A Christian apologist who once believed in New Age spirituality criticized Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson's teachings about Jesus Christ.
In a video posted to his YouTube channel Wednesday, Steven Bancarz — whose story of leaving the occult and turning to Christ was reported on by The Christian Post in September 2016 — unpacks the central error of the New Age philosophy espoused by Williamson, which is that accepting Christ is merely "a shift in self-perception."
Promoted as a favorite author of Oprah Winfrey, Williamson is among the most visible New Age teachers in the world and has authored several New York Times best-sellers.
In the Democrat presidential race, she currently stands in the bottom tier among the top 13 candidates, less than 1% nationally, according to today's RealClearPolitics average of polls.
Williamson has received positive reviews and heightened interest due to her debate performances, however. According to Google, Williamson was the most internet searched candidate during CNN's July 30 debate. During that debate, Williamson used the phrase "dark psychic force," which also trended in Google searches.
"If you think any of this wonkiness is going to deal with this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this president is bringing up in this country, then I'm afraid that the Democrats are going to see some very dark days," Williamson said in response to a question about the Flint, Michigan, water crisis.
In a 2016 interview with BeliefNet, Williamson said Jesus was a human who "completely self-actualized and fulfilled in all ways the potential glory that lies within us all" when he was on Earth.
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"To say there is 'only one begotten son' doesn't mean that someone else was it, and we're not. It means we're all it."
"Jesus actualized the Christ mind, and was then given the power to help the rest of us reach that place within ourselves. He was sent down by God — as we all are."
Bancarz says that while Williamson's words are a distortion of the real Jesus, her teachings fulfill some prophetic utterances Jesus made about the end times.
Regardless of the merits of her policy ideas, Bancarz says, "Something bigger is at stake here for the Church and for the country at large."
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells his disciples about the signs of His coming at the end of the age.
"See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Christ' and they will lead many astray," Matthew 24:4 reads.
This could be a reference to the small groups of people who claim to be Jesus in a literal sense and have small cult followings that all eventually dissolve, Bancarz says.
Yet it is likely that the passage is referring to something different, namely, the same lie that the serpent told Eve in the garden of Eden — that she would be divine, he adds.
Then, as now, in the last days, many will claim to be like God in the same way Jesus was.
"It's entirely possible that Jesus is warning us not about false impostors but about a false doctrine of man's deity that causes false teachers to lead people astray by claiming to be Christ," Bancarz said.
"The thing is: 'I am Christ' is what every single New Age teacher believes about themselves," he added, referencing the words of Eckhart Tolle who called Christ a person's "God essence, or the Self," and your "indwelling divinity regardless of whether you are conscious of it or not."
This New Age idea holds that when Jesus entered humanity approximately 2,000 years ago, He reached such a state of enlightenment that He realized He was unified with God just as everyone is, Bancarz continued. Jesus' claim to be God, then, was not unique; like anyone else can, He self-realized His own deity and lived from a higher consciousness — that He and everything else in Creation is God.
"All is God and God is all," Bancarz said, explaining the New Age belief. "And to live from this state of mind is to embody the consciousness that Christ had, and to step into your Christ-self. Since you have your own indwelling divinity that makes you Christ."
Many millions of books from New Age authors like Williamson, Tolle, Deepak Chopra, and Neal Donald Walsch have been sold that contain this line of thinking.
"Many have been Christed ... You can be Christed too," Walsch's Conversations with God, Book II says on Page 22.
In her book, A Return to Love: Reflections on the principles of A Course in Miracles, Williamson writes: "'Accepting the Christ' is merely a shift in self-perception. ... Even if He takes another name, even if He takes another face, He is, in essence, the truth of who we are."
Bancarz, who once made a fortune off his New Age website before disbanding it, concluded: "Jesus alone is God in the flesh. Jesus alone is Christ. And as Christians, I don't believe we should be voting for people who are competing with Him for that title."
Bancarz now runs Reasons for Jesus, an apologetic hub promoting a biblical worldview and a rational defense for the Christian faith.