Understanding the New Age, byRussel Chandler. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1993. 367 pp. $10.99 (paper). [Reviewed by Rev. Wilbur Bruinsma.]
Scanning the shelf entitled “New Age” in the bookstore or library, one finds few books which serve as introduction to the broad scope of the New Age Movement. Most of the books, both those in favor of New Age thought and those against it, treat only a particular aspect of the movement. For one who is new to the study of this movement, this can be both confusing and frustrating. He needs to find a book which furnishes a comprehensive guide to and evaluation of the New Age Movement.
Russel Chandler in his book provides an excellent and readable summary of the New Age Movement. He traces its origin to the social revolution of the 1960s, and demonstrates how the goals of the hippie culture have now become the ideals of our present society. While many evangelical authors take aim at specific practices of those who trivialize and exploit the New Age Movement, or of those who carry the Movement to its occultic extremes, Chandler exposes the world-viewof the entire Movement. He lays out for the reader in an understandable way many of the abstract premises that are foundational to every facet of New Age practice. Only after the premises and goals of the New Age thought are brought to light does the author proceed to demonstrate the wide influence of the many individuals and institutions that promote New Age ideals.
What adds to the value of this book is that the author does not simply “report” on the study he made of the New Age Movement, but he evaluates this movement. We are cautioned against a radical reaction to everything that comes out of this Movement, but we are also warned against the subtle influence this Movement may have on us as God’s people. Using Scripture, Chandler exposes the errors of reincarnation, relativism, humanism, and finding salvation in man rather than in Jesus Christ. Although the author is weak on such key doctrines as the divinity of Christ, the authoritative character of Scripture, and total depravity, nevertheless he uses these truths correctly to combat the errors of the New Age.
To those interested in further study of the New Age Movement this book is a welcome addition to one’s library. Those who are interested in beginning a study of the New Age Movement are well advised to read this book first before picking up another.