Season: 10 Episode: 150
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What goes around comes around, or so they say. Per Barna’s recent worldview inventory, more Americans today believe in karma. But that’s not all. More Christians and 1/3 of those with a biblical worldview believe in karma. Christians send good vibes along with prayer requests. How have these New Age beliefs crept into the church and what can you do about it?
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Hey guys! Welcome back to another episode of Her Faith inspires podcast where we take cultural issues and tackle them with biblical truth. We have a lot to talk about today. Do you know how many Christians believe in Karma? A lot more than you might think. Can you really send positive vibes to someone so they feel better? We’re going to answer those questions and look at the New Age worldview and what the Bible says about these things.
Before we do, I want to remind you of the Emotional junkie quiz that’s up on the site.
If you want to evaluate how you approach Bible. Study, check it out. And, if you enjoy the podcast, please leave a 5 star writing and review. It helps get the podcast into the earbuds of others.
Ok, so I promised you we would evaluate some worldviews that are creeping in, or have crept into the church, and the one we’re looking at today is a very popular worldview we see all over everything called New Age. In episode 171 I told you that the worldview most people have in America, like 90%, Is something called syncretism. Syncretism is a mixture of several worldviews – like Christianity and new age. It’s not focused set of beliefs. It’s really a mix of what the individual wants to choose to adopt based on the best of all worlds. And, one of those worldivews mixed in with syncretism is New Age. There are a lot of new agers in the church and we’re going to talk about why that is and whether or not it should be the case.
In this episode, we will touch on:
- What is New Age and what beliefs are aligned to it?
- How has the New Age thought and beliefs made its way into the church?
- What does the Bible say about these things?
What is New Age and what beliefs are aligned to it?
I want to stress again that the statistics I speak about in this episode will come from Barna’s Worldview Inventory. So if you want more information and to get into the weeds on that, buy that book and check out his research.
New Age became popular in the west around the 70’s and 80’s. According to Martha MacCullough, author of Undivided, she says those who believe in New Age say, “The answer to human problems is not science, nor our simple humanity; we are part of god. Therefore, we can turn inward to change ourselves and the world.” It has its roots in Eastern Mysticism. So you might wonder what’s Eastern Mysticism? You can find an article on Got Questions which I’ll link in the show notes, but Barna explains it this way:
An alternative to Western thought, this approach posits there is no personal God. Instead, this combination of Eastern philosophies contends that the prevailing force is the cosmos, of which we are all part, and through which we are all interrelated and interdependent. This view rejects God, absolute moral truths, and human reasoning.
When I think of Eastern Mysticism, I think Buddhism and Hinduism. It’s where we get the love of yoga. Now I did write an article about yoga for my Patreon members in the winter newsletter. There are yoga stretches and then there’s yoga practice, right? I’ve done so many yoga stretches to warm up and cool down in crossfit, that I wasn’t practicing yoga which includes meditation and things like that. There is a difference, so I want to make that distinction. Some people are adamant that christians shouldn’t do yoga at all. Some think they can as long as they don’t “practice” yoga. I’m more in the latter camp. I don’t practice it but the stretches are great for your limbs.
There’s a book by Neil Anderson called Walking in Darkness where he explains what New Agers believe.
Here are a few of those:
First, they believe that all is God. Basically, the universe is God. That’s what you will hear people say that the universe gave them this gift or the universe is leading them. Something to that effect.
They believe that the all is God, which is pantheism. The trees, the animals, everything is God. They also believe in enlightenment – which is comic consciousness. This is where the practice of meditation comes in and even Buddhisms 8-fold path to enlightenment. This is important because it’s about what you meditate on and what you believe in that’s important in the New Age. To believe you are God and that you can find peace, happiness, and comfort within yourself is what the New Age belief is geared toward.
Per Got Questions, they say, “A cosmic evolutionary optimism is taught.
There is a New Age coming. There will be a new world order, a new world government. New Age thinkers believe that there will eventually be a progressive unification of world consciousness. This, according to the Bible, is a counterfeit kingdom led by Satan himself. Christ has the true kingdom, and He will one day rule on earth with peace for all who accept Him as Savior and King (Revelation 5:13).”
New Agers place a big emphases on changing their reality based on what they beliefs. It’s like laws of attraction. Or name it and claim it. There are no moral boundaries or absolute truths with New Age because if you’re your own god, why should there be?
New agers seek out psychics and mediums.
They believe in Karma, horoscopes, and is more of a feelings based way of thinking rather than a way of thinking that is based on truth and reality.
Shirley Mclaine is a Hollywood actress who was in Steele Magnolias back in the day, and she is a huge proponent of the New Age. She has written several books and some of what she says is really weird but explains New Age pretty well: she experienced trance channeling, spirit guides, crystal power, yoga, reincarnation, mantras, past life recall experiences. If people think you’re weird for believing in God who raised Jesus from the grace, tell them about Shirley MacLaine.
How has New Age thought and beliefs made its way into the church?
