Posts Tagged ‘native spirituality’

Cutting-Edge Christianity or Shamanism?

By David Dombrowski
Editor at Lighthouse Trails Publishing

I find it rather interesting how God has orchestrated things in life, which demonstrate His great love and ongoing mercy to ordinary people like myself. But, more specifically, I am thinking right now about how years ago I happened to come across a copy of a nearly forgotten book at the university library while working on a project. I still find it amazing that this secular humanistic library even had a copy of Stories from Indian Wigwams and Northern Campfires – a book written by a missionary to the Canadian Native peoples of the 1800s sharing not only his life among them but the amazing stories they would tell him as they would warm themselves before a fire. This book is a treasure of the long-forgotten heritage of the Cree and Saulteaux tribes and how their lives were wonderfully transformed through the proclamation of the Gospel.

Though I first read that book over thirty years ago as a young university student, in 2010 God put it in our hearts here at Lighthouse Trails to publish this nearly forgotten book; then, when we were preparing to release it for publication, Nanci Des Gerlaise, a Canadian Cree, contacted us about a book she had written titled Muddy Waters. The great surprise was that Nanci, whom we then sent a review copy of the Wigwam manuscript, recognized in it the name Mask-e-pe-toon as being the name of the best friend of her great, great grandfather. Nanci agreed to write the forward to that book. We also agreed to publish Muddy Waters. Later we added a DVD (not our own) titled I’ll Never Go Back!: The Testimony of Chief Shoefoot. In this film, Chief Shoefoot shares his own story of what life has been like for him both before and after he received the Gospel, hence his words “I’ll never go back” became the title of the video. Chief Shoefoot is a member of the native people known as the Yanomamo. The Yanomamo reside in a northern region of South America bordering Venezuela and Brazil. Hearing that Chief Shoefoot is part of a Yanomamo tribe especially caught my interest because I remembered studying these people in an anthropology class back in 1972.

Chief Shoefoot

Chief Shoefoot

Anthropologists have been studying the Yanomamo for many years now, and the typical reaction by many anthropologists to missionary outreaches to these people is that they would have been better off if they had been left alone. Granted various missionary efforts were probably not conducted as they should have been, the fact remains that Jesus commissioned the Gospel to be shared with the whole world. What makes this video unique is that it is the testimony of an actual member of the Yanomamo tribe sharing his viewpoint and his side of the story, and his conclusion is an emphatic yes to having received the Gospel. Contrary to what these anthropologists are saying, Chief Shoefoot makes it clear that his life has been forever changed for the better.

Today, even much of the mission field has been marred by the mentality that we should be less intrusive about sharing the Gospel (see New Missiology). Now don’t get me wrong; it’s true that there may be many non-spiritual aspects of a culture that don’t need to be changed, but the Gospel is very intrusive in calling all people everywhere to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus came as Savior to the whole world, and people from all tribes and nations are offered one way to God. But today organizations, like YWAM, have been taking a more politically correct approach in assuming that every culture already has within their religious traditions an acceptable pathway to God, and our only duty is to encourage them in what they already believe and are already doing with little more than perhaps an occasional reference to the Jesus Christ of the Bible. The sad truth and reality is that, although many peoples and cultures may believe in some type of supreme being and do have a sense of right and wrong, the Gospel is unique in that it is God’s revealed Word and offer of salvation based on grace through faith alone as opposed to a gospel of good works based on a belief in the innate goodness of mankind and God’s willingness to accept any and all man-made plans of salvation.

The truth is that God has declared in his Word that all are sinners and in need of a Savior. So while it may be true that God has not called us to impose European customs on the indigenous peoples of the world, the Gospel is God’s “culture” for all mankind in that it calls all people to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. All I can say is that I personally am so glad that God “imposed” Himself on me when I received Christ as my Savior; and in both Muddy Waters and in the I’ll Never Go Back video, you will witness the powerful and convincing testimony of two people – a medicine man’s daughter (in the book) and a former shaman or witchdoctor (in the film). Their stories are evidence that knowing Jesus Christ as Savior is more precious than anything the world has to offer and does require us to forsake those things that are displeasing to Him.

So, while it may be true that people from all over the world have a sense of right and wrong, the spirituality of all tribes and nations must give way to the truth of the Gospel rather than trying to reshape the Gospel to make it more palatable to any culture. After all, what part of the Gospel would we change? The fact of the matter is that the “preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). Thus, it remains that the Gospel will always be offensive and politically incorrect to the unbeliever regardless of cultural setting. The Gospel is offensive not because it is the “white man’s religion” (which it never was) but because it is the way God chose to redeem mankind – which appears foolish to the carnal mind. But as Scripture declares, “the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25).

Now, let me share something that caught my attention as I was watching the I’ll Never Go Back video. I was listening to Chief Shoefoot share how he became a shaman or witchdoctor and about  the spirituality that ensued, and I was amazed by the realization that as he was describing his spirituality as a shaman, he was describing the spirituality that is being promoted in the church today as “cutting-edge Christianity.” In fact, Chief Shoefoot’s spirituality was far ahead of contemplative spirituality and the New Age of today. Furthermore, they were already incorporating spiritual disciplines into their meditative practices. When I realized this, I listened to Chief Shoefoot very attentively and with much interest because I understood then that they had been practicing “contemplative spirituality” and the “spiritual disciplines” probably for many centuries – perhaps even longer than the Desert Fathers. In listening to him describe his spirituality as a shaman, I also realized that he was at the same time describing where the spirituality of contemplative prayer, the New Age, and the spiritual disciplines will be in the future.

So, while the meditative practices and disciplines of the Desert Fathers phased out to near extinction after the Middle Ages and is being resurrected today, the Yanomamo have preserved and developed these practices and brought them to full fruition. In other words, as the church and the New Age movement are in unison developing these practices, they will in time become like the Yanomamo.

In the film, Chief Shoefoot describes how he was introduced to shamanism at an early age because he was far advanced for his age in spiritual acuteness. Like contemplative prayer and New Age meditation, connection with “God” is accomplished by going into an altered state of consciousness (i.e., the silence). A drug is used for this purpose along with chanting (mantra), rhythm, and dancing. Spiritual disciplines – to include the withholding of food and sleep (i.e., fasting) – were also used to make the spiritual senses more acute. Chief Shoefoot, as I listened to him describe his story, was much more advanced than the mystics and contemplative prayer leaders of today. He literally saw into the spirit world and beheld various spirits which the Yanomamo even had names for.

