As a child, I was fascinated by the unknown. Staring up at the stars, I would think about everything beyond our ordinary perceptions: space travel, alternate realities, aliens, astrology, Egyptology, and all things science fiction. I was drawn to anything esoteric. These interests planted a deception and led me down a path to a life without Jesus.

I was never an atheist, which made no sense logically or when observing the beauty of the world. I believed in some kind of divine creator, but despite being exposed to Christianity as a child, I did not heed its message.

My biggest roadblock was intellectualism. I was a seeker with an insatiable hunger for wisdom. I tried to absorb and decipher countless books, articles, and websites. In my mind, being well-educated meant you could not resort to trivial faith. Yet I was drawn to other world faiths, never questioning them as harshly as I questioned Christianity.

In the mid-2000s, my obsession with science fiction and aliens led me to metaphysics and then eventually to New Age spirituality, including Eastern mysticism, enlightenment, and reincarnation. (Only later would I discover that the New Age is essentially ancient paganism in repackaged form.) The lure of the esoteric world was too powerful to resist.

My first transformative experience with the New Age happened around 2008. A woman I knew had been reading something that piqued my curiosity. When I asked about it, she glanced at me, clearly scrutinizing my intent. I sensed her hesitation to reveal her secret, almost as if she were pondering whether I was worthy of hearing it.

Finally, with a sly smile, she told me what she was reading—a book about a purported “ascended master.” I ordered the book soon after, and its antibiblical teachings hooked me immediately. I believed I had finally discovered the real path of esoteric knowledge. Unaware of the Bible’s warnings against interpreting signs and omens, I later convinced myself I was experiencing supernatural congruences, with every number, word, or coincidence representing some kind of message from beyond.

In 2011, I bought my first deck of oracle cards, which are divination tools forbidden by God. I relied on them for answers, entertainment, and comfort, mistakenly believing that the universe was guiding me. Meanwhile, I began attending spiritualist events, services, and conventions. These take different forms, but they often incorporate spiritual readings, talks about metaphysical topics, sales of New Age goods and paraphernalia, and experiential workshops like nature hikes in search of spirits.

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I became progressively immersed in the New Age, engaging in practices like divination, meditation, affirmations, visualization, crystal and energy healing, and chakra clearing. I saw these practices as the best route to self-improvement and enlightenment. All the while, I told myself that nothing I was learning and doing could be evil because it was all about “love and light.” I knew nothing of the Bible’s teaching that your heart can deceive you (Jer. 17:9), and I failed to appreciate how Satan, the father of lies, can further that deception.

New Age spirituality feeds your ego by teaching that there is no right, no wrong, no objective truth—just a landscape of experiences that your soul goes through. It gives you false idols to worship, starting with yourself, teaching that you are always perfect where you are. It also teaches you to rely on spiritual experiences rather than rationality.

In 2013, as New Age thinking had me firmly in its grip, tragedy struck when my twin daughters died after I went into preterm labor. I delivered them on two separate days, holding each daughter in my arms as they took their final breaths. I had always been obstinate and resilient, but this experience broke me. I sought relief in New Age practices, never stopping to ask what I needed relief from. But I also began praying and calling out to God for help.

Things began to shift in late 2016. I attended a spirituality event and saw a presentation from a world-renowned New Age leader. She was engaging and endearing as she preached immense love and forgiveness in front of the lights, cameras, and audience.

Later, standing in her book-signing line, I could hardly wait to express gratitude for her teachings. I figured she would revel in my praise, but her reaction was sobering in its coldness. She barely made eye contact. Her body language was dismissive. She uttered not a single word of compassion but just nodded robotically. It seemed she could hardly wait to leave.

Feeling embarrassed and confused, I left the room wondering what I had done. I wondered why I was even there. I was convicted by God. In the following weeks, he showed me I was worshiping idols. He allowed me to see that the teachers I had been following were ordinary people with ordinary problems, not enlightened masters. They presumed to teach others how to overcome the limitations of human nature, but deep down they were all basic people—just like me—full of errors, weaknesses, and sin, and in desperate need of Jesus.

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A few weeks after that event, I had an episode of sleep paralysis. At some point in the night, I awoke with a sudden awareness that I could neither move nor speak. Waves of fear pressed down—a palpably spiritual fear. I knew in those moments that I had walked a dangerous path, putting my soul at risk. I tried casting the fear aside with my “positive thinking” techniques, but nothing changed. In my mind, I called out to my husband who was fast asleep inches away. Then my mind called out to my mother, pleading in childlike desperation, even though I knew she was not there. But the feelings of fear and suffocation only intensified. I should have been visibly hyperventilating, but my body was motionless and the room silent.

Top: Tina Kolniak's personal Bible. Bottom: Kolniak attends church online.
Image: Alex Boerner

Top: Tina Kolniak's personal Bible. Bottom: Kolniak attends church online.

Then I called out to Jesus, and everything stopped. I could move again. I breathed in and out heavily. I was safe. As the agony dissipated, I knew Jesus was real. I knew the Bible was real. And I knew that Jesus had rescued me from spiritual warfare. The relief was indescribable. I felt gratitude and awe for Jesus. That night changed me forever.

But over the next three years, I went through turmoil as God worked on my heart. I craved humility, peace, and refuge from my sins of divination and idolatry, among many others. It took me a long time to truly understand the gospel. I made many mistakes during that time, mostly by mixing New Age ideas with biblical truth. My intention to walk with God was unshakeable, but I had much to learn, specifically that humanity has a sinful nature and that redemption comes through Jesus alone. Through this new lens, I had to reassess core beliefs about my behavior, my relationships with others, the reality of objective truth, and solving emotional problems.

I yearned for God’s Word, for repentance, for his forgiveness—and for a new life. I discarded thousands of dollars’ worth of New Age materials. I prayed daily. I began watching online church services and Bible studies. I read the Bible online and bought several Bible translations. And I studied works of Christian apologetics, discovering abundant rational evidence for the authority and truthfulness of Scripture.

Since coming to Jesus, I have shared the gospel despite ridicule or dismissal by self-professed “free thinkers” and educated intellectuals who believe they are beyond faith. I was once there, and my empathy runs deep for those who are lost in the same worldly delusions. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit would help them realize that New Age spirituality, with its egoistic focus and false promises of peace, is a dangerous replacement for our true savior, Jesus Christ.

Tina Kolniak is an attorney and a writer currently working on a Christian-themed novel for young adults.

[ This article is also available in español русский, and Українська. ]

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