Why are the mainstream denominations so open to meditative and
holistic practices? David R. Griffen, professor of theology at a
United Methodist college in Clairmont, California, states:
"A spiritual vacuum exists in organized religion that might he
filled by theologies that draw--for better or worse--from what
is called parapsychology, paranormal studies, psychic phenomena
and, somewhat pejoratively, the "New Age" movement."1
New Agers have become very much aware of this "spiritual vacuum"
and have directed their efforts toward filling it. Metaphysical
leader James Fadiman makes the following observation:
The traditional religious world is just beginning to make
changes, but it's a slow process--denomination by denomination.
When religious institutions begin to lose members year after
year, they eventually become aware that they're not meeting
people's needs. Before long they're scurrying around looking for
innovative programs and improvements.2
Even atheists have observed this trend. Science-fiction writer
Richard E. Geis comments in his personal journal that:
The mainstream Christians are lip-service religions in the main,
convenience religions, social religions, and they are the ones
most subject to erosion and defections and infiltration and
subversion. A large and successful effort seems to have been
made by the occultists' New Age planners to dilute and alter the
message of most of the mainstream Christian religions.3
This is made evident by a quote which appeared in a newspaper
interview with the owner of a New Age bookstore. She reveals:
A lot of people come in who are very Christian. They are
looking, by whatever means, to move closer to God on an
This shows that a great number of people who consider themselves
to be Christians have a rather dull and dreary attitude toward
their faith. They are looking for something to fill the void.
One of the foremost individuals who has attempted to fill this
void with the New Age is Marcus Borg, professor and author of
many widely read books. In one of them, The God We Never Knew,
he lays out very concisely how he went from being a traditional
Christian to a "mature" Christian. He relates:
I learned from my professors and the readings they assigned that
Jesus almost certainly was not born of a virgin, did not think
of himself as the Son of God, and did not see his purpose as
dying for the sins of the world.... By the time I was thirty,
like Humpty Dumpty, my childhood faith had fallen into pieces.
My life since has led to a quite different understanding of what
the Christian tradition says about God.5
Like multitudes of liberal Christians who believe as he does,
Borg turned to mysticism to fill the spiritual vacuum that his
way of thinking inevitably leads to. Borg reveals:
I learned about the use of mantras as a means of giving the mind
something to focus and refocus on as it sinks into silence.6
This is a recurring theme in all his books, including his very
influential book, The Heart of Christianity. Even though Marcus
Borg would certainly not call himself a New Ager, his practices
and views on God would be in line with traditional New Age
thought (i.e., God is in everything and each person is a
receptacle of the Divine, which is accessed through meditation).
Borg is a key example of what I am trying to convey. He is not
some Hindu guru or counter-culture type personality. He
represents the mainstream for millions of people in liberal
churches. But his spiritual platform is pure New Age as he makes
clear when he expounds:
The sacred is not "somewhere else" spatially distant from us.
Rather, we live within God ... God has always been in
relationship to us, journeying with us, and yearning to be known
by us. Yet we commonly do not know this or experience this....
We commonly do not perceive the world of Spirit.7
This perception is, of course, as I have shown [in Yungen's
book], the outcome of mantra-induced silence.
The following is another barometer of Christian tolerance to New
Age ideas. The late psychologist M. Scott Peck wrote a
phenomenal best seller on psychology and spiritual growth titled
The Road Less Traveled. The book contains insights and
suggestions for dealing with life's problems, which is why it
has generated the interest it has. But the book also
incorporates the central theme of the Ancient Wisdom:
God wants us to become himself (or Herself or Itself). We are
growing toward godhood. God is the goal of evolution. It is God
who is the source of the evolutionary force and God who is the
destination. This is what we mean when we say that He is the
Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end....
It is one thing to believe in a nice old God who will take good
care of us from a lofty position of power which we ourselves
could never begin to attain. It is quite another to believe in a
God who has it in mind for us precisely that we should attain
His position, His power, His wisdom, His identity.8
Madame Blavatsky and Alice Bailey [New Age occultists] could not
have said it any better. Peck revealed where he was coming from
when he said, "But (The Road) is a sound New Age book, not a
flaky one."9 This book, which was on the New York Times best
seller list for over 400 weeks, has been incredibly popular in
Christian circles for years. Peck himself said the book sells
best in the Bible Belt.
