The New Age Movement is a hot topic in conservative Christian circles these days. New Age humanism was first discussed in detail from a Christian perspective by Dr. Gary North in Chapter Nine of his 1976 book, None Dare Call It Witchcraft (updated in 1986 as Unholy Spirits).1 Constance Cumbey later wrote a best-selling book on the topic in 1983, The Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow.
The basic ideas of the New Age Movement are ancient: cosmic evolution, the self-transcendence of man into God through "higher consciousness" techniques (e. g., yoga), and reincarnation (karma). The New Age groups are numerous, but they are quite small. They possess nothing like the membership of, say, the Southern Baptist Association. They are having a growing influence in the media, however, which makes them appear to be more influential than they actually are.
Why should the New Agers appear, seemingly overnight, in the 1970s and exert even greater visibility in the 1980s? One reason is that what social commentator Tom Wolfe called the "Me Generation" continues into the '80s. The primary focus of concern for most New Agers is internal uplift, personal spiritual evolution, and escape from "the rat race." Some New Agers are power-seekers, but not the vast majority. The cultural retreat and quietism of Hindu mystics is representative of the New Age Movement. New Agers much prefer getting in tune with cosmic waves than designing hydro-electric power systems. In short, the New
1. Ft. Worth, Texas: Dominion Press.
Agers were and are "in sync" with the present-oriented, humanistic "Me Generation: despite all their rhetoric about cosmic evolution.
The New Age Movement should not be taken lightly, but neither should we cringe in its presence. This book is designed to put present events, both good and evil, into biblical and historical perspective, We believe that the New Age Movement is humanism becoming more and more consistent with its foredoomed attempts to rebel against God. As with all those who oppose the Lord and His law, "they will not make further progress" (2 Tim. 3:9).
Why Such Visible Progress?
Weeds advance when little effort is expended to remove them from a carefully prepared, once-vibrant garden. Anti-Christian .sy.s terns progress because the church does very little to challenge them. More often than not, we find the church retreating from battle instead of leading the charge "against the schemes of the devil" (Eph.6:ll). As we will show, this program of cultural retreat has not been the position of the church down through the centuries. The advance of civilization came with the advance of Christianity.
God has always called Christians to set the agenda, to be a light in a world where there is darkness. Those outside of Christ are to see our "good works" so they can glorify God who is in heaven (Matt. 5:16). The redeemed in Christ are to act as signposts to point the lost to Christ. In Jesus' day, miracles were used. Today, God calls on His new creations to perform the task through the fruit of gospel works. It is our contention that this vision has been lost in a day when the church is preoccupied with signs it believes point to the end of the world. Today, there is a new agenda. The church has taken a defensive posture, fighting battles when the war is just about over. If God has given us time, then we should get busy with the work at hand. Idleness is apt to give the devil an "opportunity" (Eph.4:27).
In this chapter we will explore the impact of the notion that we are the last generation before Jesus returns. Is the so-called prophetic clock of Daniel ticking once again? Are our present troubles an indication that Jesus will return in "our generation,"2 or are we misusing the events of history to form a strained view of Bible prophecy? "For centuries, various Christian and other groups have tried to attach dates to these prophecies, with spectacularly little success."9 Will modern prophetic writers suffer a similar fate?
Hunt's Challenge Dave Hunt's books have been helpful in many ways. They expose dangerous trends in theological thinking. Many of today's "new theologies" thrive because there is little familiarity with the Bible and the centuries of theological debate during which the basics of orthodoxy were developed. This is most clearly evident, for example, in the teaching by some that Christians are "little gods." An experienced cult watcher like Dave Hunt immediately saw the dangers inherent in such thinking. Dr. Gary North, whose None Dare Call It Witchcraft (1976)4 exposed the festering sore of New Age humanism in the mid-seventies, points out that today there is no doubt that some of [the "positive confession" preachers] have not come to grips with the Bible's teaching on Christology: that Jesus Christ in His incarnation was alone fully God and perfectly human. Some of them have verbally equated Christian conversion with becoming divine. This is unquestionably incorrect. At conversion, the Christian definitively has imputed to him Christ's perfect humanity (not His divinity), which he then progressively manifests through his earthly lifetime by means of his progressive ethical sanctification. But their confusion of language is a testimony of their lack of theological understanding; they mean "Christ's perfect humanity" when they say "Christ's divinity." Those who don't mean this will eventually drift away from the orthodox faiths
2. Ed Dobson and Ed Hindson, "Apocalypse Now?: What Fundamentalists Believe About the End of the World," Policy Review (Fall 1986), p. 18.
