Excerpt for From New Age to Christianity by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


From
New Age
To
Christianity
by

Melissa Dougherty, Taz Bright, Doreen Virtue, and Daniel Ward,

Moderators of the “From New Age to Christianity Recovery”

private Facebook support group.

Copyright © 2018 by the From New Age to Christianity Recovery Facebook private group.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.


From New Age to Christianity / Melissa Dougherty, Taz Bright, Daniel Ward, and Doreen Virtue. – 1st edition


ISBN: 9781976891977


Introduction

This book is designed to help those who are called to follow Jesus. Perhaps you’ve previously been a Christian, and left the church because you were disenchanted or didn’t agree with something or someone. Or maybe this is your first time exploring Jesus’ teachings.

We made this book for those who are guided to leave New Age or New Thought beliefs and develop a closer relationship with Jesus. The real Jesus (there are some faux Jesus’s channeled in the new age).

The messages in this book are from the frequently asked questions we receive in our private Facebook group called “From New Age to Christianity Recovery.” (You’re welcome to contact us there too).

Sometimes, people don’t know where to start in their new journey. They’re confused. Lots of things in Christianity don’t make sense to them, and a lot of people at their church, or other Christians, have trouble relating to their spiritual past. Therefore, this booklet is also intended for Christians who are trying to understand an ex New Ager perspective on certain Christian teachings.
We’ve been there. We get that.
So we made this book as a list of Frequently Asked Questions. We know it’s not an exhaustive list of questions that an ex New Ager might have, but these were questions that we found were asked over and over again by those seeking to know how they can grow in their Christian walk. It’s to give you a start into searching for answers from the Bible from a perspective that hopefully you find easy to understand.
Its formatted in a Q and A format to make it easy to find and easy to read. You’ll read the author name of each section in parenthesis, too.

We pray that this book blesses you.


∞∞∞


New Age and Christianity Vocabulary Meanings


Q: I keep using words that I used in the New Age, and a lot of Christians don’t quite understand what I mean. Also, I’m having trouble defining my terms with Christianity vs New Age and New Thought. When a Christian or pastor says one thing, I think it means another. Any way to clear up the misconception?


A: (From Melissa) Energy. Universe. I AM. Ego. Alignment. God. Lower energy. Manifesting. Meditation. Visualize. Source.
Words that are and were so familiar to us in our New Thought/New Age thinking. But they have totally different meanings in the Christian world.

We will attempt to give a list of what these words mean in the New Age vs what they mean in Christianity. This is not an exhaustive definition of each word, but broad. It’s okay if you saw it a bit differently in the New Age/New Thought, but our intention is to give the basic separate definition for each word in each belief system.


Energy
In the new age/new thought, this means an invisible power or force that can change and effect things. Some of us used to think of this as a sort of 'magic.’ We use this word sometimes to size up what we're feeling in a room or with people. It's the all-encompassing power in the Universe (capital ‘U’) that allows us to control our surroundings and reality. Sometimes, people will mix this together with being the 'Holy Spirit.’ It’s a spiritual power that people can feel.


In Christianity, when someone says 'good vibes' or 'bad energy' etc., it's not the same thing. They're trying to convey a bad or good feeling of sorts. Also, scientifically speaking, it's the general energy our body gives us to move. In biblical Christianity, there is most definitely a spiritual realm, and thoughts and feelings play a part in how God works, but they're not the basis of truth. We have the Holy Spirit that lives in us that guides us. But He's in control. Not us. In Christianity, there is no ‘power’ to manipulate, manifest, or mold other than what God Himself uses. He’s the one in control.


Universe/Source/God
In the New Age, the words Universe and Source are buzz words for 'God.’ This view of God can be pantheistic - a fancy word for all is God, and God is all. All is One. All are united. It's an impersonal force, perhaps a form of conscious 'love' fueling the cosmos, and it grants us wishes, and guides us. This is where we receive our answers from.


In Christianity, these definitions are used quite literally. The universe (little ‘u’) is a creation of God. God does not equal the universe. God is personal. He has feelings and is our Creator. He's not our genie that grants wishes. He's not submissive to us. Christians can say that God is our ‘source’ (little ‘s’) of comfort, guidance, love etc., but it’s not in a sense that we’re tapping into an all knowing impersonal cosmos. When ‘source’ is used, it’s meant to convey the meaning that God is the provider of our needs. Opposed to the pantheistic view that teaches God is all, and in all, including us, the God of the Bible is separate from His creation. This means that creation is not equal to Him, but reflects Him and His nature. This, in essence, is one reason why creation is massive. It's almost one never ending discovery after another. I think it's perfectly fine to go out in nature and feel God. But if God was to be in all like the pantheistic god, then that would mean He'd be no better than His creation. He'd be equal to it.
That's not the God of the Bible. 
He's above all creation. 
One of my favorite verses in the Bible is in Revelation 5:13. It says:

"And I heard every creature in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying: "To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be praise and honor and glory and power forever and ever."

All creation worships God. He's not equal to His creation.

I AM
In the New Age and New Thought, this is a huge affirmation word. You say it, believe it, speak it into the Universe, and so it shall be. I AM is another name for God in the New Age. This is a word used to tap into our personal divinity, being able to tell the Universe what we need from it. I AM well. I AM rich. I AM complete etc… are all examples of what I used to say to make it so. Jesus was claiming His divinity when He said He was the I AM. We follow this example and can claim this divinity just like He did because He is the 'Way- Shower.’ 


