Season: 10 Episode: 150
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Are Christians who leave the New Age trading one form of fundamentalism for another? Is it wrong for Christians to call tarot, psychic readings, and crystals evil? A New Ager thinks so. In fact, she sent out an email to her subscribers calling out Christians for leaving the practices of the New Age and exclusively following Jesus. Shanda breaks down why Christians cannot mix the New Age with Christianity and why these claims reveal other belief systems are not neutral. The questions Shanda asks and answers in this episode will help you with your own questions about the New age and Christianity. They will also equip you in your own conversations with others about why Christianity and New Age practices don’t mix.
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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. I have a listener requested episode for you today that has to do with a response to a New Agers email about Christians finding Jesus and leaving the New Age.
Before we get into today’s episode, I want to remind you of the online conference called Mama’s against the mainstream agenda. I am speaking at this conference, along with 24 other women. It is free and you can register at https://businessbygodsdesign.com/shanda.
If you are in the upstate of SC, I am speaking at East Pickens Baptist church on Sept 23rd. It is from 10-2 and only $20 and includes a Chick-Fil-A lunch. That is on my website in the events section also.
Finally, my Patreon group is getting ready to study Tactics by Greg Koukl. If you want behind the scenes information, newsletters, and to study with us, go to Patreon/shanda to get in for $5 a month.
Okay, so I have a copy of an email that was sent to a listener and it’s titled, “So you found Jesus” by Yolande Norris-Clark. I believe it is addressed to those (or about those) who have left the New Age for Christianity and this woman is offended by this. Instead of reading the entire thing to you, I am going to break it down by claims and points she brings up in the email.
This is what we are going to address today:
- Is Christianity dogmatic? Are we only believing in Jesus because belief structures are comforting?
- How do Christians and the New Age define evil?
- Why isn’t New Age enough? Why can’t you be a believer and still have crystals?
Let me first read you the opening address of her email. This is sent to her followers in regard to those who leave New Age for Christianity.
She says, “I have seen many examples in my circles (especially over the past couple of years) of incredibly earnest, well-meaning individuals who have “found Jesus” or God, or Christianity (this often seems to happen in the context of a conversion to Christianity) and who have subsequently renounced astrology, tarot, crystals, yoga, Pilates, and other so-called “new age” practices as the work of the Devil. To my mind, this is an example of simply transferring one’s desperation and externalization of authority from one unyielding doctrine to another – “new age” credos, after all, can be just as fundamentalist as Christian ones.”
Okay, so first -praise God that these people she’s observed have left all of the practices of the New Age movement and found Jesus.
Most of the time, Christians syncretize (or combine) lots of different worldviews with Christianity and Christians don’t seem to understand what the foundational beliefs of Christianity are. We’re going to discuss this more, but the New Age and Christianity do not mix. In the New Age, the universe is God. It is a highly emotional religion rooted in Eastern Mysticism and bypasses the mind. So of course, when people “Find Jesus” and become Christians, they leave the New Age.
Secondly, she says people who leave New Age for Christianity are “transferring their desperation and externalization of authority from one unyielding doctrine to another.” Let me first address the desperation part before we move on – she is acknowledging the desperation of each individual. We are all broken people no matter which religion we claim. We are all looking for fulfillment in something because, as Solomon said, “God put eternity in man’s heart.” My question to her would be – if people are leaving the New Age for Christianity, they have realized that the New Age cannot fix their problem of desperation.
Let’s keep reading a little more before we define some things that need defining.
I want to say now before I keep reading that she annoys me with the way she communicates things. She almost intentionally tries to make them sound more complex without speaking frankly. I’ll keep reading and maybe you’ll see what I mean.
She continues, “This trend reveals just how confused, insecure, and terrified so many people are in this time of ongoing racial winnowing and clarification. For the undifferentiated, undividuated person, adhering to rigid, dogmatic, isolating regulations and belief structures can feel very comforting, as is the sense of self-righteousness that allows them to feel as though they are somehow exceptional; that their “formula” sets them apart, or offers them some sort of special protection from evil, when in fact, the only safeguard we have against corruption (and the only true form of connection with God) lies in the realm of self-responsibility and self-ownership.”