4. New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House, 1976.
5. Gary North, 'The Attack on the 'New' Pentecostals," Christian Reconstruction (Jan. /Feb. 1986), p. 3. Published by the Institute for Christian Economics, P.O. Box 8000, Tyler, Texas 75711.
These cautions are necessary. If a segment of the church of Jesus Christ is drifting into the swift currents of doctrinal error, then life rafts must be sent out to rescue them. Doctrinally mature should call the immature back to the truth, not sink them in their struggle.
But Hunt's books must be read on two levels. On the first level he critiques "positive and possibility thinking," "healing of memories," 'self-help philosophies," and "holistic medicine," and their association with sorcery, scientism, shamanism, and aspects of the burgeoning New Age Movement. Most of what Hunt writes about these errors is quite accurate and should be taken to heart.
It is possible, however, that many of those who hold these views are not consciously rejecting the orthodox faith.6 Of course, this does not lessen the damage that can be done. A number of these ministers have little theological training.7 Moreover, they are rarely students of the history of theological debate. Their "no creed but Christ" has gotten them into doctrinal hot water.8 Other
6. Robert Schuller, however, is one who self-consciously rejects thereforma-tional understanding of sin and grace. He tells us that to preach about sin and man's need of redeeming grace is part of the "old reformation ." Today, he says, we need a gospel where man has a higher view of himself. Man needs a better self-image and more self-esteem. This perspective is worked out in his view of ethics. On "The Larry King Show," he told the viewing audience that he knows of no Bible verse that condemns homosexuality. See Gary DeMar, "Homosexuality: An Illegitimate, Alternative Deathstyle," The Biblical World View, Vol. 3, No. 1 (January 1987).
7. This is not to demean their ministries. The observation arises from their evident lack of familiarity with well-known and respected Bible scholars, historians, and theologians. Seminary training has ruined many a fine and eager minister of the gospel, but there is a corpus of literature available that seems to be ignored by a large segment of the church. We pray that this book will introduce this material to a larger audience.
8. The "little gods" controversy would not have arisen if time had been taken to study the Council of Chalcedon(A.D. 451). R. J. Rushdoony writes: "The Council of Chalcedon met in 451 to deal with the issue as it came to focus at the critical point, in Christology. If the two natures of Christ were confused, it meant that the door was opened to the divinizing of human nature. If the human nature of Christ were reduced or denied, His role as man's incarnate savior was reduced or denied, and man's savior again became the state. If Christ's deity were reduced, then His saving power was nullified. If His humanity and deity were not in true union, the incarnation was then not real, and the distance between God critics of Hunt's sweeping indictment believe that he failed to raise the possibility that these men are mistaken, but are not consciously perpetuating false doctrine. Doug Groothuis, a well-published expert on the New Age Movement, states that while Hunt's criticisms of the Positive Confession Movement are valid his analysis overall is "[sometimes too heavy-handed."9 In a review of The Seduction of Christianity Groothuis warns that the reader should be careful, though, to assess each person separately. Some of those cited have strayed far from the truth; others have committed only minor errors. Unfortunately, the authors have not drawn careful distinctions.
This is the greatest flaw in Seduction. It is indeed a blast of the trumpet and lacks the clarity of sharply, individual notes of warning.
Offenders are sometimes lumped together unfairly. For example, Hunt and McMahon are critical of Christians who call for an exercise of dominion over the earth and concern for society. They have succumbed to a selfish "we can do it" attitude, according to the authors. Many Christians who pursue social renewal, however, are doctrinally sound. They look to God, not self, to turn the world right side up again. The late Francis Schaeffer was a shining example. 10
The Apostle Paul reminded the early church leadership that false doctrines will find their way into the fellowship of the saints. Even with the apostles still preaching and teaching, the early church was not immune to false doctrine. Paul writes about those who will "fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons" (1 Tim. 4:1). He even mentions some by name:
This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that and man remained as great as ever." The Foundations of Social Order: Studies irlhe Creeds and Councilsoj the Early Cfii/rcA(Nudey, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1968), p. 65.
