Should You Run From Jesus Always?

Useful Definitions

Having an understanding of mysticism, Gnosticism and New Age spirituality will reveal the danger of Jesus Always. This page defines these terms to help you identify them in Jesus Calling, as well as other books, videos, and lectures (sermons).

What Is New Age?

New Age Mysticism"New Age" is a difficult term to pin down and define. Many people think of it as a fad from the 60's and 70's. But, New Age practices have been around for thousands of years, and it is the #1 most practiced religion in the world today.

"New Age has roots in Taoism, Hinduism, Gnosticism, Theosophy, Spiritualism and neo-pganism. Among New Age practices are the use of astrology, Tarot cards, fortune telling, alternative healing, drumming and chanting." - F. Michael Perko, Religious Studies and Theology: An Introduction, page 302

New Age is not a formal religion. You can say you are a "Christian" and practice New Age spirituality1. No one within the New Age Movement will tell you that you are wrong. New Age has no formal doctrine or leadership. It is a free-flowing, spiritual mystical movement that changes the names of what it practices, while maintaining those practices unchanged.

In the East the two major religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, are 100% New Age. Or looking at it the other way around, New Age fully incorporates the beliefs and practices of Eastern religions. It also fully incorporates the occult. Even movements such as environmentalism, the peace movement, and "future studies" draw heavily on New Age believes and practices.

In the west New Age practices are commonly found imbedded in, or fully flowering in the three major religions, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Within the Christian circle, charismatic, health and wealth, and New Apostolic Reformation, churches in particular make use of New Age practices. However, even conservative Christian churches are unknowing adopting the practices of mystical Eastern religions..

MysticismA few of the New Age/mystical practices commonly used in Christian churches include yoga, spiritual directors, contemplative prayer, spiritual formation, centering prayer, and Lectio Divina.

What are the distinctives of New Age or mysticism?

New Age/mysticism can probably be best defined as having a focus on experience instead of knowledge. Christianity is a rational, knowledge based religion that is rooted in true historical facts such as the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

A second characteristic of New Age/mysticism is that the focus is on you... on what you get from it. In Christianity the focus is always on God. Always. Some will ask, but what about salvation? Jesus died in order to save us. Isn't the crucifixion all about saving people from hell? No, it's not. The crucifixion is about glorifying God. We deserve eternal punishment in hell, yet God demonstrated His love through the cross. The cross is about God's love, mercy and grace. It's not about us.

All of Sarah Young's books focus on giving you a warm, fuzzy, comfortable, emotional experience. That is not Christianity. It is New Age.

A third characteristic of New Age/mysticism is that of god being in us, and we are in god. It is a oneness between God and his creation. (This is called panentheism.)But, god is also seen as being separate from his creation while at the same time being a part of his creation. God is an impersonal force that we can draw on for energy and power. And god is a personal being who speaks directly to us. If you notice some contradictions in this, that's okay. In New Age we don't worry about contradictory doctrine, only the resulting experience is important.

What is Gnosticism?

Gnosticism is much easier to define than New Age. But, be careful. Resources such as Wikkipedia define it as an ancient religion that is no longer practiced. Yes, Gnosticism was one of the major religious forces opposing Christianity in it's early days But, Gnosticism is still around and stronger than ever.

For a definition of Gnosticism let's go to the experts at the Gnosis Archive. (A simple definition of Gnosis is: knowledge of spiritual mysteries.)

"GNOSTICISM IS THE TEACHING based on Gnosis, the knowledge of transcendence arrived at by way of interior, intuitive means. Although Gnosticism thus rests on personal religious experience, it is a mistake to assume all such experience results in Gnostic recognitions. It is nearer the truth to say that Gnosticism expresses a specific religious experience, an experience that does not lend itself to the language of theology or philosophy." - The Gnosis Archive

A common theme in New Age (and in all of Sarah Young's books) is that of calming yourself and of silence. It is sometimes called achieving the Silence. One we have silenced our thoughts, we'll be able to heard god speak, giving us knowledge and understanding beyond what is available in scripture. This is what Sarah Young originally claimed was the source of the devotions in Jesus Calling. Jesus "spoke" to her and she wrote down what he said. (See the introduction to the Jesus Calling devotional in editions printed from 2004 until 2013.)

What is Mysticism?

Let's turn to Stanford University and the Standard Encyclopedia of Philosophy for a definition of mysticism:

"The term ‘mysticism,’ comes from the Greek muo, meaning “to conceal.” In the Hellenistic world, ‘mystical’ referred to “secret” religious rituals. In early Christianity the term came to refer to “hidden” allegorical interpretations of Scriptures and to hidden presences, such as that of Jesus at the Eucharist. Only later did the term begin to denote “mystical theology,” which included direct experience of the divine (See Bouyer, 1981)."

Are you noticing a common thread? Hidden knowledge. Personal experiences.

Mysticism is about understanding spiritual "truths" in ways that are not possible using your intellect. It involves spiritual knowledge and experiences, and the practices that help you have that spiritual knowledge or experience.

What we are seeeing is that both Jesus Always and Jesus Calling have these charateristics. They are New Age / Gnostic mysticism, and are to be avoided by all Christians.


Notes:
1 - This person would only be a Christian from the point of view of New Age believers. It does not work the other way. Anyone believing New Age teaching is in opposition to God, and thus is not a Christian. They may call themselves "Christian," but they re not.

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