I AM in Christianity is oh so different! This is Jesus' exclusive claim to be God, the one and only. In the Old Testament, God claimed
to be the I AM. Now some of you are like, What..? "I AM"? That's not even a name, much less proper grammar! But think of it this way... when Jesus said He was the I AM, He's saying there's nothing that I'm not.

You need a brother? I AM.
You need a Healer? I AM.
You need a Savior? I AM.
You need a Mother? Sister? Father? Comforter? Friend? 


I AM.


This is why He is the fullness of perfection and is all we need.


Manifesting/Visualize
These words are used a lot together in the New Age and New Thought. Whatever you think and feel, you manifest in your reality. The Law of Attraction is huge with these words. If you visualize it, send the energy out into the Universe, then it will mirror that and manifest in your world. (I could fit New Age meditating here, too.)


In Christianity, we can say we want to visualize something happening, but we are under the will of God. Growing up, I (Melissa) used to hear that visualizing was a form of 'prayer' to the Universe. In Christianity, whatever is 'manifested' isn't there necessarily because we attracted it to us, or visualized it. In fact, we played little part in it apart from prayer and obedience to God. It's God's will. He's the one who's ultimately in control if we've given Him our lives. Not us. This is a difficult concept for some New Agers to wrap their mind around because this means we give up our control, and place it in God’s hands, which means, for the Christian, that it’s His will over ours.


Meditation
New Age meditation is a meditative state where we are all about our energies, chakras, one with the Universe, visualizing etc. It's a mental state that is focused on finding inner peace and enlightenment of sorts. 


In Christianity, this word means something very different. Believe it or not, meditation isn't an unbiblical concept at all. It's what we're meditating on that makes the difference. Many scriptures point to meditating on God's word and God alone. An example of this is perhaps memorizing a scripture and focusing on God's will around a particular avenue we should go in life. Our focus is on God, and His will.

Mindfulness
In the New Age, mindfulness basically means sustaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. It also involves acceptance of thoughts and feelings without judging them. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment.

In Christianity, it’s not that this concept is frowned upon, but having its origin in Buddhism with a goal that doesn’t line up with Christianity. To the Christian, to be ‘mindful’ simply means to be aware of your thoughts and actions in a given environment. There is no agenda of obtaining ‘inner peace’ because to the Christian, true sustaining peace is found in only Jesus alone.

Lower Energy
In the New Age, this is another word for the negative forces that cause us to think wrong, or be in your ‘lower self.’

In Christianity, this equates to words that new agers sometimes have trouble using and recognizing: satan, demons, the enemy, the Accuser, and sin.

Ego
Mainly used in New Thought teachings, this metaphysical definition means the part of human beings that is considered spiritually immature and not ‘awake.’ When someone does something that causes damage or hurt, it’s looked at as part of the ‘ego,’ not of ‘God,’ which is the divine part of us all, and what we all want to tap into. The ego is negative thinking.

In Christianity, the definition has a more literal meaning. When we say someone has a big ego, or sometime similar, it’s not grounded in a metaphysical definition. It’s a person’s pride, which the Bible repeatedly warns against.

Christ
To the New Ager, ‘Christ’ usually refers to Christ Consciousness, or Enlightenment. In the New Ager’s mind, Christ is what Jesus achieved when He called Himself God and did the miracles He did. The New Ager believes that we are all part of Christ, and can ‘achieve’ this Christlike essence.

To the Christian, Christ means ‘Messiah.’ Literally, the Savior of the world. The word translated means ‘Anointed One,’ as the Jews were awaiting their Messiah, the One who would bring them salvation. To the Christian, ‘Christ’ is another name for Jesus, not a metaphysical mindset.

Anyone notice a theme of sorts, here? In the New Age/New Thought, it's all about us and our will. In Christianity, it's all about Him and His will.


Law of Attraction

Q: I’ve always wondered how the Law of Attraction fits into the Christian life. How does it compare to the Bible and the Christianity I see Jesus teaching about?

A: (Taz) The Law of Attraction is a mis-direction. In one book it is summarized this way: “. . . if you generally demonstrate a positive attitude and your actions follow, you'll get mostly positive results in return."

Did you see the misdirection in this statement?

Think of it this way. We all know that if we want to purchase our dream vehicle we need to work, save, budget, consider the final cost, plan, etc. That's common sense. The "Law of attraction" simply adds in the false idea that your positive attitude is what brings about the final goal: purchasing the dream vehicle. What we can never exclude from the equation is work. It's that effort, the day-to-day grind that eventually gets us to a point of being able to afford (not attract) that vehicle. If we could simply attract what we want, need, desire and deserve, I'd (Taz) be outside a BMW dealership right now, thinking positive thoughts and humming with the universe till my BMW SUV appeared next to me. Then I'd move down the street to the Chevy dealership and 'attract' my 2017 Camero (Millions of people would join me.)

The fact is, we cannot simply attract prosperity, wealth, health, etc. Furthermore, there is zero scientific proof that this concept is reliable. Even in their own literature, promoters of the law of attraction admit that you can’t just sit there and visualize prosperity - work is necessary. And if work is required it's therefore not about attraction, it's about putting forth effort and not being lazy. And that's biblical.