What is happening to mainstream Christianity is the same thing
that is happening to business, health, education, counseling,
and other areas of society. Christendom is being cultivated for
a role in the New Age....
This ultimately points to a global religion based on meditation
and mystical experience. New Age writer David Spangler explains
it the following way:
There will be several religious and spiritual disciplines as
there are today, each serving different sensibilities and
affinities, each enriched by and enriching the particular
cultural soil in which it is rooted. However, there will also be
a planetary spirituality that will celebrate the sacredness of
the whole humanity in appropriate festivals, rituals, and
sacraments. There will be a more widespread understanding and
experience of the holistic nature of reality, resulting in a
shared outlook that today would be called mystical. Mysticism
has always overflowed the bounds of particular religious
traditions, and in the new world this would be even more true.10
The rise of centering prayer is causing many churches to become
agents of transformation. Those who practice it tend to embrace
[a] one-world-religion idea. One of the main proponents of
centering prayer had this revelation:
It is my sense, from having meditated with persons from many
different traditions, that in the silence we experience a deep
unity. When we go beyond the portals of the rational mind into
the experience, there is only one God to be experienced.... I
think it has been the common experience of all persons of good
will that when we sit together Centering we experience a
solidarity that seems to cut through all our philosophical and
In this context, we may compare all the world's religions to a
dairy herd. Each cow may look different on the outside, but the
milk would all be the same. The different religious groups would
maintain their own separate identities, but a universal
spiritual practice would bind them together--not so much a
one-world church as a one-world spirituality.
Episcopal priest and New Age leader Matthew Fox explains what he
calls "deep ecumenism":
Without mysticism there will be no "deep ecumenism," no
unleashing of the power of wisdom from all the world's religious
traditions. Without this I am convinced there will never be
global peace or justice since the human race needs spiritual
depths and disciplines, celebrations and rituals, to awaken its
better selves. The promise of ecumenism, the coming together of
religions, has been thwarted because world religions have not
been relating at the level of mysticism.12
Fox believes that all world religions will eventually be bound
together by the "Cosmic Christ"13 principle, which is another
term for the higher self.
As incredible as this may sound, it appears to be happening now.
The New Age is embedded in American religious culture far deeper
and broader than many people imagine. If your concept of the New
Age is simply astrology, tarot cards, or reincarnation, then you
could easily miss the real New Age as it pulses through the
religious current. If mystical prayer continues its advance,
then we could one day see, perhaps sooner than we expect, many
Christian churches becoming conduits of New Age thought to their
membership. (from For Many Shall Come in My Name by Ray Yungen,
1. David R. Griffen, San Francisco Sunday Punch, March 8, 1987.
2. James Fadiman (Science of Mind, June 1988), p. 77.
3. Richard E. Geis' personal journal, "The Naked Id."
4. "New Age Isn't New to Salem" (Statesman Journal newspaper
article, Salem, Oregon, March 9, 1991), p. 2-A.
5. Marcus Borg, The God We Never Knew (New York, NY: Harper
Collins, First HarperCollins Paperback edition, 1998), pp. 25,
8. M. Scott Peck, M.D., The Road Less Traveled (New York, NY:
Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1978), p. 270.
9. Charles Leerhsen, "Peck's Path to Inner Peace" (Newsweek,
November 18, 1985), p.79.
10. David Spangler, Emergence: The Rebirth of the Sacred, op.
cit., p. 112.
11. M. Basil Pennington O.C.S.D., Centered Living the Way of
Centering Prayer (Liguori, MO: Liguori Publications, Revised
edition, 1999), pp. 198, 200.
12. Matthew Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ (New York, NY:
HarperCollins, 1988), p. 65.
For Many Shall Come in My Name from
Lighthouse Trails at
are in the book.