from the Viewpoint column of the Christian Research Journal, Winter/Spring 1987, page 31. The Editor-in-Chief of the Christian Research Journal is Elliot Miller.
I was immensely relieved when Christians began to recognize organizations and individuals associated with the Aquarian or "New Age" religions. I myself was once actively involved in the "mind sciences," part of a network seeking to replace the "antiquated" religion of the Piscean Age, fundamental Christianity.
The actual beliefs of New Agers were shocking to most of my Christian friends. They took comfort, though, in the thought that only Maharishi/Bhagwan types and their followers were prey to such deception. The church was considered immune.
But then cult researchers and even ex-New Agers started protesting that mystic-mixing was growing in the church. This alarm was not well received. When I first voiced my concern that the old occult techniques were increasingly being recycled into packages with Christian labels, I saw a familiar reaction from my friends. Formerly, as a New Ager, if I talked about reincarnation or meditation, Bible-believers backed away from me. After I came out of the occult and professed Jesus Christ as the only Way, New Agers did the backing up. Now when I complained that the current spirituality of some in the Christian church was like a flashback from my past in the metaphysical Unity cult, I found myself accused of being some nefarious "doom and gloomer."
The irony of being identified as such is almost laughable to me. I was once a pantheistic Pollyanna who prided myself in "denying the negative, affirming the positive." I knew firsthand that the principles could work. As an adolescent who grew up in the Unity churches I was taught to avoid anything that smacked of fear and negativity. Prosperity, health, and happiness were all divine rights that merely needed to be affirmed repeatedly and visualized until the subconscious mind accepted them as reality.
It would seem that today's brand of "popular Christianity" is catching up to Unity's consciousness level! As Time (17 Feb. 1986) has reported.
The prosperity preachers build on the Pentecostal faith in here-and-now miracles, citing bits of scripture to proclaim that God has already guaranteed not only spiritual comfort but material prosperity and physical healing. Believers who pronounce their wishes in true faith have already received them, the preachers maintain, even though it make take time for the miracles to be realized. The shorthand version: name it and claim it.
If I might be excused for using a pet cliche of New Agers, what a deja vu! As a student of Unity, I was taught to approach God boldly, thanking Him in advance for meeting all my desires, even if the actual results were slow in being manifested. We condescendingly tolerated anyone who actually thought they had to beg or plead God for anything at all. We merely had to deny the negative condition and receive what God had provided. Unity used these principles long before neo-pentecostal "faith" teachers claimed them as the latest revelation knowledge.
In 1969 at the age of 21 I had an experience which contradicted my belief that it was never right to beg or plead God for anything. I had fully embraced the free-love philosophies of my generation. Indeed, I was grateful that my peers were catching up with Unity's stand that "there is no such thing as sin." But one night I foolishly went to a deserted place with a man whose last name I did not even know. I quickly realized I had made a serious mistake. I had no awareness of sin to bother me about involvements of my own choice, but this time it was clear that I was about to be forced into a situation I did not want.
We struggled, I fought. I tried to picture this man as a loving child of God and mentally denied that this was actually happening. Inwardly I affirmed "divine order" and pictured myself as calm and in control. Nothing worked. Fear for my own life gripped me just as tightly as my attacker's fists upon my torn blouse.
"Go ahead and scream," he snarled inches from my face. "No one will hear you out here."
I had run out of methods and formulas. Silently I prayed the shortest, most desperate prayer of my life. I pleaded, "Dear God, please help me!" Though the man could not hear my inaudible prayer, immediately he released his hold and slammed me against the wall. He cursed me disgustedly and growled, "Go on; get out of here."
Before he could change his mind I hurriedly got in my car and sped away, sobbing with gratitude that God mercifully allowed me to escape.
It would be another eight years before I would actually know what it meant to "fear God" enough to ask for His forgiveness of my sins through the blood of Jesus Christ.
Today when I hear evangelists say that it is not necessary to beg or plead God for anything, that all we need to do is thank Him in advance for prosperity or healing or power, or that fear is immature and anything negative is to be avoided, I am the one who backs away now.
I wonder -- should the church apologize to Unity for identifying it as one of the largest and most successful cults of our century? It hardly seems fair to brand it a cult if our own churches are copying it.
About the Author
Elissa Lindsay McClain is the author of Rest From The Quest (Huntington House, 1985), an account of her conversion from New Age spirituality to Christianity. She and her husband, Red, reside in Boynton Beach, Florida.
End of document, CRJ0012A.TXT (original CRI file name),
"Should the Church Apologize to Unity?"
release A, February 7, 1994
R. Poll, CRI
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