With the retreat of Christianity from society in the first half of this century, America became more and more pagan.
Many people today, unfortunately, are choosing a deceptive form of hedonism known as the New Age Movement, and they often justify the choice with a new theology.
According to Martin Gross, we live in “the most anxious, emotionally insecure and analyzed population in the history of man.” We are “the citizens of the contemporary Psychological Society.” A society “in which, as never before, man is preoccupied with self.“1
At the turn of the century theology was the queen of the sciences. But when relativism took hold of our educational institutions in the 1920s, psychology became the New Theology. Man placed self at the center of human concern.
The Apostle Paul opened the first chapter of Romans with a concise explanation of all this: “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man … Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.” (Romans 1:22-25).
In crowning his new queen, man has declared the answers of life to reside within himself. Over the decades, the prophets of psychology have instructed us to “look within ourselves,” and an introverted, empty, bankrupt society has resulted. To paraphrase the prophet Habakkuk, the fig tree is not blossoming, there is no fruit on our nation’s vines, the yield of the olive tree has failed, the fields have produced no food, the flocks have been cut off from the fold, and there are no cattle in the stalls.
There is a spiritual famine in the land, because man does not have the answers within him as the false prophets have claimed. Throughout the land they are calling out for help. They need a new way of living and are starving for spiritual nourishment. The New Consciousness, as it is called – New Age doctrine in sheep’s clothing – is answering that cry. It offers a new way of living, thinking and being. It makes the same claim of finding the answers within, but now reaches to the mystical for its power source. Psychology was a queen. Now she’s a goddess.
Are We Being “Psyched Out?”
Beginning with Freud, psychology evolved over the last 100 years and gradually gained acceptance as a legitimate science. It is not within the scope of this article to chronicle every increase within the movement. But suffice it to say that Freud, Maslow, Skinner, et. al., have brought the area of study a long way. Today psychology has reached the brink of hard-core idolatry. It is called transpersonal psychology.
Transpersonal psychology is an entirely new school of psychology struggling, just as Freud did, to emerge as the dominant path to understanding human behavior. It legitimizes New Age mysticism to our intellectual culture. It isn’t on everyone’s lips yet, but it will be. The first issue of the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology listed its characteristics as unitive consciousness, peak experiences, mystical experience, self-actualization, oneness, cosmic awareness, and transcendental phenomena.2
This new trend in psychology includes a number of spiritual ideas, most of them pantheistic (all is God, all is one), and “encourages Eastern forms of meditation, yoga, and various methods of consciousness expansion. In its synthesis of the humanistic position with spiritual disciplines, the movement offers both the credibility of Western thought and the exotic allurement of the East. Although it incorporates the ideas of Western sages, it also embraces the occult.“3
Because the self becomes the center of human concern, all perceptions of reality change under transpersonal psychology. Self-actualization to the mystic becomes an end in itself. Any effects it may have on others become completely irrelevant since there are no absolutes.
One observer explained it this way: “Because personal experience equals reality, one changes reality by focusing on the self.“4 (The Bible tells us to change ourselves by focusing on reality). According to Douglas Groothuis, “Reality itself is lost when the universe is reduced to a ‘multiverse’ of independently existing bubbles of subjective meaning. Believing in impossible things doesn’t ipso facto make them possible.“5
This introverted, ambivalent, endless preoccupation with the self reduces all events, people and things to the subservient. Rather than giving out of oneself to be blessed, as the Bible instructs, New Age psychology focuses on man’s problems as the only thing that matters, and creates and endless cycle of pain and emptiness: “Because I am mine own authority, I will find mine own fulfillment. But in my vanity, I am empty. Because I am empty I must find mine own fulfillment.”
The havoc this has wrought on our culture has been devastating. Abortion is the most popularly cited carnage, but it’s really just one piece of a disgusting meat pie. An aborted fetus is nothing more than a foretaste of the things to come should our culture continue its present course. Killing people because they are too old, killing people because they are too young, and even the killing of fetuses and adults for their organs are all practiced today – legally.6
Natural man, when separated from a higher power to whom he is accountable, quickly becomes Almighty Man. “The old-time secular humanism said ‘There is no Deity. Long live humanity.’ The new transpersonal or cosmic humanist says, “There is no Deity but Humanity.’“7
Which brings us to the question man has wrestled with since God created him: Who is really in charge? Consider the following quotes, and ask yourself which is the more credible:
“God is dead”
“Nietzsche is dead”
1 Martin Gross, The Psychological Society (New York: Simon and Schuster), 1978, p. 3.
2 Douglas R. Groothuis, Unmasking the New Age (InterVarsity Press), 1986, p. 80. (I am indebted to Chapter 4 of this book for much of the structure of this essay. I highly recommend it for further reading.)
3 Ibid, p. 81.
4 Francis Adeney, “The Flowering of the Human Potential Movement,” Spiritual Counterfeits Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, Winter 1981, p. 13, quoted in Groothuis.
5 Groothuis, p. 82.
6 Paul deParrie and Mary Pride, Unholy Sacrifices of the New Age (Crossway Books), 1988, p. 64.
7 Groothuis, p. 81.