There’s a lot of stuff here, so let me try and address each thing so it makes sense.
She makes a lot of accusations here about people who leave Christianity as being confused. She calls it a trend. I’m gonna push back on that and say that Christianity is not a trend in our current 21st century culture. On the contrary, it’s declining. We live in a post Christian culture. She says people who become Christians are insecure, terrified even and blames it on racial winnowing – whatever that means.
She goes on to say that Christianity is rigid, dogmatic, and has isolated regulations and belief structures. She’s right about it being dogmatic. Regulations means rules and we know God has given us commands, which are arguable not the same as rules in and of themselves, but I’ll give her that since regulations and commands are pretty much similes. But, is Christianity the only religion that’s dogmatic? Is it the only region with regulations?
Christianity isn’t the only religion that’s dogmatic.
It cracks me up when people accuse Christians of being dogmatic as if they’re not dogmatic about what they believe. In fact dogmatic means to lay down principles as incontrovertibly true. I’d say she sounds pretty dogmatic about the New Age and those who leave it for Christianity.
It was C.S. Lewis who said in his essay Religion Without Dogma? if there is no dogma, there is nothing to believe. For the Jew, he delights himself in God’s laws. For the Buddhist, he believes in the doctrine of immortality. In the New Age, all is God – we are God. So if someone accuses you, Christian, of being dogmatic – then ask them what they’re dogmatic about.
Because religion without dogma is impossible. What they really want is religious relativism – as if all beliefs are created equal, that all religions have equal value. They want minimal religion so that they all blend together and are the same. And that’s just not possible. CS Lewis also said, “The minimal religion in fact cannot, while it remains minimal, be acted on. As soon as you do anything, you have assumed one of the dogmas.”
She accuses Christianity of being rigid.
Rigid means not flexible. Again, what does she mean by that? If she means we cannot compromise God’s commands, she is correct. If she means we do not sway from the fundamentals of our faith, the doctrines of Christianity, she is correct. If she means we will not mix New Age and Christianity, she is correct.
The problem with the American church is syncretism – the mushing together of many different belief systems and not sticking to the fundamentals of Christianity. That is what the American Worldview Inventory of 2021/2022 by George Barna reveals. So if she’s upset that the people who find Jesus leave the New Age, she doesn’t understand Christianity.
The core principles of Christianity cannot be compromised. A few of them are:
Jesus being a sinless and perfect sacrifice who died for the sins of humanity.
That Jesus rose on the third day.
We are saved by grace through faith.
Every Christian denomination adheres to these core doctrines and cannot waver from them or they are not Christian. Doctrine is what sets religions apart from one another. If not, there is no difference between this religion or that religion. The New Age is a religion with doctrines: they believe the universe is God. They believe they can communicate with the kingdom of darkness through mediums. They believe you can achieve enlightenment.
She says the only safe-guard we have against corruption (and the only true connection we have with God) lies in the realm of self-responsibility and self-ownership. Okay, so what does she mean by God? Because in the New Age all is God. Does she mean the God of the Bible? She can’t because the only way to connect with God is through Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Now one comes to the Father but by Me. Anyone who tries to come in any other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” (John 10)
The New Age is all about the self.
But if the self is the problem how can the self be the solution? It can’t be. She accuses the Christian of being self-righteous yet she says the only way to connect to get is self-responsibility and self-ownership. That sounds very self-righteous to me to say that the self is the solution.
Let’s look at the other part of her email: How do Christians and the New Age define and deal with evil?
Notice here that she talks about evil. The thing is – every worldview must answer for the problem of evil. Every worldview has to identify it and when it does, it comes up with a solution. The question is: does it work and does it align to reality?
Yolande says, “Evil is real. Satanism (the inversion of holiness) is very real.” I agree so far although I’d get more specific and say that Satan, which means adversary, is a real being created by God.
Let’s keep reading: “Dark energy can be and often is invoked and spread with what we can all fool ourselves into believing are the best intentions, and even in the name of Jesus, or under the banner of church or of some other seemingly virtuous organization or religion.” I’ll be honest.
I’m not sure what she means here.
