The Merging of Native Spirituality and the Emerging Church . . . for the “Healing” of the Nations?

By Nanci Des Gerlaise
(First Nations Cree Canadian and author of Muddy Waters)

The emerging church is a movement that is said to be a new way to do Christianity, a way that is supposed to reach out to the postmodern generation in a more relevant way than traditional Christianity. In reality, the emerging church, which is really a merging church, is a full-scale ecumenical effort to unite all religions against biblical Christianity by using mystical practices to accomplish this. In the emerging church, doctrine becomes unimportant while unity at all costs becomes the most important thing.

Richard Twiss talks about “heal[ing] the rifts”1 between Natives and Anglo-Saxons, Democrats and Republicans, men and women, rich and poor, etc. and asserts how we can “all have a part to play in the healing of our nation [America].”2 This is exactly what the emerging church is proposing to do. But the healing of the nations (America, Canada, or any part of the world) is not going to happen before Jesus Christ returns. The teaching that we can, in and of ourselves, usher in the Kingdom of God on earth now before His return is heretical. Our focus, as Native or non-Native Christians, needs to be the preaching of the Gospel according to the Holy Scriptures. It is not the earth we are to save but rather men, women, and children’s souls.

When Twiss tells us to “imagine Native believers enjoying the fragrant aroma of burning sage, sweet grass or cedar”3 or “smudging,4 I believe he is misleading many. Galatians 3:28 tells us, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” In other words, our focus as born-again believers isn’t to practice rituals from the cultures we were born into. We are born again, into a brand new culture—God’s culture. The one “culture” that God has bestowed on all mankind is the Gospel; it is the one heritage passed on to us by God, yet we are destroying it today.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

In 2010 at the Emergent Village Theological Conference, Richard Twiss was part of this emerging church event. A blog for the event states:

Richard Twiss . . . began by blessing us with sage incense and having a member of his team dance a healing dance. . . .
He moved from rejecting his reservation upbringing, to re-discovering his heritage and hating white people, coming to faith in Christ through evangelical churches, walking away again from his heritage, to re-re-discovering his Native culture and integrating it into his faith.5

The emerging church fits in very well with Native Spirituality and Catholicism. Icons, incense, earth-based spirituality, ushering in the kingdom of God, and healing for the earth through ecumenical unity, mantras and chanting—these are all elements they have in common with each other.

In One Church, Many Tribes, Richard Twiss echoes Rob Bell, a leader in the emerging church. Twiss talks about removing the barriers between the “sacred” and the “secular.”6 He says that “Native people do not have a split view of reality.”7 On Bell’s national tour, Everything is Spiritual,8 Bell tells his audiences that God is in everything and no gap exists between the secular and the spiritual. Twiss says that “Western Christians struggle with . . . a dualistic belief”9 with regard to the secular and the spiritual. Whether Twiss realizes it or not, he is describing a core viewpoint in the New Age and occultism where the secular (the flesh or carnal man) and the spiritual (God) are one. I think this explanation by Christian author Ray Yungen demonstrates the subtleties that lie within bridging the gap between the secular and the spiritual (i.e., man and God) in his book A Time of Departing:

Satan is not simply trying to draw people to the dark side of a good versus evil conflict. Actually, he is trying to eradicate the gap between himself and God, between good and evil, altogether. When we understand this approach it helps us see why . . . Jack Canfield said he felt God flowing through all things. . . . Such reasoning implies that God has given His glory to all of creation; since Satan is part of creation, then he too shares in this glory, and thus is “like the Most High.” . . .

If the all-is-one view were true, then salvation through a Redeemer would become unnecessary and Jesus’ death on the Cross would be rendered altogether futile and pointless. In order for the Cross to make any sense, there must be a separation between God’s perfect nature and Man’s sin nature.10

The Native view, which maintains there is no division between the secular and the spiritual, goes against what the Bible says about the wretched carnality of man. God is so holy and so pure that He cannot even look upon such sinfulness. It is only through the perfection, sinlessness, and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, and through being washed clean by His blood that anyone can be saved.

There is a gap between the sacred and the secular, and there is only One mediator Who can rectify that. Native Spirituality, Catholicism, and the New Age—none of these belief systems can do it nor can they eradicate that huge chasm that has been fixed between God and man. This may be hard for us to understand because the Bible also says “God so loved the world . . .” and is “not willing that any should perish” (John 3:16 and 2 Peter 3:9). But yet, by the same token, John 3:16 also makes it very clear that only “whosoever believeth on Him will not perish but will have everlasting life.” He has bestowed upon every man and woman the ability to believe upon Him in as great a measure as He has also given every man the ability to reject Him. Thus, we are all without excuse.

The plan of the emerging church is to see the earth “healed” by bringing in a global, all-inclusive kingdom of God that would include all religions and all people. The problem with an all-inclusive “kingdom” is that there is no room for a Savior who proclaims there is only one way to Heaven. One very popular New Age/New Spirituality proponent who believes man is on the threshold of enlightenment and healing for the earth says this:

It will take an unprecedented act of courage, on a grand scale. You may have to do something virtually unknown in the annals of human history. . . . You may have to give up some of your most sacred beliefs. . . . let me make something clear. The era of the Single Savior is over. What is needed now is joint action, combined effort, collective co-creation.11

How is the world going to grab hold of this “collective” effort to unite together and save the world? Through mysticism and occult practices. And because mysticism is such a major component in Native Spirituality, the emerging church, and the New Age, it is easy to see how these three spiritualities are really on the same path. And it is a path that excludes the single Savior of the world.

(from Muddy Waters by Nanci Des Gerlaise, pp. 141-145)

1. Richard Twiss, One Church Many Tribes, p. 23.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid., pp. 132-133.
4. Ibid., p. 133.
5. Emergent Village Theological Conference,
6. RichardTwiss, One Church Many Tribes, p. 92.
7. Ibid., p. 91.
8. For more information on Rob Bell’s Everything is Spiritual tour, see the DVD Quantum Lie with Warren B. Smith and Bob DeWaay at
9. Richard Twiss, One Church Many Tribes, p. 93.
10. Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2nd ed. 2006), pp. 108-109).
11. Neale Donald Walsch, The New Revelations (New York, NY: Atria Books, 2002), pp. 175, 157; as quoted from Deceived on Purpose by Warren B. Smith (Magalia, CA: Mountain Stream Press, 2nd edition, 3rd printing), pp. 61-62.

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