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False Gods

False Gods
Item# ISBN 1-928653-10-3
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Product Description

The New Age movement once considered eccentric has now reached such a level of maturity and acceptance in society that the occult has become respectable.

False Gods analyzes the deep spiritual void that the New Age movement attempts to fill and its resultant impact on society. This book also explores and explains the New Age movement as a recurring phenomenon in human history and its challenges to Christianity.

Michael Whelton is an Orthodox writer. He is the author of the widely received Two Paths: Papal Monarchy—Collegial Tradition, in which he examines Rome’s claims of papal supremacy in the light of the teaching of the Orthodox Church.


Introduction to FALSE GODS
The inspiration for my new book False Gods began when my wife and I paid a visit to a large local national book chain and were amazed at the vast selection of New Age publications. The numerous shelves almost groaned under the weight of an apparently limitless selection of titles ranging from channeling, crystal power, pyramid power, witchcraft, dream interpretation, mental telepathy, UFOs, visual imaging, reincarnation, astrology, spirit guides, etc. Christian books were dwarfed by a margin of at least ten to one.

All of a sudden, I had a newfound purpose. Over the last thirty years, the New Age movement has emerged from an u nderground occult & metaphysical counterculture, to become the great spiritual challenger to Christianity. It really is ironic that these incredible growths in New Age spirituality should occur at the same time trendy theologians labor in earnest to drain Christianity of its mystical, supernatural quality. In the 1980’s, this movement was often dismissed as somewhat kinky and eccentric. Today, it permeates our society and is now reaching a stage of maturity – the occult has become respectable. It is a broad movement of organizations and individuals, bound together with a common, utopian vision of a brilliant new world, where an enlightened humanity will create their own reality.

Because of its multifaceted nature, the New Age movement evades precise definition, leaving many of us puzzled and mystified in coming to terms with it. However, it is my contention that the key to understanding the New Age phenomenon is twofold. First, to recognize that irrational, esoteric religious movements are as old as humanity and intensify during periods of alienation and anxiety. Second, that this is truly a Romantic movement – in its displacement of reason by intuition and emotion, its fixation with the supernatural, and the paranormal and its belief that the way to all mysteries lead inward to the human ego, bear its unmistakable marks.

The pervasive influence and attraction of this movement should be of major concern to Christians. Lorne Dawson, author of Comprehending Cults: The Sociology of New Religious Movements and an associate professor of sociology at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, reveals that surveys “indicate 15 percent to 20 percent of North American adults no longer practice the religion of their parents. The number who embrace major aspects of New Age philosophy without breaking from their church is even larger, approaching one third of the population.” “These are the people who are refashioning what it means to be religious,” he explains. “They go to church, but they’re reading the Dalai Lama and The Celestine Prophecy.” This is supported by an unpublished survey by sociologists Wade Clarke Roof and Phillip Hammond, revealing that 27 percent of Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Episcopalian, and Lutheran respondents admit to a belief in astrology. Belief in reincarnation enjoyed an even higher percentage from the same respondents – 31 percent.

In the late 1960’s, on a warm summer evening in Hollywood, California, my wife and I, together with some friends, lined up to see a performance of Hair, while the waiting crowds were entertained by street musicians and acrobats. This great musical extravaganza, that mesmerized and electrified audiences from London to Los Angeles, provided us with our first glimpse of the emerging New Age movement. The play was a celebration of man, yoga, the Hare Krishna sect, and an invitation to embrace a brave, new spiritually enlightened world – The Age of Aquarius. The theme song from the play relentlessly filled the airwaves:

When the moon is in the seventh house, and Jupiter aligns with Mars; Then peace will guide the planets, and love will steer the stars. This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius! Harmony and understanding, sympathy and trust abounding; No more falsehoods or derision, golden living dreams of visions, mystic crystal revelation; And the mind’s true liberation.

Aquarius! Aquarius! Aquarius!

Professor Johannes Aagaard of Arhus University in Denmark, a renowned expert on Hinduism, offered this observation:

New Age really means the Aquarian Age . . . the age of the enlightened man, the age of the superman . . . the man with superconsciousness has begun. . . . God is losing all importance, man is the only thing which matters. Man is saving himself by his knowledge, by the development of his mind faculties, by liberating himself from all the powers of his Old World and the world of his body.”

The New Age movement can be divided into two principal groups: (1) human potential, and (2) the occult, with some overlapping between the two. The human potential side uses Primal Therapy, biofeedback, transactional analysis, sensory awareness, Gestalt awareness, etc. The occult side –by far the more dangerous – involves crystal power, pyramid power, spirit channeling, spirit guides, reincarnation, auras, telepathy, extraterrestrial revelations, etc. Many Christians look at all this occult activity with a great deal of alarm:

“Aren’t these people afraid of the satanic, demonic influence?”

Unfortunately, they are not, because many of these people are several generations removed from any Christian influence, and for those that could claim any, it is tenuous at best. Therefore, all the biblical injunctions against the occult fall on deaf ears.

Thus far, Evangelical Protestantism has provided the greatest response to the New Age movement – much of it written during the latter half of the 1980’s, offering thoughtful, well-researched analysis. One of the first respected Evangelicals to write about the potential danger of the New Age movement was the well-known theologian and author Francis Schaeffer. In Irving Hexam’s opinion, Schaeffer was an acute observer of cultural trends, he correctly identified the cultural drift of contemporary Western society and sought to alert Evangelicals to what he saw as a threat to their faith. . . . Schaeffer’s early criticism of what became the New Age movement remains the best Evangelical apologetic and analyses of New Age thought in print.

Although he wrote in a very general style, he grasped the forces at work in modern culture and saw how intellectual ideas filtered down to the man in the street. If Evangelicals had taken note and built on the foundation Schaeffer laid, they would be in a much stronger position than is the case today.

It is true that there is much in the New Age movement (which is largely drug free) that is bizarre, spiritually dangerous, irrational, and needs criticism. However, it is also true that most New Agers are intelligent, educated, well-intentioned people who are trying to cope with a massive spiritual vacuum. As Professor Michael F. Brown of Williams College comments:

Americans who become involved in so-called New Religious Movements (NRMs) such as channeling stand near the top of the nation’s households with respect to income and educational attainment. . . . They hold jobs, dress presentably, establish stable loving relationships, and pay their taxes.

The purpose of False Gods is to attempt to explore and analyze the New Age movement as a recurring phenomenon in human history and its current challenges to Christianity.

FALSE GODS Contents

Chapter One: The Dark Side of the Moon:
-Irrationality in the Third Millennium

Chapter Two: The New Romantics

Chapter Three: The Spiritual Vacuum of Ancient Rome

Chapter Four: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: Madame Blavatsky

Chapter Five: The New Age Jesus

Chapter Six: The New Age Movement Enters Mainline Christianity

Chapter Seven: Christianity’s Great Challenge

Theology • Paperback 176 pages

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