It is not uncommon to find Christians who believe in reincarnation and mix Christian beliefs with occult Eastern philosophies present in Hinduism. Because New Age has successfully insinuated itself into Christianity through innocuous and Christian-sounding theories, it is leading a growing number of Christians astray. Yoga, which is based on hatha yoga, an ancient Hindu system of ascetic practices and meditation, is one of the ways this idolatrous practice has infiltrated Christian circles. (The ultimate goal of yoga meditation is to connect with the divine). It is precisely because it has become commonplace and seen as innocuous, healthy exercise that it is so dangerous.
To a lesser extent, strains of the other aforementioned philosophies have insinuated themselves into Christian circles. By pretending to be angels of light, these philosophies lead many Christians astray or induce them to at least include some of these philosophies in their devotions, thus perverting the sacred into the profane. It can be so subtle that it catches one unawares.
Fundamentalist Christian groups are vociferous in indicting occult and esoteric practices, and rightfully so. Nevertheless, the generally belligerent tone of their message does not endear and so tends to be summarily ignored or dismissed. It does not help that these fundamentalist groups, who have a tendency to throw out the proverbial baby with the bath water, get labeled as “backwater” Christians or as “those” groups, hence removing any credibility they might otherwise have.
At the same time, by ignoring changing demographics, and multicultural and multifaith transformations in Western countries, Western Christians have lost the influence for good that we possessed until the end of the nineteenth and the early twentieth century. Moreover, by tragically allowing infiltration of philosophies that are far from Christian, Christianity is heading into an ever-growing danger of apostasy.
Where do we stand? What do we truly believe? How much of the other religious strains have we unwittingly mixed as part of our predominantly postmodern worldview without realizing their idolatrous and occult background?
Christians throughout the global body of Christ, who seek meaningful expressions of their faith or are hungry for fellowship they don’t seem to find in their area, turn to the Internet to fill a spiritual void and need, to strengthen their faith and break the isolation they would otherwise experience. The drawback may be the danger of falling into heretical teachings and idolatrous dogmas if the leader or pastor the seeker follows subtly deviates from sound doctrine, without necessarily ill intent on the part of the leader. Virtual groups are at risk of becoming sectarian in their conviction that only they possess the truth; this, however, is not inherent to the Internet.
There is enough documented evidence of sectarian and closed groups in physical churches or circles. Maybe the risk is greater online, as the adherents may be more susceptible than if they were part of a local church, even when this hazard is not exclusive to online communities. Perhaps people who are disenchanted with the church or who may be more impressionable might unquestioningly accept all of their web pastor’s or leader’s suggestions and teachings. By and large, being separated from the larger body of Christ, whether online or in person, carries the intrinsic danger of sectarianism and idolatry that Christians participating in online communities need to be aware of and guard against.