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Saturday, November 22, 2014

LDS Church’s Stand On New-Age Beliefs


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“I Have a Question”, Ensign, Mar. 1991, 61–63

LINK

Are the so-called New Age spiritual beliefs opposed to Christ?

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we share an understanding of our Heavenly Father’s plan. This understanding includes knowing that we are children of our Father in Heaven with unique identities and that, through the atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we can one day return to live with our Father. We are fortunately not left to ourselves to sift for truth in the philosophies of man.

A case in point is the New Age movement—an eclectic, contemporary pseudo-religion that consists of a confusing array of beliefs about the nature of man and denies the existence of a personal God and the need for a Savior.

Some aspects of the New Age movement may seem harmless. But when we compare basic principles of the gospel with New Age philosophies, we see that New Age beliefs can lead us away from our Heavenly Father, allowing us to rationalize behavior and become ensnared in sin.

1. A fundamental principle of the gospel is that we are literally the spirit children of a loving Heavenly Father, created in his image. We have individual identities and the potential to become like God. (See Gen. 1:26–27; Rom. 8:16; Eph. 4:6; Moses 3:5.)

In contrast, the New Age movement defines God as the ultimate reality, a source of pure undifferentiated energy, consciousness, or life-force. Humanity is considered an extension of God, the divine essence that is humanity’s higher self. Such a view denies a personal God.

2. Another fundamental principle of the gospel is that we can return to our Father in Heaven through the atonement of Jesus Christ. We know that the separation of man from God began with the fall of Adam and continues as a consequence of sin. Through the Atonement and our obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel, we can overcome this separation and gain eternal life. (See 1 Cor. 15:21–22; Mosiah 3:19.)

The New Age movement holds that sin does not separate man from God, but that metaphysical ignorance separates us from higher consciousness. New Age beliefs hold that the fall of man is not due to Adam’s transgression and its effect on mankind, but is due to mankind’s inability to understand the unity of reality. The destiny of man is to achieve somehow a level in which individual consciousness dissolves into the consciousness of the cosmos. Of course, such a philosophy denies individual worth and the need for a Savior.

3. We know that God has always revealed his will through prophets on the earth who act as his spokesmen. We also know that we can pray directly to God for personal revelation. (See Amos 3:7; James 1:5; Jacob 4:4; 3 Ne. 18:19–20; D&C 1:37–38; D&C 112:10.)

In contrast, New Age approaches to communication with the supernatural may include chanting, ritual, drugs, music, guides—anything that will assist the mind to reach a New Age metaphysical state. New Age philosophy thus denies the fundamental gospel principles concerning man’s communication with God.

4. We know that the true Church of Jesus Christ was restored to earth so that we need not be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. We can distinguish truth from error. Heavenly Father provides the plan by which his kingdom on earth is administered. (See Eph. 4:11–14; D&C 20.)

The New Age movement tries to replace the commandments of God and the consequences of sin with an experiential view of life in which any type of behavior is potentially acceptable. New Age philosophy suggests that if everything is God, everything is permissible.

The truth is, oneness with our Father in Heaven is made possible only by keeping his commandments. We can achieve peace in this life not by losing our identities in becoming part of the cosmos, but by comprehending our true identities as spirit children of Heavenly Father and personally receiving our Savior.

There should be no doubt that the basic tenets of the New Age movement are directly opposed to the teachings of Jesus Christ and his church. We can avoid the pitfalls of this and other trends that oppose our Savior by relying on the Holy Ghost to help us discern carefully between truth and falsehood.

R. Kim Davis, associate professor of surgery at the University of Utah and bishop of the Little Cottonwood Sixth Ward.