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Is God an Energy Force?

ST writes: “If God is pure spirit, why can’t we refer to him as an energy force?”

This is a great question and one that causes great confusion among the faithful. This is because of the prevalence of the New Age and its belief that anything spiritual - even spirituality itself - is a kind of "energy". It comes from a belief that everything in the universe is made of energy; therefore spiritual energy, although different from the energy known to science, exists and is something we can tap into to better ourselves, find our inner divinity, become enlightened about our future, etc.

This is precisely how New Agers view the Holy Spirit, as a kind of energy force that we can harness for our own use. However, this is not the way God revealed Himself to us.

Remember when Moses asked the Lord to tell him who he was speaking to, so he could let the people know? “If they should say to me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” Moses asks.

God replied: “I am who am. Thus shall you say to the children of Israel: He Who is has sent me to you.” (Exodus 3: 13-15)

Notice how God describes Himself here – as a “who” not as a “what”. God clearly identifies himself as a Person.

“I am who am” is God’s name – YHWH – in Hebrew. Even though He reveals Himself under different names to His people over time, this revelation to Moses is considered to be the fundamental name for both the Old and New Covenants.

Giving us His name is very significant because, as the the Catechism explains: “A name expresses a person’s essence and identity and the meaning of this person’s life. God has a name; he is not an anonymous force. To disclose one’s name is to make oneself known to others; in a way, it is to hand oneself over by becoming accessible, capable of being known more intimately and addressed personally.” (No. 203)

However, for a variety of reasons, not everyone is willing to accept the existence of a personal God. For instance, belief systems based in pantheism such as Hinduism, as well as followers of the New Age, prefer to believe in a “life force” that permeates the entire created universe. (This is the “chi”, “qi”, “prana,” “vital force” that is also known as subtle or putative energies – the kind for which we have no evidence of existence.)

The document, Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life, explains this further: “The New Age god is an impersonal energy, a particular extension or component of the cosmos; god in this sense is the life-force or soul of the world. This is very different from the Christian understanding of God as the maker of heaven and earth and the source of all personal life. God is in Himself personal, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who created the universe in order to share the communion of His life with creaturely persons.”

New Agers like to say their “life force” and our God are the same thing, but don’t be fooled! They either don’t understand the New Age concept of a life force, are confused about God’s revelation of Himself as a Person, or both.

But many will try their best to convince us! One of the most ludicrous examples I’ve ever found is on a prominent Reiki website in which the author claims that because Jesus laid hands on people to heal them – similar to what Reiki masters do – He may have been using Reiki power to heal.

Such a statement reflects a lack of understanding of Christianity and the use of the hands when praying over people. The hands are not a conduit of any kind of energy, but a symbol of intercession and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. (Catechism No. 699). It’s also important to point out that Jesus did not always use the laying on of hands to heal. He also did so simply by the power of His word such as when He cast out demons or healed the Centurion’s servant (Matt 8: 5-13).

I was also confronted at a conference by a woman who claimed that the Gospel story about the woman healed of a hemorrhage (Mark 5: 25-34) proves Jesus was using some kind of energy to heal. The passage states: “Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned around in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?'” Doesn’t this prove that Jesus used some kind of “force” to heal?

Not at all. The answer to this question lies in the very next verse when the woman fell at Jesus’ feet in “fear and trembling.” She was not healed because of some magical power, but because of her faith. And this is precisely what Jesus tells her: “Daughter, your faith has made you well.”

Even though He has revealed much about Himself in Revelation, He remains so far beyond human comprehension that it's preposterous to even think that a puny New Age box labeled "spiritual energy" will ever be able to contain Him.

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