What a great joy it is to hear of those who leave cultic and occultic practice to find Christ; but how sad that upon doing so, they find themselves in a church that seemingly practices the very things they believed they’d escaped from
There are an increasing number of voices of those saved out of alternative belief and practice, blogging, vlogging and authoring books on this subject. Two such men are Steven Bancarz and Josh Peck. In their book ‘The Second Coming of the New Age’ they say that…
“The New Age Movement must be addressed not only because of its pervasiveness in our culture, but also because of how it is beginning to influence the Church. It is sneaking in the back door of Christianity even though it is often wrapped up in a bow of Christianese to make it indistinguishable from ordinary Christianity to the ordinary churchgoer”
The phrase ‘wrapped up in a bow of Christianese’ is interesting. Generally, I would say that falsehood never appears obviously false. The Bible warns us that ‘Satan appears as an angel of light’, suggesting that error is not going to be easy to spot. The one Jesus called a ‘liar and the father of lies’ is going to cover his tracks, make something look appealing and have it look genuine.
The problem the church appears to have is not knowing what genuine Christian belief and practice should look like? This makes it increasingly hard to distinguish between orthodox Christianity and flagrant falsehood. Why is this the case? I would suggest it because people have stopped reading their Bibles, they see no need for doctrine, and they have abandoned sola Scriptura. The Bible exhorts believers to ‘test all things’, but without the authoritative Word of God, how can anything be tested.
“The Word of God I think of as a straight edge, which shows up our own crookedness. We can’t really tell how crooked our thinking is until we line it up with the straight edge of Scripture.”– Elisabeth Elliot
Just as an untrained bank teller would have great difficulty spotting the forged banknote, Christians not trained by the Word of God will be unable to discern forged Christian belief and practice. This is precisely why the Church has become flooded with alternative practices, which have been cleverly wrapped up in ‘Christianese’.
You may have heard the expression: ‘it’s like trying to nail jelly to the wall’; this perfectly sums up some of the more weird and wonderful alternative beliefs and practices. There is such a vast assortment of thoughts and ideas that they cannot be easily spoken about or listed, but there are some alternative beliefs and practices which we can pick out and reflect upon how they have seeped into the church.
The Secret is a book that many claim to have changed their lives. The book reveals something that has allegedly remained hidden, something that, once you understand it, can change your life forever. Apparently, the Universe wants to give you your hearts desires and all you need to do is petition the cosmos. Then, if you have enough faith, your thoughts and desires will manifest themselves in your life.
You can ask for anything – a new car, a big house, lots of money, good health and it will happen. The idea of positive energy, of speaking and receiving from the universe is rife amongst new agers. The term used for this is the Law of Attraction. This idea flows from the belief that you are divine, you are a god, you are at one with the universe. Sadly, this kind of thinking has found its way into the church.
WORD OF FAITH
Word of Faith/Hyper-Charismatic Churches are replete with this kind of belief. Sometimes called Name it and Claim it or Blab it and Grab it theology, Word of Faith preachers teach that, with enough faith, you can create your own reality. Those at the top of the tree are living the high life with mansions and jets, they are living their best life now and just as new age practitioners believe they are divine, so these preachers also believe they are ‘little gods’.
These two quotes are from Kenneth Copeland:
“You don’t have a god in you, you are one”
“When he says in the Bible and says ‘I AM’, I just smile and say ‘Yes, I AM too’
Sadly, many are believing that the Bible teaches you can be like God – and it does. The problem is that they do not know who it was that said it:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘Youshall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:1-5
Monism is literally Oneness. All things are one. Everything is connected. Everything is Spirit, which means there is no distinction between God and His creation.
This concept promotes the idea that if we truly know that we are One, and act like we are One, it will solve most of our problems. Problems occur because of disunity. You can perhaps imagine where this leads.
We should not judge anyone or tell anyone they are wrong or seek to convert anyone – because we are all One!
The idea that we should all be one is alive and well within the Christian Church, after all didn’t Jesus say we should be one. I’m pretty sure what Jesus meant is not what some within the Christian Church mean when they speak about oneness.
The so called Progressive Christian Movement (formerly the Emergent Church) are very keen on this issue. They teach that there is no such thing as God’s wrath towards sin and therefore no judgement. We are therefore all one regardless of what we believe or how we live. We are all connected to God and are children of God.
This is not what Scripture says:
He came to his own, and his own people[c] did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:11-13
Jesus says that we are not all one. That we not all are children of God. But to the progressives being nice to each other, trumps biblical truth.
We believe that all religions are basically the same,
at least the one that we read was.
They all believe in love and goodness.
They only differ on matters of
creation sin heaven hell God and salvation.
Many believe that all religions are true and all paths lead to God. To some, Jesus was just one of numerous ‘ascended masters’ who reached a higher consciousness and pointed people towards the universal reality that all is One.
They claim that there is no absolute truth in any belief system, we are all on our own journeys and our experiences and realities are the only truth. So, let us all embrace and get along. There is no room for judgement. God (the Universe, the Spirit…insert your own idea) is Love.
