Sunday, November 23, 2008

Worldview Class – Part 11 –Cosmic Humanist (New Age) Ethics

This is a continuation of highlighted topics discussed in a worldview class I am teaching on Sunday morning. The main text for the study is The Battle for Truth by David Noebel. A good deal of this class is also based on personal research.

Ethics are defined as “the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc." Specifically, the study of ethics attempts to answer the question “Who makes the rules – God or man?”

In previous posts, we have seen that some supporters of Secular Humanist ethics have defined a set of absolute truths, to exclude acts such as murder and rape from accepted morality. Marxist ethics are well-defined, and are pointed at a specific goal of class elimination. In contrast, New Age ethics are the very definition of personal free-for-all. True New Agers are held to no standard, but live under whatever truth they define for themselves at any given point in time. Added to this is the fact that they are free to change their own ethics at any time, to suit their changing needs. This lifestyle is a form of boundless ethical relativism, and is the foundation of the New Age ethical premise.

While truth cannot be pinpointed in this worldview, even more disturbing is the fact that no individual is ever allowed to judge another’s ethics. Judgment of another person’s beliefs and values would imply that there is an absolute truth to be applied to all individuals. Paradoxically, this belief opens the door for one case in which this rule does not apply: tolerance of all viewpoints is allowed except for the one that insists on an absolute truth. Put another way, anyone who judges the ethics of another person is immediately judged as being intolerant and wrong. This is the only instance where a New Age follower is allowed to judge another individual. The circular logic is a bit mind-boggling. It’s enough to make your head spin.

According to New Age proponents, setting limitations on ethical beliefs is equivalent to denying a person their quest for godhood. The moral implications are limitless under this lack of authority. How does the New Age movement view the Ten Commmandments? They see them as a list of boundaries which hinder the “evolutionary growth” of the individual. Each person’s growth is dependent on the ability to change and adapt in an ever-changing system of design-your-own ethics. For this reason, there are no New Age books which tell a person how to live a moral life – only books which encourage you to break free and follow your heart.

Marianne Williamson says, “Adam and Eve were happy until she ‘ate of the knowledge of good and evil.’ What that means is that everything was perfect until they began to judge – to keep their hearts open sometimes, but closed at others….Closing our hearts destroys our peace. It’s alien to our real nature.” Indeed, she may be right in saying that our nature is to open our hearts to everything. But the Bible tells us that “the heart is deceitful above all things…” (Jeremiah 17:9). It is precisely this realization that separates New Age from Christian ethics. One relies on and actually encourages the reference to a misleading source (the heart); the other denies that fallible internal source and points to a perfect, supernatural source outside of the individual.

Of all New Age positions, the concept of unity of good and evil may be the most disturbing. Because right and wrong are defined differently for each individual, it becomes impossible to distinguish between good and evil. David Spangler takes this premise to the extreme when he says, “Christ is the same force as Lucifer…..Lucifer prepares man for the experience of Christhood…..Lucifer works within each of us to bring us to wholeness as we move into the New Age.” This idea is the acute result of the progression of a philosophy that starts with desirable and simple ideas such as “unity”, “harmony”, and “world peace”. When held forth as a final goal, these ideas appear to be virtuous and are embraced by impressionable people seeking a higher purpose in life. But they get twisted when seen through the New Age lens, and end up in ridiculous statements such as Spangler’s.

One of the best ways to approach a New Age believer is to appeal to the innate sense of right and wrong that God instilled in each of us (Romans 1:18-20). Ask them, “Do you believe that murder of a child is wrong?” When they hesitate or even agree, follow up by asking them “Where does this internal sense of wrong come from?” While they may get creative in their answer, the fact is that God placed the idea in the hearts of men. If the New Ager does not recognize the act of murder as having absolute moral implications, it could be that they are too far removed from truth to be brought back easily, if at all. God promised that men would be misled and would “exchange the truth of God for a lie”. It is not an easy thing for a person to admit this possibility in their own life. The Christian should continue to boldly point it out, in the hopes of making the New Age believer meditate on it the next time they have a flash of internal moral truth. God may be speaking to them in that moment.

To Worldview - Part 12 - Christian Ethics

Or go back to the main index for all twelve Parts.

If you are interested in portions, or all of this twelve part series taught in an engaging, educational fashion, please contact Alan at Banyan Concepts.