There are three main ways New Age has made its way into the church. And I didn’t have the enneagram in my notes, but I would also add that. I did talk about the enneagram in a past episode and I know there are a lot of Christian women who have taken it on, so you are probably well aware of it.
- The first is believing in karma.
- And I’ve never heard of more Christians believing in good vibes than I do today.
- Thinking that you can change your reality by the way you think.
Let’s take a look at these and find out why they do not align to the Bible.
Karma: According to George Barna’s AWI, he says that one of the top 10 beliefs in America is the belief in karma – the Eastern religions idea that “you get what you give.” He says that nearly 6/10 adults believe in karma. He said the concept has become so comfortable with Americans that nearly 1/3 of those with a biblical worldview embrace it.
Barna says, “Many people contend that karma is a valid and spiritually harmless principle. It refers to cause and effect; waht you have done in the past or present will produce predictable outcomes in your future. It is related to the idea of reincarnation – what you do in this life will determine the nature of your next life, after your “rebirth”. In total, 9% of American adults expect to be reincarnated, and 4/10 believe such a rebirth is a real possibility for them.”
We’ll talk about why the Bible doesn’t align to karma in just a few, but for now, I’m laying out how these ideas have snuck into the church.
So 1/3 or 33% of Christians with a biblical worldview (that’s scary) believe in Karma. Again, I’m talking about those who have a biblical worldview not just those who call themselves Christians. It’s possible to still think biblically but not have everything aligned to scripture as it should be. God help us all.
Okay so what about good vibes? I see a lot of Christians mix these two together – prayer and good vibes. Which is it? Can you send good vibes because if you can, why pray?
What are good vibes? It’s basically positive thinking. Channeling positive thoughts toward someone or something. But does the thought itself have power? We’ve talked about this, right? I did a podcast on this at the beginning of the year. It’s episode 165 for those of you who haven’t listened.
A couple of months ago, I saw someone in my feed say, “We’re not feeling well.
Please pray. And if you don’t pray, send positive vibes.” This person is a Christian. That is syncretism, guys. I talked about that in episode 171. It’s when you take a little bit from different worldviews and you mix them together to make your own worldview. How can you believe in both prayer and good vibes? If people had good vibes to send, what do I need to pray for? I can just rally all the good vibes from all over the world and be healed.
Sometimes this is harmless because it’s become part of the cultural narrative to send positive vibes or energy. But the real questions is – should Christians participate in this kind of thinking and speaking? In reality, it shows dependence on self. That if I think positively enough and try and channel that positivity toward someone or something, I don’t need God because I have what it takes to change my surroundings.
The Bible tells us how to think and it’s never to focus on the negative.
On the contrary, it encourages us to set our minds, or fix our minds (for a better term), on the things that are above; where Christ is.
Positive thinking and vibes stems from New Age ideas because New Age always looks to the universe and the energy we put into to it for guidance.
And here’s another reality about the universe that we need to understand. One of the basic arguments for the existence of God is the Cosmological Argument which states: everything that had a beginning had a cause. The universe had a beginning. Therefore, the universe had a cause. If the universe had a cause, it is not eternal and therefore cannot be god. Why are we asking the universe for anything? Spoiler alert: it doesn’t work.
It’s just a way to replace the God of heaven and earth for something else to look to and depend on.
In episode 165, I also discussed the name it and claim it idea of Christianity which is really the prosperity gospel, but this idea also aligns to the New Age belief of the law of attraction which states that positive thoughts bring positive results. The energy of your thoughts manifests your experiences. Again, we see this word energy a lot in New Age. That is a common word used. Positive energy, positive vibes – it’s pretty much the same thing. People who believe in positive energy say it means you are kind, productive, beneficial and that means the energy you put off is what you attract, so again, it’s very much linked to the law of attraction. And we can also see Karma in this too right, you get back what you deserve.
The real question here is are these beliefs and ideas biblical?
Does this align to scripture? And even if it doesn’t is there any harm in it?
That’s what we’re going to get to, but I also want to mention the enneagram here real quick because this is something that has been all the rave in the church and it stems from new age ideas. In fact, it has nothing to do with being biblically based at all. And you might wonder why it’s any different than any other personality test. That’s a good question. Most personality tests give insight into who you are, your strengths, your weaknesses, and the areas you might thrive in. They tell you if you’re a people pleaser, someone who takes the initiative or is assertive. Different things like that. But the enneagram is used as a tool to help you know where to be placed within spiritual gifts and ministry that are distinguished by a number. That number tells you what personality type you are and there are 9 different personality types.
I’m going to read you an explanation of how it originated and then caught on in the US from Got Questions:
What is known as the “Enneagram of Personality” or the “Traditional Enneagram” is a complex system of understanding individuals that some tout as the most dynamic and open of the various typologies, offer as a path to liberation or self-actualization, and even promote as a way to know God.