Proverbs 6:6-11 says:

“Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones.
Learn from their ways and become wise!
Though they have no prince
or governor or ruler to make them work,
they labor hard all summer,
gathering food for the winter.
But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep?
When will you wake up?
A little extra sleep, a little more slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—
then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit;
scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.”



Promoters of this so-called 'law' state that “ . . . if you generally demonstrate a positive attitude and your actions follow, you'll get mostly positive results in return.” This statement gives credit for success to our 'positive attitude' instead of where credit should be given: our good work ethic.

Let's consider another statement of the misnamed law: "You attract what you put out.” I can't help but raise my eyebrows at this one. Consider this: I work with many positive people on a daily basis. We are Christians, working to help improve the lives of our guests at a homeless shelter and transitional living facilities. There is one employee who is continually negative. He is always complaining, grumpy, frustrated at one thing or another, etc. According to the Law of Attraction he should be attracting negativity in droves. The people around him should be negative, and his life circumstances should be negative. There should be a cloud of horror over this individual's head 24/7. 

Guess what. There isn't! 

The people in our offices insist on being positive around this one co-worker. He is paid for his work, his children are all healthy, he has a running vehicle and wants for nothing. Does he have negatives in his life? Sure. But that trouble is nowhere near proportionate to the negativity he displays and harbors in his heart. According to the logic of the "law" two things should have occurred in this person's life. 
first, he should only be 'attracting' negative results and secondly, as a result, all the positives should have been repelled by his negative mindset. 

Also, if we 'attract what we put out,' please explain why high-rolling drug dealers live lavishly despite poisoning so many. How is it that Stalin and Hitler murdered and tortured millions yet lived like kings? Why didn't they attract negativity the second they killed someone? Why did they enjoy so much good while promoting such evil?

The Bible addressed this long ago:


Matthew 5:45b
“For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.”


This verse brings me to my second point of contention with the statement "You attract what you put out.” It gives the impression that it all begins with us and God is nowhere in the equation. This is so wrong and dangerous!

This universe (little ‘u’) doesn't bend to our will. It does not cater to our desires or bow to our commands. These days our society is all about anything that makes us feel we are the ultimate decider in the universe. Anything that makes us feel warm and fuzzy and unaccountable to the one and only God is acceptable. “Self-care” and comfort have become our gods.

Well, let’s remember that the universe began at God's command. It is sustained at His will and it will end at His decision. God is the Creator and the universe is his creation. God is not the same as the universe.

Matthew 45:5 is one example of God Himself reminding us that there’s not a single event that occurs without His say so. This includes your blessings and your trials! This idea also included Christians who believe praying to God is like having a genie in a bottle. It’s as if I say a particular prayer that really good things are going to happen to me. These kinds of messages emphasize that the words contained in the prayer are magical incantations that will yield very favorable results.
So, I looked into the Bible to see if this is true. I looked at different verses about prayer and the amazing results of prayer from Old Testament to Revelation. James 5:13-16 stood out to me because it summarized the one characteristic I found throughout the Bible.

James 5:13-16
“Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
Do you see it?
" ... the earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
This verse seems very cut-and-dry to me. It's not about the words that we utter. Righteousness is about the relationship we have with God that gives power to the prayer. I have a close enough relationship with my earthly father that I can ask to borrow a significant amount of money, I can call him up in the middle of the night, I can visit him without an appointment, I am allowed to text him to see how he's doing, etc. However, my next-door neighbor who hasn’t developed a relationship with God, does not have those privileges. No matter how well worded his/her plea to my father is, that request just does not hold as much weight as mine would. It’s the same with everyone, not just with me and my neighbor: we must talk with God regularly to have a relationship with Him.

The established relationship between God and I grants me access to what God has to offer. It's not the words I use that's powerful. It's that the relationship gives weight to my words. And this relationship is open to everyone!
On another note, one has to consider the teachings of the Law of Attraction compared to the Bible. Yes, I (Melissa) know… it seems the Law of Attraction is using certain Bible verses to actually reinforce that it’s real. Ask, Seek, Knock, living life abundantly, perfect love casting out fear, etc… and all of these have their place in scripture. But when we isolate them and use them for our own interpretations instead of what was intended by the writes, well… we can make it say whatever we want then.
The Law of Attraction, at its core, teaches that we are God in a physical body. That we are divine. That all power and wisdom dwells in us because we are love embodied, and are powerful beings. We practice these special ‘laws of attraction’ and we can make anything happen because of this inner divinity, this inner power.
It sounds good, doesn’t it?
It needs to be known that this was the first lie ever told to Eve in the garden. No matter what your view is of Genesis, whether it’s allegorical, literal, or somewhere in between, there is no escaping the fact that satan himself said- tricked- humans into thinking that they could be ‘like God’:

Genesis 3: 3-5: “but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'" The serpent said to the woman, “you surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

The
whole reason satan even fell from glory was because he thought he could be God:

Isaiah 14:14: “
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; 

I will make myself like the Most High.’


The Law of Attraction was popularized by a person who “channels” a collection of spirits. This spirit claims that he is a ‘collection of consciousness, of beings’ that claim to know they mysteries of the universe and channels these secrets and teachings. In hindsight, I can’t help but wonder about this being saying that he is a collection of spirits. It reminds me of when Jesus meets the man in the cemetery. He’s possessed with a demon that makes him crazy. When Jesus asks the demon what his name is he responds:
“Legion. For we are many.”
Yikes.
The Law of Attraction is nothing new. It’s the first lie told to mankind repackaged with a beautiful message and pretty bow on it.
We pray this brings understanding, peace and appreciation for getting truly closer to Christ.


