I can assure you, AL, we wouldn’t invest 10 years of time and energy into a blog about what you describe as “harmless” and “no big deal.” We started it in 2009 as a way to answer the many questions directed to Johnnette Benkovic Williams, one of the early pioneers of the New Age movement and its impact on Catholics. What was once a trickle of questions from mostly US followers of her EWTN TV and radio shows - maybe a half dozen a month - is now a deluge of questions that come from every continent on the globe. People write asking for advice about everything that falls under the New Age umbrella - the occult, cults, self-help and alternative fads, Eastern meditation practices, and various religious movements both inside and outside of the Church.
While many New Age practices may seem innocent on the surface, it’s important to understand that there is a distinct philosophy behind this conglomeration of practices that can be harmful to Christians.
To follow are the most important principles of the New Age:
1) The New Age is pantheistic which means they believe God is all in all.
2) New Agers see God as an energy force (chi, qi, prana, etc.) that permeates the universe and everything in it rather than as a personal God – which is what Christians believe
3) And because God, humans and the universe are all one and are inter-connected – we’re all divine. Our job is to discover and unleash our divinity which we do by achieving enlightenment either through practices such as yoga or transcendental meditation or by tapping into the “secrets” of the universe through a variety of self-help programs such as A Course in Miracles, The Secret and the Law of Attraction.
4) In the New Age, the only authority is the Self.
5) In New Age thought there is rarely any distinction between good and evil, only between bad and good choices.
6) Evil is thought of as having no personification or existence on it’s own (which explains why the New Age so readily embraces the occult)
7) The need for grace is rejected because of the belief that humans can perfect themselves through their own efforts and the help of enlightened people.
8) And because there’s no evil, no sin, no grace – there’s no need for Christ.
9) Christ is not seem as the Redeemer but as one among many "enlightened" persons.
10) In New Age, humans are not the reason for creation. Instead, creation is thought to be eternal and self-sufficient. We’re nothing special - just one among equals with the animals, plants, etc.
11) Instead of being capable of having a relationship with a personal God, which is what Christians believe, New Agers believe we become absorbed by God who is the universe. The universe is thought to have its own intelligence, and more enlightened people can be channels of this intelligence to other people.
What all this means on a practical level is that the New Age is about as harmless as arsenic. There is a very real, and very non-Christian philosophy underpinning it’s seemingly benign facade. Even if one is just “dabbling” in this or that, by purchasing these products and practices, they are indirectly supporting the spread of this philosophy into our culture.
For more information about New Age philosophy, see the Pontifical document, Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life.
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