CHAPTER 1 - INTRODUCTION
Nature of the Problem
We live in a day that is rife with change. We have seen the social climate change rapidly from disdain for anything spiritual to an acceptance of everything spiritual, from a time, just a few years ago, when faith in God was reasoned to be ridiculous to a place where our faith is seen as merely a variation to that of the Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist. A decade ago, the modernists would have argued, “Christianity is not true. [But] one hardly hears this objection any more. Today the most common critique is that ‘Christians think they have the only truth’” (Veith, 1994, p. 19). The evidence for the tremendous shift in thinking that has taken place within our culture is clear, but a greater concern is that the church has not been immune to this significant philosophical shift. In order to get a better grasp of the significance of the problem to be addressed by this study, it is necessary to be reminded of the present day world in which we live, the forces at work within it, and the response of Christians to these modern pressures. Getting a sense of the climate wherein we find ourselves will provide the setting within which our problem will become more evident; although the climate is not essential to the problem, it serves to exacerbate and accentuate the problem.
Our western culture has seen the peaceful coexistence of numerous faiths, ideologies, and philosophies under a commonly approved umbrella of guiding principles that have been entrenched in, and supported by, the laws of our land – we have become comfortable living in a pluralistic society. Under this pluralistic, tolerant social order we have argued that “if we allow one, we have to allow all; therefore allow all” (Horner, 1995, p. 6). Within this social context, we have learned to exercise a tolerance that has permitted differences in belief systems and lifestyles to live side-by-side in an atmosphere of peace. “Legal toleration commits us always to protect people’s political rights to follow any religion or no religion at all; and social toleration advocates charity toward people who think and believe differently from the way we do …” (Clendenin, 1998). Tolerance has taught us to respect the beliefs and practices of others without necessarily sharing them; in other words, it “consists in being willing to allow something to exist even if you judge it to be wrong” (Wolfe, 1998, p. 31).
However, in recent years, there has been a move away from any clear conviction of right and wrong, and we have experienced a not-so-subtle “switch from absolute values to relative values” (Anderson, 1990, p. 32). Within the context of our religious and philosophical pluralism existed a commonly understood and protected absolute, that proverbial line in the sand defined by our laws. In our efforts to express the value of the individual, we have succumbed to the ultimate error: truth is what everyone thinks it is, and, consequently, the line in the sand is being challenged and threatened. Into our pluralistic social form, the opiate of relativism is being injected. Within the paradigm of relativism, objective truth has no place; and, consequently, truth loses its traditional meaning to become simply a subjective intangible. Taken to its logical end, this would lead to barbaric anarchy, for “in the absence of truth, power is the only game in town” (Horner, 1995, p. 6).
Recent years give indication that within this environment (pluralism mixed with a growing element of relativism), legal and social toleration are no longer sufficient. The relativist thinker champions intellectual toleration, a “belief that we should accept whatever another person sincerely believes as ‘true for them’” (Clandenin, 1998, emphasis added). Traditional tolerance (now referred to as negative tolerance) meant to recognize and respect the beliefs and practices of others without necessarily sharing them. We now have a new tolerance (referred to as positive tolerance) which holds that “all values, beliefs, lifestyles, and truth claims are equal” (McDowell & Hostetler, 1998, p.19). Under this growing new perspective, one truth is no greater than another truth; “you must agree that another person’s position is just as valid as your own. … you must give your approval, your endorsement, your sincere support to their beliefs and behaviors” (McDowell & Hostetler, 1998, p. 22, emphasis in the original). Relativism and positive tolerance go hand-in-hand and would seek to undermine and destroy everything that Christians hold dear.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), at their twenty-eighth session in 1995, adopted a document titled the Declaration of Principles on Tolerance. In this document, which was adopted for worldwide implementation from the government level down, they identified tolerance as a “cherished principle,” and went on to delineate this definition:
1.1 Tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and way of being human …
1.2 Tolerance is not concession, condescension or indulgence …
1.3 Tolerance … involves the rejection of dogmatism and absolutism …
1.4 … It means that one is free to adhere to one’s own convictions and accepts that others adhere to theirs. … It also means that one’s views are not to be imposed on others. (p. 71)
Under the guise of this newly defined tolerance, Horner (1995) observes, “views are excluded only because they claim objective truth” (p. 6). While seeming to uphold tolerance, the social climate is quickly becoming intolerant.
