YouTube personality and Christian apologist, Melissa Dougherty, shared her experience in the New Age and gave us her thoughts on New Age ideas creeping into some churches.
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Interview with Melissa
What is the New Age?
An umbrella term for beliefs/practices such as gnosticism, paganism, pantheism, panantheism, Buddhism, Hinduism, reincarnation, psychic mediums, tarot card readers, universal energies, and more! Along a similar line, the term "New Thought" includes beliefs/practices such as metaphysical energies, thoughts becoming things, words having power and manifesting through those avenues.
It's important to note, understanding the New Age is like "pinning down a cloud"...it's like a spiritual salad bar--you take what you want and leave out what you don't like.
It is the "religion of self"; you can be your own god.
What makes the New Age alluring to people?
It's all about YOU!
It's all about how you FEEL--feelings are the mode of discernment.
People are taught that they are divine, which makes you feel really good about yourself and you feel POWERFUL.
If a person has a potential spiritual experience (eg vivid dream, seeing a vision, etc), it is important to avoid the "Pendulum Problem." In other words, be careful not to swing too far into the realm of fear and "this is demonic!" or too far into OVER-spiritualizing it and acting on experiences without proper discernment (see resources below for video link).
Where are New Age ideas/practices coming in to the Church?
There is a connection between the Word of Faith movement and New Age/New Thought beliefs (manifesting, words having power)...Although the book is out of print, in his book, "The Word-Faith Controversy", Robert Bowman gives a very thorough and thoughtful explanation of this.
In addition, the hyper-charismatic churches (ie New Apostolic Reformation or NAR), such as Bethel, want to "redeem" parts of the New Age and bring it into the Church--why? Because they are:
Desperate for their miracle.
Desperate for their healing.
Desperate for their spiritual experience.
They really do believe they are divine in a way.
Other examples of New Age/New Thought coming into the Church:
Adoption of relativistic views and religious pluralism/universalism; in other words, there is no absolute Truth, but instead truth is subjective
Compromising our Christianity to fit in with the culture (syncretism)...where Progressive Christianity and New Age toe the line together (avoiding/fearing offense)
How can we prepare ourselves to recognize these errors and have discernment?
Read the WHOLE Bible! Study the Bible!
Be careful not to cherry pick specific verses!
Know the core doctrines of the historic Christian faith.
As Melissa said, the bona fide "Deception Detector" is Scripture and prayer!
Persuasion is a lost art...ask a lot of questions: What do you mean? Can you explain that? How did you reach that conclusion?
Have a mentor or someone to disciple you.
Know what the New Age is...know what is poison and what is not.
Segment #1 Resources
Check out a previous conversation with Melissa from the Theology Mom podcast:
Melissa made a video specifically addressing the Pendulum Problem:
Book mentioned by Melissa (now out of print): The Word-Faith Controversy: Understanding the Health and Wealth Gospel by Robert Bowman.
Book recommended by Melissa: Tactics by Greg Koukl.
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