We are living in a society where Christian beliefs are rapidly declining. Our society is heavily influenced by the New Age movement and the post-modernist movement, both blooming in the second half of the 20th century. Followers of the New Age movement looked forward to a “New Age” of love and light, through personal transformation and healing. Followers of the Post-Modernist worldview were characterized by tendencies to self-referentiality, moral relativism and irreverence. (For a description of New Age and Post-modernism: see link)
As a result of that, we face a society where truth is perceived as subjective and relative and where there is no good or bad. Individuals aren’t guided anymore by faith and their relation with the one-and-only God, but by their own understanding of God and the world. A highly individual approach, in which everybody is figuring out their own goals in life and where everybody can create his or her own ‘religion’ and personal truth. Personal transformation, personal healing, personal development and sometimes ‘enlightenment’ are the most important goals in people’s lives. And the way to achieve all of this is a personal mix and match of all available religious, spiritual, secular, philosophical, theoretical and mystical concepts and practices.
Why is this important to the church?
You may think it’s not necessary and not really relevant for you or your church to know more about the New-Age and Post-Modern thinking. But, if you think like that, you really make a mistake. I’ll share with you the 2 most important reasons why you should invest time and energy in knowing more about it.
1. If you don’t know their thinking, you won’t be able to share the Gospel with them effectively.
When I look around in Christian environments I see a lot of people comfortably tugged away in their Christian lifestyle. They have Christian friends, go to Christian schools and speak the same kind of language: ‘Christianese’. As Christians however we are to go out into the world, to share the Good News and make disciples (Mat 28:18-20). This means that you have to go out and talk to non-believers. But, how do you approach them? What is the best way to communicate to people with a totally different belief-system?
It’s all about relationships
As a human being we are created for relationships (Gen 2:18). The most important relationship we have as Christians is our personal relationship with Jesus, but through that relationship we are to build relationships with the people around us: family, friends, colleagues, church-family and non-Christians. All these relationships are supposed to glorify God. Building relationships with non-believers is not just you talking about your belief-system and hoping people will be persuaded by it. Building relationships means that you have to invest in understanding others: to learn more about their believes, their hearts and their way of thinking. If you start talking Christianese to New-Age thinkers without knowing where they are at, you won’t be able to convey the message of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.
2. The enemy uses New Age and Post-modernism to creep into your church!
The way people nowadays think about their lives is highly impacted by the New-Age and Post-Modern beliefs. You can read and hear these believes everywhere: in magazines, newspapers, TV-shows, bookstores, schools and even churches! It is the way most people think and communicate nowadays. So if you don’t know what to look for, chances are that you will end up supporting some of the ideas in your own life and your own church.
What is the most important thing to know?
Every person who is in New Age beliefs, has created his or her own truth from a lot of different concepts, worldviews and religions. And, from my personal perspective, a lot of people that hold New Age beliefs are seekers, searching for happiness, love, guidance, growth, meaning and wisdom. They genuinely have the desire to be decent human beings with loving relationships.
I had this same desire: I have been looking for over 35 years for THE Truth, for a trustworthy teacher and for wisdom. The problem was that I didn’t know where to look. I thought I knew enough about Christianity to NOT want to be in that old-fashioned religion. Nobody had taught me that the Bible was the true and historically accurate Word of God. That Jesus was THE Truth and the way and life. That He was the one and only trustworthy teacher and that real Wisdom could be found in a personal relationship of serving and obeying the Lord.
So … if you happen to meet people that are non-believers, try to find out what they think, why they believe what they believe. If they are seekers for truth, like I was, it will give you great opportunities to talk together.
In my next article I will write more about the worldview of New-Agers and post-modernists.