GOD IN THE MIRROR: EVIL, SIN, AND SALVATION

By Marcia Montenegro (page 2 of 4)

The narrator's vision of creation in the New Age bestseller, The Celestine Prophecy, is that energy transformed into ever-higher vibrations until conditions existed for man, and the narrator realizes he is part of creation; God is not mentioned in this account, though later God is acknowledged as being within man [James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy (NY: Warner Books Inc., 1993), 98-101, 239]. This identification of man with creation is echoed by bestselling author Deepak Chopra who teaches, "Your body is not separate from the body of the universe," and the "larger quantum field -- the universe -- is your extended body" [The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success (San Rafael, CA: Amber-Allen Publishing and New World Library, 1994), 69]. The result of this is a man-centered universe where God is so remote or so depersonalized an energy -- the permeating "Divine Intelligence" as defined by Chopra -- that God becomes almost irrelevant, leaving man to be God.

God can also be changeable and incomplete in the New Age. Chopra states that "the source of all creation is pure consciousness" and "when we realize that our true Self is one of pure potentiality, we align with the power that manifests everything in the universe" [Chopra, 7]. In contrast, the Biblical God is perfect and unchanging; he lacks nothing in his perfection and so has no potential, since having potential means a need for something more or something else. If Chopra's God is pure potentiality, then he is a changing and imperfect God. In his introduction to the Kabbalah, one writer says that God is not static, but is "dynamic becoming" who is incomplete without man, and that "it is up to us to actualize the divine potential in the world. God needs us" [Matt, 1-2]; in other words, we have a needy God who depends on man for completion.

New Age writer Neale Donald Walsch claims that God answered his questions as recorded in several books. The God in these books blatantly states, "If you believe that God is the creator and decider of all things in your life, you are mistaken. God is the observer, not the creator," (italics in original) [Walsch, 13]. Man, God says, is only here to remember "Who You Are,"[CWG, 21; Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God for teens (NY: Scholastic, Inc., 2001), 28, 42, 196], that is, we are God [Walsch, CWG, 26, 52, 127, 131, 157, 200; Walsch, Conversations with God for teens, 147, 153, 262; Neale Donald Walsch, Friendship with God (NY: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1999), 395]. In fact, man is the Alpha and Omega [Walsch, Friendship with God, 249] and this God does not judge [Walsch, CWGFT, 117, 163; Walsch, CWG, 183] since there is no such thing as right or wrong; therefore, there is nothing to judge [Walsch, CWG, 13, 38-40, 98, 133, 152; Walsch, CWGFT, 117-118, 120, 122].

The New Age God is usually impersonal yet at the same time has personal qualities such as intelligence and love. According to a writer of "Christian metaphysics," God is "Love, Truth, Life, Intelligence, Soul, Spirit and Principle" [Conny Mendez, Power Through Metaphysics (Caracas, Venezuela: Bienes Laconica, C.A., 1991), 37]. God does not judge, and the Ten Commandments were merely statements of fact, not commands; i.e., "thou shalt not kill" means we cannot kill because our spirits live forever, and "thou shalt not bear false witness" means we cannot really lie because "there is truth on all planes"[Mendez, 18, 46, 54].

Man is divine spirit with a "direct knowledge of Truth," and when man knows the spiritual laws and thinks correctly, he will have what God wishes for him, because God is the "principle of perfect harmony" [Mendez, 79, 160]. Writing about Roman Catholic mystic Julian of Norwich, a theologian states that Julian believed that God did not create man in order to rule over him, but created man "in order to share divine life with human nature" [Kerrie Hide, The Soteriology of Julian of Norwich (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2001), 78]. God becomes a sort of colleague of man, concerned about man's desires while sharing his own divinity with man.

Thus, the New Age presents a God who is not necessarily perfect, who does not care about evil or sin and does not judge it, or a perfect God who is not unique because man is also part of that perfect God and is actually perfect himself. If God is not perfect, there is no absolute standard by which man can be judged. If God does not judge sin, then sin can be rationalized or dismissed. If man is like God in being perfect, then sin is an irrelevant issue.

New Age Sin: "Not Sin" Rather than "Sin Not"

Not surprisingly, since man is viewed in these beliefs as divine or on the way to godhood, sin plays a secondary or even non-existent role, or is redefined or dismissed in a myriad of ways. Many New Age teachings declare sin to be part of the illusion of what we perceive as reality. Since we are perfect, what we see as ugly, wicked, flawed, or imperfect need only be denied since they are illusions [Mendez, 55, 130; Walsch, CWG, 37-38; Williamson, 20-21]. The concepts of good and evil are symbolic and not real, but useful for man as guides at his present level of consciousness, even though all acts are actually a part of the greater good [Roberts, Seth Speaks, 369, 387-388]. Another view embraces evil. Giving his view of the Kabbalah, Rabbi Cooper states that even "evil has divine nature" in it, and that "evil as we know it can never be eradicated, even if we wanted, for it fulfills a primary function in creation" [Cooper, 160].

