What’s New with the New Age? Why Christians Need to Remain on Guard against the Threat of New Age Spirituality -- By: Phil Johnson

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 10:4 (Winter 2006)
Article: What’s New with the New Age? Why Christians Need to Remain on Guard against the Threat of New Age Spirituality
Author: Phil Johnson


What’s New with the New Age?
Why Christians Need to Remain on Guard against
the Threat of New Age Spirituality

Phil Johnson

Phil Johnson is Executive Director of Grace to You, which features the preaching ministry of John MacArthur. He also serves as a pastor at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, a board member of The Martyn Lloyd-Jones Recordings Trust in England, and a member of the Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals. He has previously served as an editor for Moody Press and has edited most of Dr. MacArthur’s major books.

Introduction

New Age spirituality is fast-food religion perfectly suited for a postmodern culture like ours. It offers a quick-and-easy feeling of satisfaction with almost no real nourishment for the soul, while it contains additives and artificial ingredients that are actually harmful to true spiritual health. But you can still have it your way. There are no dogmas, few demands, no sense of self-denial, and little need for faith. This is a kind of anti-religion: a spiritually oriented worldview for people with an intuitive sense of the sacred, but who are wary of organized religion.

As a matter of fact, the so-called New Age movement is nothing like any organized religion. It has no headquarters, no central hierarchy, no holy book, no recognized clergy, no common set of doctrines, and no confessional standards. It is not, technically, a religious cult or even a formal “movement” (which implies structure and membership and mission).

And yet the most outstanding features of the New Age phenomenon seem very much like distinctives that properly belong to a cult or a movement. “New Age” is, after all, mainly an approach to spirituality—a way of viewing and interacting with the spiritual realm. It has spawned an enormous publishing and retail industry, major conventions, countless seminars and programs, and a very large community of people who identify with one another and share common ideas and concerns. In fact, those publishers and those conferences serve as the backbone for a vast but informal network of many small sects, cottage industries, and social groups all populated by individuals who practice various forms of spiritual self-exploration and who are absolutely convinced that we are living at the dawn of a New Age.

In that sense it is fitting to speak of the New Age phenomenon as a “movement”—and a religious movement at that. The clergy of the New Age are usually called practitioners rather than priests or pastors. Their influence varies, as does the content of their teaching, because one of the distinctives of New Age spirituality is that it recognizes no authority higher than one’s own ...

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