Hello friends. I’ve had this topic in the back of my mind for a few years and finally(!) got round to writing something on it. This was kind of inspired by some research I’ve been doing lately about New Age in the Church, as well as things I’ve found out by accident about things I myself used to be interested in.
I want to start by clarifying that I’ve used the term ‘New Age’ in quite a broad way, in order to categorise some things that may be better described as occultic, pagan or from another religion. I understand there are distinctions between those things, but what they have in common is that they all, in some way or another, lead you to searching for ‘the god within’, rather than worshipping God the Creator.
This is not ‘new’, despite the term. The lie that we could ‘be like gods’ goes right back to the Fall of Man in Genesis 3. And in Romans 1 the apostle Paul says: “For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking and darkened in their foolish hearts. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images of mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.”
Anyway, for the sake of ease, I’ve lumped all of these things under the New Age label, but I’ll try and go into specifics for each point.
I have nothing but love for those involved in the New Age or the occult, but oil and water don’t mix. I do believe as Christians we’re meant to stay well away from these influences (Deuteronomy 18) while still demonstrating the love of Christ to the people involved. As I said, I used to be interested in a few of these things myself, as you’ll see, so this is not coming from a place of judgement. I am simply sharing what I have learned in an effort to try and bring some clarity.
I have a particular interest in this topic for two reasons: Firstly, I have a friend who came to Christ last year who was previously involved in some New Age practices. Understanding what he has come out of has been important for me so I can be a better friend and fellow believer to him. Secondly, I see a lot of New Age and occultic stuff being normalised and promoted in general (for example, I’ve been in my new job for a few weeks and I’ve already seen at least three New Age teachings being pushed); but more concerningly, I’m seeing some of it in the Church.
You may read the following and come to a different conclusion to me – as always, I write primarily to inform. I encourage you to learn, research and think for yourselves. I hope you will find this helpful in some way.
So let’s jump to it. As usual I provide links to further resources!
- Yoga. I expect this one won’t come as a surprise, but I think it deserves covering anyway. Whether or not we’ve practised yoga ourselves, we probably all know it’s an Eastern practice that has some emphasis on spirituality. Yoga is touted as an exercise that can increase your flexibility, decrease pain and manage your mood and stress levels. But is it innocent?
What you may not know is that yoga is actually practising Hindu worship. The word yoga means ‘union’, and the goal of yoga is to bring you into a state of unity with Brahman, which is what Hindus believe to be the impersonal cosmic, divine force that makes up everything.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes yoga as: “a Hindu theistic philosophy teaching the suppression of all activity of body, mind, and will in order that the self may realize its distinction from them and attain liberation”.
So what, you may ask? Can’t I just follow the stretches without buying into the spiritual undertones?
Here’s the important bit: Many of the postures themselves are acts of worship to Hindu deities. The Bible tells us to honour God with our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), and it is impossible to glorify God and honour Hindu deities at the same time.
As Christians we believe the spiritual realm is real. Pagan idols and false gods have demonic entities behind them, meaning not only are you worshipping false gods when practising yoga, you’re also making yourself vulnerable to demonic attack or oppression. While it may seem innocent and even beneficial for a while, you could actually end up being harmed by it. I’ve seen quite a few YouTube stories to this effect.
Perhaps you’re wondering whether you can just ‘Christianise’ yoga – there are so-called ministries that do this, after all. Well, let me put it this way: My best friend is a Christian who has a Hindu background. She wouldn’t dream of doing yoga now. You can read more about the origins of yoga on TruthXchange.
Do check out this short video by former New Ager Steven Bancarz who breaks down why yoga is the worship of Hindu gods.
I also recommend this in depth interview with a former Kundalini yoga teacher, who affirms clearly that you can’t separate yoga from Hinduism. (Side note: This interview also has some EXCELLENT perspective on miracles and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, vs. some of the counterfeits seen in the church! I found this super encouraging and definitely recommend to all my fellow Charismatic/Pentecostal leaning Christians!)
2. Enneagram. Here’s a personal anecdote: Some years back, I got quite interested in personality theory. I was mostly interested in another system which I explain in the next point, but I also stumbled upon Enneagram, which at the time wasn’t that popular. As you may know, Enneagram teaches that there are nine different personality archetypes, which all coincide with a point on a nine-pointed star. I remember seeing the diagram and thinking it looked occultic (maybe because it looks kind of like a pentagram, or maybe it was discernment/intuition/instinct). I couldn’t find anything obviously occult about it, but I also didn’t find the system particularly helpful, so I forgot about it. Not long ago, I rediscovered it (it seems to have become a lot more popular), so I revisited it. I still didn’t find it very helpful, struggling to put myself in any of those categories – but rather than discard it, I just tried to understand it more. (This is, as I’ll elaborate on later, the lure of personality theory. It tells you that you can somehow fix yourself; that answers can be found within). Anyway, by God’s grace, I accidentally stumbled upon a video on YouTube which explained the… drum roll… occultic roots of Enneagram. Turns out, my initial instinct was 100% correct! Needless to say, that was the end of that.
In this 10 minute video, Claudio Naranjo, one of the principal developers of Enneagram, openly admits that he created the nine personalities with ‘automatic writing’. Automatic writing is an occult practice of channelling demonic spirits, while either in a trance or wakeful state. Yeah, not exactly giving me reassurance there.
For a short breakdown of the history of Enneagram and how it’s infiltrated the Church, I recommend this video with Marcia Montenegro and Alisa Childers. There are loads of longer videos out there too.
