As recently as five years ago, I was the world’s top-selling New Age author. At the time, I enjoyed a phenomenally lucrative lifestyle. I lived on a 50-acre ranch in Hawaii. My publisher treated me like a rock star, flying me and my husband first class to give sold-out workshops across the globe. We would stay in penthouse suites at swanky hotels and rub elbows with celebrities.
Yet despite this worldly success, I was hardly at peace. For all my New Age seeking, there were answers I could never find.
The Devil’s deception
I grew up in the false church of Christian Science, although my mom always said that we were Christians. I was taught to ignore the “negative” parts of the Bible, such as the fall of humanity and the crucifixion of Jesus. To the extent that we studied Scripture, we only cherry-picked verses or read them out of context. So I was ripe for the Devil’s deception.
I went to Chapman University in California, where I earned degrees in psychology and became a professional therapist. From there, I found a literary agent and started writing self-help books for major publishers. This brought invitations to speak at conferences and appear on radio and television, where I preached the gospel of self-help.
When a New Age publisher offered to turn my psychology dissertation into a self-help book, I agreed. With this publisher, I began writing other psychology books that incorporated my Christian Science beliefs. Their popularity landed me a gig as a speaker with a group of New Age teachers and vendors who traveled to convention centers around North America.
During breaks from speaking, I would walk around the convention floors and visit the various New Age booths. I was intrigued by the healing crystals and other exotic wares they displayed, as well as the healing techniques they promoted, which involved sound, energy, massage, and yoga. From these vendors, I learned more about New Age beliefs and practices.
Soon enough, I was teaching these New Age methods at my workshops and incorporating them in my books. Meanwhile, I immersed myself in yoga, Eastern meditation, chakra cleansing, astrology, divination, and other New Age practices. New Agers often view Christianity as having dogmatic rules, but they have their own rigid standards about what an “enlightened person” must and mustn’t do.
During my 20 years as a New Age teacher, I toured with other best-selling authors. We would promote techniques like “vision boards” and “positive affirmations,” believing and teaching that “your words create your reality.” Many of us twisted Jesus’ words to suggest that God would give you whatever you asked for. And all the while, we held up our wealth and fame as evidence that our principles were true and effective.
Yet despite this worldly success, we were unrepentant sinners with lives marred by divorces and addictions. Having sold-out workshops, standing ovations, adoring fans, and celebrity friends gave us swollen egos. I remember believing my every thought was a message or a sign from God or his angels.
All the while, I convinced myself I was actually a Christian, albeit an “open-minded” Christian who was superior to all those narrow-minded followers who only believed in Jesus. For me, Jesus functioned as a “spirit guide” who, like a magic genie, helped me make my wishes come true. I was a student of world religions, and I even had a necklace with symbols of all the major faiths. I believed all paths led to heaven and all religions were worshiping the same God.
Of course, neither I nor any of the other New Age teachers ever pointed to the real Jesus Christ. We certainly never told anyone to read their Bibles. Instead, we encouraged people to pursue their selfish desires, making them more covetous and materialistic.
As someone with an intense curiosity about world religions, I frequently listened to Christian radio, as well as stations specializing in Buddhism, Hinduism, shamanism, Celtic goddess worship, and several other types of spirituality. Hungry for answers, I searched far and wide.
In January 2015, I was driving along a Hawaiian road while listening to the Scottish-born pastor Alistair Begg on the Christian Satellite Network. Begg was giving an expository sermon called “Itching Ears.” It was about 2 Timothy 4, where the apostle Paul writes that in the end times, people will want their itching ears tickled by false teachers who offer false hope (v. 3). I could tell he was describing people just like me.
God used Begg’s sermon to convict me for the first time in my life. His words pierced my stony heart, and I felt ashamed of my false teachings. When I got home, I told my husband, Michael, that I wanted to start attending a real Christian church. He readily agreed.
After a lifetime of involvement in Christian Science and New Age practices, it took time to clear away the cobwebs of false belief. I realized that I did not trust God to provide for my needs. So instead of prayer and trust in the Lord, I continued relying on divination cards, astrology, psychic readings, horoscopes, and crystals.
Reading the entire Bible changed everything. When I got to Deuteronomy 18:10–12, I encountered a list of sinful activities that included several I was practicing, such as divination, interpreting signs and omens, and mediumship. This passage says that people using these methods are “detestable,” an abomination to God.
I was broken, deeply shamed, and humbled by these words. I dropped to my knees in shame and sorrow. “I’m so sorry, God!” I kept wailing in repentance. “I didn’t know!” On that very day I gave my life to Jesus as Lord and Savior.
The decision had far-reaching consequences. My husband and I left our fancy Hawaii home. My New Age publisher ended our professional partnership. And New Agers treated me as an object of scorn and scandal after I began publicly renouncing my old beliefs. They sent me hate mail daily, accusing me of betrayal. I also experienced spiritual warfare for the first time, which drew me even closer to God.
To better learn how to rightly divide God’s Word, I completed a master’s degree in biblical and theological studies at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. It was amazing to see how God gave me the ability to understand the gospel after a lifetime of believing in a twisted, contorted view of Scripture.
Having to admit that I was wrong to the entire world—my books were published in 38 languages—has been deeply humbling. Even so, I needed that humility to better learn how to lean upon God. I still feel guilty knowing that people continue to use and sell my old products, even though I have begged them to stop. But these situations offer opportunities to share the gospel. I pray continually that God will use my witness to point New Agers to Jesus.
After seeking but never finding peace in New Age, I have finally found it in Christ. Despite the storms in my life, my hope and trust in the Lord holds me steady.
Doreen Virtue is the author of Deceived No More: How Jesus Led Me out of the New Age and into His Word.
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