Sunday, December 17, 2006

New Age Vs Christian or Good and Evil

Since it is Sunday, I thought that I would philosophize on spiritual issues for a bit. I was raised in a Catholic Church but rebelled against it's teachings in my twenties. When I was in my thirties I was involved in the "New Age" movement which has a strong Eastern slant. I was especially taken with the Tao te Ching and still think it is quite a beautiful piece of work.

One of the most important things I learned from the Tao te Ching was the concept of spiritual paradox. Spiritual paradox is essentially about embracing opposites. Here's an insightful quote from the Tao:

"When people see some things as beautiful, other things become ugly. When
people see some things as good, other things become bad"

In the Taoist philosophy, as I understand it, it is our own understanding that creates opposites, The opposites in and of themselves do not exist. So, if I understand it correctly, evil does not really exist apart from our own understanding.

Now this concept has been seized upon by the New Age group and is what drives their politics, lifestyles and financial concepts. I was an integral part of this for a while and have a lot of respect for the philosophy. I've read much of Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra and many other advocates of this line of thinking.

However, I began reading a series of books in the 1990's by M. Scott Peck, MD who started with the Road Less Travelled and wrote a long series of books. In so doing, he documented his conversion from a Zen Buddhist to a Christian. His logic seemed impeccable to me and I could not dispute his arguments, so, I decided to re-investigate Christianity. Over a period of time I came to realize that the difficulty that I had with Christianity was due to my lack of understanding of paradox. Christianity is filled with many wonderful paradoxes:

  • Jesus is 100% God and 100% human
  • we are all sinners, but are completely forgiven by accepting Jesus
  • whoever wants to be first shall be last
  • we cannot have evil unless God created free will
  • God is all powerful but by giving us free will He is powerless

In the Christian world evil is not a fabrication of the mind - it is real. And I think that this is where Christians and New Ager's part ways. For example, the common New Age political means of solving all world problems is dialogue. If we only talk to the people that are trying to kill us, they are sure we can reason with them.

In my mind I have come to see that the New Age view of evil cannot be true. I do not claim there is nothing to this view. There is no doubt that by thinking of evil we can create it. If we read the demonic into everything with which we disagree (as some Christians do), then we do not promote love (which is what Christianity is really all about).

The New Age movement has spread the simplistic view that if we could just change our thinking, we would realize that there is no such thing as evil and it will just go away. But the reality is that there are people out there who take great pleasure in killing, maiming and torturing other human beings. Certainly videos like this demonstrate it graphically - these are not people that can be reasoned with - this is pure evil. And the problem with evil is that, if it is not confronted, it grows in power. Denying that it exists will not make it go away.

So now we stand at a great cross-roads in our civilization. A large segment of the world has lost all perspective about the concept of good and evil. No one will judge another actions as evil - we are taught to be tolerant of every one and everything they do.

Perhaps God has a final paradox for us to ponder. One last quote from Road Less Travelled -

"It was evil that raised Christ to the cross, so we could see him from

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