Central to a lot of New Age beliefs is the practice of "channeling". This is not a new practice, however, but rather, spiritualism with a modern title. In this practice the person involved in the channelling allows themselves to be taken over by entities which claim to be spirits of the dead, angels, deceased gurus or wise men, or even an alien beings.
It is interesting to observe the consistent pattern that emerges in channeling from spirits, the deceased, and alien entities. Most messages speak of the following themes: reincarnation, and the teaching that humans are god's. Jesus is usually seen a just a wise teacher who was one of many, and the Bible is usually regarded as untrustworthy.
If you want to know what these beings look like, you will find that they have very kindly allowed, not only their messages to be channeled, but also their images as well. This is seen in the many channeled images and paintings created by those who have allowed themselves to be open to spirit entities. Such images are commonly seen at New Age Fairs.
Many channeled writings also exist. Probably one of the most popular today is A Course in Miracles. This book professes to be written from the dictation of an inaudible voice which was eventually claimed to be that of Jesus. Although the book, like many other religious books claiming some sort of inspired authority, like the Book of Mormon or the Divine Principle, has a Christian ring to it, its content actually conflicts with biblical Christian beliefs. For example, the Course declares the New Age pluralistic belief that all religions lead to God:
"Although Christian in statement, the Course deals with universal spiritual themes. It emphasises that it is but one version of the universal curriculum. There are many others, this one differing from them only in form. They all lead to God in the end." (A Course in Miracles, Viking, New York, 1996, Preface, ix).However, the Bible is emphatic in its declaration that there is only one way to God, and that is through Jesus Christ (e.g. John 14:6).
It is striking to observe the parallels between New Age channeling and the demon possession cases in the New Testament. For example, New Age believer and promoter, Shirley Maclaine, recalls the fist time that she met her spirit guide, "Ramtha" who is channeled through J.Z. Knight:
"When she went into a trance and Ramtha came through, everything about J.Z. changed. The soul energy of Ramtha was in her. J.Z. is about five feet four inches tall and not particularly strong. When Ramtha came through, he picked me up in his arms and carried me around the room, nearly lifting me over his head. I could feel his masculine energy through her arms. I am a heavy, muscled woman weighing usually between one hundred thirty and one hundred forty pounds. Using his energy to strengthen J.Z.'s arms, he had no problem with my weight. (Sometime later I watched him lift a two-hundred pound man.)" (Shirley MacLaine, Dancing in the Light, Mantam Press, New York, 1986, pp. 125-126).
This modern day account of supernatural strength is strickingly similar to what is recorded in the Bible when it speaks of those who were possessed by evil spirits. Mark 5 records an incident where Jesus and His disciples meet a demon possessed man in the area of the Gerasenes:
"They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet Him. This man lived in the tombs, and no-one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No-one was strong enough to subdue him." (Mark 5:1-4).
A similar account of demonic supernatural strength is also found in the book of Acts where it is recorded that one man possessed by an evil spirit was so strong that he was able to overpower seven, very unsuccessful, Jewish exorcists:
"Some of the Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon possessed. They would say, "In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out." Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding." (Acts 19:13-16)
Another area of concern regarding channeling is that many New Age believers are quick to accept almost any message that is given. Every message, no matter how bizarre, or off the wall, is simply accepted as truth. It also seems that no concern is given regarding the actual 'source' of the message. For many, it just seems enough that the entity speaking through their chosen human vessels are actually giving messages. These entities may claim to be either wise spirit guides, departed ascended masters, or alien entities, but it is rarely ever questioned as to whether they actually are or not. The bottom line is therefore, that those who pursue this practice are open to the very real possibility of falling prey to terrible deception. Along these lines, Journalist, Joe Fisher, author of Siren Call of Hungry Ghosts (Click here for book review) spent five years of his life attending channelling sessions and speaking with spirit entities which claimed to be people who had lived prior existences. His research led him to believe that these spirits did indeed exist but that they hid their true identities with lies and deception. The more he realised this, he discovered that other researchers had also reached this same conclusion. For example, psychic investigator, Sir William Crookes (1832-1919), who attended seances for several years, concluded:
"...I am satisfied that there exist invisible intelligent beings who profess to be spirits of deceased people." (Joe Fisher, Siren Call of Hungry Ghosts, p. 264, emphasis in original)
Likewise, Fisher also notes how Andrew Jackson Davis wrote in the book Spirit Mysteries, in 1869:
"It is no difficult thing for certain spirits to impersonate others, to talk and dress up their thoughts like others, which they will do if such resemblance adds anything important to their communications." (Joe Fisher, Siren Call of Hungry Ghosts, p. 265)
Douglas Groothius has observed that even some prominent spiritualists themselves have recognised the potential of being deceived by channeled spirits:
"Emanuel Swedenborg, the famous seer of the eighteenth century, was well acquainted with the spirit world, having experienced detailed visions recorded later in book form. Nevertheless, he cautioned those courting the spirits: "When spirits begin to speak with a man, he ought to beware that he believes nothing whatever from them; for they say almost anything. Things are fabricated by them, and they lie... they would tell so many lies and indeed with solemn affirmation that a man would be astonished...if a man listens and believes they press on, and deceive, and seduce." (Samuel M. Warren, A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emmanuel Swedenborg (New York: Swedenborg Foundation, 1977, p. 618. As quoted in Douglas Groothuis, Revealing the New Age Jesus, Leicester: IVP, 1990, p. 210.)
Along similar lines the Bible tells us that the ruler of dark spiritual world, Satan, is the author of lies. Jesus said of this spirit: "He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." (John 8:44)
With the above evidence in mind, those in the New Age need to seriously re-evaluate the practice of channeling and ask themselves exactly who or what it is that is trying to communicate with them. The Bible warns of the very real danger of seductive spirits that will come to deceive people and draw them away from God and into bondage.
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