9. Douglas R. Groothuis, Unmaking the New Age (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1986), p. 192. For a critique of the "Modem Faith Movement" and its metaphysical connections, see D. R. McConnell, .4 Different Gospel: A Historical and Biblical Analysis of the Modem Faith Movement (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1988).
10. Douglas R. Groothuis, "Guarding Pure Doctrine, " a review of The Seduction of Christianity,in Moody Monthly (January 1986), pp. 63-5. On the other hand, see Groothuis's critique of positive confession in Unmasking theNew Age, p. 172.
by them you may fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered over to Satan, so that they may be taught not to blaspheme (1 Tim. 1:18-20, emphasis added).
Our analysis, however, does not focus on the sections in books where he critiques "psychotherapy, visualization, meditation, biofeedback, Positive Confession, Positive or Possibility Thinking, hypnosis, Holistic medicine, and a whole spectrum of self-improvement and success/motivation techniques."11 Rather, The Reduction of Christianity deals with the second level of Hunt's work.
Dave Hunt and others believe that New Age humanism and the theological imprecision of a number of "positive confession" preachers is nothing less than the prelude to the "great apostasy" predicted in the Bible. It is Dave Hunt's opinion that we are living in the "last days." The Great Tribulation is almost upon us, and Jesus should be returning to planet earth in the very near future. Thus, in Hunt's opinion, those who teach that the church is headed for victory are on the edge of apostasy. In short, Hunt's own eschatological (end times) viewpoint influences his evaluation of a group of theologians, scholars, pastors, and writers who preach and teach a position that has been called "dominion theology."12
11. Dave Hunt and T. A. McMahon.T&'&iiuc&ort of Christianity: Spiritual Discernment in the Last Days (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1985), p. 8. Having concurred with Dave Hunt drat these are humanistic mind techniques, we should be careful not to throw out the baby with the bath water. For example, meditation is not evil, although what one meditates on can be evil. Scripture tells us that the blessed man delights "in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night" (Psalm 1:2). John Oliver, senior pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia, describes the confusion over "meditation": "Meditation. The psalmist commends it to us. Pagan religionists practice it. 'New Age' cultists frighten us with it. Many Christians misunderstand it or ignore it." Oliver, "Meditation: A Biblical Command with a Bad Reputation," RTSBulletin, VI (Summer 1987), p. 12. For a very fine discussion of biblical meditation see Edmund P. Clowney, CM: ChristianMeditotion (Nutley, NJ: Craig Press, 1979).
12. See chapter 2 for a definition of this term.
Apostasy has marred the church for centuries, and the church has dealt with it time after time without the world coming to an end. We suggest that the present preoccupation with the end of the world may be a false alarm pulled by the devil to keep the church from working at its full mission. The devil leads Christians to believe that changing the world is hopeless. One "dominion theology" critic tells us "God's Word is clear that before Jesus returns tremendous evil will encompass the governments of the world (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Revelation 6 & 7). We might not like that prospect, but God's Word is without error."13 The Bible is used to support this position, as we would expect. This is the devil's greatest tactic. He convinces Christians that they are being faithful to the Word of God by doing nothing to resist culturally while they watch the world "collapsing" around them. What a great demonic tactic!
The anti-dominionists' argument runs approximately as follows. The Bible predicts the inevitability of evil's progress. Today's visibly advancing evil is a prelude to the Second Coming of Christ, where Jesus will rapture the saints, defeat the Antichrist, and establish His earthly millennial rule. Any discussion about long-term victory for the church does not match up with what the Bible predicts concerning the end of the world. All talk about "noble ideas of bringing about a transformation of society through which righteousness will be manifested are doomed to failure."14
13. Albert James Dager, "Kingdom Theology: Part II," Media Spotlight (July-
14. Idem. Mr. Dager does go on to write: "But that does not mean we cannot use the information on politics and other fields of human endeavor that notable Recon-stmctionists provide. Their analyses of world affairs from a Scriptural perspective are often intelligent and weU-documented, and can be of significant help to Christians who wish to be informed on current events. (Just beware the leaven.)
