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The New "Spirituality" vs. Christianity

Other examples of the new Eastern cults in the West could be multiplied; each year finds new ones, or new transformations of old ones. In addition to the overtly religious cults, the last decade especially has seen an increase of secular "consciousness cults," as one popular newsmagazine calls them (U.S. News and World Report, Feb. 16, 1976, p. 40). These "mindtherapy" groups include the "Erhard Seminars Training" established in 1971, "Rolfing," "Silva Mind Control," and various forms of "encounter" and "biofeedback," all of which offer a "release of tensions" and a "tapping of the hidden capabilities" of man, expressed in a more or less plausible 20th-century "scientific" jargon. One is reminded also of other "consciousness" movements that have become less fashionable today, from "Christian Science" to "Science of Mind" to "Scientology."

All these movements are incompatible with Christianity. Orthodox Christians must be told absolutely to stay away from them.

Why do we speak so categorically?

1. These movements have no foundation in Christian tradition or practice, but are purely the product of Eastern pagan religions or of modern spiritism, more or less diluted and often presented as "non-religious." They not only teach wrongly, not in accordance with Christian doctrine, about spiritual life; they also lead one, whether through pagan religious experiences or psychic experiments, into a wrong spiritual path whose end is spiritual and psychic disaster, and ultimately the loss of one's soul eternally.

2. Specifically, the experience of "spiritual quietness" which is given by various kinds of meditation, whether without specific religious content (as is claimed by "TM," some forms of Yoga and Zen, and the secular cults) or with pagan religious content (as in Hare Krishna, the "Divine Light Mission," "31-10," etc.), is an entrance to the "cosmic" spiritual realm where the deeper side of the human personality enters into contact with actual spiritual beings. These beings, in man's fallen state, are first of all the demons or fallen spirits who are closest to man. Zen Buddhist meditators themselves, despite all their cautions about spiritual "experiences," describe their encounters with these spirits (mixed with human fantasies), all the while emphasizing that they are not "clinging" to them.

3. The "initiation" into experiences of the psychic realm which the "consciousness cults" provide involves one in something beyond the conscious control of the human will; thus, once having been "initiated," it is often a very difficult thing to untangle oneself from undesirable psychic experiences. In this way, the "new religious consciousness" becomes an enemy of Christianity that is much more powerful and dangerous than any of the heresies of the past. When experience is emphasized above doctrine, the normal Christian safeguards which protect one against the attacks of fallen spirits are removed or neutralized, and the passiveness and "openness" which characterize the new cults literally open one up to be used by demons. Studies of the experiences of many of the "consciousness cults" show that there is a regular progression in them from experiences which at first are "good" or "neutral" to experiences which become strange and frightening and in the end clearly demonic. Even the purely physical side of psychic disciplines like Yoga are dangerous, because they are derived from and dispose one towards the psychic attitudes and experiences which are the original purpose of Yoga practice.

The seductive power of the "new religious consciousness" is so great today that it can take possession of one even while he believes that he is remaining a Christian. This is true not only of those who indulge in the superficial syncretisms or combinations of Christianity and Eastern religions which have been mentioned above; it is true also of an increasing number of people who regard themselves as fervent Christians. The profound ignorance of true Christian spiritual experience in our times is producing a false Christian "spirituality" whose nature is closely kin to the "new religious consciousness.

In Chapter 7 we will take a long and careful look at the most widespread current of "Christian spirituality" today. In it we will see the frightening prospect of a "new religious consciousness" taking possession of well-meaning Christians, even Orthodox Christians to such an extent that we cannot help but think of the spirituality of the contemporary world in the apocalyptic terms of the "strong delusion" that will deceive almost all of mankind before the end of the age. To this subject we shall return at the end of this book.

Missionary Leaflet # E69c
Copyright 2001 Holy Trinity Orthodox Mission
466 Foothill Blvd, Box 397, La Canada, Ca 91011
Editor: Bishop Alexander (Mileant)

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