Groothuis’ criticism and condemnation of New Age comes from a natural place in his ideology. To Groothuis religions cannot be considered equal because only Christ is Lord (144). He goes beyond equality to speak on validity, that all other faith traditions are wrong. Given his belief system, this is a natural and necessary conclusion. But Groothuis is quick to find fault with New Agers doing the same, as their ideology lends itself to tolerance and pluralism. For Groothuis it is okay to put Christianity above other religions as his ideology claims exclusivity, but for New Agers to do so is hypocrisy.
If New Agers practiced what they preached and were as open minded and embracing of pluralism as they claimed, there would be no judging or ranking of other faith traditions. And yet such judgements are found in New Age circles. Groothuis testifies,
“… I often hear New Agers claim that ‘we all have our own truth,’ thus appearing tolerant. Yet in the same discussion they say that Christians are ‘less that fully enlightened’ or ‘less evolved’ (especially true for creationists!) and need a few more incarnations to get their metaphysics unmuddled and their self-image adjusted. But by saying this, New Agers are assuming the New Age position is true and right, and the Christian position is wrong and bad!” (116).
I have to agree with Groothuis here. I have heard similar conversations in New Age circles. It is important to acknowledge that no all New Agers have this mentality. But it is an issue that needs to be confronted. New Age leaders need to encourage New Agers to either practice what they preach or change what they preach and remove the hypocrisy. If New Agers are going to criticize Christians for putting down other faith traditions, they need to ensure they are not doing it themselves.
Interestingly enough, Groothuis is not condemning New Agers for their pluralistic ideology, which most certainly does not fall in line with his own ideology, but for saying one thing and doing another. Despite my very different perspective I can say this for Groothuis, he practices what he preaches. He sticks to his convictions, perhaps to a fault. I think this gets at the core difference between Groothuis’ Christianity and New Age. Where Groothuis ideology is set, there is more flexibility in New Age ideology. Things develop and change, exceptions are accommodated and the world is expressed in shades of grey rather than the black and white of Groothuis’ world.
Groothuis, Douglas. Confronting the New Age: How to resist a growing religious movement. 1988. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press.