New Ageism and the Bible
(specifically 'Share International')
Are you happy with your life? Or are you searching for something more? Are you confused by the vast number of religious factions and faiths, or simply turned away from spirituality by the contradictions and conflict in the realms of faith? Well don't worry! Because the answer to all your problems is on its way! In fact, he's here already and living in London...
So say Share International (SI), an organisation founded in the 1970s by a Scottish scholar named Benjamin Creme. The inhabitants of Glasgow recently had the chance to attend a meeting lead by his local disciples proclaiming the glorious New Age that they claim is coming. A few of us here at glasgowkelvin.org.uk decided to go along to see what we could see. Why? Because we're Bible students and we had questions to which we wanted answers.
1 John 4:1 Our faith is not a blind one - we know why we believe what we believe, and we wanted to know if Benjamin Creme's disciples could say the same.
A little background...
According to SI, a spirit-being named Maitreya is coming (in the form of a man, currently living in London) to teach the world the value of sharing and living peacably as brothers and sisters working toward personal enlightenment or 'Self-realisation' in order to achieve a state akin to nirvana and to "become the Gods that you are" (Message #106). In fact, SI have nothing new to say that hasn't already been said by the ironically-so-called followers of New Ageism (which is itself a re-working of ancient Eastern philosophies like Hinduism and Buddhism). Creme himself was and is a student of Helena P Blavatsky (the 19th century initiator of New Ageism in its current form) and Alice Bailey (an early-20th century philosopher), whose authority is not acknowledged by certain New Age factions.
Hardcore New Ageism proclaims the existence of an order of highly advanced humans from a previous age of the earth, known as The Masters of the Ageless Wisdom. It is claimed that they have been guiding the evolution of humanity toward the enlightenment that they have already attained from places as diverse as the Himalayas, the Rockies and the Gobi Desert. SI presents a watered-down version of these teachings on its website, glossing over much of New Age thought and focussing primarily on the 'Master of Masters', Maitreya.
They claim that he is the synthesis of all the Messiah figures in all the religions of the world, but, "Preferring to be known simply as the Teacher, Maitreya has not come as a religious leader" (Introduction, 2/10), or "to build a new religion around himself" (Introduction, 3/10). If you do a Google site-search within share-international.org, however, you'll see how many times the phrase 'world religion' or even 'New World Religion' occurs. In the writings of Alice Bailey, the ominous phrase used is 'New World Order'.
Is there not a contradiction here? Mr Creme attempts to answer this question by redefining what he, Alice Bailey and HP Blavatsky mean by 'religion'. It is a purely semantic study in confusion. To wit: SI states that major figures in world religion (Jesus, Buddha and Krishna are specifically singled out) were 'overshadowed' by Maitreya.
Their teachings were clearly religious in nature. Not only that, but it is clear that the teachings of Jesus directly contradict those of SI, despite their claim that he is a Master in the New Age hierarchy of Masters. Perhaps we have misinterpreted his teachings? Well, let's have a look. First, we will take note of words from the writings of Peter:
"We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." (2 Peter 1:19-21)
Scripture is not open to personal interpretation. All of Scripture has specific meaning - personal opinions and bias have no place. That means that the only way to understand it is to compare every piece of Scripture with another, to take everything in the wider context of the Bible - there is no other way to understand it.
This means that Mr Creme's commentary on the teachings of Jesus is worthless unless it is borne out by all of Scripture. It would have been a little careless, would it not, for 'the Master Jesus' (as SI and other New Agers call him) to allow his teachings from Maitreya to be co-opted by an offshoot of Judaism and then bundled together with the Jewish scripture (as Maitreya seems to have had nothing to do with Moses)?
Out of all the peoples of the world, the Jews are most guilty of the 'crime of separation' - why would the Maitreya allow his teachings to be so corrupted? As it is, we need not even look outside the words of Jesus himself to establish that his message was in direct conflict with that of Maitreya. Perhaps he was misspeaking when he said:
"Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews." (John 4:22)
Jesus himself was guilty of the crime of separation! Not only that, but he speaks of worshipping God, the Father of all. Is this not the opposite to the principle of 'self-realisation'?
And what is the "gospel of the kingdom of God" that he preached everywhere?
"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." (Mark 1:14,15)
Repent from what? According to New Age philosophy there is no 'evil' but that of being separate from the rest of humanity. And as for the doctrine of reincarnation taught by New Age thought:
"For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." (John 5:26-29)
Surely this isn't possible? According to reincarnation, when someone dies their essence returns to a 'pool' of essences ready to be given physical form again. And while we're in John 5, what's all this about judgement? That doesn't fit into SI's philosophy. Nor does the reason for judgement, the establishment of this "kingdom of God". That phrase occurs 54 times in the gospels; the phrase "kingdom of heaven", 32 times. Jesus says of this kingdom that "the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory" (Matthew 25:31). So Jesus turns out to be a bit of a renegade as far as Maitreya goes. Perhaps Maitreya was tired or sleeping...