∞∞∞





What About Church?

Q: What about church? I have had bad experiences with churches in the past. What does it mean to go to church, and how can I reconcile my problems that I have with going to church?


A: (Taz) Most people see church as a building. Four walls, an organ, perhaps, and some neatly dressed people singing hymns, and walking the halls smelling perfect and talking about Sunday brunch. Maybe it’s filled with people doing many ‘holy’ religious actions and know they’re right with God because they are in this building, doing things their church says they should do to be right with God. This idea can intimidate sensitive people who have social anxieties, and keep them from attending church.
Would you be surprised to know that this isn’t what the Bible teaches?
We don’t go to a church. We are the church.
The Bible teaches that the church is the body of believers in Jesus Christ. Body of believers? What does that mean, you ask? It basically means the collective group of people who call themselves followers of Jesus. That is the church. It’s alive and active.

Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”

Hebrews 10:25 says, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.


We don’t go to church just for our needs, but to also serve others. A dangerous trend slowly invading the church is when people say:

"I don't have to go to church to worship God"
"I don't have to go to church to be a Christian"
First, both statements are absolutely correct. Second, the correctness of these statements is in no way justification for neglecting what Christ has built for the benefit of His Church.

I've heard Christians make comments like,
"I can get something out of the Scriptures when I read the Bible with my brother in law on a Sunday camping trip.”
Or
"The Bible says 'where two are more are gathered, I am there,’ so I can gather with other Christians somewhere other than the Church building." (This verse has to do with correcting another believer and nothing to do with church attendance.)

Do you see the problem?
It's the word "I.”

Christians tend to concentrate on what they, as an individual, get from going to church, how they, as an individual, feel when they get something out of a sermon or how they felt while singing with the congregation. Therein lies the problem. Church isn't only about what the individual gets out of it, it's about what each individual gives to the body of Christ.

Hebrews 10:24-25 reminds us that Church is about motivating and Encouraging one another:


"Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near."

Think of it this way: If you've had a bad week, you need the meeting. If you've had a good week, the meeting needs you. Church is about community, not the selfish mindset of what "I" get out of it. Notice also the last part of verse 25, “ . . . especially now that the day of His return is drawing near.” In other words, attending Church with other believers is even more important now than ever before!
Let me (Taz) ask a couple questions. First, do you think that Christ founded the Church so you could go camping instead? And secondly, do you believe the apostles suffered, were jailed, were shipwrecked, were beaten, etc as a result of planting multiple churches so you could dismiss Hebrews 10:24-25?

We need to gather together inside the walls of Bible believing, Bible preaching, Bible teaching, churches so that we can worship together, pray with and for each other and "encourage one another.”

Let’s all stop making excuses and go to church!

∞∞∞


How Do I Find the Right Church?


Q: I’ve tried going to church before, and I got emotionally hurt by the judgmental and hypocritical people. And the church has even ignored child abuse!


A: (Doreen) It’s true that people in churches may behave in hypocritical, judgmental, holier-than-thou, or abusive ways. So why would you want to get up early on a Sunday morning to hang out with them? And yes there are verified reports of horrific abuse that are ignored by the church. So why would you invest your time and energy supporting them?


Let’s begin with clarifying that abuse is never condoned or justified. Period. It’s illegal and immoral.


Then, let’s focus on the issue of the people at church. Perhaps you imagine that they’ll all be like the old “Church Lady” character that Dana Carvey portrayed on the Saturday Night Live television show. All judgey, preachy, and dour. Yuck, who wants to hang out with her?


The truth is that churches are “hospitals for spiritually sick people.” People who are confused, seeking, and in need of God’s mercy, grace, and love. So yes, you will find hypocritical people in church. And some are “legalistic,” and they may come across as judgmental when comparing people to what it says in God’s Word.


Yet, going to church is a gathering of powerful prayers, praising God, worshiping through music, fellowship and sistership, opportunities to volunteer and give charitably, and a place where you can attend Bible Study classes.


Finding the right church for you will take some time, effort, and courage. You’ll need to “church shop,” which means attending different churches to find one that resonates with you. You want a church that will push you to grow spiritually, and one that is Bible based (meaning that the pastor recites scripture instead of speaking in generalities). You want a church that teaches that Jesus is Lord, speaks about salvation, and helps you to grow in your walk with Christ.


It’s normal to feel nervous the first time you attend a new church. You may even feel guilty that you haven’t been to church in awhile. You may worry about how to dress, act, and speak, and have concerns that you’re being judged as not belonging. All of these thoughts and feelings are normal! But don’t let them prevent you from attending church.


So, sit in the back of the church the first time you attend, if that makes you feel comfortable. Don’t worry about making small talk. Just go. And then keep going, and through the process you’ll eventually find a church that’s right for you.


Please keep in mind that no church is 100 percent humanly perfect. They’re all works in progress, just like people. So focus upon the blessings you receive in your church, pray for your church, and perhaps volunteer to bring about improvements.

∞∞∞





On Judgements


Q: Aren’t we supposed to accept everyone’s beliefs, and ‘coexist’? Doesn’t the Bible say not to judge?