"Nor does it mean we shouldn't continue to wage spiritual warfare and take authority wherever God grants it to us." For what end? These efforts "are doomed to failure." The church can only sit back and take note of the collapse of culture; it supposedly can do nothing to stop its inevitable demise.
We should not be surprised to learn that the secular humanists are delighted with the doctrinal system espoused by Dave Hunt, David Wilkerson, and others. Long-term, Christians who do not see any societal change coming from Christians are not seen as a threat to the humanist agenda. Christians have no plans for planet earth. The humanists have comprehensive plans, and with the present climate of prophetic speculation, they do not fear fatalistic and immobilized Christians. 15 What they fear are Christians who are confident of the church's earthly victory. A number of articles have appeared in humanist publications that show how mobilized Christians are a threat to the humanist cause. Here's an example:
And it is precisely this change in thinking, from premillen-nialism to postmillennialism, under the influence of Christian that has made possible the religious right and the political mobilization of millions of otherwise fatalistic fundamentalists. 16
Now, this should not disturb the humanists unless there is a perceived threat to their man-centered agenda, and, not only a threat, but the distinct possibility of Christians scoring major cultural victories. The humanists, it seems, have more regard for the effect Christians can have in and on the world than do some notable Christian leaders and writers.
15. There are humanists who consider the end times scenario described by some prophetic speculators as "scary." The dust jacket copy to Prophecy and Politics is indicative of their concern: "Militant TV evangelists are preaching that a nuclear holocaust is inevitable, and their message is influencing top level governmental leaders in the U. S., Israel and elsewhere.
"Reaching an estiiated 60 million Americans, charismatic war-minded evangelists insist that they have the right and power to help orchestrate not only their End of Times, but doomsday for all the rest of the species." Grace Halsell, Prophecy and Politics:Militant Evangelists on the [email protected] NucleaiWor (Westport, CT: Lawrence Hill & Company, 1986).
16. Frederick Edwords and Stephen McCabe, "Getting Out God's Vote: Pat Robertson and the Evangelicals," The Humanist (May/June 1987), p. 10.
A shift in eschatology has taken place, In general terms, there has been a shift from pessimism to optimism, 17 For most of the twentieth century, orthodox Christians who have held a premil-lennial position have remained relatively silent regarding social issues. One reason is that, as John Walvoord, former president and now chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary, writes, they that our efforts to make society Christianized are futile because the Bible does not teach it,"18 Much of this attitude has to do more with current events than with interpreting the Bible. There is also a reaction to 19th-century theological liberalism that spawned the "Social Gospel" era. It too was optimistic. Today, some dispensational premillennialists equate postmillennialism with liberalism and the "Social Gospel."
Hal Lindsey writes of postmillennialism:
There used to be a group called "postmilknn ialists." They believed that the Christians would root out the evil in the world, abolish godless rulers, and convert the world through ever increasing evangelism until they brought about the Kingdom of God on earth through their own efforts. Then after 1000 years of the institutional church reigning on earth with peace, equality, and righteousness, Christ would return and time would end. These people rejected much of the Scripture as being literal and believed in the
17. "Pessimism'' and "optimism" may not be the best terms to describe the Christian's hope. These words are sometimes used to describe a view of the future that is based solely on the trends of the present. Thus, an optimist turns pessimist when disaster strikes. By contrast, we mean by the phrase "optimistic Christian" a Christian who, trusting in the promises of Scripture, is confident that Christian civilization will triumph visibly and institutionally in history. A "pessimistic Christian" is one who believes that Scripture does not promisean earthly and historical victory for God's people. Because we are in the midst of a transition, however, many Christians are optimistic about the future, but have not yet formulated an eschatology that matches their outlook and activism. In time, these Christians will conclude that the Bible promises long-term victory to the church, or they will drift back into pessimism.