This type of thinking finds its way into the Church through various guises. Ecumenism is perhaps the most obvious form. Though many churches within the ecumenical movement will have much in common doctrinally, there are important areas of disagreement, an obvious example of this would be the inclusion of the Roman Catholic Church. The Catholics deny certain doctrines pertaining to salvation, for example how a person is made right with God.
The inclusive progressive church again features heavily here, as they have a problem with ‘doctrinal truth’. Rather, they promote religious pluralism, claiming all religions are valid and all bring something to the table. We are not to judge, not to distinguish, but just to accept all because God is Love.
The problem for those who hold these views is Jesus himself. He claimed exclusivity. Jesus wasn’t only one of numerous ascended masters or gurus:
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Sonfrom the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
Jesus isn’t just one of many ways the God:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6
One of the most read books by Christians in recent years is The Shack. It sold over 20 million copies and became a major feature film. Though this book is regarded as a novel, it is replete with theological ideas from the pen of its author William Paul Young. Here is a short excerpt in which the main character Mack is having a discussion with Jesus.
“Remember, the people who know me are the ones who are free to live and love without any agenda.”
“Is that what it means to be a Christian?” It sounded kind of stupid as Mack said it, but it was how he was trying to sum everything up in his mind.
“Who said anything about being a Christian? I’m not a Christian.”
The idea struck Mack as odd and unexpected and he couldn’t keep himself from grinning. “No, I suppose you aren’t.”
They arrived at the door of the workshop. Again Jesus stopped. “Those who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslim, Democrats, Republicans, and many who don’t vote or are not part of any Sunday morning religious institutions. I have followers who were murderers and many who were self-righteous. Some were bankers and bookies, Americans and Iraqis, Jews and Palestinians. I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, into my Beloved.”
“Does that mean,” asked Mack, “that all roads will lead to you?”
“Not at all,” smiled Jesus as he reached for the door handle to the shop. “Most roads don’t lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you.”
In this dialogue, we find the idea that all roads lead to God. It matters not what you believe or practice, you can follow, worship, and practice the teachings of Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, Krishna or Joseph Smith – and you will be saved. This is a form of Universalism. Prominent progressive leader Nadia Bolz-Weber agrees with this:
“I confess that I am a Christo-centric universalist. What that means to me is that, whatever God was accomplishing, especially on the cross, that Christological event, was for the restoration and redemption and reconciliation of all things and all people and all Creation – everyone. Whatever God was getting done there, that is for everyone. How God manages to play that out through other religions, other symbol systems, I will never understand. I have to allow for the idea that God is actually nimble enough and powerful enough and creative enough to do that.”
Alternative practitioners thrive on mysticism. Healings, Crystals, Auras, ESP, Angels, Encounters, Higher Consciousness etc. all sound extremely exciting. You can see why someone seeking after meaning and purpose may be drawn to such things. Ultimately though, these types are seeking a divine experience, seeking to connect with the universe and many Christians are attracted by this.
Because these practices get wrapped in Christianese, are given Scriptural support, and are packaged in such a way to attract the undiscerning and biblically illiterate, believers fall into the trap.
The Hyper-Charismatic wing of the Church is where most of these ideas can be found, but alarmingly, it is now soaking (no pun intended) into mainstream evangelical Christianity.
Many are claiming to have visits to heaven, to the Third Realm. They are visited by, and speak with angels, most often the angel of prosperity. You can pay to be taught how to heal, how to speak in angelic languages, how to operate in the supernatural and how to activate your Seer anointing!
Books like ‘The Physics of Heaven’ would not look out of place on the Alternative Spirituality section at your local bookshop. Here is one review:
Some of the most influential and prophetic voices of the Spirit-empowered movement have joined together to help you start hearing the sounds of heaven and discover how natural elements—sound, light, energy, vibration and even quantum physics—are supernaturally bringing Heaven to Earth.
Seeking after signs and wonders, many believers are led away from historic Christianity, from Jesus and given over to another gospel.
THE HORSE HAS ALREADY BOLTED
There is so much falsehood and madness in the church at the moment, that we could feel like we have already lost the battle. What can we do? I believe there are two things.
Firstly, to protect ourselves, we need to be reading and studying the Bible. Without an authoritative anchor, we too can find ourselves tossed back and forth by every wave of doctrine.
Secondly, to help those caught in falsehood, we need to be pointing them to the Word of God. To encourage them to be Bereans, to test all things against the Scripture and to abandon anything not found therein.
Lord – Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. John 17:17
 The Second Coming of the New Age – The Hidden Dangers of Alternative Spirituality in Contemporary America and It’s Churches (Defender Publishing 2018) p.295
 2 Corinthians 11:14
 John 8:44
 Kenneth Copeland (The Force of Love, 1987, audiotape #02-0028, side 1)
 John 17:21
 Steve Turner – Creed – https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/creed/
 William P. Young, The Shack https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/2666268-the-shack-where-tragedy-confronts-eternity
 Acts 17:11