A: Ah yes.
Judging.

(Cue the collective gasps!)

I (Melissa) want to point out something about Biblical judgment. I keep hearing 'not to judge,’ and as a New Ager this was one of my ten commandments- never judge! Cuz if you judge, judgment will come back to you, right? Judging is wrong! Right??

Folks... there's an entire book in the Bible called 'Judges.’ These people 'judged' for a living, and God was not only in favor of this arrangement, but blessed and chose it! He preferred this over a monarchy. In today’s modern world, we have judicial judges. It's a part of society. When Jesus was saying 'do not judge,’ He was not saying 'anything goes.'

I think there are a lot of people who see judging as 'wrong.’ I sure know I did! I used to think if I judged anyone for anything I was being narrow minded, and, well.... judgmental. I thought it was God's job to judge. (And it is in the end, but hear me out) Anything that didn't bring me joy or happiness I took out of my life. Only positive thoughts. So judgment naturally didn't come into my mind a lot. Whatever you believed and did was fine in my eyes, even to the point of people who were making destructive choices. That was 'ego.’ That was 'lower energy.' It had nothing to do with my subjective reality.

And though there is some truth in the above paragraph, the idea of 'never judging' actually isn't biblical.

And here's where you say: What!!

But Melissa?! How could you say such a thing?! How can this be?! Jesus said not to judge!

Yeah, yeah, I know, I know.... what am I thinking right? We're a bunch of ex New Agers and some reading this are still in the New Age where this kind of thinking simply isn't practiced. I know that I saw everything as being cotton candy and butterflies. Doreen saw Jesus as a cuddly teddy bear, God was my genie, and I was the embodiment of positive energy, love, and light and the universe was my metaphysical playground. If the song "Walking on Sunshine" was a person, it would have been me.

Judgment??

There was no room in my life for such 'negativity.'

But I'm not a New Ager anymore. And most reading this aren't either. We're Christians now. And would you be surprised that I actually see a different message on this when I read the Bible? This took me a long time to unlearn this. So I get if this might be hard to wrap your mind around. But there really is a good reason to know these things. So here goes!

First, yes Matthew 7 does say, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”

But people neglect to read the rest of it. Let's look at the biblical view of 'judging others' in its context:

Jesus says in Matthew 7:1-6:

"Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye."
Also in John 7:24, Jesus says:
“Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”

He's saying there’s a proper and improper way to judge. He's saying make sure you’re not guilty of what you're accusing someone else of. But he's not saying not to judge, ever, but that we need to check ourselves, our motives, and our hearts first.

Judging is not a sin. Improper judgment is."

When people read this verse, all they see is the 'do not judge' part. And taken in that isolated context, people take it to mean "you have no right to tell me what I believe is wrong." This does not mean we cannot show loving discernment. And it also doesn’t mean we can’t tell right from wrong. Immediately after Jesus says, “Do not judge,” He says, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs.” A little later in the same sermon, He says, “Watch out for false prophets…. By their fruit you will recognize them.”

So how are we to discern who are the “dogs” and “pigs” and “false prophets” unless we have the ability to make a judgment call on doctrines and deeds? Jesus is giving us permission to tell right from wrong.

Also, in Jesus' words about not judging others, He does not mean all actions are equally moral or that truth is relative. The Bible is adamant about truth being objective, eternal, and inseparable from God’s character.

So think of it this way: to call adultery or murder a sin is likewise to pass judgment but it’s also to agree with God. When Jesus said not to judge others, He did not mean that no one can identify sin for what it is, based on God’s definition of sin.

One scripture to point out here was one I mentioned above, John 7:24 about making a correct judgment. There is a right way to judge and a wrong way to judge.

Superficial judgment is wrong. According to John 7:24 and Proverbs 18:13, Passing judgment on someone based solely on appearances is sinful, and it's not wise to jump to conclusions before investigating the facts.

Hypocritical judgment is wrong. Jesus’ command not to judge others in Matthew 7 is preceded by comparisons to hypocrites in the previous chapters, and followed by a warning against hypocrisy later on in Matthew 7. When we point out the sin of others while we ourselves commit the same sin, we condemn ourselves. (Get the log out of out eye before we get the speck out of someone else. Then we can have proper judgment of them.)

Harsh, unforgiving judgment is wrong. In other words, don't be a jerk. There's no reason for anyone to be unloving in this. And this, I believe, is what a lot of people cling to when they see 'judgment.’ They see people being rude, harsh, and condemning. Jesus saved His harshest words not for the repentant sinners, but for the religious leaders of the day.
The most ironic thing, however, is people who demand that people shouldn’t judge are, on their own omission, judging. If you were to apply the same rule of measure to this idea, and apply the principle of ‘getting the log out of your eye’ to this belief, that would mean that you would never ever judge anyone for anything at any given time. No politicians, no criminals, no judging what someone thinks is right, or wrong.
I’m sure you might see the silliness in such a thing, right?
As Christians, our standard is what God thinks is right and wrong. Other than the above, Jesus actually commends correct judgment, especially with false teachers, and teachings that are in agreement with God, and ways to be made right with God. Look at the disciples. They preached the gospel to many people. I think of Paul, especially, who went into pagan nations who worshipped many gods. He preached the gospel to them in a clear but direct way. He had correct judgment to tell them that the way they were living didn't please God and that there was a better way.