The Yanomamo shaman recognizes the spirit world as a reality, not a superstition. According to Chief Shoefoot, spirits of various sorts are seen as desirable and are invited to “get inside your chest” while others are avoided as being evil. I am reminded how contemplative leader Richard Foster warns his students to beware of dangerous spirits when they practice contemplative prayer. In Faith Undone, Roger Oakland talks about this:

Proponents of contemplative prayer say the purpose of contemplative prayer is to tune in with God and hear His voice. However, Richard Foster claims that practitioners must use caution. He admits that in contemplative prayer “we are entering deeply into the spiritual realm” and that sometimes it is not the realm of God even though it is “supernatural.” He admits there are spiritual beings and that a prayer of protection should be said beforehand something to the effect of “All dark and evil spirits must now leave.”1

What Chief Shoefoot realized too late is that none of these spirits are good and those considered to be evil cannot be avoided either. He learned that once a person enters into the occultic or contemplative realm, he becomes subject to the spirits that inhabit that realm. Christian mystics who engage in contemplative prayer think they are encountering the Holy Spirit, but Chief Shoefoot literally saw that this realm is inhabited by nothing more than demons who in time also made their habitation in him (and in other members of the tribe).

Understandably, much of the activity of the tribe was marked by immorality and violence. Even anthropologists who are unsympathetic to the Christianizing of these tribes recognize that there is a problem in their social and domestic interactions. Consider, for example, the following quote from an anthropological source regarding the role and treatment of wives in Yanomamo culture:

It is interesting to watch the behavior of women when their husbands return from a hunting trip or a visit. The men march slowly across the village and retire silently into their hammocks. The woman, no matter what she is doing, hurries home and quietly but rapidly prepares a meal for her husband. Should the wife be slow at doing this, the husband is within his rights to beat her. Most reprimands meted out by irate husbands take the form of blows with the hand or with a piece of firewood, but a good many husbands are even more severe. Some of them chop their wives with the sharp edge of a machete or ax, or shoot them with a barbed arrow in some nonvital area, such as in the buttocks or leg. Many men are given to punishing their wives by holding the hot end of a glowing stick against them, resulting in serious burns. . . . It is not uncommon for a man to injure his errant wife seriously; and some men have even killed wives. Women expect this kind of treatment. Those who are not too severely treated might even measure their husband’s concern in terms of the frequency of minor beatings they sustain. I overheard two young women discussing each other’s scalp scars. One of them commented that the other’s husband must really care for her since he has beaten her on the head so frequently! . . . Some men . . . seem to think that it is reasonable to beat their wife once in a while “just to keep them on their toes.”2

For lack of space, let me just say that the interactions of men with each other both within and between tribes is often not peaceable either. But, in any case, Native Spirituality plays a highly significant role in the happenings of these tribes.

Now, I imagine my statement made earlier that those who practice contemplative prayer or New Age mysticism will eventually become like the Yanomamo must now sound too extreme or at least a tongue-in-cheek statement. Actually, it would bring me much comfort if I were to know that I am completely wrong in this assertion. But I am deeply concerned about people, many of whom are Christians, delving into contemplative prayer, eastern meditative practices, and New Age mysticism thinking that they will better themselves by doing so. All of these are occult practices that will tie the user in with the demonic realm though he may think he is connecting with “good” spirits or the Holy Spirit.

It is not unusual for people to join the New Age movement or engage in Yoga or meditative practices like contemplative prayer to reap health benefits to include higher levels of relaxation or to live a more victorious life, but, all the while, they are being introduced to something demonic both in origin and operation. The Bible makes a clear statement about occult or mystical practices in Deuteronomy 18:9-12 by sounding the alarm that these practices are “an abomination unto the Lord.” Then, too, Jesus warned against praying as the heathen do by using “vain repetitions” (Matthew 6:7), which is a clear indictment against chanting or the mantra-like words and phrases used in contemplative or meditative prayer.

Yet, more and more Christians are joining in contemplative or mystical prayer, thinking it will make them stronger spiritually when the opposite is the case. In fact, what Christians are being drawn into is very antichrist in nature. Our research shows that those who engage in contemplative prayer in time see less and less relevance to the Cross (the atonement) to where it becomes unnecessary. The reason for this is quite simple: contemplative prayer makes a person feel one with and a part of God to where a sacrifice for sin no longer makes any sense.

Contemplative prayer is one and the same thing as New Age or mystical prayer; both are occultic practices in that they bring the practitioner into the demonic realm though he believes all the while that he is connecting with God. Then when I heard Chief Shoefoot’s testimony, I realized that shamanism is one and the same thing as contemplative or New Age mystical prayer as well. As one adherent of mysticism explains, “The meditation of advanced occultists is identical with the prayer of advanced mystics.”3 Thomas Merton, a Catholic monk, who helped pioneer the modern-day contemplative prayer movement identified with Buddhism (saying he “intend[ed] to become as good a Buddhist as [he] can”)4 because he realized that the prayer of the Buddhist monks was the same as his. Alice Bailey, whom I consider the mother of the New Age movement, predicted that New Age (or occultic) spirituality would not go around the Christian church but rather through it. She called it the “the regeneration of the churches.” In explaining this, Ray Yungen says:

[I]nstead of opposing Christianity, the occult would capture and blend itself with Christianity and then use it as its primary  vehicle for spreading and instilling New Age consciousness!5

In other words, occultic prayer all over the world is coming to a head and bringing about the great falling away that the Bible predicts will happen. Modern day proponents refer to it as quantum spirituality; and through borrowing terms used in physics, they tell us that if enough people meditate at the same time, we will achieve a critical mass, and we will then witness the dawning of the age of Aquarius where peace will guide our planet. However, Alice Bailey and New Age leaders who have followed her see Christians who do not practice New Age style meditation as in the way because they are not being “vibrationally sympathetic.” Such people, they maintain, will have to be eliminated! Having come from the New Age movement, Warren Smith has been warning Christians about this for some time. New Age leaders speak of love, but those who have birthed and perpetuated the movement have something much more sinister in their hearts.

We at Lighthouse Trails, as do other ministries like ours, have a sense of urgency to call all Christians to return to their true roots – namely the Gospel. Our loyalty needs to be with our Savior and not with the traditions of men. Whether we are Native American or of any other descent, Jesus Christ needs to be more precious than any of the things that would make us appear politically correct or gain the favor of men.

