The term “New Age” is best understood literally. The visionaries and “prophets” of our times are proclaiming a new age which the universe is stepping into. The mythical “Age of Aquarius” is an astrological star age which, in their opinion, will have a powerful impact on the whole of mankind, especially on its spiritual life. Everyone will be granted special knowledge, and man will be served by unknown and mysterious forces. One of their theories asserts that during the past 2,200 years the Earth was influenced by the Pisces. This sign of the Zodiac is tied in with the triumph of Christianity, since from the beginning of Christianity the sign of the fish was its symbol. Adepts of the New Age feel that, more importantly, during the Age of Pisces esoteric knowledge was undervalued, and the occult was not being suitably developed.
The forthcoming Age of Aquarius is being called upon to rectify this “error.” Christianity is being proclaimed a religion of the past. New Age “prophets” are not in agreement about the specific timeframe: some claim that we have already entered the New Age, while others say that we are about to enter it. The main thing is that everyone agrees with Shirley MacLaine, who has expressed the New Age credo as follows: “Humanism, fraternity, and revelation of hidden powers.”
When analyzing the New Age movements, one may gather the impression that their religious views are so different that it would be impossible to determine what they actually have in common. Walter Martin, an investigator of sects and cults, has attempted to define the characteristics of New Age religiousness. He extrapolated four basic criteria:
1. Overt assistance in promoting the New Age.
2. Open support of characteristic New Age beliefs, such as monism (“all are one”), pantheism (“nature is god”), Gnosticism (spiritual perfection is impossible without hidden knowledge), karma and reincarnation, spiritual evolution, new hosts (equal to Christ), etc.
3. Open use of occult practices [mediumism, astrology, numerology, magic, various means of achieving “alternate” states of consciousness (for example, meditation, monotonous singing, hypnosis, etc.), and the use of crystals and pyramids for psychological purposes].
4. The use of specific terminology [interdependence, ancient wisdom (which had supposedly been lost and which is now being sought), spiritual guides, new consciousness, new world order, expansion of consciousness, planetary vision, paranormal manifestations, psychic powers, initiation, transpersonal (direct rejection of individuality, i.e. the Christian revelation of a personal God), holistic (i.e. healed), etc.].
The New Age is a varied collection of sects and religious groups. Christianity is the direct opposite of the New Age. In the Gospel everything is absolutely clear-cut. The Son of God becomes the Son of Man, appears to the world, preaches the Heavenly Realm, and teaches man how to attain it. Anonymity is foreign to biblical revelation.
The New Age has no name, no form, it is quite shapeless. The Gospel attests to this faceless and multitudinous force by saying: “And Jesus asked him, saying: What is thy name? And he said: Legion, because many devils were entered into him. And they besought Him that He would not command them to go out into the deep” (Luke 8:30-31).
“I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the age to come” – thus Christians confess in the Creed the Church’s belief in the afterlife, in life with Christ and in Christ. The New Age, however, mimics and adapts to the Christians’ eschatological expectations. Faith in Christ the Saviour is openly or covertly opposed by faith in the “new age” itself, in the teaching of man’s “transformation” without Christ, by means of another force. It does not matter who will come and effect the “salvation” of the world. This can be Buddha Maitreya (Buddhism), the “venerable” Moon (in the Korean version), or Shoko Asahara (in the Japanese version). The identity of the “Saviour” has no importance for them. This is an open summons to reject the Christian “life of the age to come.” A rejection that begins with the desire to supplement “outdated” Christianity with a “new revelation.”
What can be new after the New Testament? The fullness of Divine Revelation, given to mankind in Christ, presupposes the fullness of time and a headlong rush towards the end of history. But history itself has not yet ended, and the events that take place in the world after the coming of the Son of Man are described in the book of the Apocalypse. And the more we witness the fulfillment of prophecies, the fuller becomes our comprehension of this book. “Children, these are end times,” – reminds us the holy apostle John the Theologian. From such an eschatological perspective newness becomes illusory, and claims to new revelations are extremely doubtful. Thus the task of the Christian community becomes the preservation of the purity of faith. “Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning“ (1 John 2:24).