In the end, yes, God is the true Judge. He makes the final judgment. (Ironically, that should worry some people. I know if it were up to me to judge, I'd let a lot more people off the hook that He would!) But here, on earth, He allows - and even blesses! - proper judgment to happen because that means that people will turn from their ways and choose to be made right with God.

∞∞∞






On “Prosperity Preaching”


Q: I’ve been watching a lot of preachers on television who I read are criticized as being “false teachers” and “prosperity preachers.” Any insights?

A: I know some may disagree about this, but due to the fact that this is a from New Age to Christianity book, and I (Melissa) was personally caught up with New Age/New Thought Christianity in particular, I see why people would ask about this topic all the time. Some may not agree with me, and that's totally okay. A lot of people won't. I hope we all can still respectfully disagree.

Before, I continue, remember what you just read about judging? Let’s apply that here. I have to get the ‘log’ out of my own eye and examine myself first before I can pass any sort of judgment on this.

That being said, I have checked my heart and made it clean of New Age and New Thought teachings, and took the speck out of my eye. According to Jesus, telling my thoughts about what I think of a pastor saying he’s a Christian teaching about Jesus is not only biblical, but okay with Jesus.

Okay. That being said, let’s get to it.

First, I'd like to point out that when I was in my New Age Christianity, I loved watching one particular pastor who preaches about prosperity. I loved his message of positivity and prosperity. There was truth in what he said, and he did teach me a lot about certain aspects of life (that I still apply today!)

So take my words as addressing his message compared to what I see in the Bible, and not attacking the person. I am giving my opinions based on personal experience and my reading of the Bible itself, the Book of the God he's claiming to follow.

After reading and studying the Bible, I now see it's a repackaged version of the law of attraction, among other New Thought teachings.

‘Name it and claim it,’ think positive, and you'll be okay. If we will follow certain principles or steps, our existence will be happy, healthy, and blessed with everything that would make this life wonderful. It's all about feeling good and thinking positive. You can believe in anything you want and believe this message. The essence and entire message of Christianity, though, isn't there. Paul's gospel wasn't this. The gospel that Jesus died for wasn't this. Plus, the Bible teaches that our best life definitely isn't now. It's in the next, with Jesus.

When I was in the New Age/New Thought, and I was feeling low energy, I'd watch a television show with a prosperity preacher, and feel better. But I wouldn't open my Bible. I would turn to the preacher for comforting messages of positivity. Sure, he would say how God wants to give me comfort and success. His reassurance that we can have it all and God wants that was what gave my comfort.

Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but being a preacher, the message is ironically not entirely biblical. When I was in the New Age/New Thought, I saw more divinity in myself than ever when I’d watch prosperity preacher shows. It solidified my beliefs that if I believed it I could achieve it.

This is how I felt that what I believed in was a Christian standpoint.

It's the prosperity gospel, what Christians call the 'Word of Faith' movement. The Word of Faith movement and the ‘name it and claim it’ message have more in common with new age metaphysics than with biblical Christianity. However, instead of us creating our reality with our thoughts, as new age teachers say, ‘name it and claim it’ teachers tell us the same thing, just in ‘Christianese’- that we can use the “power of faith” to create our own reality or get what we want. In essence, faith is redefined from “a trust in a holy and sovereign God despite our circumstances” to “a way of controlling God to give us what we want.”

It makes God my genie.

Faith becomes a force whereby we can get what we want rather than an abiding trust in God even during times of trials and suffering. Prosperity preachers say that the key to a more rewarding life, a better home, a stronger marriage, and a better job is found in a “simple yet profound process to change the way you think about your life and help you accomplish what is truly important.”

This takes away God's sovereignty. It's the law of attraction, in my eyes. There are many areas where ‘name it and claim it’ departs from biblical Christianity. The teaching really exalts man and his “faith” above God. The emphasis is maintaining a positive outlook on life, rather than a right relationship with God. The Christian life that Jesus teaches about isn't all butterflies and giggles. It's a sacrificial life. It's a life of service to others, not about getting what you want in this material world.

Rather than being a message of self-denial, the prosperity gospel is one of self-satisfaction. The Bible teaches that this world is temporary, and we shouldn't gather treasures here where they rust and fade away (Matthew 6:20). Our real treasure is in heaven.

I watched prosperity preachers for years and never heard the real message of salvation. I never saw myself as someone not right with God, in need of a Savior. I was my own savior through thinking and believing it.

I want to live like Jesus did. His message was filled with love and truth. I never knew why He died. It was never talked about in the prosperity sermons.

Prosperity preachers avoid anything 'negative' that other preachers focus on, but not even Jesus Himself did this. Jesus gave us truth, but spoke it with love. He wasn't imbalanced about His message just to make others feel good. Do you see how that might give a false 'teddy bear' version of Jesus? Then, as a result, a false gospel message?

I realize there are a number of people out there who are Christian that watch prosperity preachers, and I'm not here to tell you to stop, or even to say that they’re not Christians. But it’s important for us to see any teachers’ teachings compared to the Bible, and have that information up front so that we can make an educated decision.

∞∞∞





About the Bible


Q: When I was in the New Age, I never really read my Bible because I believed that there were books missing, and information out there that wasn’t included in the Bible. How do I know I can even trust the Bible?