Notes:

1.  Roger Oakland, Faith Undone (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing),  p. 99.

2.  Napolean A. Chagnon, Yanomamo: The Fierce People (New York, NY: Holt, Reinhart adn Winston, 3rd edition), pp.112-113.

3.  Richard Kirby, The Mission of Mysticism (London, UK: SPCK, 1979), p. 7; as cited in A Time of Departing, p. 32.

4.  David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West” (Monastic Studies, 7:10, 1969), as cited in A Time of Departing, p. 78.

5. Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2nd edition), p. 124.

Note: To access information about the books and DVDs we mention in this article, click here.

I’ll Never Go Back – DVD

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The Story of An Old Conjurer—And His Conversion to Christ

By Egerton Ryerson Young
(A Canadian missionary from the 1800s and the author of Stories From Indian Wigwams and Northern Campfires)

Far away in the forest wilds, several hundreds of miles north-east of the city of Winnipeg, there dwelt in an Indian village a notorious old conjurer. His reputation was very bad among the people. To the deadly effects of his poisons the sudden deaths of numbers of the Indians were ascribed, and many a maimed and disfigured Indian in secret muttered his denunciations against this wicked old man and blamed his “bad medicine” as the cause of all his troubles.

When reports reached him that the missionary with the great book was going around through the land among the Indians, traveling in summer in a birch canoe and in winter with his dog-trains, and that scores, and in some places hundreds, of the people were gladly listening to his words and giving up the old habits as well as the old religion of their fathers and accepting Christianity, the heart of this old conjurer was filled with wrath, and he declared that if ever that missionary came to their village neither he nor the Indians who brought him should leave the place alive.

A photo from Stories From Indian Wigwams and Northern Campfires (Lighthouse Trails)

A photo from Stories From Indian Wigwams and Northern Campfires (Lighthouse Trails)

So remote and apparently inaccessible was the Indian band that years passed away before it seemed possible for the missionary to make the long journey to that place. It so happened, however, that the same year the missionary heard of the old conjurer’s threat, that summer the way opened by which two Christian canoe-men could be secured to go with him on the perilous journey—perilous in more ways than one. The dangers of the way and the old conjurer’s threats were all talked over, and then with their eyes open as to the character of the undertaking, and earnestly seeking the divine blessing, they began the trip. They were twelve days on the way. Of course, it was impossible to carry in a birch-bark canoe sufficient food to last for such an extended trip.

However, as they were armed with a good rifle and shotgun, and had plenty of ammunition, and much game abounded in that part of the country, they had abundance of food. So full of rapids and falls were the rivers that they had to make over fifty portages during the trip. At these obstructions, one Indian would carry the canoe on his head around the rapids until he reached the smooth water beyond. The other Indian and the missionary would carry the blankets, kettles, guns, and other things which made up the load. Then all would be re-arranged and on they would go. It was not an unpleasant trip during the fine weather, although the mosquitoes and flies were very numerous. When it rained, however, it was somewhat trying. They had no tent, and there was not to be met with on the whole trip a single house. Several times were they drenched to the skin and had to remain so, which was on one occasion for several days, until the warm sun came out and dried them with its welcome rays. Their bed was made where night happened to overtake them. A smooth granite rock was preferred, although there were times when even this could not be found. At length, after a variety of adventures they drew near the end of the journey. When about six miles from the Indian village, the hearts of the two Indian canoe-men seemed to fail them, and, to the missionary’s surprise, they wanted to turn around and go back.

“What!” said the missionary, “come at least two hundred and ninety-four miles and not travel the other six! Never! Let us go on.”

Vainly they pleaded their fears of the old medicine-man and his terrible deeds and threats. However, the missionary was firm, and so the men yielded, while he appealed to their manhood and promise to him ere they left home. He also cheered them with quoting some of the promises of God, whose servants they all were, and for whose glory and the good of these poor people this journey was undertaken. Encouraged by these things, the paddles were resumed until the wigwams of the Indians were visible in the distance. Then resting on their paddles the faithful Indians said:

“Missionary, there is one thing we want to ask of you. You know we, like you, have left our wives and children behind and came on this dangerous journey. How could we think of going back if any thing should happen to you? We think we can take care of ourselves, but our great fear is about you. This old conjurer with his ‘bad medicine’ is very wicked and cunning. What we want you to promise us is that you will not eat any food except as we prepare it for you.”

While admiring their devotion, the missionary only laughed at their fears and said: “You make my heart very warm toward you for your love and anxiety about me, but I have another plan in my mind. I think I will eat with that wicked old conjurer before the sun goes down.” They were amazed at this, and protested most earnestly. Very blood-curdling were some of the things they had heard about this bad man and his medicines, so powerful that a little dropped into the food would cause death in a few minutes. However, the missionary was firm, as he had decided on another method for dealing with this old Indian, whose reputation was so bad, than that very timid one suggested by his faithful canoe-men.

Another half -hour’s paddling brought them into the Indian village. It was small and poor and looked like a place blighted and cursed. Quite a number of careworn and sad looking women and children were around; but very few men were visible. However, the majority of them seemed pleased to see the missionary, although some quickly began to speak out their fears that his life was in danger on account of the threats of the old medicine-man. “Where is the wigwam of this old medicine-man about whom I hear so much?” said the missionary. His tent was pointed out. It stood off by itself in a gloomy-looking place, and toward it the missionary, taking with him a few things, immediately started alone.

When he reached it, he pulled aside the blanket which served as the door, and, stooping down to avoid striking his head against the poles, he entered. So gloomy and dark was the interior that it was a few seconds before the missionary, coming in out of the bright, dazzling sunlight, could clearly make out, or rather take in, the situation. However, he soon observed the object of his search sitting on the ground directly opposite. With some tea and tobacco, the missionary went over in front of him, and, reaching out his right hand, he cheerily addressed him in the Indian way, saying, “What cheer, mismis?” which in English is, “How do you do, grandfather?” But the old man, who by some fleet runner had already been informed of the missionary’s arrival, with a growl of disapprobation refused to shake hands with the white man who had thus dared to brave his wrath and crowd himself into his wigwam. But the missionary was not to be thus easily rebuffed, and so, stooping down quickly, he caught hold of the Indian’s hand and shook it heartily in a pump-handle sort of a style. While vigorously doing so he began talking to the old man, saying, among other things, “What cheer, mismis, what cheer? I am not your enemy, but your friend. I have come all this long way to do you good. Our feet have been sore and our hands blistered. Our bones have ached with the hardships of the journey. We have been drenched by the rains and have tried to sleep in our wet clothes as we lay down on the rocks, while in the distance we have heard the howlings of the gray wolves. We came not to buy your furs or to trade with you, but to do you good. The Great Spirit has given us white people his book, and as its wonderful story is for his red children too we have come to tell it to you. You had better listen and let us be friends. It is true you will have to change your life, and you will have to stop your drumming and conjuring and burn your bad medicines and make your own living by hunting and fishing as do the other Indians.” Still he refused, and so the missionary adopted another plan. He took a large plug of tobacco and placed it in his hands. Tobacco among Indians is like salt among the Arabs. If he accepted his tobacco, he must be his friend, and would not dare to injure him while in his wigwam. For a time, he refused to accept it, but the white man continued talking kindly to him, but all he could get in response were his growls of annoyance. “Take it, grandfather,” he said; “I never use the stuff myself, but those who do say this is a very good kind.”

