Critiquing New Age, Occultism and Satanism
Interview With a Specialist in New Religious Phenomena
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MADRID, Spain, NOV. 18, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Christianity must be centered on Jesus Christ and have no truck with astrology or superstitions, warns a scholar of religions.
José Luis Vázquez Borau, author of "The New Religious Phenomena: New Age, Occultism and Satanism," holds a doctorate in philosophy and a licentiate in moral theology. He has spent much of the last 20 years dedicated to the study and teaching of the religious phenomenon.
Q: There is a somewhat chaotic resurgence of religion: spiritualisms, esotericisms. Is this phenomenon leading to
Vázquez: It is difficult to predict if this phenomenon is leading to something more. What can be affirmed is that to the degree that the human being wishes to deny, cover or dissimulate, as if it did not exist, the "religious sentiment which is innate," the latter will seek a thousand ways to make itself present and to manifest itself.
We have a recent example in civil baptisms. The human being has imprinted in him a divine presence which we can go so far as to say that it does not exist. But not because of this will it cease to exist and to manifest itself.
Therefore, three things are necessary: Christian communities that give joyful testimony of the faith and at the same time are involved in the problems of people's lives, especially the poorest; witness of the Absolute; and an adequate religious formation, without which any charismatic sectarian leader, in the pejorative sense of the word, can take over people's uninformed consciences.
Q: If Christianity were better known, would there be fewer religious phenomena?
Vázquez: In this book "The New Religious Phenomena: New Age, Occultism and Satanism," I have tried to widen our view to make us realize that all religions, in the course of time, have had followers who have deformed the religions that they postulated in their own benefit, as at the bottom of all religious manipulation there is a quest for money and power.
Thus, after analyzing New Age as an answer to the generalized crisis of institutional religion and the obsession for everything Eastern as paths of wisdom, some of the diverse groups are indicated that arise from different matrixes, such as the Afro-animist, Hindu, Buddhist, Confucianist, Judaic, Christian, Islamic, scientistic, occultist and Satanist.
Undoubtedly, if Jesus was known -- the Way, Truth and Life -- we would be talking about something else.
Q: The new religious phenomena arise within the religious traditions. In what way does this fact address religions?
Vázquez: The new religious phenomena are linked to postmodernity which gives much value to sensibility, which might contribute to us also placing more value on the way of experience and feeling in our access to God.
There is no faith without an initial experience that we call conversion and without the daily experience that we call prayer. It is very important to reassess religious experience. … The danger lies in giving up criticism and allowing oneself to be led by feeling.
Q: According to you, horoscopes, reincarnation and pan-sexuality are "clearly anti-Christian" practices. Yet, they have their followers. How must this subject be addressed so that Christians will understand it?
Vázquez: By being more centered on God and living as children who trust in their Father, knowing that nothing evil can come from him, and if it is for us to experience dark moments, to know that it is all for our good even if we cannot understand it today, but we will one day.
If we appeal to astrology to know about our future, where is our faith? We must not be worried about the future.
We must live in God's present with the soul of a child. Our future is decided here and now by loving and giving our life for others. Reincarnation dilutes human responsibility and sex is not an absolute.