There is also a move afoot to accentuate the commonality of all religions, to erase the differences that separate mankind and bring into being a global-community feeling. On April 25, 1982, an ad appeared in newspapers in twenty major cities of the world heralding that “the Christ is now here” and went on the explain that this referred to “Lord Maitreya, known to Christians as the Christ, to Jews as Messiah, to Buddhists as the Fifth Buddha, to Muslims as the Iman Madhi, and to Hindus as Krishna” (Lutzer & DeVries, 1989, p. 145). The utopian ideal that is acclaimed is one of worldwide benevolence, the harmony of all of mankind, and peace and justice for everyone. These are lofty ideals and seem irresistible and irrefutable.
However, underlying this veneer of lofty dreams of peace on earth and good will toward all men is an insidious premise: truth is no longer a matter to be reckoned with. Therefore, we, as Christians, will be tolerated as long as we grant all other belief systems significance commensurate with our own (the essence of positive tolerance). Hans Küng (1988) contends that one of the bases for a post-modern theology is “not a denominational, but an ecumenical theology: a theology that no longer sees in every other theology the opponent, but the partner …” (p. 204, emphasis in the original). Hans Küng, a Roman Catholic priest and official theologian at Vatican II, used his doctoral thesis to demonstrate the similarities that exist between the Roman Catholic and Protestant beliefs on justification, a document that was hailed by both Catholic and Protestant ecumenists (Funk, 1995, s.v. “Hans Küng”). He went on to question the infallibility of the Scriptures, and stated, “peace among the religions is prerequisite for peace among the nations” (Küng, 1988, p. 209). His passion for the brotherhood of mankind was to the exclusion of the truth of God’s Word. It seems that Küng advocates a softening on theological issues in order to attain worldwide political peace; a stance he goes on to clarify: “… it would seem that the standpoint of generous, tolerant inclusivism is the real solution” (Küng, 1988, p. 235, emphasis in the original). Within this paradigm most, if not all, theological distinctives would have to be rubbed out, at the expense of God’s truth.
As already pointed out, tolerance is no longer simply a “fair and objective attitude” toward those who are different from us, but is quickly demanding that we grant credence to the views of others equal to our own (Webster, 1989, s.v. “tolerance”). What we as Evangelical Christians have traditionally held as absolute truth, is being reduced to simply truth for us, a subjective reality that need not apply to anyone else. We no longer live “in an immoral society – one in which right and wrong are clearly understood and wrong is … chosen. We live in an amoral society – one in which ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ … [hold] no universal meaning …” (Keller, 1996, p. 112). Truth is quickly losing its appeal, and, within the context of positive tolerance, those who hold to absolute truth are being viewed as intolerant.
Clearly, the climate of our North American society is changing: from a time when the expression of our Judeo-Christian religious and philosophical beliefs was considered the norm, to the present that increasingly holds them in question. However, a greater concern is that the Christian church has been influenced by this philosophical shift as well.
George Barna, in his 1991 research, found that 70% of all Americans accept that the Bible is the written word of God and is totally accurate, while, at the same time, 66% believe that there is no such thing as absolute truth (Veith, 1994, p. 16). A mere seven years later, this high view of the Bible had declined to 58% (Barna, 1998). Before we dismiss this as the condition of our fallen world and a trend to which we must adjust, the statistics evidence no marked difference within the community of those whose beliefs qualify them as Evangelical Christians: 88% claim the high view of the Scriptures, while a full 53% dismiss the existence of absolutes, which means at least 41% embrace both positions even though they stand in stark contrast to one another (Veith, 1994, p. 16). We may seek to excuse this as a typical survey generalization, but the fact that it shows up at all in a survey is cause for concern.