Perhaps fortunately for the missionary, the old man’s supply had run out a few days before, and so his appetite was proportionally keen for the narcotic, and after a little more persuasion his hand closed upon it, and the missionary knew he had him. Then taking up a pound package of tea, the missionary said, looking up to some dirty dried meat that hung in shreds like straps across a pole, “You have meat, and I have tea. You furnish the meat, and I will the tea, and we will eat together.”

A gleam of malignant triumph passed over his face as he seemed to say to himself, “Is this missionary such a fool as to thus put it into my power to so easily poison him?” The missionary had observed that look and had read its meaning, and so he said, “Never mind your poisons. I come as a stranger and challenge you to a dinner, if you furnish part. Never mind your fire-bag with its bad medicines about which you are thinking, and let us as friends eat and drink together.”

Egerton Ryerson Young

Egerton Ryerson Young

The old fellow fairly quailed under those words, especially at the reference to his bad medicines, and began to think that the man who could thus read his innermost thoughts must be a bigger conjurer than he was himself. So turning quickly to his old wife, who was crouched down on the ground a little way from him, he ordered her to take the tea and get down some meat and prepare the dinner. She quickly set to work. The meat was dirty, but she did not stop to wash it. Dirty and dusty as it was it was soon in a pot over a fire quickly kindled. In a half sulky manner the old man invited the missionary to sit down beside him, and they talked about various things until the dinner was ready, and then together did the missionary and that old conjurer eat and drink. The old fellow said the meat was venison; the missionary thought, and still thinks, it was dog-flesh; but what it was is of very little consequence. The old conjurer was conquered, and not long after burned his fire-bag and bad medicines and became a sincere, earnest Christian. Only twice a year could the missionary visit that distant region; but whether he came by canoe in summer or dog-train in winter no one could give him a more cordial welcome than did the once notoriously wicked conjurer, but now the earnest, consistent Christian. He followed the missionary around like a shadow. He heard every sermon and address. He acted as guide to the different wigwams where personal visitation and talks could influence unconverted ones to decide for Christ. He also took the missionary to the homes of the sick and sorrowing ones, and drank in with avidity the sweet promises of the word of God which were there quoted and the prayers there offered. Sometimes so hungry did he seem for every thing spiritual that he would follow the missionary to the spot where he was about to unroll his camp-bed and rest after the day of this blessed toil. And when he bowed in prayer ere he wrapped himself for sleep the old man would kneel beside him and softly whisper, “Missionary, please pray out loud, and pray in my language, so that I can understand you.” And then again at the morning devotions, no matter how early they were, the now dear old saint was there, and again his earnest words were, “Please, missionary, pray out loud, and pray in my language, so that I can understand you.” Such genuine conversions repay a thousandfold for all the risks run and privations endured. Very blessed indeed is it to be able to quote Paul’s words and say:

Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.   (2 Corinthians 2:14)

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A False Native American Messiah

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

Wovoka_Paiute_Shaman

Jack Wilson – “Wovoka”

False “Christs” exist among Native Americans just like they exist in other ethnic groups. One of the most memorable is Wovoka (born c. 1858 in Nevada), also known as Jack Wilson. Wovoka was a Paiute religious leader who combined Christianity with Paiute mysticism. He founded the Ghost Dance movement in 1890, which spread throughout much of the western United States. Wovoka saw the power Jesus wielded as magic. One biographer of Wovoka explains:

He [Wovoka] learned about Jesus—palefaced wizard of long ago. Jesus was adept at magic. He had only to touch a man to heal him. He could change plain water into firewater. He could take one small trout, and with a hand pass, turn the trout into enough fish to feed the whole tribe. He could breathe on a dead man, and the dead man’s eyes would open once again into life.1

Wovoka claimed to be the Messiah and told the Natives who followed him not to tell “white man” about him, saying, “Jesus is now upon the earth. He appears like a cloud. The dead are all still alive again.”2 Wovoka believed he had made a personal visit to Heaven in which he learned that:

The enlightened ones must perform the stately circle dance in the precise manner which God and the spirits demanded. They must sing the songs the Messiah prescribed. They must wear the holy garment, which protected against danger and death. This visible badge of oneness was a shirt, marked with mystic symbols, which not only guaranteed everlasting life to the believer, but had the miraculous power to turn back even the white man’s bullets.3

The book Ghost Dance Messiah states:

To the desperate and conquered Plains tribes, in 1890, the doctrine and promises of the Paiute Messiah struck almost instant response. The Sioux, the Arapahoes, the Cheyennes, and Kiowas, in the throes of their desperation, sent investigative teams out to Nevada to sit at the feet of the Indian Jesus. The fever caught on to dozens of other tribes. Soon, across the nation, ten thousand Indians were shuffling in the Ghost Dance, and experiencing its miracles.4

Wovoka became the “Jesus” of his nation and of many other Native American nations. However, to truly fit the description, he needed to have been God, conceived by a virgin, sinless, holy, obedient to the Gospel, and dying a cruel death on the Cross to pay for the sins of mankind. Wovoka was nothing more than a deceived sinner and one who led many into his own deception. In the Gospel of John, it says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1).

