WORLDVIEWS

PANTHEISM: SEEKING A ‘GOD’ WITHIN - 2

Pantheistic ideas have a certain attraction. They convey an aura of love and acceptance, of live and let live, of peace and fulfilment, which appeal to the lost and lonely human heart, and seem to bear close resemblance to Biblical ideals. Like the other ideologies we have considered  pantheistic ideology is making inroads into the Christian church. This intrusion is expressed in the following:

Some people see the ‘New Age’ as advanced or improved Christianity.

Some of the psychic aspects of the New Age are becoming accepted as okay by individual Christians, which leads them into forbidden practices.

The distinction between the God of the Bible and the gods of the world is diminished; God and the gods of the nations are seen to be one and the same with different names in different places.

Various ways to God are accepted. Jesus Christ is no longer seen as the one and only way to God. Christians assume or suspect that there are indeed many ways to heaven.

The exclusive claims of Jesus Christ lose their significance; Jesus Christ is reduced to one among many religious leaders.

Confidence in the Bible is undermined, and impetus for evangelism and mission is curtailed.

Some church groups utilize New Age practices – visualization, clairvoyance, meditation, ecstasy, dream interpretation, mind power, etc – in the name of God and of Christianity.

Confusion because of similar terminology used.

Guilt and embarrassment about believing that the God of the Bible is the one true God, and that he can be known only through his Son, Jesus Christ.

Participation in practices which utilize psychic powers as a substitute for Biblical faith and prayer. This is blatantly promoted as Christian by certain preachers.

What can we do in response to these inroads? We must maintain confidence in the written Word. We must maintain the Biblical distinction between God and his creation. We must believe the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ. We must listen carefully to what people say and judge it by the written Word, rejecting everything that is contrary to that Word.

We must refuse to participate in New Age practices, even when they are given apparent Biblical validation. Let us be aware that some practices at present within the Christian church have more in common with the origins of the New Age in eastern guru worship than with the Biblical worship of God.  We must also be aware that high powered businesses are embracing New Age methods of mind control, sensitivity groups, and self-empowerment. These things find no validation in the Bible; they are rather a worldly substitute for Biblical faith and dependence on God. [At the same time we must exercise discernment and not put the label 'New Age' on everything that is different or 'alternative'.]

We must give true Biblical meaning to terminology, not New Age meaning. When praying, we must make sure that we are indeed praying to our Father in heaven, and not to some spurious ‘god-within’ or ‘cosmic power’ without. We must refuse to be intimidated or despised by New Age people who believe they have risen to a higher level of self-realization and truth than us.

We must recognize that New Age thought is a resurrection of ancient occult practices outlawed in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 18:9-13), and of the Gnosticism which threatened the New Testament church (Colossians 1 & 2; 1 John). It is also a westernisation of eastern mysticism.

In summary: we must respond to pantheistic thought and practice as the apostles did to all false teaching, so that the truth of God will be maintained, for our generation and for generations to come. 

© Rosemary Bardsley 2012