Consider the fate of one of the most distinguishing doctrines of Christendom throughout the centuries: salvation through the atoning sacrifice made by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, that “essential thing in Christianity” (Thiessen, 1949, p. 314). The Second Vatican Council did much to soften the position of many theologians toward a broader view of the saving work of God within the world. The Council “expressed reverence for the heritage of other Christian churches, called attention to their salvific importance for their own members, and acknowledged that they possess true elements of the Church of Christ. As a result, anathema has yielded to dialogue” (Dulles, 1988, p. 30). It has been noted that the Council did not go so far as to “recognize the salvific reality of non-Christian religions” (Pinnock, 1995, p. 99). They did, however, make a strong case for religious pluralism (even where there was an existing Catholic majority—unheard of in days past), and went as far as to recognize “elements of truth and goodness in all the great religions, and hence the desirability of respectful dialogue” (Dulles, 1988, p. 31). This represents a momentous shift from the position the Roman Catholic Church has held for many centuries. Even though they stopped short of officially extending recognition to all faiths, there are those within the circle of the Catholic faith who seem willing to take that next step. There is, for example, “Karl Rahner [a Catholic theologian of some renown], who is very positive about other faiths and considers them to possess a salvific status” (Pinnock, 1995, p. 99). In many ways, the softening of the Catholic position through Vatican II set the stage for a broader theological position concerning God’s saving work among mankind. A case in point is that of Richard A. Rhem, a minister in the Reformed Church of America, who no longer believes that “Jesus is the sole way to salvation. Jews, Muslims and others … may be as likely to enter heaven” (Pluralism, 1996, p. 10).
Theologians refer to this new position as inclusivism (we have already seen Hans Küng as supportive of this position). Clark H. Pinnock (1995), considered a leading Evangelical theologian of today, sees inclusivism as that
which explores the possibility that the Spirit is operative in the sphere of human religion to prepare people for the gospel of Christ. It believes that God, who is gracious and omnipresent, is redemptively at work in the religious dimension of human culture, just as he is in all the other spheres of creation” (p. 96, emphasis added).
Although he states his position as cautious or modal inclusivism, Pinnock (1995) goes on to say that within the sphere of traditional theology “there has been too little openness to the salvific presence of the Spirit in other religions …” (Pinnock, 1995, p. 105, emphasis added). Pinnock (1995) goes on to say
… I welcome the Saiva Siddhanta literature of Hinduism, which celebrates a personal God of love, and the emphasis on grace that I see in the Japanese Shin-Shu Amida sect. I also respect the Buddha as a righteous man (Matt. 10:41) and Mohammed as a prophet figure in the style of the Old Testament. Similarly, Don Richardson in Eternity in their Hearts describes a world in many ways prepared for the gospel by means of redemptive bridges” (p. 110).
In response to this tie-in by Pinnock, Richardson (1998) responds:
… nothing that I have written … in my three books credits any pagan religion with saving content. God's general and special revelations are the only conveyors of the truth God uses to draw sinners who have already passed the Rom. 7:9 moment. Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Christopaganism, Judaism or animism may be at the scene, but they are only incidental bystanders to the operation of God through his own revelation to the heart of the sinner. Thus I do not concur with Pinnock's positive appraisals of Buddha and Mohammed. The fact that this or that pagan religion may have borrowed or absorbed something from general and/or special revelation does not qualify that pagan religion as God-ordained. (personal correspondence).
It seems evident that a portion of the Evangelical community (as represented by Pinnock), has taken a step outside the traditional position of the Church by accrediting non-Christian religions with an element of the saving presence of the Spirit of God.