The apostle Paul knew that false teachers and false Christs would present themselves. He warned in the Book of Acts:

For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (Acts 20: 29-30)

Paul said that through deception, our minds could become “corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” He warned about those who preach “another Jesus,” “another spirit,” and “another gospel” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4).
Satan is roaming about the earth, seeking those he may deceive. We are warned to be on the lookout for his devices:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

When something (or someone) looks good or sounds good, we automatically tend to think it is good. The same holds true when something feels good. But think about how many times in the Bible we are told about spiritual deception and about those who deceive. It’s one of the major themes in the Word of God. And as for false Christs (or antichrists), we are told there will be many. The prefix anti in antichrist means pseudo, another word for a counterfeit of the real thing. It may look similar and may promise the same things, but in reality, it is not the real thing. And following a counterfeit will lead one down a path to destruction at worst and deep disappointment at best. This is the very reason why we should not lean on our own understanding but acknowledge God in all our ways.

Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. (1 Corinthians 3:18–19)

To learn more about Native Spirituality and the Emerging Church, read Muddy Waters: an insider’s view of North American Native Spirituality

Endnotes:

1. Paul Bailey, Ghost Dance Messiah (New York, NY: Tower Publications, Inc., MCMLXX), p. 12.
2. Ibid, back cover.
3. Ibid, pp. 5-6.
4. Ibid, p. 6.

Other articles by Nanci Des Gerlaise:

Two Sources of Power But Only One Source of Truth

Dream Catchers – Those Popular Spidery “Sacred Hoops”

Native Spirituality “Renewal” Emerges

The Dangers of Sweat Lodge Ceremonies

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

Unequal Contenders in the Spiritual War

Living Waters – From Darkness to Light

 

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Shamanism or Cutting-Edge Christianity?

By David Dombrowski
Editor at Lighthouse Trails Publishing & Research

I find it rather interesting how God has orchestrated things in life, which demonstrate His great love and ongoing mercy to ordinary people like myself. But, more specifically, I am thinking right now about how years ago I happened to come across a copy of a nearly forgotten book at the university library while working on a project. I still find it amazing that this secular humanistic library even had a copy of Stories from Indian Wigwams and Northern Campfires – a book written by a missionary to the Canadian Native peoples of the 1800s sharing not only his life among them but the amazing stories they would tell him as they would warm themselves before a fire. This book is a treasure of the long-forgotten heritage of the Cree and Saulteaux tribes and how their lives were wonderfully transformed through the proclamation of the Gospel.

Though I first read that book over thirty years ago as a young university student, in 2010, God put it in our hearts here at Lighthouse Trails to publish this nearly forgotten book; then, when we were preparing to release it for publication, Nanci Des Gerlaise, a Canadian Cree, contacted us about a book she had written titled Muddy Waters. The great surprise was that Nanci, whom we then sent a review copy of the Wigwam manuscript, recognized in it the name Mask-e-pe-toon as being the name of the best friend of her great, great grandfather. Nanci then agreed to write the forward to that book. We also agreed to publish Muddy Waters, which we are happy to announce is our newest release. Then more recently, we have added a new video (not our own) titled I’ll Never Go Back!: The Testimony of Chief Shoefoot. In this video, Chief Shoefoot shares his own story of what life has been like for him both before and after he received the Gospel, hence his words “I’ll never go back” became the title of the video. Chief Shoefoot is a member of the native people known as the Yanomamo. The Yanomamo reside in a northern region of South America bordering Venezuela and Brazil. Hearing that Chief Shoefoot is part of a Yanomamo tribe especially caught my interest because I remembered studying these people in an anthropology class back in 1972.

Anthropologists have been studying the Yanomamo for many years now, and the typical reaction by many anthropologists to missionary outreaches to these people is that they would have been better off if they had been left alone. Granted various missionary efforts were probably not conducted as they should have been, the fact remains that Jesus commissioned the Gospel to be shared with the whole world. What makes this video unique is that it is the testimony of an actual member of the Yanomamo tribe sharing his viewpoint and his side of the story, and his conclusion is an emphatic yes to having received the Gospel. Contrary to what these anthropologists are saying, Chief Shoefoot makes it clear that his life has been forever changed for the better.

Today, even much of the mission field has been marred by the mentality that we should be less intrusive about sharing the Gospel (see New Missiology). Now don’t get me wrong; it’s true that there may be many non-spiritual aspects of a culture that don’t need to be changed, but the Gospel is very intrusive in calling all people everywhere to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus came as Savior to the whole world, and people from all tribes and nations are offered one way to God. But today organizations, like YWAM, have been taking a more politically correct approach in assuming that every culture already has within their religious traditions an acceptable pathway to God, and our only duty is to encourage them in what they already believe and are already doing with little more than perhaps an occasional reference to the Jesus Christ of the Bible. The sad truth and reality is that, although many peoples and cultures may believe in some type of supreme being and do have a sense of right and wrong, the Gospel is unique in that it is God’s revealed Word and offer of salvation based on grace through faith alone as opposed to a gospel of good works based on a belief in the innate goodness of mankind and God’s willingness to accept any and all man-made plans of salvation.

The truth is that God has declared in his Word that all are sinners and in need of a Savior. So while it may be true that God has not called us to impose European customs on the indigenous peoples of the world, the Gospel is God’s “culture” for all mankind in that it calls all people to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. All I can say is that I personally am so glad that God “imposed” Himself on me when I received Christ as my Savior; and in both Muddy Waters and in the I’ll Never Go Back video, you will witness the powerful and convincing testimony of two people – a medicine man’s daughter (in the book) and a former shaman or witchdoctor (in the video). Their stories are evidence that knowing Jesus Christ as Savior is more precious than anything the world has to offer and does require us to forsake those things that are displeasing to Him. You will learn from both Nanci Des Gerlaise and Chief Shoefoot that Native Spirituality is occultic and needs to be forsaken for the truth of the Gospel.

So, while it may be true that people from all over the world have a sense of right and wrong, the spirituality of all tribes and nations must give way to the truth of the Gospel rather than trying to reshape the Gospel to make it more palatable to any culture. After all, what part of the Gospel would we change? The fact of the matter is that the “preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). Thus, it remains that the Gospel will always be offensive and politically incorrect to the unbeliever regardless of cultural setting. The Gospel is offensive not because it is the “white man’s religion” (which it never was) but because it is the way God chose to redeem mankind – which appears foolish to the carnal mind. But as Scripture declares, “the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25).