Miracles and myths
But, say SI, what of the great signs and wonders that have been taking place? First, let's take a leaf out of Jesus's book: "If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true." (John 5:31 - this chapter turns out to be quite a problem for Mr Creme's followers.) Jesus goes on to say that the works of God which he performs bear witness of him.
On the SI site there are records of many seemingly amazing events: weeping statues, patterns of light and so on. These are all claimed as the works of Maitreya. But he is not present to perform these works. He does not predicate their occurrence ("Oh yes, that weeping statue: that was me!"). We have no proof of his involvement or even of their validity.
At the meeting we attended, there was talk of great circles of light in Glasgow, on the sides of buildings, which (I quote), "Only seem to appear when the sun is very bright [sic] and low down in the sky [sic]". One gentleman who claimed to have photographed them had carelessly left his pictures at home.
So what have we then? SI is bearing witness of itself - we have only their word. The miracles of Jesus took place in his presence, and were witnessed by so many people that even the Jewish historian Jospehus records the reports of them. Have they no other proof of their claims? Well, yes. Actually, they claim that Maitreya made several prophecies through Benjamin Creme in the 1980s, including the resignation of Margaret Thatcher, the rise to power of Nelson Mandela, the fall of the Soviet Union, and others.
None of these are quoted on the SI site, neither is there a reference point for us, say, in a book published before the events took place. Again, we have only their word. The prophecies that have not yet been fulfilled include that of a worldwide financial collapse that will signal the return to public view of Maitreya, who will declare himself by a worldwide television broadcast. Mr Creme has been claiming that this time will be "very shortly" for over twenty years. He predicted that it was imminent in the early eighties, running full-page adverts in the world's major newspapers. It did not occur.
Practical advice now, from Moses:
"The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; According to all that thou desiredst of the LORD thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him. But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him." (Deuteronomy 18:15-22)
That makes sense. If one who claims to be a prophet and his words don't come to pass, then he is no prophet. This is also regarded by Christians and Jews alike as a prophecy of the Messiah. How appropriate that it should be quoted here!
Now, perhaps you'd like to see some Biblical prophecies that were fulfilled?
The Reliability of the Bible
All these prophecies, and many more, are recorded for all to see. No doubt, no ambiguity, no imprecise wording. Just simple, straightforward and entirely accurate predictions. Where is the proof of the predictions of Maitreya? Or, should I say, of Mr Benjamin Creme? What evidence is there that Maitreya is responsible for any of the 'miracles' that SI claim for him?
None was offered at the meeting we attended in Hillhead Library, Glasgow on Thursday 10 June, 2004. Also not offered: the answers we went to find.
The session was terminated here. The meeting began at 7.15pm. The time at this point was only 8.40pm.
So what do you think now? Have you any other questions? Me too. For example, we never got around exactly how they define 'God', a word they used regularly, seemingly of an actual entity. According to SI and New Ageism, 'God' is an energy which moves us all to perfection, not an actual entity. The inhabitants of 'Shamballa' (a higher plane of existence) are all (including the highest of the Masters) perfected humans from a previous age. Were they confused? Their teachings were certainly the opposite of the teachings of Yahweh, the God of Israel proclaimed in the Old and New Testaments by prophets, kings and priests from Enoch to Abraham, from Moses to Jesus himself, and by all those in between. The 'god' of SI and the New Age is the life-force of the nature, the energy that holds the universe together; and ultimately the self.
In the video interview Benjamin Creme recalled the dates surrounding events in him becoming open to receive telepathic messages from "the Masters". He stated that that one of the key dates involved in this process was in 1959 on "January the 18th, a Tuesday.". Surely, if this was such a life changing event as claimed, you'd remember that the 18th of January 1959 was a Sunday?
We asked the leader of the question-and-answer session why he believed what he did. He told us that he had already been looking into reincarnation and New Ageism when he heard a lecture by Benjamin Creme. He described an emotional impression and said, "It felt right for me at the time." So, if it feels right to you (i.e. it tells you something that you'd quite like to believe), if you'd like to replace true belief and belief in truth with something vaguely spiritual, then the SI website will give you all the information you need to sign up to the New Age. But we won't be joining you.
"For we have not followed cunningly devised fables..." (2 Peter 1:16)
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