“Accommodation, accommodation. How the mindset of accommodation grows and expands” (Schaeffer, 1984, p. 121). This would be an astute observation of our cultural move toward positive tolerance, but the object of this observation is not the world at large, but the Evangelical community. As we have seen, the winds of relativism are beginning to blow within the sanctity of our Evangelical haven; winds that raise the dust of confusion so that we may easily lose our way. Evidence would indicate that there is a movement toward a softer position on matters of truth, and an accommodation of those who depart from the authority of Scriptures. “The problem is we live in a time …when to be discriminating and discerning is not popular. The climate in the church today is actually intolerant toward discernment” (MacArthur, 1999). Therefore, the intensity of the problem we will face is heightened. We are often quick to recognize the error of those outside our community, slow to respond to a corresponding change within those about us, and often blind to the changes within ourselves.
A backdrop has been painted so as to highlight the problem to be addressed, a scene that depicts the vulnerability of the citizens of our world, and, of greater concern, those within our Evangelical circles. Our world is awash with compromise and re-definition, and it is into this quagmire that Stephen Covey wades with 7 Habits, a refreshing call to return to principles and values to find true effectiveness. His voice cuts through the cacophony of modern-day political correctness and meaningless psychobabble to demonstrate the need for solid footing both individually and in our relationships with others. In a time when seemingly anything goes, and we are to be accepting of it, and, even more disturbing, the fundamentals of orthodox Christianity seem to be eroding away, Covey demands our attention by heralding a message that appears to celebrate our heritage. The contrast to the message of the guru of modern thought seems evident; his is a call to unchanging principles. The message strikes a familiar chord with today’s Christian, like a melody of childhood that brings with it a flood of memories; and, in the midst of the confusion of modern society, it may be grasped as a fading memory of better days. Therein lays the danger.
There has arisen an acceptance of Covey’s teachings within the Christian community without first conducting a Biblical examination of the principles he is teaching. It has been observed, “many church and religious organizations are using this program [7 Habits] to train ministers and leaders” (Gordon, 1999). Since the world is in a state of rapid flux (and general moral decline), we must not fail to diligently examine all new voices, from whatever perspective they may come.
At first read, Covey’s Habits of Be Proactive, Begin with the End in Mind, and First Things First may appear completely acceptable. However, if we are willing to accept good appearances without careful examination of what lies behind the façade, we place ourselves in the uncomfortable position of possibly being misled. The truths of the Scriptures must not be compromised, and if we accept without question the teachings of someone who sees things through the glasses of Mormonism, we are poised to do just that. This is not to condemn Covey’s writings before conducting a careful examination, but simply to underscore the need for caution. Covey himself says that “we see the world, not as it is, but as we are,” and so, from his own words, it seems he would encourage us to examine what he has to say from our paradigm, even as he has written from his (Covey, 1989, p. 28, emphasis in the original).
To address the problem, the urgency of the situation being exacerbated by modern trends, a study of Covey’s work must be undertaken in order to speak intelligently to his position. Until such a study has taken place, adoption of his material would involve the danger of becoming entangled in a worldview that may be decidedly unchristian. On the flip side, such a study may provide a foundation for the interpretation of Covey’s material, thereby permitting the application or rejection of some or all of his tenets while understanding them from a Christian perspective.
Significance of the Study
There are primarily three factors that come together to underscore the importance of this study: 1) the state of health of our society today, and its downward trend morally and spiritually; 2) the tremendous reception that Covey’s writings have had all around the world; 3) the Biblical admonition to exercise due diligence when faced with new philosophies and methodologies. With any one of these three factors absent, the need for this study would remain, but the intensity would be reduced.
As already noted, there is underway a definite swing away from the absolutes that have built our society. Anderson (1990) has described this as a “switch from absolute values to relative values,” a shift away from acknowledging an objective norm against which we can all be measured (p. 32). It seems clear that the essence of our culture, as we have come to know it, is in the process of radical change. However, to exacerbate the matter further for the believer, it seems equally evident from our study to this point that the changes have not been limited to the social fiber of our culture, but that similar inroads are being made into Christianity. For the believer today, it cannot be business as usual, for the usual is being threatened by the unusual.