Now, let me share something that caught my attention as I was watching the I’ll Never Go Back video. I was listening to Chief Shoefoot share how he became a shaman or witchdoctor and about  the spirituality that ensued, and I was amazed by the realization that as he was describing his spirituality as a shaman, he was describing the spirituality that is being promoted in the church today as “cutting-edge Christianity.” In fact, Chief Shoefoot’s spirituality was far ahead of contemplative spirituality and the New Age of today. Furthermore, they were already incorporating spiritual disciplines into their meditative practices. When I realized this, I listened to Chief Shoefoot very attentively and with much interest because I understood then that they had been practicing “contemplative spirituality” and the “spiritual disciplines” probably for many centuries – perhaps even longer than the Desert Fathers. In listening to him describe his spirituality as a shaman, I also realized that he was at the same time describing where the spirituality of contemplative prayer, the New Age, and the spiritual disciplines will be in the future.

So, while the meditative practices and disciplines of the Desert Fathers phased out to near extinction after the Middle Ages and is being resurrected today, the Yanomamo have preserved and developed these practices and brought them to full fruition. In other words, as the church and the New Age movement are in unison developing these practices, they will in time become like the Yanomamo.

In the video, Chief Shoefoot describes how he was introduced to shamanism at an early age because he was far advanced for his age in spiritual acuteness. Like contemplative prayer and New Age meditation, connection with “God” is accomplished by going into an altered state of consciousness (i.e., the silence). A drug is used for this purpose along with chanting (mantra), rhythm, and dancing. Spiritual disciplines – to include the withholding of food and sleep (i.e., fasting) – were also used to make the spiritual senses more acute. Chief Shoefoot, as I listened to him describe his story, was much more advanced than the mystics and contemplative prayer leaders of today. He literally saw into the spirit world and beheld various spirits which the Yanomamo even had names for.

The Yanomamo shaman recognizes the spirit world as a reality, not a superstition. According to Chief Shoefoot, spirits of various sorts are seen as desirable and are invited to “get inside your chest” while others are avoided as being evil. I am reminded how contemplative leader Richard Foster warns his students to beware of dangerous spirits when they practice contemplative prayer. In Faith Undone, Roger Oakland talks about this:

Proponents of contemplative prayer say the purpose of contemplative prayer is to tune in with God and hear His voice. However, Richard Foster claims that practitioners must use caution. He admits that in contemplative prayer “we are entering deeply into the spiritual realm” and that sometimes it is not the realm of God even though it is “supernatural.” He admits there are spiritual beings and that a prayer of protection should be said beforehand something to the effect of “All dark and evil spirits must now leave.”1

What Chief Shoefoot realized too late is that none of these spirits are good and those considered to be evil cannot be avoided either. He learned that once a person enters into the occultic or contemplative realm, he becomes subject to the spirits that inhabit that realm. Christian mystics who engage in contemplative prayer think they are encountering the Holy Spirit, but Chief Shoefoot literally saw that this realm is inhabited by nothing more than demons who in time also made their habitation in him (and in other members of the tribe).

Understandably, much of the activity of the tribe was marked by immorality and violence. Even anthropologists who are unsympathetic to the Christianizing of these tribes recognize that there is a problem in their social and domestic interactions. Consider, for example, the following quote from an anthropological source regarding the role and treatment of wives in Yanomamo culture:

It is interesting to watch the behavior of women when their husbands return from a hunting trip or a visit. The men march slowly across the village and retire silently into their hammocks. The woman, no matter what she is doing, hurries home and quietly but rapidly prepares a meal for her husband. Should the wife be slow at doing this, the husband is within his rights to beat her. Most reprimands meted out by irate husbands take the form of blows with the hand or with a piece of firewood, but a good many husbands are even more severe. Some of them chop their wives with the sharp edge of a machete or ax, or shoot them with a barbed arrow in some nonvital area, such as in the buttocks or leg. Many men are given to punishing their wives by holding the hot end of a glowing stick against them, resulting in serious burns. . . . It is not uncommon for a man to injure his errant wife seriously; and some men have even killed wives. Women expect this kind of treatment. Those who are not too severely treated might even measure their husband’s concern in terms of the frequency of minor beatings they sustain. I overheard two young women discussing each other’s scalp scars. One of them commented that the other’s husband must really care for her since he has beaten her on the head so frequently! . . . Some men . . . seem to think that it is reasonable to beat their wife once in a while “just to keep them on their toes.”2

For lack of space, let me just say that the interactions of men with each other both within and between tribes is often not peaceable either. But, in any case, Native Spirituality plays a highly significant role in the happenings of these tribes.

Now, I imagine my statement made earlier that those who practice contemplative prayer or New Age mysticism will eventually become like the Yanomamo must now sound too extreme or at least a tongue-in-cheek statement. Actually, it would bring me much comfort if I were to know that I am completely wrong in this assertion. But I am deeply concerned about people, many of whom are Christians, delving into contemplative prayer, eastern meditative practices, and New Age mysticism thinking that they will better themselves by doing so. All of these are occult practices that will tie the user in with the demonic realm though he may think he is connecting with “good” spirits or the Holy Spirit. If you have never yet availed yourself of our books, you should secure a copy of A Time of Departing by Ray Yungen and Faith Undone by Roger Oakland. These books will help give you a picture of where we are headed spiritually as a nation and on a global scale. Also, available from us are the writings of Warren Smith, an ex-New Ager who joined the movement for all the right reasons (seeking truth) but eventually learned that what was happening to him was very wrong.

It is not unusual for people to join the New Age movement or engage in yoga or meditative practices like contemplative prayer to reap health benefits to include higher levels of relaxation or to live a more victorious life, but, all the while, they are being introduced to something demonic both in origin and operation. The Bible makes a clear statement about occult or mystical practices in Deuteronomy 18:9-12 by sounding the alarm that these practices are “an abomination unto the Lord.” Then, too, Jesus warned against praying as the heathen do by using “vain repetitions” (Matthew 6:7), which is a clear indictment against chanting or the mantra-like words and phrases used in contemplative or meditative prayer.

Yet, more and more Christians are joining in contemplative or mystical prayer, thinking it will make them stronger spiritually when the opposite is the case. In fact, what Christians are being drawn into is very antichrist in nature. Our research shows that those who engage in contemplative prayer in time see less and less relevance to the Cross (the atonement) to where it becomes unnecessary. The reason for this is quite simple: contemplative prayer makes a person feel one with and a part of God to where a sacrifice for sin no longer makes any sense.