There is no need for guilt, because there is no sin; sin is illusory [A Course in Miracles, 527; Walsch, Conversations with God, 51, 115]. Man's development of a conscience was a consequence of "artificial guilt" [Roberts, The Nature of Personal Reality, 158]. No devils or demons actually exist [Roberts, Seth Speaks, 387; Walsch, Conversations with God, 51] nor does hell; hell is feeling this unnecessary guilt [A Course in Miracles Workbook for Students, (Glen Allen, CA: Foundation for Inner Peace, 1992), 61, 303; Walsch, Conversations with God for teens, 281], or is a state of mind, as is heaven [The Metaphysical Bible Dictionary (Unity Village, MO: Unity Books, 1995), 271. Note: Though no author is listed, Charles Fillmore is given credit for the teachings in this book].

Walsch's God starkly declares: "I do not love 'good' more than I love 'bad.' Hitler went to heaven. When you understand this, you will understand God" [Walsch, CWG, 62].

New Thought finds that sin is an act more against man than against God. The New Thought Movement arose in the late 19th and early 20th century based on teachings from Phineas Quimby and hypnotist Anton Mesmer that all is mind and that illness is an illusion. This movement influenced the founders of the Christian Science church, the Unity School of Christianity, and the Church of Religious Science, each of which incorporated further teachings that became foundational to the New Spirituality. Unity's Metaphysical Bible Dictionary defines sin as "a departure from the law of our being" [The Metaphysical Bible Dictionary, 620]. Failure to exercise "domain" over our thoughts and states of mind is a sin, since God commanded man to have dominion over the creatures of the land and sea, and such creatures represent our states of mind, according to this book.

Walsch's God finds nothing to forgive in man, since there is no right or wrong at all [Walsch, Conversations with God for teens, 120, 122, 124; Walsch, CWG, 38-40]. Adam's disobedience in eating from the forbidden tree was actually an "upliftment" and "first blessing," that gave mankind the power of choice [Walsch, CWG, 55, 56]. In a similar vein, Julian of Norwich claimed the fall in the Garden was an "accident" for which man was not blamed by God, but only offered "healing love" [Hide, 119-120]. Sin is not ours anyway, says a metaphysical writer and teacher; it was Eve's sin [Mendez, 165].

In some Gnostic writings, which heavily influence New Age beliefs, the serpent in the Garden that tempts Adam and Eve is actually a representation of the good, highest God (as opposed to the evil one who created matter), and eating from the forbidden tree gave Adam and Eve "the light of knowledge (gnosis)" [Rudolph, 97, 99, 104]. Adam and Eve are punished for this by the jealous commanders (or spirits) ruled by the evil Demiurge who wanted man to remain entangled in matter and ignorant of his true state [Rudolph, 100, 105]. In this scenario, the serpent becomes the liberator, the bringer of wisdom to man (a philosophy of Luciferianism).

The Adam and Eve story is allegorized by a Hindu guru into a tale of how man and woman (reason and feeling) became enslaved to bodily desires through sexual relations, represented by eating from the forbidden tree, and thus were enslaved to death and illusion [Yogananda, 197-198]. Another version of Adam's fall declares that his sin was in not fully enjoying the delights of the earth as he was meant to do [Fox, 26].

Referring to the bestselling A Course in Miracles, New Age teacher Marianne Williamson states that sin is "loveless perception" [Williamson, 21]. Since man is perfect, nothing we can do "can mar our perfection in the eyes of God" [Williamson, 28]. Although we can make mistakes, the perception of sin is an error to be corrected [A Course in Miracles, xiii]. Metaphysical teacher Mendez tells us that when Jesus said "Go and sin no more," He was "referring to the error of negative thoughts, words or deeds that had brought illness" on people [169].

According to the "God" in Walsch's books, the concept of sin is a sort of hoax perpetuated by the world's religions on man, who is perfect [Walsch, CWG, 85, 119]. The belief in absolute right and wrong keeps us in an illusion that there is a need for guilt or judgment [Walsch, CWGFT, 118, 122, 124, 127]. Indeed, evil itself does not exist, only "objective phenomena and experience" [Walsch, CWGFT, 133].

Where there is no sin, there is no need for judgment or penalty of sin. Sin would cause anger from God, but since God cannot be angry with us, there is only error, not sin, and thus there is no judgment on sin, only God's desire to heal error [Walsch, CWGFT, 85]. There is also the idea that sin needs no punishment, for it brings on its own punishment and suffering [Cooper, 246, Hide, 119].

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