18. "Our Future Hope: Eschatology and Its Role in the Church," Christianity Today (February 6, 1987), p. 5-1. But does the Bible teach that our efforts to Christianize society are futile? This has not been proven biblically to our satisfaction.
inherent goodness of man. World War I greatly disheartened this group and World War II virtually wiped out this viewpoint. No self-respecting scholar who looks at the world conditions and the accelerating decline of Christian influence today is a "postmillennialist."19
Let's rephrase Mr. Lindsey's assertion in the light of Numbers 13-14 and Joshua 2:8-14: "No self-respecting Israelite who looks at the land of Canaan and the decline of Israel's faithfulness can ever believe that we can take the land because 'we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight'" (Num. 13:33). In the minds of many students of eschatology, postmillennial-was stripped of the centrality of the gospel message and became the darling of the purveyors of the "Social Gospel." The reaction of many Christian leaders was to repudiate not only theological liberalism but also postmillennialism and the social dimension of the gospel. 21 This is a mistake and a misreading of history.
Now, the formerly withdrawn church is emerging from the sanctuary of the cave to take on the world of unbridled secularism (see Judges 6:1-18). Many who have moved to earthly optimism
19. Hal Llndsey, 1he fate Great Plaint Earth (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan,  1973), p. 176. Emphasis ours.
20. See Greg L. Bahnsen, "The Prima Facie Acceptability of Postmillennial-ism* and James B. Jordan, "A Survey of Southern Presbyterian Millennial Views Before 1930," ed., Gary North, The Journal of Christian Reconstruction, Symposium on the Millennium, Vol. Ill, No. 2 (Winter 1976), pp. 48-121.
21. Since 19th-century postmillennialism spoke of "progress* (the result of obedience) and early 20th-century liberalism spoke of progress ("in terms of rational and scientific planning by an intellectual elite"), postmillennialism became suspect. Progress was equated with liberalism. While the ideals seemed similar, the ways of getting there were quite different. This was guilt by association. "[S]ince the publication of H. Richard Niebuhr's fhe Kingdom of God in America (1937), it has been widely assumed that postmillennialism led to the social gospel. . . . The heart of the problem, however, has been a simplistic confusion in the minds of many that historical succession means necessary logical connection and succession. Hence, it is held, because postmillennialism was the original kingdom of God idea in America, the social gospel idea of the kingdom of God is a logical and necessary product of postmillennialism. This 'proves' too much." R. J. Rushdoony, "Postmillennialism Versus Impotent Religion,1"Journal of Christian Reconstruction, Symposium on the Millennium, p. 122.
have not formally rejected their dispensational premillennial views. All they know is that they are tired of getting their heads kicked in by the humanists, and they are willing to work to change things, no matter when Jesus returns. Their children are being propagandized in the public schools,22 abortion is making them feel guilty for doing little if anything about the issue in 1973 during the infamous Roe u. Wade pro-abortion decision, and they sense the constant ridicule in the press for their deeply held religious convictions.25
For these energized Christians, it's no more Mr. Nice Guy.2+ Jerry Falwell is a good example of someone who had shifted his emphasis from quietism in 1965 to action beyond the four walls of the church. In a sermon delivered in 1965, entitled "Ministers and Marchers," Falwell said:
... as far as the relationship of the church to the world, [it] can be expressed as simply as the three words which Paul gave to Timothy -"Preach the Word." This message is designed to go right to the heart of man and there meet his deep spiritual need. Nowhere are we commissioned to reform the externals. We are
22. Paul C. Vitz, Censorship: Evidence of Bias in out Children's Textbooks (Ann
Arbor, MI: Servant Publications, 1986).
23. In Greenville, Tennessee, a group of Christian parents wanted alternative textbooks for their children. Here's what a syndicated columnist had to say about them: 'These poor children are being denied the most basic of childhood's freedoms, the right to imagine and learn. Someone should remind their parents the law of this land still requires we educate our children in qualified schools with qualified teachers. That a sound education involves free exploration of ideas and fact. That they may rant and rave against humanism and feminism and any other 'ism* on Sunday, but come Monday the children belong in school.
