How NOT to Contextualize the Gospel for Animists?

How NOT to Contextualize the Gospel for Animists? November 11, 2014

How might a more biblical (rather than philosophical) view of monotheism shape evangelism among animists?Artisans khmersWhat do I mean by “animism”?

At a very basic level, animists believe that certain objects or things in nature have a spirit. At a more practical level, I refer to the perspective that characterizes countless unreached people groups (UPGs) around the world.

This sort of animism treats certain objects with the respect one would give a god. Not surprisingly, many animistic cultures are functionally polytheistic (even if they don’t call these objects “gods”).

In this post, I want to question one possible way of addressing animism. In the next post, I’ll suggest something more constructive.

Are other gods real?

“Your gods don’t exist.”

This is one way some will respond to modern versions of polytheism. However, I wonder if a frontal assault on the existence of these so-called “gods” is the best approach.

Biblically speaking, this approach leads us straight into a dilemma.

Wa_tribe_depiction,_1900sOn the one hand, the biblical writers patently acknowledge the existence of so-called “gods.” We read that God defeated the “gods” of Egypt as Israel’s exodus.

On the other hand, passages like Isaiah 40-55 and 1 Cor 8:4–6 make clear that there are no other gods that truly warrant the name “God.” Even demons believe this and shudder (James 2:19). The one true God is utterly distinct from his creation.

The false gods of the world are nothing more than demonic spirits.

1 Cor 10:18–21,

18 Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? 19 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.

In the OT, see Deut 32:16–17,

They stirred him to jealousy with strange gods; with abominations they provoked him to anger. They sacrificed to demons that were no gods, to gods they had never known, to new gods that had come recently, whom your fathers had never dreaded.

For other relevant passages, check out Lev 17:7; Ps 106:37; Rev 9:20.

Yes, they do exist. But wait . . . huh?

We now run into a problem. Why?

Because there is a real sense in which these so-called “gods” actually do have existence. Demons, or fallen angels, are real and exert influence through the worship of idols. No matter what we say, it seems that we are only half right. Do these “gods” exist? No . . . and yes. There are spirits that exist but they are not worthy of the name “god.”

We must be careful when we argue for monotheism.

In our zeal to disprove the existence of false “gods,” we should be careful that we don’t implicitly deny so much of what one might call the “spiritual world.” It is tempting to reduce animistic beliefs too quickly using the label “superstition.”

Even if there is superstition involved, one could unwittingly press a dualistic worldview that too sharply separates the “natural” and the “supernatural.” Such a dichotomy is foreign to the biblical world.

I’ll conclude with an analogy.

Suppose you have a conversation about something written on this blog. You tell you friend, “The blog said that we should use honor and shame to explain salvation.” What if you friend then replies, “You are imagining things. Blogs can’t talk. Blogs don’t have any real existence.” Resisting your desire to smack him, you would clarify your meaning. Yes, the “blog” does not have any existence such that it can speak and teach. However, there is a living human being who writes the words on the blog. He does have existence.

 


Photo Credit: CC 2.0/wikipedia

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  • WHAT I HAVE LEARNED FROM THE SPIRITS OF ANIMALS … AND ELIJAH

    H”b

    ‘siyo & Hoa (Aho!)

    Perhaps the Christian concern about animal spirits comes from a foundation that assumes too much. Would the same question be asked if New Testament assumptions about Creator and His Creation were based on a Torah foundation by which to determine their truth?

    How did Noah get all those animals into the ark? Their SPIRITS were sensitive to Creator’s SPIRIT. How was Bil’am’s ass able to talk?

    Ultimately, there is the End-Times covenant to reconcile the houses of Joseph-Ephraim with Joseph-M’nashe, minimally, which may extend to all mankind in Hosea 2:18-20. This covenant with the 4-legged, winged and creatures who crawl on the ground also ends the sword, bow and violence in the earth. Has any humanity — except those comprising indigenous peoples — even attempted this?

    The whole Christian paradigm must become aware of our animal relatives, who live much closer and in tune to Great Spirit that most all of humanity. The biblical means to this end is the Native American purification lodge, which was around when European settlers arrived but not then recognized as the “goring with the horns of the re’eim (buffalo)” (Deut 33:15ff) that could start to right things between the family of Joseph … and wean Ephraim of its “gun,” “drill-baby-drill,” and “all-ahead-full-fracking” mentalities.

