Spiritual Life
Reasons to Believe
Religions & Sects
Church History
In the News
Faith & Reason Press Speaker's Forum Links Resources About Us

Why I Talk With New Agers

Gordon R. Lewis

Editor's note: Dr. Gordon Lewis is professor of theology and philosophy at Denver Seminary and the founder of Evangelical Ministries to New Religions. As an instructor and author in the field of Christian missions to new religions, Dr. Lewis has sometimes been questioned about his practice of holding unpublicized dialogues with New Agers (as though in some way this implies a compromise of the faith). In the following article Dr. Lewis explains his policy in such matters, and in the process outlines several important principles and guidelines for approaching New Agers. Although the following is a departure from CRIís [the host of this article] usual Witnessing Tips style, it is very much in keeping with the purpose of this column: to further evangelism of those committed to unchristian belief systems.

I talk with people involved in new religions and cults when I can, although for over thirty years I have taught, preached, and written against their unbiblical teachings. My standard policy is to present and defend divinely revealed moral virtues and Christ's grace anywhere I am invited if my message is not curtailed. (As a young Bible school student I recall several fundamentalist leaders who declared that they would speak anywhere, including to modernist groups, so long as they were free to present the gospel.)

In October, 1987, I was invited without restrictions to converse with several local and national New Age leaders at Gold Lake, Colorado. My participation was sponsored neither by Evangelical Ministries to New Religions nor Denver Seminary. As a researcher I accepted the opportunity for firsthand information, and as a Christian I went having put on all the biblical "armor" (Eph. 6:10-18) and having prayed for discernment and opportunities to honor my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

My general objectives in talking with people in any group unreached by the gospel of God's grace are threefold:

(1) In an increasingly polarized and violent world, I desire to promote understanding and just relationships among my "neighbors." Even though some people may be involved to some degree in New Age thought and practice, they are still image-bearers of God and so of inestimable worth. I respect their inherent rights and treat them as I would want them to treat me. Like foreign missionaries, we need contacts with the people we seek to reach. We need to learn from them in order to serve them as we live among them, Lord willing, for many years to come. Furthermore, just as God in common grace lets the rain fall on the unjust as well as the just, we must do good to all people (Gal. 6:10). Jesus explained that His disciples do good even to those who may oppose them.

(2) In my calling as a minister and a teacher of apologetics and theology, I seek to put into practice the pre-evangelistic strategies I teach. When talking with adherents of alternative philosophies and religions I try to follow Paul's example in ministering to the first-century Athenians (Acts 17). Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles (pagans unacquainted with the covenant-making God of Israel and the Old Testament). At Athens, the university center of the ancient world, Paul: (a) commended the religious zeal of stoic pantheists and idol worshippers; (b) quoted Stoic poets favorably on matters of common ground; and (c) declared the dependence, obligation, and guilt of all before the universal Creator. Paul understood that those who come to God must believe that "He" (as a personal spirit distinct from the world) "is" (Heb. 11:6).

(3) After pre-evangelistic objectives are reached, my ultimate goal in conversations with individuals and groups of people in new religions and cults is to do the work of an evangelist. At Athens Paul concluded with (d) a solid reason why all people should receive the redemption of Christ -- God raised Him from the dead. Several leaders of the Greek city-state believed! Evangelism is the ultimate goal of Christian outreach. After seeking to remove roadblocks in the way of faith, I invite p