"It is time for someone to remind [Christians who want to have a say in what their children learn] that a majority in this country believe in God, but only a fanatic few feel their beliefs exempt them from laws written by the people in this democracy." Rheta Grimsley Johnson, ' 'People' vs. Fundamentalists," The Marietta Daily Journal (September 2, 1986), p. 4 A.
24. Stephen Brown, No More Mr. Nice Guy!: Saying Goodbye to°Doormat° Christi-
am'f7(Nashvil]e, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1986).
not told to wage war against bootlegged, liquor stores, gamblers, murderers, prostitutes, racketeers, prejudiced persons or institutions or any other existing evil as such. Our ministry is not reformation, but transformation. The gospel does not clean up the outside but rather regenerates the inside.
While we are told to "render unto Caesar the things that are in the true interpretation we have very few ties on this earth. We pay our taxes, cast our votes as a responsibility of citizenship, obey the laws of the land, and other things demanded of us by the society in which we live. But at the same time, we are cognizant that our only purpose on this earth is to know Christ and to make him known. Believing the Bible as I do, I would find it impossible to stop preaching the pure saving gospel of Jesus Christ, and begin doing anything else- including fighting Communism, or participating in civil-rights reforms.25
Fifteen years later, Dr. Falwell repudiated his earlier remarks calling them "false prophecy." In Listen, America! Rev. Falwell outlines his new agenda: "I am seeking to rally together the people of this country who still believe in decency, the home, the family, morality, the free enterprise system, and all the great ideals that are the cornerstone of this nation. Against the growing tide of permissiveness and moral decay that is crushing our society, we must make a sacred commitment to God Almighty to turn this nation around immediately."26
Many have noticed the shift. Dave Hunt, David Wilkerson, Jimmy Swaggart, and others have noticed. As the earlier quotation from The Humanist shows, the humanists are also aware of it, and they are not happy with the turn of events. Paul G. Kirk, Jr., chairman of the Democratic National Committee, labeled conservative, Bible-believing Christians who are involved in politics as "an extremist faction." He is most concerned about the presidential candidacy of Pat Robertson. Kirk makes the following points:
25. Quoted by James A. Speer, New Christian Politics (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1984), pp. 19-20.
26. Jerry Falwell,Listen, America! (New York: Doubleday, 1980), p. 244. Falwell has slowly drifted back to his pre-1965 views, although he has not stopped training "champions for Christ? at his future-oriented Liberty Baptist University.
1. The idea that a Christian like Pat Robertson may run for President is "very frightening."
2. Pat Robertson is "an ultrafundamentalist." The emphasis is on extremism. He's not just a fundamentalist; he's an «/¿^fundamentalist.
3. Pat Robertson is "one of the most radical right-wing leaders in America." Notice the term "radical."
4. Pat Robertson is 'one of the nwst powerful public figures in America today." Is power evil?
5. According to Mr. Kirk, 'Tat Robertson is beginning to worry the leaders of both the Democratic and Republican parties."
After listing the impact that Pat Robertson has through his donor list, television network, and the recently disbanded Freedom Council, Mr. Kirk makes this statement: "But his greatest threat is not his powerful organization. It is the enormous political muscle of the Religious Right." So then, Pat Robertson is not the only perceived threat. All Christians who hold to certain fundamental beliefs are the enemies of the political faith. The real issue is Christian involvement. Pat Robertson is just a visible target, someone to raise funds by shooting at. If a representative of a perceived monolithic movement can be shot down, then the movement itself is immobilized.
It is not our purpose to endorse Pat Robertson, nor to criticize his desire to seek the presidency. Neither is it our purpose to judge Democrats. We are firmly convinced that there are Republicans who hold similar views. The point we are trying to make is that Christian involvement is seen as a threat by some very powerful people. We have to ask why.
The humanists are opportunists. They go after weak points. One significant weak point that they have exploited is the fling that many Christians have with Manichaean27 and Neo-
27. Mani, a Babylonian philosopher born around a.d. 216, was the founder of the Manichaean school of philosophy. Mani taught that only the spiritual realm is good, while material things are inherently evil. There is an eternal struggle between Good and Evil, which are equally powerful. Man is a mixture of the wolf?
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