“God’s intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to His eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.” –Ephesians 3: 10-11
“I (Paul) have become the servant of the church by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness—the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”-Colossians 1: 25-27
Recently the New Age movement with its alternative healing methods has become increasingly popular. Participants in the “drug culture” of the 1960’s and 70’s promoted doctrines and practices from Eastern religions, especially Hinduism. The drive toward spiritualism and away from materialism sent the “hippie generation” pursuing altered states of awareness through drugs and meditation. Finding “Christ consciousness” within, repeating mantras to gain “enlightenment”, becoming “one with all that is”, and praying to the “earth mother of us all” are just a few of many beliefs adapted from Asian philosophies as well as Native American folklore and traditions. Today all over the web it is clear that the field of New Age healing is prevalent, confusingly diverse, and highly profitable.
How is one to sort out the real from the counterfeit? First, we must understand the attraction of humanism, a powerful influence in American society for more than a hundred years. Humanists believe that man’s enlightenment is the end of all striving, and intellectual understanding is the key to power. Late in the 19th Century, the humanist philosopher William James translated his ideas into an educational vision that greatly influenced the course of government schooling from then on. Since this worldview sees man’s potential as continuously increasing, humanism is congruent with evolutionary theory.
American humanism mixes with certain Eastern philosophies and Native tribal spiritualism in the New Age movement. Today “New Age” ideas influence science (in some but not all alternative medical modalities), education (in teachings that emphasize evolution, relativism with situational ethics, behaviorism, and self-manipulation), and religion (in numerous popular concepts and groups that highlight “increasing your self-awareness” and “healing yourself”).
Actually, the idea of salvation through self-enlightenment is as old as the first book in the Bible. There were two special trees in the middle of the Garden of Eden: the forbidden tree that promised power through the relative knowledge of good and evil, and the Tree of Life, where salvation and sustenance were found in daily relationship with God (Genesis 2: 8-9 and 3: 22-24; Revelation 2: 7 and 22: 2, 14, 19). The first man and woman disobeyed the Lord by eating fruit from the forbidden tree. Today as then the faulty premise is that, if we understand more and become more like God, we will access and manifest the “god within”. In truth, the way to God comes only through relationship with Jesus Christ, not our efforts to attain to the level of the Creator.
In faith-based counseling the worldview is not self-centered as in New Age philosophy. This worldview is Christ-centered, acknowledging Him as the source of all knowledge and wisdom. Our ultimate hope and faith rest in relationship with Him, as we ask Him into every part of life. Healing is a result of His work in us, not efforts to control our destinies. Repentance and the shed blood of Christ set us free, not introspection, reprogramming, or “finding our true selves”.
The underlying philosophy behind this approach is that the individual does not pursue personal power to control his future; rather he seeks to release personal control to the Lord by acts of “dying to self” (Romans 7: 6). The issue is not that he is striving by his will to change, but that Christ’s healing love is entering the depths of his heart to alter the very foundations of his personality. And unlike the smorgasbord of diverse theories that comprises New Age thinking, this set of standards, principles, and techniques is related to and consistent with the teachings of Scripture.
In heart-healing counseling, we do NOT practice any of the following: mental manipulation of the client, guided imagery, reading people’s thoughts, hypnosis, or reliving the past for itsown sake. We are not interested in telling sufferers what to do, directing personal decision-making, or encouraging individuals in any way to become dependent on us rather than God.
Christ-Consciousness vs. Relationship with Jesus Christ
A trip to the “Self Help”, “New Age”, or “Healing Consciousness” section of any mega-book local or online store exposes dozens of recent titles exploring various ways to find “the god within”. It doesn’t take long to locate the word “Christ” (“Christ-consciousness,” “Christ awareness,” etc.). Where does a personal relationship with Jesus Christ fit into the quagmire of confusing theories about “the god within”?
With the flagrant use of “Christ” in many diverse New Age texts, it becomes difficult to refer to relationship with the resurrected Jesus Christ of Nazareth without causing confusion and misunderstanding. However, an examination of many postmodern “holistic” healing works that use the word “Christ” makes one fact glaringly obvious. In spite of all the references to “Christ within”, the name Jesus Christ is never referred to.
Admittedly it sometimes is thorny to break through to the living presence of Jesus Christ in our hearts. Once the God of the Bible is discovered, however, the ethereal “forces” called Christ are much more easily recognized as imposters. Indeed, these spiritual influences are sometimes found to be demonic beings, whose job is to confound the seeker by counterfeiting the Spirit of Truth, who is the Lord Jesus Christ.