Contemplative prayer is one and the same thing as New Age or mystical prayer; both are occultic practices in that they bring the practitioner into the demonic realm though he believes all the while that he is connecting with God. Then when I heard Chief Shoefoot’s testimony, I realized that shamanism is one and the same thing as contemplative or New Age mystical prayer as well. As one adherent of mysticism explains, “The meditation of advanced occultists is identical with the prayer of advanced mystics.”3 Thomas Merton, a Catholic monk, who helped pioneer the modern-day contemplative prayer movement identified with Buddhism (saying he “intend[ed] to become as good a Buddhist as [he] can”)4 because he realized that the prayer of the Buddhist monks was the same as his. Alice Bailey, whom I consider the mother of the New Age movement, predicted that New Age (or occultic) spirituality would not go around the Christian church but rather through it. She called it the “the regeneration of the churches.” In explaining this, Ray Yungen says:

[I]nstead of opposing Christianity, the occult would capture and blend itself with Christianity and then use it as its primary  vehicle for spreading and instilling New Age consciousness!5

In other words, occultic prayer all over the world is coming to a head and bringing about the great falling away that the Bible predicts will happen. Modern day proponents refer to it as quantum spirituality; and through borrowing terms used in physics, they tell us that if enough people meditate at the same time, we will achieve a critical mass, and we will then witness the dawning of the age of Aquarius where peace will guide our planet. However, Alice Bailey and New Age leaders who have followed her see Christians who do not practice New Age style meditation as in the way because they are not being “vibrationally sympathetic.” Such people, they maintain, will have to be eliminated! Having come from the New Age movement, Warren Smith has been warning Christians about this for some time. New Age leaders speak of love, but those who have birthed and perpetuated the movement have something much more sinister in their hearts.

There will come a day when Christians who have joined up with New Age practices will have to make a decision to return to Christ and have an undivided loyalty to Him and to His Gospel or to continue on in their occultic, mystical practices. Some have already crossed over the line perhaps never to return to the precious hope we have in the Gospel. God has been so merciful, but His mercy will not be extended forever. Isn’t it better to cling close to the Gospel now and to be ready for the Bridegroom when he returns at an unexpected hour?

We at Lighthouse Trails, as do other ministries like ours, have a sense of urgency to call all Christians to return to their true roots – namely the Gospel. Our loyalty needs to be with our Savior and not with the traditions of men. Whether we are Native American or of European or any other descent, Jesus Christ needs to be more precious than any of the things that would make us appear politically correct or gain the favor of men.

Notes:

1.  Roger Oakland, Faith Undone (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing),  p. 99.

2.  Napolean A. Chagnon, Yanomamo: The Fierce People (New York, NY: Holt, Reinhart adn Winston, 3rd edition), pp.112-113.

3.  Richard Kirby, The Mission of Mysticism (London, UK: SPCK, 1979), p. 7; as cited in A Time of Departing, p. 32.

4.  David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West” (Monastic Studies, 7:10, 1969), as cited in A Time of Departing, p. 78.

5. Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2nd edition), p. 124.

Note: To access information about the books and DVDs we mention in this article, click here.

I’ll Never Go Back – DVD

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Dream Catchers – Those Popular Spidery “Sacred Hoops”

By Nanci Des Gerlaise
(author of Muddy Waters: an insider’s view of North American Native Spirituality)

Beautiful dream catcher on green backgroundDream catchers—those spidery “sacred hoops” with feathers. They originated with the Ojibwa tribe during the ’60s and ’70s, supposedly to protect a sleeper by “catching” bad dreams or evil spirits. Then they caught on with other tribes and spread through the New Age movement into popular culture. Today, it is not uncommon to see dream catchers in gift and variety stores.  Dream catchers are even used in some public school settings, as the following describes:

Every classroom displayed at least one dreamcatcher—a magical spider web inside a sacred circle. The students explained that dreamcatchers protect them from evil spirits and nightmares by catching the bad dreams but permitting good dreams to pass though the center. According to fourth grade teacher Ms. Preston, the amber crystal in the center of her dreamcatcher meant proper spiritual alignment with the energy of the universe.1

But you can be sure, most of the general public has no idea of the meaning and purpose of dream catchers.

Basically, using a dream catcher in its intended purpose is nothing more than a form of practicing occultism. How can an inanimate object “catch” evil spirits, much less bad dreams? And why attempt to “catch” evil spirits or nightmares when you cannot fight them physically?

Although Native people can sometimes see into the spiritual world of darkness, dream catchers, or anything having to do with the occult, merely attract evil spirits and demonic activity and provide no means of protection from them. Using dream catchers is an open invitation for more spiritual works of darkness.

If you are a born-again Christian, you have a Protector—God Almighty—Who stands between us and the evil realm. We need nothing more than Jesus Christ Himself who overcame all works and powers of darkness by His death and resurrection. If we pay attention to God’s Word and not to seducing spirits, we can walk in His freedom from fear.

Ephesians 6:12 says that our battle is not against “flesh and blood,” but is against “principalities,” “powers,” “the rulers of the darkness” and “spiritual wickedness in high places.” And in Hebrews, we read:

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Hebrews 2:14–15)

(To understand more about Native Spirituality, read Muddy Waters, by Nanci Des Gerlaise).

Notes:
1. Berit Kjos, Brave New Schools (Kjos Ministries, http://www.crossroad.to/Books/BraveNewSchools/1-globalvillage.html), ch. 1.

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A Beautiful Simple Gospel That Pierced the Heart of an Indian Named Joe

page33 wgwm-1Editor’s Note: The story below is written in the late 1800s by Canadian missionary Egerton Ryerson Young. We have attempted to preserve the writing style and language of the author. However, some of the terms used  would be considered out-dated and incorrect usage in today’s society. We chose to keep Young’s terminology for we knew of his great love and respect for the Native people he so diligently worked and lived with.