There is no doubt about the success of Covey’s 7 Habits; the evidence goes well beyond the accolades printed in the Fireside edition of the book. It has sold more than 12 million copies in 32 languages in more than 70 countries around the world (Rosner, 1999, p. 18). The readers of Chief Executive magazine have placed this book as one of two rated the “number one Most Influential Book of the 20th Century” (PRNewswire, 1998). The sales manager of Japan’s largest book wholesaler is quoted as saying that 7 Habits was “ranked number one in business books for 1997 [in Japan] and number seven for non-fiction books overall … a remarkable success, when one considers that over 60,000 new titles are printed each year in Japan” (PRNewswire, 1998).
However, Covey’s influence is not limited to the rapid and sustained success of his book. He established the Covey Leadership Center through which he taught individual and organizational leadership skills worldwide. On May 30, 1997, Covey Leadership Center, Inc. merged with the Franklin Quest Co. to form a company named Franklin Covey Co. (Franklin, 1997). This merger saw the transfer of more than 5 million shares and the payment to Stephen Covey of some $27 million for license rights (Franklin, 1997). In 1997 Franklin Covey’s products and services were used by 82 of the Fortune 100 companies and by over 60% of the Fortune 500 companies, and that year saw more than 450,000 individuals go through their training programs (Franklin, 1997). By October 1998, the number of trainees was estimated to be over 750,000 individuals worldwide; and “more than 15 million people worldwide use its planners, agendas and training products” (PRNewswire, 1998). “Management believes that the Merger positions the [Franklin Covey] Company as a leading provider of products and training services designed to increase the effectiveness of individuals and organizations” (Franklin, 1997). It is clear that the influence of the Franklin Covey Co., and hence Covey’s teachings, is neither localized nor insignificant.
The final strand in this three-strand cord of significance is the call for the believer to exercise Biblical discernment. Discernment has been defined as the “ability to detect, to recognize, to perceive beyond what is said”; but biblical or spiritual discernment is really far more (Swindoll, 1986, p. 38). MacArthur (1999) defines spiritual discernment as “the skill in separating divine truth from error and half truth.” In writing to the Philippians, Paul says that his prayer for them is that “your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment [discernment]; that ye may approve things that are excellent …” (Philippians 1:9,10). The essence of Paul’s prayer is that the love of the Philippian Christians would grow in discernment so that they would be equipped to determine between right and wrong, between good and evil, between best and good. Therefore, it only follows that we all carry the responsibility to examine the voices that are calling us to follow their teachings, whether they are secular or religious, New Age or Evangelical.
This attitude of examination or evaluation is to be cultivated and exercised, for we are charged to “… walk as children of light … proving what is acceptable unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8-10); and to “prove all things; hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Discernment is to be a part of all of our lives as believers, and, clearly, the end result of such discernment is the adherence to and embracing of those things that meet the approval of our Lord. It is toward this latter end (the Lord’s approval) that we must all strive.
It is critically important that we, as believers, not succumb to any impulse of desperation as we recognize the deterioration of the values of society; but rather take a step back from the confusion around us, and raise our eyes to the One who has secured the victory for us. As we are bombarded with many voices calling to us, we must stop and commit our way to the Lord who will guide our judgment or discernment (Psalm 37:5,6). The Scriptures are clear that Satan can disguise himself to appear as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), and so we must not be surprised to discover that error will seek to promulgate itself as truth.
Therefore, we must exercise Spirit-guided discernment, conscious of the day in which we live, being no less diligent with those whose teachings bear a ring of truth. It is ours to follow the example of the Bereans of Paul’s day who received the “word with all readiness of mind, and search[ed] the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). Inasmuch as Covey’s voice carries a message with a ring of truth to it, it is our Berean responsibility to examine carefully his message and its foundation according to the Scriptures.