    What force but SPIRIT and the ability of animals to be in tune would bring a wild she-wolf to leave its mate and come over and kiss me full on the lips and then return to its mate, stopping and staring back at me for a moment before rejoining its mate?

    What possesses eagles to circle lower and lower until they gift you with a feather? Why and who do black widows bite knowing it means their death/transition? Why does the Torah protect even bird’s nests?

    When Ephraim (the fullness of the Gentiles still enmeshed in the Church), eventually finds its way into Native American inipi (purification lodges) that covenant can be established … and how it will change the world. Once one bows low to our LIVING MOTHER (Heb. “adamah” is feminine noun, rare in biblical Hebrew indicating dynamic properties of LIFE,) one learns the RESPECT for all She (MOTHER) nourishes, including the Native American priesthood assigned this task by Creator and all animal life and even 2-leggeds. And the leading animal spirits assigned to this task are those of the tatanka (Lakota for buffalo or “wild ox associated with Joseph”), Lakota wambli and Hopi kwahu (eagle) toho (Hopi for lion) and the man who completes Ezekiel’s vision, the sundancer or canupa (pipe) carrier who pours the lodge. As permutations of the Divine unutterable name (YH&WH) are sung and drummed — a distinctly priestly observance — the dancer or carrier who dashes water from the shell of a horn of a buffalo onto glowing hot rocks in total darkness is a “hollow bone” for Great Spirit and/or the spirits of these animals to impart wisdom.

    This priesthood is identified as an admixture of Joseph-East M’nashe and ancient Gilead, also known as “the preserved of Israel” of Isaiah 49:6-8 since Gilead and East M’nashe were exiled 17-23 years ahead of the Ten Tribes on the West Bank and unlike the West Bank entered exile without being severed from Covenant. The

    spirit of Elijah THE Gileadite is restoring these descended from Gilead, beginning with untribed Apache residing in the eastern precincts of the Sacred Four Corners, perhaps made sacred by their presence here. Minimally, Gilead is found among the Apache 5 Nations and the Navajo but migration research traces the ancient priests with whom Elijah identified to as many as 38 Athap(b)ascan Language Group nations. See “East M’nashe, Gileadite priests, Gershonite Levites traced to Apache 5 Nations, Navajo at Sacred Four Corners,” on my website.

    Consider too, that Earth as humankind knows it, is described in the Torah as a RE-CREATION. Beings before humans were the cause of her becoming “tohu v’ bohu” (void and without form). “In the (very) beginning, God Created the Heavens and Earth and the Earth (Heb. HAYAH was/BECAME) “void and without form.” The Heavens created at the same time as the Earth were not voided or formless, indicating the NEW Earth is a re-creation or in spiritual terms “a healing.” This act of healing by Creator spiritually imparts the properties of healing into Mama.

    Gah geh you e & Hoa mitakuye oyasin (To all my relations)

    Maggid ben Yoseif

    I am past ambassador-at-large of the Central Band Cherokee, one of 13 Equahiyi-Wasi (Abraham-Moses) society members researching Hebrew priestly ties to Native Americans and a spiritual elder in a purification lodge of untribed Apache sundance warriors.. I have no religion but observe Native spirituality. I was given Orthodox smichah as a “Joe” by the Rebbe Shani-Dor of the Revived Sanhedrin after study in graduate theology school, with a Moslem imam in East Jerusalem and with rabbis in Jerusalem while working in the U.S. and Israeli news media (Middle East TV and the Jerusalem Post)

  • WHAT I HAVE LEARNED FROM THE SPIRITS OF ANIMALS … AND ELIJAH

    H”b

    ‘siyo & Hoa (Aho!)

    Perhaps the Christian concern about animal spirits comes from a foundation that assumes too much. Would the same question be asked if New Testament assumptions about Creator and His Creation were based on a Torah foundation by which to determine their truth?

    How did Noah get all those animals into the ark? Their SPIRITS were sensitive to Creator’s SPIRIT. How was Bil’am’s ass able to talk?

