This article is about the New Age Christianity. The author also looks at meditation and transformation.

Source: Clarion, 1990. 2 pages.

Altered States

We hear a great deal today about the so-called “New Age.” Many people believe that we are in the midst of an incredible change, comparable in scope to the Renaissance or the Reformation. We are going into a time when man will learn to live in harmony with himself and with the world. This will be a time during which man will leave aside the infantile Christian idea of a “God out there” in favour of the realization that humanity is itself god!

Basically, the New Age thinking is nothing new. It is simply humanism with a new twist, a humanism that sounds more religious than the old humanism only because it uses terms like “God” and “spirit.” New Age thinking shows a hope of salvation for a world that knows it is in big trouble. For many lost and aimless people, drifting about in a post-christian America, the New Age way is the only answer. It promises to give fulfillment in the present and security for the future. Humanity today feels lost and without direction. Despair reigns in many hearts. New Age thinking capitalizes on this general anxiety and promises something glorious for all who drink from its fountain.

Today I want to focus for a moment or two on the way of salvation in New Age religion. We, too, know about a certain way, namely, that of faith and repentance, of trust in God. As believers, of course, we look outside of ourselves to Christ Jesus. We set our minds on the things that are above – because where Christ is, there is our life!

But New Age theology says that the way of salvation is introspection – looking within! Man's biggest problem is not sin which makes him an exile from God. No, the biggest problem man has is the way he thinks. Mankind has to learn to think in a different manner. The problem is not rebellion against God. No, the problem is that man has forgotten his real identity. Man has forgotten about his own powers. The way to salvation is to get into touch with himself again.

And here is where deliberately-induced altered states of mind come in. In the spiritual technology of the New Age, meditation is the number one priority. There is a vast plethora of eastern-oriented religious groups which all have their own unique emphasis. But they all agree on the need for the mind-transforming practice of meditation.

Any city will offer you a hundred seminars and discussion groups where you can learn the basics. You have to close your eyes (usually), assume a special posture, and repeat special words and phrases (or sometimes, observe total silence for long periods of time). By travelling into your own spiritual places, you are supposed to wake up to the reality that actually you yourself are God. There is no outside, personal God. No, you are part of the beautifully harmonized universe and the whole thing is called “God.” All is god and god is all. Conclusion: you, too are part of the eternal all which is god.

New Age thought teaches that man's problem is his false separation from the world. By means of reason man makes distinctions between “Nature” and “Man” and “God.” But through meditation, we come to the realization that all these words represent the same thing – which is the one cosmic harmony.

Meditation, then, is a technique by which man can rise above himself. He can become something greater. He can be enlightened – that is, made aware of his true and glorious identity. Once a person becomes aware of this identity, he is also able to tap into a great source of power. The real power of the universe is not a God separate from the universe, but is within the human mind. Once you realize your connectedness to everything else, nothing remains impossible for you. And so the prophets of the New Age charm our generation with wonderful stories of abundant joy, creativity, personal growth, wealth, peace and fulfillment. In short, through an inward journey of self-discovery, man is able to find salvation.

But what do we say about all this? First of all, we should not be too radical and condemn all forms of introspection – looking within. Sometimes it can be very good to examine yourself, to ask yourself what really lives in your mind and heart. It is good to sit still for a few minutes, to relax and catch your breath and to consider the work of God in your life. Self-knowledge is a healthy goal.

But as Christians we must reject the idea that there can be real transformation by looking within. A society that places its hopes on the powers within man is going to be profoundly disappointed. Man cannot rise above himself simply by meditating. Meditation does not bring about any real change.

And yet, the Bible does speak about meditation! Someone might try to make a connection between Biblical words and New Age ideas. But in Scripture the word “meditate” has a vastly different meaning than in the popular New Age jargon. Meditation in the modern sense means looking within ourselves and emptying our minds. But Biblical meditation means looking outside of ourselves. Biblical meditation means filling the mind.

Think only of Psalm 1. This Psalm says of the righteous man that his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night. And Psalm 119:15 states: I will meditate on Thy precepts and fix my eyes on Thy ways.

Yes, the modern New Age movement shows us something real about the human heart, namely, “that God has set eternity in the hearts of man” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Mankind can never be content with just the bare material world. His heart longs for something greater. And he can't even enjoy the material world until he finds that “something greater.” New Age practices reflect an attempt to find the “something greater” which can satisfy the human heart.

But there is no lasting fulfillment in New Age meditation. It is a false substitute for the Living God. We find the something greater we all need only in God – as He has revealed Himself in the Word. Salvation comes not by going within to discover your own great potential. Instead, salvation comes by going outside of yourself in order to latch yourself onto the Word of God.

The Word is the source of real and lasting transformation. For through faith in the Word, we are placed into communion again with the living God.

And so, as Christian young people surrounded by an increasingly confused and hostile world, we have a job to do. We are called to meditate! This means that we consciously seek out God's thoughts as given in Scripture. Meditation means to recite passages to ourselves which we have memorized. It means to set your mind on the Word, to read it, to muse on it, to ruminate upon it.

Filling your mind in this way with the thoughts and will of God as revealed in the Bible has incredible effects. Nothing of the New Age can compare with it. For New Age thinking remains strictly earthbound. It never finds the Living Creator God. Man cannot rise above Himself. He won't find really positive personal transformation. New Age, inward-looking meditation will bring no real change to the human condition. Do you remember what Satan said to Eve? He said: do this and you will be like God. That was a lie. Eve ate, but she remained Eve – the human being, the creature.

Today the New Age encourages all of us to reach the higher consciousness by way of seeking altered states of mind. We can know that it is all a lie. The only truly satisfying meditation is the kind that looks outward, that sets its sights on God as revealed in His Word. There we discover the truly “higher wisdom,” the wisdom that is from above. There we discover not our “higher selves,” but Jesus Christ, who is the Fountain of Life. We don't become gods. Who wants to be God? Is it not a great and lovely thing to be a limited, human creature living in fellowship with God?

We don't need to rise above our humanity. But we do need to rise above our sinful humanity. And that happens as we set our minds on the great deeds of God in Christ as revealed in the Word.

As we study the Bible, we meet the holy and righteous mind of God who stands above His creation. And as we bind ourselves to the Word of the Lord, our sinful natures are remade. So we become more gloriously human, transformed, remade in the image of God. So we find fulfillment.

That is the power of the Word. That is the power of Christian meditation. Try it.

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