A. Whew! Huge question.
We could write a book on just this question alone, but for the sake of simplicity and hopefully igniting a snowball effect of research in our readers, we’ll address this in the simplest and most concise way we can. We’d like to add that there are fantastic resources out there to look further into this. We’ve also mentioned some highly recommended suggested reading at the end of this book. We’ll try to make it as simple and relatable as we can, but know this is not an exhaustive explanation.
I (Melissa) want to start off by saying this was the single biggest reason I never studied my Bible and fell into new thought/new age beliefs. I didn't trust the Bible. (If I had, I would have clearly seen the warnings against such things, and would have known in a hot second what was taken out of context and misused for New Thought/New Age agendas.)

I want to point out that I was a born again Christian at this time. I still 100% believe this. I was just very ‘biblically illiterate’ and had questions that nobody could answer at the time. I'm quite a skeptic and am what I call a 'Thomasita’ (the female version of a Doubting Thomas). I have a heart for research and apologetics (a fancy word for knowing what you believe as a Christian and why you believe it.) Faith doesn't come easily for me.

My point is that it's okay to have questions and doubts. God can handle that. It's our unbelief that makes it a deal breaker. We believe the Bible truly is God's Word and should be trusted and read by all of us so that we can know who He is. That's the key. A lot of us have questions and those answers are sitting on a shelf ten feet away collecting dust. (Or patiently waiting a click or two away on Amazon.) But we don't dare pick it up, or purchase, because we believe "it's full of mistakes!” Didn't the Catholic Church give us our Bibles? How do we know the right books were chosen?! How do we know it hasn't been tampered with? It's incomplete!" etc...

We understand that this is a super big question, and it requires a lot of research, so we are attempting to lay a foundation to help you see that the Bible is not only reliable, but is complete and should be read and studied. We highly recommend reading and studying up on this topic through independent study. We believe it's crucial to your Christian walk to read and study your Bible. It's the number one way God speaks to us today, and is our foundation of truth. Spiritually speaking, it's the Sword of truth spoken of in Ephesians 6:17.

So!

Let's get to it.

So what is the Bible anyways? It's an inspired book, but also a history book. It's 66 books with 40 different authors that somehow flow together in one story. It's divided into two main sections, the Old Testament and New Testament. Literally, this means the 'Old Covenant' and the 'New Covenant.'
So how did it all come to be?

I want to start out by pointing out that the Bible is unique in the sense that it's a historical book, as well as a holy one. This means that we can put it under a lens of a historical document. We can critique it as such. This makes it very different than other 'holy books' because they're usually written by one person claiming an angel told them etc. The Bible, especially the gospels, differ because we can historically view them. Archeologists and historians have corroborated the biblical stories with their findings of documents, statues, ancient ruins, etc.
This is great news! Because we not only can critique it in this way, but it's very difficult for history to contradict it. I first accepted it as a history book before I could really see it as God's Word, but that was just my process. I had to see how it checked out compared to other 'holy books' and ancient documents. So in this light, we have to consider it against other historical documents of their time. So check this out... Why don't we look at some of the historical writings that were around that time and compare them to the Bible, primarily the New Testament?
Let's take Homer's Iliad first, for example. It was written 900 years before Jesus was born. The earliest known copy of this story?? Was found in 400 B.C. That means there is a 500 year gap between when it was written to when we have a copy of it! And how many copies do we have of that historical document?
About 643.

Let's take another. The writings of Aristotle. He wrote in 384-322 BC. Guess when the earliest copy was??
1100 AD!
So from when it was written, 1400 years passed between from when the original was written to the next copy we have. How many copies of his writings do we have?
About 49.

Let's do one more just to drive it home. Let's take Plato, another famous philosopher. He wrote in 427-347 BC. The next available copy of his work is in 900 AD, a 1200 year span, and we have about seven (... seven!! ) copies of his work.

Now think about this... do we question these writings? Do we wonder if they've been 'tampered with'? I mean... there's been hundreds of years between each one and plenty of opportunity to change each one. But no. Nobody bats an eyelash at them. But the Bible?? Well, let's see how it compares to these other historical writings:

The New Testament was written between 50-100 AD. The earliest copy was in 125 AD. That means there is only 25 years between when the original was written to a copy! And guess how many copies we have? Over 24,000!!

24,000!!

Compare that to the above ancient documents of the time. Do you realize what this means? This means that it'd be extremely simple to tell if it had been tampered with! Compare 24,000 to the small amount given by those other historical documents, and as far as historians are concerned, it's extremely easy to tell if there are mistakes in the Bible. What would happen is this:

Say, for example, Paul writes his letter to the Corinthians. He'd send it to them. Well guess what? There was no printing press back then, so they had to hand-make copies for everyone. So they would, then they'd send these copies to other churches, then that church would make copies, and the process would repeat, so on and so forth. So other than spelling and age errors, and certain words changing like 'Messiah' to 'Christ,’ for example, there were virtually no errors that change the meaning of the text at all! Even skeptics acknowledge this.

So how did they know if one had been tampered with? Simple. If one hundred say one thing, and one disagrees with it, then you can conclude that it's a 'bad apple' and it's thrown out. The copies of the originals stayed intact this way. So if we find a copy of, for example, part of John from, say, 200 years after Jesus died, and then another 500 years after Jesus died, they will match based on this ideology. Basically, after Jesus rose again and ascended to heaven, the church began, and started to spread the message. You had the apostles and Paul that were doing this, as well as the converts they made. Well what happened was Paul wrote letters to the churches (he penned most of the New Testament) and then you had letters to the apostles, to and from one another, and the eyewitness testimonies, which make up the gospels.
The writings were everywhere. And they spread quickly.

