NICHOLS: Number one, you need to know your doctrine. You need to know the doctrine of God, the doctrine of salvation, the doctrine of Christ—you need to know Scripture. R.C. Sproul used to say, “It is not enough to read the Bible; we have to study it.” Whatever challenges you are surrounded by, in this particular case, Roman Catholicism and New Age, you need to know the truth.
Number two, you need to be aware of some of the main tenets. As far as Roman Catholicism, it boils down to a works-oriented faith. It is wrong to say that Roman Catholicism does not believe in Christ or in the cross, but the key is the word sola. Is it grace alone, or is it grace plus works? Is it by faith alone, or is it faith and works that result in my salvation? You have to pay attention to the role of works in Roman Catholicism.
As far as New Age goes, it can be slippery and difficult, but there are a couple of things to note. New Age thinking does not make a clear distinction in the doctrine of God. It teaches a kind of pantheism—everything is God. In other words, there are no categories. There are not even categories between human beings, animals, and plants. So, we must get back to this fundamental distinction: God is the Creator; we are the creatures; animals and plants are part of creation. That distinction is crucial for combating New Age thinking. Then, of course, it comes back to knowing the Word and being anchored in it. There is so much about New Age thinking that is loose and unanchored.
BINGHAM: In my teenage years, I was exposed to New Age thinking. As Christians, we sometimes think that if people are involved in the New Age movement they are almost beyond reach. However, some people in that movement are sincerely trying to find spiritual truth, even though they are wrong. I was on a very long journey that ended with me finding the truth, thankfully. So, I would say this: Don’t be discouraged. Don’t give up on your New Age neighbors or friends. Tell them that you know the One, true, living God.
NICHOLS: The New Age movement is asking some important questions. If people are asking, “What is the meaning of life?” then that is an inroad for us to connect them to the gospel and to say, “There is an answer for that.” Even certain contradictory ideas, like pantheism, are asking questions that relate to who God is, which is fundamental to the gospel. Questions like this are opportunities and inroads to present the truth. So, it is a great point you just made, Nathan, to be encouraged and not intimidated by these questions.
We need to recognize that because Christianity is true, it will make sense of the world in which we live. Because these other worldviews are false, there is a fault line where they will break down.