The Enneagram is a geometric symbol containing nine points and nine (or more) intersecting lines (the Greek word for “nine” was ennea). The symbol dates to Pythagoras and was introduced to the West by George Gurdjieff in the 1900s. In the 1960s, occult teacher Oscar Ichazo linked the symbol with nine different personality types. Ichazo taught a system of 108 Enneagrams, but the ones that caught on in the United States were those of the Passions, the Virtues, the Fixations, and the Holy Ideas. Ichazo’s aim was to explain the difference between Essence and personality (or ego). He believed every person is, in his Essence, perfect and in unity within himself as well as with the cosmos. However, the Essence is distorted into the ego.
Ichazo saw the Ennegram as a way to examine how that distortion occurs.
The problem with each of the above statements is that idea that the Enneagram, not Scripture, provides salvation, spiritual growth, and sanctification. Christians believe in the sufficiency of Scripture in all these matters. We cannot get to know God better through a system that bypasses Scripture. We do not need a form of mysticism with roots in Roman Catholicism, psychological theory, and the occult to inform our understanding of God.
One of my personal experiences with Christians who love to divulge their enneagram number is that they will often pass on certain responsibilities and Biblical mandates because their enneagram number is _____. I’ve seen people within Proverbs 31 ministries list their enneagram numbers. Christian colleges have promoted and exalted the enneagram. It’s insane. All you have to do is a quick search to see that this is not biblical. And it’s really not the same as any other personality test, so using that as an excuse to participate in it isn’t a good one.
So what does the Bible say about these things?
First, and again, Genesis 1:1 tells us everything we need to know about the power of the universe – it was created by God and therefore is not eternal and has no power at all. It is a created thing and was designed by the Creator. The New Age belief that all is god is just wrong because God is God.
And then you have the first of the ten commandments: You shall not have no other gods before me. Of course those who are completely new age don’t care what the Bible says, but Christians must remember that when we believe in karma or put our trust in the energy or vibes of the universe, we are trusting in the power of something other than God and that’s not the message of Christianity.
Some Christians will use the Scripture from Galatians 6:7-9 when saying that Karma is a valid belief even as a Christian.
This is what Paul says in Galatians: 7 “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
That sounds convincing if we don’t dive into the verse and the context, right. It sounds as though you get back what you put in. But is that what Paul is talking about? He is talking about sowing to two things: The flesh and the Spirit. So it is the things of the world and the things of heaven. He’s talking about sin. He says don’t be deceived because what you sow to the flesh – sin – will of the flesh reap corruption. That is death, the consequence of sin. And when you sow to the Spirit, the things of God, you will reap eternal life. This is a complete contrast. It has nothing to do with positive energy. It has nothing to do with sending positive vibes and getting positive vibes in return. He’s talking about a spiritual condition that yields death or life, depending on whether or not it’s sin – sowing to the flesh – or life – sowing to the spirit which is denying the flesh. These are eternal consequences of a spiritual decision. Not karma.
Not, “What goes around comes around.”
And as far as thinking is concerned, God has not called us to have a passive mind. He has also not called us to believe that we can change our reality by how we think. What does God say about our thinking? A couple of things:
- Romans 12: 2 says, “Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind SO THAT by testing you may prove what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.’
So again, I’ve talked about this before, but it is not my thoughts that determine the outcome of my life based on the law of attraction. It is the transformation of my thoughts aligning to the will of God so I can prove the perfect will of God that let’s me know how then to live out my life.
Think about it, isn’t it easier to say if I just think positively enough my circumstances will change, rather than to say I want God to transform my mind so I know how He wants me to live in order to change my circumstances? I think it’s much easier to do the first one. And a lot of times we choose the easy because, well it’s easier.
But it’s not productive.
2. Paul tells us where to place our thoughts in Phil 4:8 when he says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Verse 9 is great because he says don’t only think it, go a step further and walk it out. That is how you get your thoughts to align to your walk.
So again, the New Age belief is a worldview that stems from Eastern Mysticism and really caught on in the West not that long ago. However, we see these beliefs weave themselves into the church and when you think about it, that is syncretism – the smorgasbord of ideas – that make their way into the heart of the Christian. But what we need to do is stop and ask ourselves, “Does this belief align to Scripture?” If it does not, we do what Paul told us to do in 2 Cor 10:5, “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ ..”
That’s work! It’s work to actively engage our minds to sift through the beliefs that have crept into our minds and into the church, but it’s necessary and also commanded for us to do it.
Everyone has a worldview and Christians are called to have a biblical worldview.
Now remember, we all need to be discipled and those who just get saved won’t have a Biblical worldview yet because they’re new to Christianity. That’s your job and my job to disciple them because worldview formation is intentional. It’s taught it’s not caught, although because the church has in many ways abandoned the call to disciple, worldview development in the church is caught rather than taught. What do you get – syncretism. A little bit of Christianity with a whole lot of other worldview beliefs.
Bottom line: New Age doesn’t belong in the church. Recognize it. Ask yourself, ‘Does this align to Scripture?” If it doesn’t, it’s not a belief endorsed by Christianity.
I hope that helps. If you have any questions for me, email me at email@example.com and I’ll catch you on the next one.
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