and to the contrary the Bible teaches that “It is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgement.” Hebrews 9v27 Whilst there is no Scriptural evidence for the New Age teaching of reincarnation there is ample evidence pointing to a future resurrection from the dead for every soul that has died. “Marvel not at this; for the hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” John 5vv28-29.
Ray Yungen in his book ‘A Time of Departing’, aptly identifies the pantheistic and mystical/occult side of New Ageism by using a quote from a book entitled ‘The Mission of Mysticism’ by Richard Kirby: “Occultism [New Ageism] is defined as the science of mystical evolution; it is the employment of the hidden (occult) mystical faculties of man to discern the hidden reality of nature; ie.,to see God as the all in all.” 4
1.Dr Alan Cairns. (1998) Dictionary of Theological Terms; (Ambassador) p. 245
2. Abid. P.246
3. Abid. p.245
4. Richard Kirby. (1979) The Mission of Mysticism; (London, UK) p.6 as quoted in Yungen, Ray. (2009) A Time of Departing; (Lighthouse Trails Publishing, Eureka, Montana) p.14