The New Agers have found various avenues for disseminating their teaching: in politics – through the ideas of the “new world order”; in ecology – through the assertion of our interdependence with Mother Earth; in non-traditional medicine – through the establishment of holistic principles of treatment; in religion – through illusory dreams of seeking ancient wisdom. In practice everything is mixed up in bizarre fashion, and ecologists battle for power, while the seekers of wisdom open up medical centers.
Pantheism, united with various magic practices, actively encourages man’s magical interaction with nature. In this sense the New Agers are “ecologically-minded.” They are in solidarity with the radical demands of “green” ideologists, in particular with J. Hubert, who proclaimed that today “it is no longer enough to serve God and other higher powers, but one must serve nature.”
Gradually the ecological movement as a whole adopted New Age positions. Before our very eyes the magazine Nature and Man changed from a health publication to a panel for occult and pagan viewpoints. From issue to issue the theosophists exchange new “revelations” and engage in discussions of how the world should be set up and what kind of government it should have. The evolution of the ecological community in Findhorn (Scotland) serves as a prime example. It has turned into a world-renowned spiritual New Age center as a result of magical techniques which, in conjunction with high agricultural technologies, result in superior crops. David Spangler, former co-director of Findhorn, has become one of the most famous prophets of the movement.
The New Age regards ecological problems primarily from a mystical point of view. The planet Earth itself is perceived as a living and sacred creature. The New Agers are convinced that mankind’s primary objective is the attainment of the mystical level of existence. By acquiring mystical knowledge man will overcome the inadequacies of his thought processes and will gain the possibility of effectively ruling the material world and establishing the so-called new world order. “Ecological mysticism” is proclaimed as the major strategy of mankind’s survival. Thus the New Agers wish to claim responsibility for creation and for the world’s destinies in cases where God “disclaims this responsibility.”
The advice ye shall be as gods has already sounded in human history. Yes, man has been summoned to become a “god through grace,” summoned to mystical communion with God, but the way towards it does not lie through the establishment of a “new world order.” The biblical story confirms that the wish “to be as gods” by an external mechanical action leads to a transgression of God’s commandments and has already brought about the greatest tragedy in the fate of the world – the Fall. Terrible consequences also result from an unsanctioned intrusion into the world of spirits – which is usually known as “mystical knowledge” – leading to man’s seduction and enslavement by the fallen angels.
Adam was seeking new knowledge, but having transgressed God’s commandment, he acquired the knowledge of only one thing – his nakedness. Adam was expelled from paradise, and together with him the entire earth suffered – the condemned earth began to produce thorns and thistles. Thus the desire to be as gods led to the first ecological catastrophe in the history of mankind.
Christians know that the transgression of commandments does not lead to the preservation of the world. The holy apostle Paul warns of this, speaking of the forthcoming time when “they will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts shall they choose teachers for themselves …And they shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall turn to fables” (2 Tim. 4:3-4).
The New Age is an amalgam of mystical, occult, and spiritualistic groups, the oldest of which have marked their hundredth anniversary, while new ones appear every day. The New Age revives ancient cults and heresies, and magic and mystic practices. Everything that collapsed from incompleteness and decrepitude in the light of the Gospel’s revelation, everything that the Church rejected in establishing its teaching – is now returning into our world. Whoever seeks to find something new in the New Age is in error.
The return of rejected paganism is described in the Apocalypse with prophetic power. The time will come when the revived and strengthened paganism will engage in open combat with Christ’s Church. This will be the last battle in human history. Christians will be defeated in this battle, but not Christ, coming in a cloud with power and great glory (Luke 21:27). “The new heaven and the new earth” will come into being at the very moment when the Lord Himself, with a sword proceeding out of His mouth, will put an end to the New Age
Sergey Chapnin, “New Religious Consciousness in Society”