1. Is God a being with whom we have a relationship (Christian) or something to be used or a force to be harnessed (New Age)?
The Pontifical councils explain, “The New Age concept of God is rather diffused . . . The New Age god is an impersonal energy. ‘[G]god’ in this sense is the life-force or soul of the world. Divinity is to be found in every being,” from a single crystal up to and beyond God himself. “This is very different from the Christian understanding of God as the maker of heaven and earth and the source of all personal life,” the councils say. “God is in himself, personal, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who created the universe in order to share the communion, of his life with creaturely persons.”
2. Is there just one Jesus Christ (Christian) or are there thousands of Christs (New Age)?
Jesus is often represented in New Age writings as one among many wise men or great prophets. Christians believe
Jesus Christ is God, the Second Person of the Trinity, the same Jesus of Nazareth about which the Gospels speak, who is the only Son of God, true man and true God.
3. The human being: Is there one universal being (New Age) or are there many individuals (Christian)?
The concept of “holism”— which is the theory that complete entities, including human beings, are components of a larger reality, that has an existence over and above the sum total of themselves — pervades New Age thought and practice, where union with the whole cosmos is sought. “The real danger is the holistic paradigm. New Age thinking is based on totalitarian unity and that is why it is a danger,” the councils write. The Christian approach is that each man and woman is a unique creation, made in God’s image and likeness. Our human “wholeness” does not come about by achieving union with the cosmos. “The human person is a mystery fully revealed only in Jesus Christ,” the councils explain, “and in fact becomes authentically human in his relationship with Christ through the gift of the Spirit.”
4. Do we save ourselves (New Age) or is salvation a free gift from God (Christian)?
The Pontifical councils put the question this way: “Do we save ourselves by our own actions, as is often the case in New Age explanations, or are we saved by God’s love?” The response: “For Christians, salvation depends on participation in the passion, death and resurrection of Christ, and on a direct personal relationship with God, rather than on any technique. The human situation, affected as it is by original sin and by personal sin, can be rectified only by God’s action: Sin is an offense against God, and only God can reconcile us to himself.”
5. Do we invent truth (New Age), or do we embrace it (Christian)?
“New Age truth is about good vibrations, cosmic correspondence, harmony and ecstacy, in general, pleasant experiences,” the councils’ document states. “It is a matter of finding one’s own truth in accordance with the feel-good factor.” Christians believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. “His followers are asked to open their whole lives to him and to his values. In other words, to an objective set of values which are part of an objective reality ultimately knowable to all,” the councils write.
Source: The Catholic Standard and Times, Archdiocese of Philadelphia