What a great question!
The New Age didn’t invent alternatives, but they enthusiastically adopt and promote them because they fit so perfectly with their worldview.
As the Pontifical document, Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life explains, “In a New Age perspective, illness and suffering come from working against nature; when one is in tune with nature, one can expect a much healthier life, and even material prosperity . . .” (2.2.3)
This explains why the same document claims that advertising connected with New Age covers such a wide range of practices including acupuncture, biofeedback, chiropractic, kinesiology, homeopathy, iridology, massage and various kinds of “bodywork” (such as orgonomy, Feldenkrais, reflexology, Rolfing, polarity massage, therapeutic touch etc.), meditation and visualization, nutritional therapies, psychic healing, various kinds of herbal medicine, healing by crystals, metals, music or colours, reincarnation therapies and, finally, twelve-step programmes and self-help groups. (2.2.3)
By spreading the belief that using pharmaceuticals or conventional medicine is somehow “unnatural”, New Agers have fueled the rise of so-called “natural cures” such as homeopathy, essential oils, and a variety of supplements said to aid the body’s natural healing processes. This belief thrives in spite of the fact that God also created science, and without science we would not have even the most basic understanding of how the human body functions!
Instead, the New Age promotes the idea that “The source of healing is said to be within ourselves, something we reach when we are in touch with our inner energy or cosmic energy,” the document continues. This energy is referred to as the “New Age god” (4).
Belief in a “cosmic energy” (chi, qi, prana, universal life force etc.), a putative form of energy that has no scientific support and is founded in a pantheistic belief system (God is all in all), has spurred the growth of the enormous New Age industry known as “energy medicine”. This field encompasses a wide variety of practices such as Reiki, acupuncture, reflexology, Therapeutic Touch, biomeridian testing, chakra therapy, (straight) chiropractics, cranial sacral therapy, emotional freedom technique (EFT), meridian stress testing, and a variety of other methods that can be found by searching the alphabetical index on our blog.
Alternatives can also be riddled with occult beliefs which are also embraced by the New Age movement whose adherents don’t believe in the personification of evil. This has led to the rise of occult-based healing techniques found in the thriving field of medical intuitives, psychic surgeons, shamanism, and other practices which rely on the guidance of a “spirit guide” (i.e., Reiki).
Many people are being lured out of Christianity by participating in these treatment modalities because it inadvertently introduces them to non-Christian belief systems. This is why we need to be discerning about the use of alternatives. It’s much too easy to fall into the trap of the New Age’s most effective bait – the “Big Pharma is the enemy” theory – which plays upon the fears of anyone who has ever been hurt by conventional medicine or drugs. This theory has been used with great success by New Agers who use it to fuel the use of alternatives, one of the most lucrative areas of the New Age movement in which they are heavily invested.
Attempts to demonize science should be dismissed out-of-hand. Science should be respected as the gift from God that it is – and one which has enabled mankind to overcome diseases, injuries and disabilities that once limited lifespans to less than 40 years.
Years of research (and common sense) tells us that there are bad actors in both conventional and alternative medicine and the only way to protect yourself and your loved ones from bad medicine is to ask the right questions and insist on getting the right answers. (See Wednesday’s blog for more!)