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Mystical And New Age Cults


(1 John 4:1-3 NIV) Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. {2} This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, {3} but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.


Mystical and new Age cults are ancient and many of their teachings pre-date the Christian era. Christianity had three main competitors among the religions of its day. - Judaism, the Roman "State religion"based on a pantheon of Greco-Roman gods with /Emperor worship thrown in, and "mystery religions" such as the pantheistic Gnosticism that filled Ephesus and Colossae. The mystical and new age cults closely resemble these ancient and complex philosophical formulations which sought salvation through mystical knowledge and religious experiences.

Today Eastern religious terminology e.g avatar, guru etc has been blended in with the primal and the philosophical to create an apparently benign and all-embracing system of worship that does not need a crucified Jesus. Jesus is, at best, an "ascended master". There is no need for an atonement just for a "purification", but the purification is not from sin but from ignorance or from "memory traces". Guilt is avoided at all costs. Our accountability to our Creator is never faced or dealt with.

The Christian Research Institute produced the following list of New Age beliefs and they are a good starting point for us: The Bible verses next to each point are there to help you refute these teachings should you come across them..

*A. All is one (monism).* Reality is a seamless garment. (Gen.1:1ff.)

*B. All is God (pantheism).* God is an all-pervading impersonal Energy, Force or Consciousness. (Rom. 1:18-32)

*C. Self-deification/self-salvation.* We look within for power, knowledge and healing. (Ezek. 28:1-9; Eph. 2:8-10)

*D. Paranormal potential.* We can experience ESP, telepathy, spirit-contact (spiritism), etc. (Deut. 18:9-14)

*E. Ethical relativism.* Moral absolutes can be transcended.(Matt.5:17-20; Rom. 13:8-10)

*F. Cosmic evolutionism.* The human race is progressing toward a "New Age" of planetary peace and prosperity. (1 Thess. 5:3; Matt.24:3-31).

*G. Religious syncretism.* All religions are really one, and teach the above (A-F). Jesus was just one of many mystical masters. Reincarnation is stressed. (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Heb. 9:27)

People involved in mystical/new age cults are often very gentle searching people who need to see Jesus as real and relevant to them and who are turned off by the harsh dogmatism of so many churches. People in the New Age want to experience love and peace and joy. Thus the key to bringing them out of the cult is to show them that in Christ there are real, lasting and truly satisfying and logical experiences of love, peace and joy.

Most Westerners are still very rational in their approach to life. Even those deeply involved in cults may question the New Age doctrine that everything that happens to you, good or bad, happens because some part of you wants it to happen. The death of a child, senseless violence, world hunger and disease challenge this core notion and much mental energy must be expended to maintain it. Because New Age doctrines are difficult to maintain for many Westerners many cults use heavy indoctrination and "thought blocking" processes.

Thought blocking is a way of re-routing the mind and deliberately distracting it from the troublesome thought. For instance, if you try very hard not to think of white rabbits you cannot help but think of them. However, if you concentrate on saying Om very loudly it will work - you will not think of white rabbits. You will concentrate on your mantra and eventually forget the troubling thought. This can be quite innocent.

As a young man attempting to keep his way pure I found that lustful thoughts could be put out of my head if switched thought tracks and concentrated intently on trying to solve a moderately difficult problem in integral calculus in my head. The required concentration on an "unsexy" thought worked. The problem with cults is they overdo it so that the rational thinking faculties are not sharpened but rather suppressed.

Speech controls large portions of the brain so most effective thought blocking techniques seem to involve some repetitive and nonsensical speech pattern. Thought blocking processes are taught to new members so that when they experience doubt or negativity they can chant, speak in tongues, enter a trance, etc. Often these are associated with popular songs so that if they try to leave the cult they will constantly hear music that "triggers" them to think of it again and again.

Mystical and new age cults are often very exacting and legalistic in their requirements. Strict diets may have to be followed, equinoxes, new moons and and other astrological events remembered, and sexual abstinence for long periods (even for married couples) may be imposed.

The Colossian church seems to have been troubled by something similar...

(Colossians 2:16-23 NIV) Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. {17} These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. {18} Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. {19} He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow. {20} Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: {21} "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? {22} These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. {23} Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

These few verses are of great help to Christians confused and bombarded by mystical teachings. The things that the New Agers teach are a shadow - and Christ is the substance. When we have Christ we have the real thing. They have only a shadow. Something that resembles the truth but which is in fact dark and empty. Christians must move beyond "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!" to a religion based on being "in Christ" who is in God.(see article"The Inner Man"for details).

New Agers tend to place Jesus "up there" as a ‘master" but not as a flesh and blood historical person who died on the cross and rose from the dead. When the Ephesians were struggling with Gnostic tendencies in the church the apostle John wrote....

(1 John 4:1-3 NIV) Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. {2} This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, {3} but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

How can you help people in the New Age? Pray for them that they be brought to enquire about the historical Jesus and the meaning of His existence. Pray that the blindness may be lifted and the bondages of sin broken. Pray that they may have an experience of God in a dream ,vision, etc that points them to the cross and salvation. Many New Agers record their dreams and it is a way that God could speak to them and they would listen. And go in their midst gently. Do not judge them, it is very offensive to them. Give them the experience of love, joy and hope that they are seeking.

This article may be freely reproduced for non-profit ministry purposes but may not be sold in any way. For permission to use articles in your ministry, e-mail the editor, John Edmiston at johned@aibi.ph.