Is There a New England New Age Movement?
I was speaking with friend of mine from New England who attends an Assemblies of God church. Their pastor has begun the process of retiring and a committee has been established and charged with ushering in a new pastor. This friend discussed with me at length the prospects who they are considering and even consulted me on a few questions he wanted to know I thought would be appropriate for asking a potential pastoral candidate in an interview. One of the most important questions I suggested was that he ask the candidate was, “what is the gospel?”
According to a study by Barna Group published in 2017, 61% of the United States church-going population agree with tenants belonging new spirituality (New Age). New Age spirituality is any system of belief that requires one to look inside him or herself for enlightenment, wisdom, or power.” It requires no repentance, no salvation, and no Savior or God (even though a Christian New Ager will claim God through all of it)! A Pew Research study came out in the beginning of 2016 which showed five of six states in New England as the top 5 least religious states in the United States at 33-34%. Of course, there are many ways to define what it means to be religious. For instance, roughly 1 in 5 residents reported attending religious services at least once a week, while only half or fewer say they are certain of God’s existence. According to these studies, New England is leading the way towards secularism and new age spirituality, closely followed by the west coast.
One candidate was asked the question, I’m told, to which the candidate responded with a social gospel definition – that the “good news” of Jesus Christ is less about sin, salvation, heaven and hell, and the kingdom of God, and more about ridding the world itself of the social evils in order to bring about Christ’s second coming. Proponents, including this particular candidate (who we will not mention by name), believe that they “exist to be and do what Jesus did; introducing other to the Kingdom of Heaven that delivered on every promise for personal, societal, and creational renewal.” (Emphasis added.) The candidate said that the gospel was broad, but that it was about restoring the world to pre-fall conditions. (See Dominionism.)
Rightly so, some opposed his answer believing that question was relevant – even essential! – but some believed that the question was a setup. But why consider a potential pastor defining the gospel a setup unless they also believe that the gospel is complicated or else relative? Isn’t the Word of God, the bible, our ultimate authority for faith and life? If so, then what does the bible say about this candidate’s answers? Shouldn’t that be the safe escape to finding common ground among disagreeing Christians?
After our conversation, I posted a few Facebook comments regarding the Gospel that ought to be non-controversial to those who believe. Yet, I found that the very people who should be wielding the gospel as their first line of defense and their primary reason to evangelize were some of the most offended. I asked some to what they appealed if not the bible. Some even claimed that they were appealing to the bible, but that the bible was open to many interpretation. After doing some research and studying surveys from Barna Group, Pew Research, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, I found a disturbing trend.
I had no idea just how many Christians in America don’t know what the gospel is. Pastors, teachers, and evangelists, What have you been doing this entire time? What has taken precedence over the gospel in you respective ministries that the seeming majority of your listeners would not know the gospel unless they sought it out themselves?
Is the religious New Age Christian wave which is coming from both sides of country related to the postmodern leftist movement? Both the liberal leftist and the New Age Christian belief that truth comes from within; both become erratically offended when their beliefs are called into question; and both either play the wounded and emotional victim to gain sympathy or attack back with ad hominem identity politics. I will have to make a comparative analysis soon.
One thing is for certain, biblically-rooted Christianity is dissolving rapidly in the Americas, and it seems Christian Theology is being rewritten along with Constitutional values from radical left wing politics and religion. And it looks like the problem isn’t just from the west coast anymore.