By Larry d. Wright
In an issue of Newsweek magazine several studies claimed that America is a spiritual nation. One example cited in the survey claims that 64% of Americans say that they pray every day. Sociologist Alan Wolfe of Boston College suggests that the current spiritual searching is really about the empowerment of the self: “Rather than being about a god who commands you, it’s about finding a religion that empowers you.”
Albert Mohler weighs in on the point by saying, “The impression left by the total package is of a nation that increasingly embraces soft and self-centered forms of spirituality even as it rejects more demanding forms of belief…they see spirituality as a means of self-development…they want to get in touch with the universe and with their inner selves, but are not particularly concerned to know what the Creator would demand of them.” (www.crosswalk.com
A Christianity Today poll found that half of all Americans believe in extrasensory perception. One of every four professing Christians believes in clairvoyance, and almost half in psychic healing. 25% believe the movement of the stars governs the affairs of men and women.
Browse any bookstore and you will find titles such as “New Age Spirituality”; “Do It Yourself Religion”; “The Higher Path”; “Self-Esteem and Enlightenment.” What might initially have appeared as simply a new trend has become a more dominant cultural shift that some call ‘postmodern spirituality.’ This new spirituality is reflected in countless popular books and through the philosophies of those who tend to draw upon an eastern worldview and esoteric mysticism. Spirituality without Jesus sells; but is it real? Is God simply a higher dimension reached by an inner journey to the soul? Is it true that “the more you love yourself, the greater your connection with God, the Spirit, Divine Source, or whatever you call God?” Can there be true spirituality without Jesus?
I say “No!” New Age Spirituality, or as I call it Pseudo Spirituality, sells so well because people are hungry for meaning and spiritual significance. God has placed an eternal longing in the heart of His creation that can only be satisfied by Him. Still man-made religion is popular because it does not humble sinners or place any demands of holiness upon them.
Many today recognize a whole new level of popularization of Pseudo Spirituality through the influence of Oprah Winfrey. “Oprah Winfrey has risen to a new level of guru. She’s no longer just a successful talk-show host worth $1.4 billion, according to Forbes’ most recent estimate. Over the past year Winfrey has emerged as a spiritual leader for the new millennium.” "She’s a really hip and materialistic Mother Teresa," says Kathryn Lofton, a professor at Reed College in Portland, who has written two papers analyzing the religious aspects of Winfrey. "Oprah has emerged as a symbolic figurehead of spirituality." (USA Today, article by John Jalsevac March 7, 2008)
In her words Oprah said, “The new spirituality is that you are your own best authority as you work to know and love yourself, you discover how to live a more spiritual life. While Christianity is a valid way to achieve high states of spirituality, it must not be considered a unique way, or a correct way."
In considering the cultural trend towards being freed from the old paths in pursuit of new spirituality, we do well to recall George Orwell’s words:
“For two hundred years we had sawed and sawed and sawed at the branch we were sitting on. And in the end, much more suddenly than anyone had foreseen, our efforts were rewarded, and down we came. But unfortunately there had been a little mistake: the thing at the bottom was not a bed of roses after all; it was a cesspool full of barbed wire. . . It appears that amputation of the soul isn’t just a simple surgical job, like having your appendix out. The wound has a tendency to go septic.” (George Orwell , Notes on the Way)