3. Myers Briggs. In a similar vein to the above point, it turns out that the seemingly innocuous Myers-Briggs Typology Indicator (MBTI) is also way more sinister than first impressions grant. You may have come across it via 16 Personalities, which is basically a free online MBTI test which will tell you which four letter combination you are. The test was developed by Isabel Myers and Katharine Briggs, building on the theories of renowned psychologist Carl Jung. I won’t go into how the theory works, but unlike Enneagram, I found it pretty accurate, even though it’s pseudoscience. As a result, I wanted to know everything about it, and used it as a tool to evaluate my strengths and weaknesses. I would even sometimes try and ‘type’ other people. But looking back, it didn’t actually bear any fruit in my life. Instead, it made me overly self-focused, trying to better myself rather than relying on the Holy Spirit to sanctify and mould me.
And no wonder. Right after discovering that Enneagram was a no-go, I asked God to show me if MBTI had similar issues. The next day I found a video which gave me my answer. You can watch it here. (dunno what’s up with the creepy music though).
Carl Jung, it turns out, was highly involved with the occult, holding seances, practising alchemy, astrology, tarot cards and I Ching divination. But it gets worse. Jung had a ‘spirit guide’ (aka, a demonic entity) called Philemon, who addressed Jung as ‘Christ’. Jung also got a lot of his supposed knowledge and insight from automatic writing and referred to the self as ‘the God within’. Huh. Not so innocuous after all.
4. Word of Faith theology. Alrighty, please hear me out on this one. I’d not really come across the term until recently, but I had heard of ‘prosperity gospel’ and ‘name it and claim it’ theology – it’s pretty much the same thing. Word of Faith is the belief in the ‘force of faith’; the belief that words can be used to manipulate this force, and create what proponents believe the Bible promises us (i.e., health and wealth). Those who peddle this false teaching believe that laws governing the faith-force operate independently of God’s sovereign will – and that God Himself is subject to these laws. This is decidedly blasphemous (and ridiculous – nowhere in the Bible does it say that faith is a ‘force’… we’re not in Star Wars). Those who teach Word of Faith will also tell you that you, like God, can speak things into existence; that you can ‘decree and declare’ things and they will come to pass. WofF teachers also tell you you’re a ‘little god’ (including, as I mentioned in my last post, charismatic favourite Kris Vallotton).
I do believe in holding onto the promises of Scripture (though we’re not guaranteed either health or wealth), and I do believe that faith pleases God. I have seen the fruit of faith in my own life – but that fruit is God choosing to act on His own will; it has nothing to do with me manipulating Him through some kind of force.
I also believe words matter and we should be careful with what we say to ourselves and to others. But (spoiler alert) we’re not God. We’re made in His image and we have the indwelling Holy Spirit, but we don’t have His divine attributes. We cannot speak things into existence – only God can do that.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this ‘name it and claim’ it theology is also rooted in New Age/New Thought teaching. If you’re reading this thinking it sounds suspiciously like ‘law of attraction’ and manifesting your desires through the power of your intention, then you’re right. The founder of Word of Faith teaching was E. W. Kenyon, who studied the metaphysical New Thought teachings of Phineas Quimby. Kenneth Hagin picked up Kenyon’s ideas, and now there’s a whole bunch of heretical nonsense being spouted through the airwaves of TBN!
Here’s a longer explanation of Word of Faith.
5. Mindfulness. Here’s another seemingly harmless thing everyone and their mother has been promoting for a while. In this helpful article on the truthXchange website, Pam Frost writes that mindfulness is a “Buddhist meditative technique that changes one’s perception of reality. By focusing meditative attention intensely on one’s breath while concentrating on nothing but the present moment, one enters an altered state of nondual consciousness that becomes the new interpretive grid for living. The goal is to train the mind to move through every aspect of life with the intentional focus and consciousness of Mindfulness while suspending all interpretation and judgment of experiences and events. Perception of the past and the future dissolves into the nondual nothingness of the present moment.”
OK, so other than the fact that it’s rooted in Buddhism, what’s wrong with it?
Frost goes on: “Instead of the benefits promised by Mindfulness, the practice actually creates a sense of detachment from reality that deadens the conscience by suspending moral evaluation of ideas and events as being either right or wrong. So, it works as a brain-washing mechanism, leaving the mind open and receptive to the Buddhist view of reality, which has become so popular in the West.”
I recommend reading the rest of the article, but in essence, it points back to Romans 1, which I quoted at the start of this post. Buddhism rejects the Christian teaching of a personal and distinct Creator God, and so its practices ultimately lead people away from the distinction between us and God, between good and evil, reality and unreality. Studies have shown too that meditation can lead to some extremely negative results. If we want to meditate, it should be on Scripture – filling our minds with truth about the Creator, not emptying them in order to find answers within.
OK, that’s it for now. I hope you found this useful or at least interesting! If you did, let me know. As I said, I’d been meaning to write something about New Age for a long time, and I thought it would be a good follow-up to my last two posts. I’ll leave you with a few general resources:
Doreen Virtue’s YouTube channel: Doreen Virtue was once one of the most famous New Agers in the world. She’s now a born again Christian and puts out some great content exposing this stuff.
Melissa Dougherty also puts out great videos on this, and Steven Bancarz’s YouTube channel and apologetics website are really informative (I’ve linked to his content several times throughout this article!)
Lastly, Peter Jones and his friends at TruthXchange write loads of good stuff.
Much love to you all.