What do Candlemas and Groundhog Day have in common? Light and today’s date, February 2, 2018.
Candlemas, also called the Feast of the Presentation, is the day Jesus, the light of the world, was presented in the temple.
Groundhog day is based on light too, (actually light and dark) whether there are sunny or cloudy skies with a corresponding prediction of six more weeks of winter or if we’ll have an early spring. BTW, it’s supposed to be 6 more weeks of winter this year.
The juxtaposition of those two “holidays” of light is interesting. One is secular, mythical and whimsical, while the other is religious, joyful and solemn.
John 8:12 – Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
I’ve been pondering another juxtaposition in regards to light and enlightenment, the New Age movement and Christianity.
How is Christianity different from the New Age movement? Let’s look at the ideology of each …
New Agers believe all is one (monism), as though all were equal. Christians believe in a oneness that comes from a unity in faith, there is a Creator and there is creation, God the Creator is not the same as His creation. (Eph 4:4-6 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.).
New Agers believe we are our own god. Christians believe in a hierarchy where God is all-powerful and shares His power with us (Ps. 82:6 “I said, you are ‘gods’; all you sons of the Most High” and Jn 10:34 “Is it not written in your scripture, I said, you are gods?”).
Christians believe their power as ‘gods’ (little ‘g’) comes from God (big ‘G’) and their ability to be one comes from God. New Agers may claim they believe in ‘god’, but they believe in ‘god’ as a universal power (pantheism) rather than as a person. Christians believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a trinity of three actual uncreated persons in one Godhood.
It seems pretty much the same on the surface doesn’t it? But there’s a twist in it that makes a BIG difference. The difference is that christianity looks to a power outside of the created world, to The Creator, whereas New Agers look within the created world for power.
New Agers look at creation (nature, trees, animals, people, angels) as the source of god, rather than the God of creation (Ex 20:3 “You must not have any other god but me”).
The Yin Yang symbol shows an equality between opposing and/or complimentary forces, light and dark, masculine and feminine. This worldview is embraced by New Agers and is actually a truth seen in creation. But this worldview falls short in not recognizing that God, the Creator, is NOT a duality of forces, He IS light (darkness is the absence of that light), He IS good (evil is the absence of good, the absence of God). We don’t ‘judge’ New Agers, but turn to St. Paul when he evaluates and instructs in Acts 17:22-23 “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.”
New Agers believe in angels, spirits, and guides but they don’t ‘test’ the spirits. Christians also believe in angels, spirits, and guides but pray for discernment and protection from evil spirits (2 Corinthians 11:14 “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”).
New Agers believe in reincarnation and karma, whereas Christians believe you and others have only one life to live and thus there is a need to be caring towards the less fortunate and to live a good life every day (Heb 9:27 “man is appointed to die once, and after that to face judgment”).
New Agers believe in transcendence through self-actualization, Christians believe in bettering yourself daily but that transcendence happens when we die, go to heaven and become united with God.
New Agers engage in different forms of magic, astrology, predicting the future, and channeling the dead (sometimes this may be through real energy practices i.e. the ‘magic’ of alchemy is now modern chemistry, but if it’s outside of nature and it’s not from God, then there is a real power and it comes from evil spirits). Christians take a more rational approach, stepping carefully into new scientific advances, trusting the future to God and avoiding displeasing Him (or seeking otherworldly power) when He tells us not to do certain things (Dt 18:10-14 “There shall not be found among you anyone who immolates his son or daughter, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer”).
Christians and New Agers may appear similar at first glance, like two ‘holidays’ of light, but underneath they lead to very different paths, one whimsical the other solemn.
Luke 2:30-32 “For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all people, light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to Your people Israel.”