The “New Age” Movement in the Light of Traditional Christian Theology -- By: Bishop Chrysostomos

Journal: Ashland Theological Journal
Volume: ATJ 25:0 (NA 1993)
Article: The “New Age” Movement in the Light of Traditional Christian Theology
Author: Bishop Chrysostomos

The “New Age” Movement in the Light of Traditional Christian Theology

Bishop Chrysostomos

The Most Rev. Dr. Chrysostomos is Exarch in America for the True (Old Calendar) Orthodox Church of Greece. In 1979, he was visiting Lecturer in Eastern Christian thought at ATS. Currently Academic Director of the Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies in Etna, California, he received his doctorate in psychology at Princeton University. This article is edited from a lecture given in 1989 to the East Bay Interfaith Forum at the University of California, Berkeley.

In the last several years, an eclectic “religious” movement has swept the Americas and Western Europe, drawing especially the young and affluent by its promises of “inner peace” and its claims to represent the “trends of the twenty-first century.” Under the “New Age” banner, a number of different leaders and teachers have often lured away even traditional Christian believers by their philosophies of self-improvement and an array of humanistic, Utopian promises for a better world. Of late, with the demise of communism, these groups have gained momentum in Eastern Europe, where visions of prosperity and individual happiness immediately appeal to individuals beset by the uncertainties and fears that arise in societies in transition. And there, too, the “New Agers” have peddled their philosophical wares alongside the traditional Christian missionaries — both native Orthodox and Christians from the West — who have been seeking to return Eastern Europe to its pre-communist Christian roots. In the face of these activities, it behooves us to look at the “New Age” movement in a general way, to understand its theological and psychological assumptions, and to come to an understanding of the threat which it poses to traditional Christian teaching, both here at home and abroad.

We must not be careless in speaking of the “New Age” movement as though it were a single thing and an easily identifiable social movement. There are many groups which identify themselves as “New Age” groups, when they are not. “Channeling,” for example, is often called a “New Age” religious practice. In fact, its efforts to summon up spiritual guidance from the realm of the dead is simply a rebirth of the old psychic movements and their “mediums” and seances, which

first gained popularity in Europe and the Americas at the turn of the century. “Channelers” do not specifically seek, in their quasi-religious experiences, the Utopian vision of a single world religion based on humanistic precepts that, as we shall see, is a basic characteristic of the “New Age” religions. Rather, they play on the psychological weaknesses of the bereaved and of th...

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