No one would dispute the need for more effective leadership within Christian circles today, both on a personal level and organizationally, but this leadership must also be Biblical. As Covey’s voice echoes through the halls of academia, Christian and secular alike, and as we see his influence grow within the business community, we can do no less than carefully consider his fundamental principles. We must examine all teachings (not only Covey’s) and exercise discernment with the guidance of the Holy Spirit; it is our only defense in a world that is replete with voices vying for our attention.
The process undertaken by this study is a careful examination of certain aspects of Covey’s 7 Habits from a Biblically Evangelical perspective in an effort to accomplish three goals: (1) to raise the awareness of the need for Christians to exercise sound judgment when facing new teachings, despite favorable first impressions; (2) to demonstrate that 7 Habits is largely a re-working of his book, The Divine Center, which is solidly Mormon in its doctrines; and (3) to establish that Covey’s work in 7 Habits cannot, and must not, be adopted by Christians today, nor used without qualification. In the book under examination, Covey very clearly deals with seven Habits, which fall into three areas: the first three relate to what he calls Private Victory, the next three focus on Public Victory, and the last is the process of self-renewal (see Appendix A). However, before we consider his Habits with a desire to exercise Biblical discernment, clearly there will need to be an examination of the principles upon which these Habits are based. The focus of this study will be, first of all, to understand more completely those underlying principles upon which Covey builds his seven Habits, for it is only through such an understanding that an effective examination of the Habits can take place. Subsequent to this, consideration will be given to the first three Habits that Covey develops, namely those in the area of Private Victory.
Throughout the examination of both the principles and Habits, it will become evident that there is an undeniable cord drawing together 7 Habits and The Divine Center. Waldrep (1998) noted this correlation: “7 Habits is the author’s way of conveying ideas previously presented in DC [The Divine Center] to a non-LDS audience” (p. 8). In a Newsweek article, Covey “likens his teachings [in 7 Habits] to a secular version of his faith’s solid virtues” (Kaufman-Rosen, 1995, p. 72). “One would hardly expect a man aiming for massive audiences … to acknowledge openly the influence of a religious movement [Mormonism] not fully trusted by most Americans. Yet the influences are incontrovertibly there” (Wolfe, 1998, p. 30). Covey (1982) himself states that “I have found in speaking to various non-LDS groups in different cultures that we can teach and testify of many gospel principles [Mormon doctrine] if we are careful in selecting words which carry our meaning but come from their experience and frame of mind” (p. 240). This confession establishes the need to be fully aware of Covey’s theological position as a Mormon as we read his 7 Habits; for, based on his own words, underlying his 7 Habits could be a desire to present principles of the Mormon faith. Hence, “to truly understand the 7 Habits model one needs to be aware of the author’s theological underpinnings” (Waldrep, 1998, p. 8).
Covey has sparked some keen interest within the Christian community by speaking a language that seems familiar. However, it is this kind of familiarity that will too often lead to complacency and, ultimately, to failure on our part, for we too easily forget that familiar terms can be redefined. By Covey’s own confession, he is fully aware of this technique and he has employed it in his work as a Mormon. The communication process involves encoding (by the speaker or writer) and decoding (by the hearer or reader) (Gangel, 1989, p. 215). What Covey (1982) advocates as a means of teaching gospel principles is nothing less than a ploy to ensure that the encoding and decoding processes do not match: “… words which carry our meaning [encoding] but come from their experience and frame of mind [decoding]” (p. 240).
This study will underscore the necessity for Biblical discernment in approaching new doctrines; to heed the warning of Jesus: “Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheeps’ clothing …. Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15,16). Although the focus of this study is on Stephen Covey, there is a need for zealous study on what may appear familiar even within the Evangelical community. No one is exempt from error, so the principles at work within this study have a much broader application.