To invoke something is to cite it or appeal to it as an authority. Is she saying we can spread dark energy through the best intentions, Jesus’ name being one of them? Or through our church organization? I’m not sure what she’s saying here.
She goes on to say, “I’m sure too, that yoga, like anything else, can be used to perpetuate “false light,” and contorted perspectives (though my observation is that most people who practice yoga do so either with genuinely positive spiritual intentions, or without much spiritual intention at all, and smiley as a way of supporting physical health).
Ok, so I do agree with her about yoga.
There are so many debates about yoga from christians and its origins. There are many Christians who are like – nope! Yoga is wrong. There are some Christians who do yoga poses for physical fitness and that’s it. Yoga is a New Age practice and there are many yoga studios that do the whole mediation and mindless stuff that go alone with it. I personally believe that it depends on what you’re doing yoga for – a stretch or a spiritual practice. She does use words like “False light” and positive spiritual intentions.
This is completely New Age beliefs about yoga and Christians should not practice yoga for any sort of spiritual result or “light’. This, again, is where she is digging at Christians for not practicing yoga.
And she does go on to say. “Yet yoga, in my view, is no more inherently demonic than any other practice, spiritual or otherwise, nor are astrology, psychic readings, nor an interest in crystals inherently satanic.”
Okay, so there it is.
The whole kit and caboodle. The whole kitchen sink. The whole New Age enchilada. She is as New Age as it comes and she is saying that we, christians, are classifying yoga, crystals, astrology, psychic readings, as evil and she doesn’t like it.
Who is her authority? Notice that her terminology throughout this entire email is “in my new”, “through my observations” – she is. She does not cite any authoritative sources for her beliefs. And if you disagree with her, you are a fanatic. She says, “Frankly, I find fanatasicm from any direction incredibly tiresome not to mention truly pitiful. I don’t mean that as an insult (yes, you do), but simply as an observation (her anecdotal evidence is tiresome): it is a sign of spiritual immaturity. Fanatiscim and authoritarianism go hand-in-hand.”
Sheesh …. So much to say about this.
She is accusing Christians who disagrees with the New Age practices she is defending as being fanatics. She’s the one who wrote the email to her subscribers. And she’s not being fanatical about Christians who leave New Age and New Age practices? Come one! I find it pitiful that she doesn’t see that she’s being fanatical about New Age. And then she drops the real bomb: fanaticism and authoritarianism go hand-in-hand. Authoritarianism is “strict obedience to authority, especially that of the government, at the expense of personal freedom. “
So she is saying that Christians who don’t practice the New Age practices she loves is under Christian authoritarianism, at the expense of our personal freedom.
Let’s line this up with what Jesus said about our lives:
John 12:25, “He who loves his life will lose it. Anyone who hates his life in this world will find it.”
John 8:36, “He who the son sets free is free indeed.”
Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters. He will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other.”
So yes, we are devoted to Christ but we are free from the bondage of sin and the burdens of this world because He has saved us from those things. We have put away the desires of the flesh and stopped serving the desires of the flesh to serve Christ.
We define evil differently than she does.
She says crystals, yoga, psychic readings are not inherently evil. Again, says who? New Agers love to communicate with the darkness. God commands those who follow Him not to practice such things. We see examples of this in Acts and OT commands not to. Got Questions says this: The Bible strongly condemns spiritism, mediums, the occult, and psychics (Leviticus 20:27 (‘A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.) ; Deuteronomy 18:10-13) (There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer).
Horoscopes, tarot cards, astrology, fortune tellers, palm readings, and séances fall into this category as well. These practices are based on the concept that there are gods, spirits, or deceased loved ones that can give advice and guidance. These “gods” or “spirits” are demons (2 Corinthians 11:14-15) (And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.). The Bible gives us no reason to believe that deceased loved ones can contact us. If they were believers, they are in heaven enjoying the most wonderful place imaginable in fellowship with a loving God. If they were not believers, they are in hell, suffering unending torment for rejecting God’s love and rebelling against Him.”
Any Christian who leaves the New Age and stops these practicing is being led by the Spirit and doing the right thing by following the word of God.
These things are inherently evil, contrary to her claim that they are not.
