A Philosophical Analysis Of The New Age View Of God -- By: Francis J. Beckwith

Journal: Journal of Christian Apologetics
Volume: JCA 01:1 (Summer 1997)
Article: A Philosophical Analysis Of The New Age View Of God
Author: Francis J. Beckwith

A Philosophical Analysis Of The New Age View Of God

Francis J. Beckwith*

The New Age Movement (NAM) has burst on the scene in America. In a country conditioned to traditional Christianity and Judaism, sprinkled with occasional cults and sects relating to Christianity, the arrival of NAM found America unprepared to recognize this eastern religious wave. According to sociologist Dr. Maralee Mayberry, “New Age can be loosely defined as a movement seeking a paradigmatic shift in contemporary culture’s embodiment of technocratic, bureaucratic, and reductionist values to cultural values that elevate ecological, aesthetic, and spiritual understandings of the human soul and human life.” Mayberry goes on to say that “no monolithic path to achieving this goal defines New Age thought, rather what exists is an eclectic collection of orientations to cultural change, ranging from a belief in living a life of peace, harmony, and serenity to a fascination with crystal healing, channeling, and mind/body healing seminars at weekend New Age retreats.”1 Some of the organizations and individuals associated with the New Age Movement (NAM) include Oscar-winning actress Shirley MacLaine, David Spangler, Findhorn, Esalen, Werner Erhard (founder of EST, now called The Forum), Mark Satin, theUnity-in-Diversity-Council, Richard Alpert (a.k.a., Baba Ram Dass), “channel” Jack Pursel (“Lazaris”), Marilyn Ferguson, the Association of Humanistic Psychology, and the Association of Transpersonal Psychology.2

* Francis J. Beckwith is Associate Professor of Philosophy, Culture, and Law at Trinity Graduate School, Trinity International University, Southern California campus.

Undoubtedly influenced by Eastern religious thought, almost all NAM adherents hold to certain beliefs which must be addressed philosophically. But the theology of NAM is difficult to define simply because there is not one particular church or group which has codified any creedal statements which clearly articulate a “New Age orthodoxy.” Many would consider this the charm and attractiveness of NAM: its only orthodoxy is that there is no orthodoxy. Despite this, there is no doubt that NAM is unified by certain fundamental assumptions and beliefs which distinguish it from other belief systems. In affirming, for example, that we and the rest of the universe are God, NAM maintains the truth of pantheism (literally from the Greek, “all is God”). In saying that we now suffer or are rewarded because of what we did in a previous life, NAM is saying that reincarnation is true. In claiming that we eac...

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