EST, The Forum, and Related New Age Seminars

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©2000
A brief look at EST and other programs “designed to unleash human potential and achieve ‘enlightenment.’”

EST, The Forum, and Related New Age Seminars

(from the Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs, Harvest House, 1996)


Description. New Age seminars are 50-to-60-hour intensive programs designed to un­leash human potential and achieve “enlightenment.” Many New Age seminars are off­shoots of the philosophy of Werner Erhard or Jose Silva (Silva Mind Control).

Founder. Werner Erhard (est/The Forum); John Hanley (Lifespring); Stewart Emery (Actu­alizations). Related seminars include founders John-Roger (Insight Seminars); Dennis Becker (Impact Seminars); Bob White and Duncan Callister (Life Dynamics); William Patrick (the now-defunct Mind Dynamics).

How do they claim to work? The founders of these seminars allege their methods have the ability to radically empower individuals through unleashing the untapped powers of the mind. Because each individual’s mind determines and shapes reality, once people experience their true (divine) potential, they are allegedly able to influence all areas of their lives for the better.

Scientific evaluation. Few, if any, comprehensive and independent studies have been conducted.

Examples of occult potential. Altered states of consciousness, psychic development, spiritism.

Major problems. The generally monistic and solipsistic worldview of these seminars as­sumes a false view of man, a false view of the world, and a false view of how people are to live in the world.

Biblical/Christian evaluation. In general, both the anti-Christian teachings (e.g., monism, humanism, occult philosophy) and practices (e.g., visualization, meditation, self-hypno­sis, psychic development) mean that participation in these seminars is prohibited.

Potential dangers. Self-deception over one’s abilities; possible occult influences, conver­sion to Eastern-occult worldviews.

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