What a New Ager calls evil and their problem of evil will not be the same as the Christians because they do not hold the same worldview.
She goes on to say, “The fact that everything and anything can be twisted to the point of toxicity, or bent to serve nefarious intentions is precisely why “the problem of evil” is so compelling, so ever-present, so complex.”
Ok, so this is interesitng.
She is saying anything and everything can be evil if you twist it. Twist it? If it’s twisted to the point that its evil, that means you’ve distorted it from its original purpose – or it’s goodness. Because evil is just a privation of good. That means there has to be a standard in place in order for you to know that you have twisted it.
For example, it was CS Lewis who said he realized there must be a God when he made the connection that he knew what a crooked line was only because he knew what a straight line was. The straight line was the standard and the crooked line was imperfect in compassion to the standard of a straight line. She is saying the same thing – she’s saying these things are good but people twist them. She knows the standard. She knows what good is. But how does she know and what does she attribute that goodness to? She stops short of it.
And this is what she says:
“Sex can either be divine (good) or dark and hateful (evil).”
“Attachment parenting can be manipulative and dysfunctional (evil) or a profound expression of parental devotion, balance and love (good).
Birth can be a pilgrimage, a ceremony, a form of worship, a reverential rite of passage (good), or it can be (and sadly often is) the very apex of satantic ritual and abuse (evil).
Again, what makes these things good or evil? Who says when sex is bad or when it is good? She doesn’t say. She sees there is a problem when things like sex, birth, parenting are twisted, but she doesn’t say what the standard for these things are that make them good.
Once again, this shows that she sees a problem with evil.
But she is never going to find the solution because she is not using God’s standard of morality to identify why these things become evil outside of that standard.
She referred to a new age book by Vadim Zeland called reality Transurfing and it is totally what you’d expect from a New Age book – energy messages to the universe and what the universe gives back. So they appeal to the universe as the authority but they are the ones that control what comes back to them in positive energy, negativity, etc.
She ends by saying this, “I find myself continuously saddened and dismayed by the extremism and lack of discernment and wisdom rampant in every realm of human interaction … but also ever hopeful that the general trajectory – the comprehensive arc of human evolution (spiritual evolution, that is) is upwards.
How do we “evolve” spiritual?
People who talk like this are really all over the place and difficult to follow. She calls Christians who follow the teachings of Christ and are faithful to Him extremist. The real question is, are we?
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” (John 14:6). That means, per the basic laws of logic, the law of the excluded middle says that Jesus is either God or He’s not. There is not middle option. If He is God, any other way is false. Any other way brings death. That is extreme. That is an unyielding doctrine of Christianity. That is dogmatic. It is a statement that isolates Christianity in the sense that it makes Christ the ONLY way to heaven. Are we supposed to be flexible when it comes to other religions if Christ is the only way?
Both the universe and Jesus cannot be God.
The Bible said there is only one God. So she is correct when she talks about Christianity being extreme. But I would also argue that every other religion is extreme. Buddhism is mostly an atheistic religion. Islam believes Muhammed was the only true prophet of God. No one is neutral, and if they were, she wouldn’t have put out a long email about how extreme Christians are about their beliefs.
I know that was a lot, but here’s the thing: When we examine other people’s beliefs and ideas it makes us stronger in what we believe. It challenges us to think through the accusations. And when we do, we see that in many cases, those who disagree with Christianity are just as extreme and dogmatic.
Why do you think some atheists make it their purpose and mission to refute Christianity? If God doesn’t exist and we’re all material beings, why care? Why create purpose that has to do with God when there is not real purpose of He doesn’t exist? It’s because they’re extreme, there dogmatic.
They’re not neutral.
In the end, followers of Christ are going to be accused of being toxic, dogmatic, and extreme. But if Christianity is true, it’s worth taking the insults and being confident in what we believe.
I am really thankful for the listener who sent me this email asking me to make an episode surrounding how we should respond. If you have any questions for me and want me to answer them on a podcast, email me at email@example.com. In a couple of weeks we celebrate the 200th episode with some guests and giveaways, and some personal questions of your own. I hope you’re ready to celebrate with me and possible win some really great prizes. Until then, I’ll catch you on the next one!