In this article I’ll delve into how the New Age Movement is a complete inversion of not just Christianity, but Orthodox Christianity specifically. Remember Satan is a great imitator who will try to make himself look like God.
First we should preface that the new age movement is just the old repackaged, ‘the old’ being Gnosticism and I’ll be giving examples in each of my points. “The return of ancient Gnostic ideas under the guise of the so-called New Age: We cannot delude ourselves that this will lead toward a renewal of religion. It is only a new way of practicing Gnosticism — that attitude of the spirit that, in the name of a profound knowledge of God, results in distorting His Word and replacing it with purely human words.”
1. Theosis vs. Apotheosis
Theosis is important for Orthodox Christians, while it means “deification” in no way does this mean we become God as the new age apotheosis would claim, that humans are God. Theosis is being re-united with God in the same way humanity was intended to share in the life and divine nature of God (2 Peter 1:4) before the fall of man. Apotheosis inverts this to claiming man himself as becoming God, just as Satan told Eve “ye shall be as Gods.” From ‘the Jeremiah Project’ Gnosticism believes “Man is himself God, for he consists of and is the creator of “the forces.” Man already exercises the power inherent in his divinity and only needs to awaken the divine spark in himself to this fact.”
Orthodox hold that we are able to participate in God’s energies but not in His very essence because the essence is unapproachable while the new age gnostic religions believe that they participate in the very essence or are the essence themselves. This is an inversion of the essence-energy distinction (EED) that I will have to go over in a different post.
2. Mother of God ‘The Son’ vs. Mother of God ‘The Father’
In Orthodox Christianity, the Theotokos, is called the Mother of God for she gave birth as a virgin to the messiah, Jesus Christ, physically here on earth. This does not mean she gave birth to God the Father or is above Him in any way. But the gnostics would believe exactly this, that Sophia (the word for wisdom in Greek) created what we call God and what they call the demiurge. That this divine feminine created God, sound familiar? To the popular mainstream culture of “God is a woman.” New age references Jewish Kabbalistic teaching of Shekinah AKA Divine Feminine “finally emerges as not being only divine and feminine but as the integral aspect of the Divine itself.” (The Divine Feminine Fire – Teri Degler 2009). Orthodox hold veneration for Mary as the Mother of God but she is not equal or above God Himself as new age gnosticism would falsely attest.
3. Knowledge of God vs. Knowledge by Itself
First and foremost, gnosis simply means knowledge, but their application between Orthodox Christianity to the new age & gnosticism are different. For the Orthodox Christian, gnosis is a tool to help experience the uncreated light and the divine… as St, Symeon the New Theologian states – “gnosis reveals the presence of grace which a person has acquired.” As in the focus is on knowledge of God and His grace, not wordly knowledge as the new age would invert towards. Gnostics literally believe knowledge is salvation, Orthodox believe God is salvation and gnosis is just a spiritual tool to know Him. What does new age have to say about this? “The lure of the occult new age is almost always on the basis of acquiring knowledge or power.” (Neil T. Anderson, The Bondage Breaker, pg. 114).
4. The Divine Light vs. “Illumination”
God is light (1 John 1:5) and it’s no surprise the adversary will attempt to disguise himself as this light (2 Corinthians 11:14). St. Gregory Palamas says “the light of Christ illumines all.” Vladimir Lossky says, “it is not a reality of the intellectual order, as the illumination of the intellect, taken in it’s allegorical and abstract sense, sometimes is. Nor is it a reality of the sensible order.” This light transcends both intellect and senses, St. Gregory of Palamas states “he is united to the light.”
This would contrast the gnostic thought of “illumination” or illuminati “enlightened ones” who’s illumination is purely intellectual alone, it is not transcendent like God. Remember they believe the serpent in the story of Adam & Eve is the one who supposedly set humanity free with knowledge. The new age believes “compassion is the illumination of the cosmic soul,” meaning their own relative version of what compassion is (Gad Saad, Psychology Today – 2014). Furthermore, occultists and major influences of the new age movement like Helena Blavatsky and Alice Baily both claim true “illumination” is realizing that Lucifer is the true God. This is a blatant inversion of truth.
5. Spiritualize The Body vs. Escape The Body
God created man in His own image (Genesis 1:27), we are each literal icons of God. Metropolitan Kallistos Ware emphasizes how the Orthodox must “spiritualize” their body, control their passions, and honor their bodies as temples (1 Corinthians 6:19). The new age movement has made a twist on this to escape the body entirely “spiritual ascension is about ascending away from this physical plane to exist as pure spirit.” The gnostic view is the same, they believe the entire physical world including the body is imperfect and inherently something to do-away-with.
For Orthodoxy, man is not soul and body separately but both together as the whole man. While the new age gnostic view them as separate and the body merely an obstacle.
6. Apophatic Theology Inversion
Orthodox use apophatic theology or ‘negative theology’ that attempts to describe God by negation, to speak of God only in absolutely certain terms and to avoid what may not be said. In Orthodox Christianity, apophatic theology is based on the assumption that God’s essence is unknowable or ineffable and on the recognition of the inadequacy of human language to describe God (John 1:18, 1 Timothy 6:16).
While Orthodox believe this is true of God’s essence, it is not true of His energies which we can experience. An example used is the sun, while we cannot endure or approach the essence of the sun we can experience it’s energies such as light, warmth, growth, effects, etc. The gnostics invert this to saying it’s impossible to experience God’s energies as well. They basically separate the essence & energies into two separate gods and just call the energies ‘the demiurge.’
The question posed by gnostics is “how and why would he have given rise to anything else outside of him?” (Introduction to Gnosticism: Ancient Voices – Nicola Lewis).
7. Heaven & Hell as Internal Modes Inversion
Heaven and hell are not two separate places for Orthodox Christians. It is one place that will be experienced very differently by those who love God and those who hate Him.
Paradise and Hell do not exist from the point of view of God, but from the point of view of human beings. God will love everyone equally. He will send His grace to all, in the same way as He will send His grace to all, in the same way as He “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). But everyone will not accept God’s grace in the same way. Some will see God as Light and other as fire. The same will happen as with Holy Communion. For those who prepare themselves appropriately, Holy Communion is “for eternal life”, but for those who have “not been purified, Holy Communion is for judgment and condemnation…”
The difference is the new age believes this heaven and hell are modes even just based on your moods, actions and belief now, with nothing to be experienced later when it is actually something experienced later as a result of your actions and beliefs now.