    Ultimately, there is the End-Times covenant to reconcile the houses of Joseph-Ephraim with Joseph-M’nashe, minimally, which may extend to all mankind in Hosea 2:18-20. This covenant with the 4-legged, winged and creatures who crawl on the ground also ends the sword, bow and violence in the earth. Has any humanity — except those comprising indigenous peoples — even attempted this?

    The whole Christian paradigm must become aware of our animal relatives, who live much closer and in tune to Great Spirit that most all of humanity. The biblical means to this end is the Native American purification lodge, which was around when European settlers arrived but not then recognized as the “goring with the horns of the re’eim (buffalo)” (Deut 33:15ff) that could start to right things between the family of Joseph … and wean Ephraim of its “gun,” “drill-baby-drill,” and “all-ahead-full-fracking” mentalities.

    What force but SPIRIT and the ability of animals to be in tune would bring a wild she-wolf to leave its mate and come over and kiss me full on the lips and then return to its mate, stopping and staring back at me for a moment before rejoining its mate?

    What possesses eagles to circle lower and lower until they gift you with a feather? Why and who do black widows bite knowing it means their death/transition? Why does the Torah protect even bird’s nests?

    When Ephraim (the fullness of the Gentiles still enmeshed in the Church), eventually finds its way into Native American inipi (purification lodges) that covenant can be established … and how it will change the world. Once one bows low to our LIVING MOTHER (Heb. “adamah” is feminine noun, rare in biblical Hebrew indicating dynamic properties of LIFE,) one learns the RESPECT for all She (MOTHER) nourishes, including the Native American priesthood assigned this task by Creator and all animal life and even 2-leggeds. And the leading animal spirits assigned to this task are those of the tatanka (Lakota for buffalo or “wild ox associated with Joseph”), Lakota wambli and Hopi kwahu (eagle) toho (Hopi for lion) and the man who completes Ezekiel’s vision, the sundancer or canupa (pipe) carrier who pours the lodge. As permutations of the Divine unutterable name (YH&WH) are sung and drummed — a distinctly priestly observance — the dancer or carrier who dashes water from the shell of a horn of a buffalo onto glowing hot rocks in total darkness is a “hollow bone” for Great Spirit and/or the spirits of these animals to impart wisdom.

    This priesthood is identified as an admixture of Joseph-East M’nashe and ancient Gilead, also known as “the preserved of Israel” of Isaiah 49:6-8 since Gilead and East M’nashe were exiled 17-23 years ahead of the Ten Tribes on the West Bank and unlike the West Bank entered exile without being severed from Covenant. The

    spirit of Elijah THE Gileadite is restoring these descended from Gilead, beginning with untribed Apache residing in the eastern precincts of the Sacred Four Corners, perhaps made sacred by their presence here. Minimally, Gilead is found among the Apache 5 Nations and the Navajo but migration research traces the ancient priests with whom Elijah identified to as many as 38 Athap(b)ascan Language Group nations. See “East M’nashe, Gileadite priests, Gershonite Levites traced to Apache 5 Nations, Navajo at Sacred Four Corners,” on my website.

    Consider too, that Earth as humankind knows it, is described in the Torah as a RE-CREATION. Beings before humans were the cause of her becoming “tohu v’ bohu” (void and without form). “In the (very) beginning, God Created the Heavens and Earth and the Earth (Heb. HAYAH was/BECAME) “void and without form.” The Heavens created at the same time as the Earth were not voided or formless, indicating the NEW Earth is a re-creation or in spiritual terms “a healing.” This act of healing by Creator spiritually imparts the properties of healing into Mama.

    Gah geh you e & Hoa mitakuye oyasin (To all my relations)

    Maggid ben Yoseif

    I am past ambassador-at-large of the Central Band Cherokee, one of 13 Equahiyi-Wasi (Abraham-Moses) society members researching Hebrew priestly ties to Native Americans and a spiritual elder in a purification lodge of untribed Apache sundance warriors.. I have no religion but observe Native spirituality. I was given Orthodox smichah as a “Joe” by the Rebbe Shani-Dor of the Revived Sanhedrin after study in graduate theology school, with a Moslem imam in East Jerusalem and with rabbis in Jerusalem while working in the U.S. and Israeli news media (Middle East TV and the Jerusalem Post)