It was like a spiritual virus.

So there were literally thousands of copies of these letters being traded in the old world. All of them were the New Testament we know and love today. Nobody questioned these as authentic at all since they were undoubtedly written by one of the apostles. It simply was just never an issue. And finding a spelling error or two was the closest to ‘mistake’ that was found. The amazing thing was that if someone were to, say, ‘tamper’ with these, or try to change it, that would meant they would have to collect thousands of copies around the known world at the time, and change them all to successfully change a doctrine or teaching. Again, this means that if there was any ‘tampering’ done, it would be compared against the mass collection available, and the culprit would immediately be thrown out. For hundreds of years, the churches in the old world kept these copies in their churches, and once a week they'd get together (like church today) and do a teaching from the Old testament, or would use one of these letters from Jesus' apostles for content.

Historically speaking? It's one of the most- if not the most- impressive and reliable historical documents in existence.
But what about the other questions? Like how did we 'choose' books of the Bible? So. Let’s start with the supposed "missing" books of the Bible. I’d like to start by saying that these books were never 'taken out' of the Bible.
So what happened? What do the biblical scholars say? How did we get our Bible? What's the story? What do the biblical historians say?

I'm going to break it down as simply as I can with how we got our New Testament. The Old Testament was already, and still is, pretty indisputable. So here's the scoop on the new:

Almost everyone in the Christian world held copies of the letters that we now know as the New Testament. As we discussed above, nobody really questioned them. Then something happened in about 300 A.D: People started teaching heretical beliefs- and- they started writing their own gospel accounts of Jesus' life.

Some of these documents written hundreds of years after Jesus’ ascension claimed to be the gospel of Thomas, Mary, Mary Magdelene, and so forth. Some sects such as the Gnostics, were teaching people to worship angels, which is forbidden in the Bible (Revelation 22:9). Other so-called “lost works” found in the Dead Sea community of Qumran taught counter to the Bible about being saved by works instead of God’s grace. This started to creep into the church.

Something had to be done.

This is when the books of the Bible (which we already discussed were already very acknowledged among the churches) was officially put together as the New Testament. The entire reason for this was because of the false beliefs and false gospels circulating out there. As a response to the heretical beliefs and false gospels (hundreds of them) they had to preserve the authentic materials.

So these other 'missing' books are most definitely not 'missing' at all. They were never a part of it in the first place! The books that we have in our New Testament were written by direct eyewitnesses and apostles (such as Luke, the physician who interviewed eyewitnesses before writing the books of Luke and Acts), within their lifetime. These other books were written hundreds of years after Jesus, and people wrote as they wished.

They would write a supposed ‘gospel’ and to make it popular, they would put an apostles name on it, or someone who had a big name in the early church. These books contradict the rest of scripture, and are easily disputed when we see how long ago they were written after the apostles lived. Basically, the New Testament was already decided hundreds of years before these books were written, but had to be made official to combat false teachings.
There are so many conspiracy theories about these so-called ‘missing books’ of the Bible, that I (Melissa) fell for too, at one point. Which is why I never read it! But had I actually looked at the study of textual criticism- a fancy word for the study of the historical reliability and documentation of the Bible- then I would have known immediately that none of that was true.
Something else to keep in mind when addressing this and any other question relating to this, is one very important factor: God's nature, as in, His attributes and sovereignty. Meaning that He’s in control of His Word. We tend to think, "Well these other books also have great information history, etc, and how does mere man get to decide what books should or shouldn't be in The Bible?" The problem with this question is it takes God's nature out of the equation.
God intended for His Word to accomplish what He has decided it would, and would be complete and in the form He intended. He said His Word would never pass away:

Mark 13:31:
Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.


2 Timothy 3:26-17

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be.




When we remember that God cannot be defeated, His plans cannot be overcome or undone, and He can, and has, protected His Word then we don't have to wonder if it's complete. We can have faith in His eternal, all-powerful, unyielding, unmovable power to present to us, the Word He has inspired. For example, ancient scrolls, way older than 500AD have been unearthed. (This is both old and New Testament.) The text remains unchanged after more than 2500 years. What this tells me (Taz) is God is fully capable of preserving His Word and providing us evidence of this fact.
We also have to remember that Jesus referenced the Old Testament many times. This should give us assurance that the Old Testament really is God's Word. The many books that weren't included in the Bible were never referred to by Jesus (who frequently quoted from Old Testament books). I see that as a massively important detail. So there are several valid reasons for those books not being included in our Bible. There was a whole process when putting the New Testament together. The Old Testament was pretty irrefutable. Pretty much nobody challenged it. But for the New Testament, there was a certain criteria for putting it together.

First, was the author an apostle or have a close connection with an apostle?

Second, is the book being accepted by the body of Christ at large?

Third, did the book contain consistency of doctrine and orthodox teaching?

Fourth, did the book bear evidence of high moral and spiritual values that would reflect a work of the Holy Spirit?

Again, it is crucial to remember that the church did not determine the canon. No early church council decided on the canon. God already decided what was going to be in the canon, and He made that known by the sheer popularity and common sense of the writings.


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