One aspect of this study, as just outlined, is to apply Biblical discernment to Covey’s teachings on personal effectiveness. The primary initial question is: what are the principles upon which Covey bases his 7 Habits? A related question which comes to mind is: if the trend of our modern society is toward a vague, open acceptance of all beliefs, how has Covey achieved such wide acceptance by speaking of principles, which carry an aura of exclusivity? Before we undertake an evaluation of Covey’s Habits, we must first understand the foundation of principles upon which he has built them. From here, we will move on to discover the principles exposed in his first three Habits.
The next question and one equally critical for our study, is: how does the 7 Habits relate to Mormonism? Can a correlation between 7 Habits and Covey’s earlier writings, that clearly taught Mormon doctrine, be established?
Last, but certainly not least, comes the question of how today’s Evangelical should approach the principles Covey deals with. After understanding Covey’s position and Biblical thoughts on these principles, what conclusions can we come to? Are there cautions to be raised? Are there principles that need to be learned and applied? How thoroughly can we adopt Covey’s writings?
Assumptions and Definitions
Inasmuch as assumptions made by the writer can greatly influence the message received by the reader (encoding and decoding), it is necessary to take a moment to touch on some key matters.
First of all, it is held that the canon of Scripture, as we have it today in the Old and New Testaments, is the inspired Word of God to mankind, inerrant in its original text. In addition, it is the writer’s position that the Bible represents the complete written revelation of God to man, and is the final authority on matters pertaining to salvation, faith, and life. As such, the Bible becomes the gauge against which all of life must be measured, that universal and objective standard for living provided by the Creator of the universe.
It is also held that the New Age movement is a multi-faceted, chameleon-like movement that is difficult to describe completely. It is a worldwide network, and without a specific world leader or headquarters, it is in many ways like a phantom; it’s generally held view that specific beliefs are an impediment to enlightenment only serves to increase its mystique. However, as much as those within the movement would like it to remain unidentifiable, of necessity, there are common threads of belief that hold the network together. New Agers believe that all is one, “everything that exists consists of one and the same essence or reality;” and that “the Ultimate Reality is … Being, Awareness, and Bliss (which is to say, a Hindu conception of God as an impersonal, infinite consciousness and force)” (Miller, 1989, p. 17). Within this understanding, reality has moved beyond mere matter and energy to a new level of unity and consciousness. Miller (1989) goes on to state that flowing from these two concepts is a further understanding that “all that is, is God;” and that “man, a part of ‘all that is,’ is likewise divine” (p. 17). Characteristically inclusive, the New Age movement “welcomes those of every political persuasion, … from practically every ethnic group … [and] extends an invitation to those in all religions” (Marrs, 1987, p. 12). Clearly, the flag of the New Age movement is unity: “Planetary consciousness recognizes our oneness … with all life everywhere and with the planet …” (Satin, 1978, p.11). Within this movement there is no room for absolutes; “experience and intuition are thus the final authorities for New Agers” (Miller, 1989, p. 17). It almost goes without saying that the New Age movement is a decidedly unchristian movement, and, therefore, any references made to the New Age movement carry with them an understood connotation of negativity toward orthodox Christianity.
Judeo-Christian is a descriptive term that we often hear used today, one that carries a sense of tradition and stability. However, it is held that to be Biblically Judeo-Christian requires a correct theology; a Biblical concept of God, of man, of sin, and of man’s responsibility and accountability to God. This is most often skewed today when Judeo-Christianity is identified with a cultural expression rather than with its Biblical roots. It is possible for someone to demonstrate and express views that are common to the Judeo-Christian position without actually embracing a Biblical theology. The result is a cultural expression that appears to be Judeo-Christian, which in turn gives the impression that the individual is Judeo-Christian when, in fact, this is not the case. Although a Biblical Judeo-Christian paradigm will result in a Judeo-Christian cultural stance, what may appear as such a stance must not assume a Biblical Judeo-Christian paradigm. Any faith, which may appear to be Judeo-Christian in various cultural contexts, yet denies the fundamentals of Judaism and Christianity, is not considered to be Judeo-Christian.