By Egerton Ryerson Young
(author of Stories From Indian Wigwams and Northern Campfires)

Missionary work among the Indians, like that in all lands, has its hours of sadness and discouragement as well as of hope and rejoicing. We look back with thankfulness that it was not only our privilege to go forth weeping, bearing the precious seed, but that in addition the Master of the harvest gave us the joy of the reapers. It was our great happiness to see “many a sheaf both ripe and golden” gathered in. The work was one of peculiar hardships to both Mrs. Young and myself, but the conversion of scores of souls every year amply repaid us for the sufferings and anxieties of that life so isolated and lonely as it must necessarily be in mission fields so far from civilization. Many encouraging incidents were constantly occurring to cheer the hearts of the lonely toilers and to stimulate them to labor on in the blessed work. It is a joy to record some of these trophies won not only through our own feeble instrumentality, but also through the loving, consecrated efforts of our loved brother missionaries. One of these dear brethren, writing, says:

“A young Indian who was very sick had his friends bring him twenty-five miles to the home of the missionary. He wept when he came into his presence, and said he wanted to learn about Jesus before he died. He said, ‘I am very wicked, and I want to get a new heart.’ When urged to pray he replied, ‘I can’t pray; I don’t know how.’ The faithful missionary, with a conscious sense of the nearness and infinite compassion of the Divine One, earnestly pointed him to the Lamb of God. Next day, when the missionary called upon him, the poor sick man, holding out his hand, exclaimed with rapture, ‘Jesus has heard my prayer and made my heart good. Now pray for wife also.’ He began from that time to recover from his sickness, and a few days later his wife also accepted Christ as her Saviour, and now both are rejoicing in Jesus.”

A beautiful story is told by one of our earlier Indian missionaries of a proud and powerful chief who, under the preaching of the Gospel, became deeply convicted of sin. Trembling under a sense of his guilt, he came to the missionary and offered him his much-prized belt of wampum to have his load of guilt removed. When told that the Lord Jesus did not want this offering he went away very sad and depressed in spirit. Soon after he returned and offered his gun and favorite dog. “These are not what Christ wants,” said the missionary. Again he went away sorrowful, but after a time he returned and offered his wigwam and family. The faithful missionary, who saw the struggle that was going on in his heart, refused for his Master even these, saying that “the Saviour could not accept even these as a sacrifice for sin.” The poor convicted, half -despairing Indian then threw himself down upon the ground, and, lifting up his tearful eyes, exclaimed, “Here, Lord, I can do no more. Please take poor Indian too.” The answer of peace and pardon was not long in coming.

Many more delightful instances could be given of the Gospel’s power to save. We give more fully in detail the story of the conversion of Joe. It has been made a blessing to many. We trust the placing it here on record will cause it to be a stimulus and blessing to many more. How true it is that it is not always that the greatest results for God are obtained when the surroundings are most favorable! The crowded, enthusiastic audience does not always yield the greatest number of converts. How often has it been seen by the faithful minister or devoted Sunday-school teacher that their work seemed specially owned of God when under difficulties and discouragements they sacrificed self and personal comfort to be in their place and do their duty!

Many can look back to some cold, wet Sunday or other apparently very unfavorable time, from the human stand-point, when, because they were in their place, precious immortal souls were then influenced by the truth and heartily, believingly accepted Christ as their personal, conscious Saviour. Little did I dream, as I stood up before the little company on that Dakota prairie and preached that short, simple sermon, that it was to be one of the successful sermons of my life.

The last Sunday we spent on the prairies on one of my missionary journeys was the hottest day of which I have any recollection. The fierce sun seemed to beat down upon us with tropical heat, and we all felt more or less prostrated by it. We had been traveling with our horses for nearly thirty days over those wonderful fertile meadows, and as became us, as a party of missionaries, we rested on Sunday, and in rotation held religious service. When we reached this hot Sunday the good minister whose turn it was to officiate was so prostrated by the heat that he declared it was impossible for him to preach. I had conducted the service the previous Sunday, and had the good excuse that it was not my turn. The other good divines also had their excuses, and so it really seemed as though the day would pass by and no service be held. So I volunteered to take the work rather than that it should be neglected. This being announced, the different members of our company, with a few exceptions, gathered round the front of my canvas-covered wagon and seated themselves as comfortably as they could in the prairie grass, improvising sun-shades where they were not the fortunate possessors of umbrellas.

Among the members of our party were two Sioux Indians, who had induced our leader, the Rev. George McDougall, to permit them to join our band. Their wish was to leave their own country and to go and join the Indians on the great plains of the Saskatchewan. And perhaps it was felt best by them to get away, ere a worse evil should befall them; for doubtless they had been seriously mixed up, or implicated in the terrible Sioux Indian war which had raged a short time before, in which hundreds of whites had lost their lives and a large region of country had been desolated. With but one of these Indians we have to do. The only name by which he was known to us was that of Joe. He was a wild-looking fellow, and yet had quite a knowledge of the English language, which doubtless he had picked up in the frontier settlements in times of peace or when he was employed as a guide by hunting-parties on the plains. But he hated the white man’s religion, and generally spent Sundays strolling off with his gun on a shooting excursion.

This hot Sunday, however, Joe felt the heat so oppressive that he stretched himself out on the grass on his back, and, with his old hat over his face, tried to sleep. The spot he had selected for his resting-place was only a few yards in front of my wagon, and doubtless he had taken this position from the fact that as I had taken charge of the service the previous Sunday it would be held this day somewhere else, and so he would not be troubled with it. When I stood up to begin Joe partly got up, as though he would depart, but whether it was the prostrating heat or not he dropped down again on the grass, and looked up at me with his glittering coal-black eyes with any thing but friendliness. As I saw him remaining there for the first time at one of the public services the thought came, “Now, may be this is the only opportunity of saying any thing that will reach Joe.” So I lifted up my heart and prayed, “Lord, give me a message for the poor Indian warrior and hunter that will reach his heart. Help me to deliver the message with such simplicity and plainness that, even with his little knowledge of English, he may understand it.” And with that thought or wish uppermost in my mind I conducted the whole service, and preached the divine word. The service closed as usual, and each did his best to comfortably and restfully pass the remaining hours of the sweltering, oppressive day.

A few days after, our long trip across the prairie was ended. The Territories of Minnesota and Dakota had been crossed, and then, after entering into British territory at Pembina, we traveled on through the French half-breed settlement, until we reached the quaint, old-fashioned, mediæval fortress of Fort Garry. Strangely out of place did it seem to us. As we first looked up at its massive walls and turrets and bastions it seemed as though some freak of nature or magic wand had suddenly transported it from some old historic European nation and dropped it down amid the luxuriant grasses and brilliant flowers of this wild prairie country. For more than a month we had been traveling through the wild, unsettled prairies. For many days we had left behind us all vestiges of civilization. No newspapers or letters had we seen for weeks. The “sound of the church-going bell”or the busy hum of civilized industry had never broken the stillness of those solitudes. The last Anglo-Saxon settler’s cabin was hundreds of miles behind us, and now, after being slowly ferried across the Red River of the North, as we climb up the river’s bank we are suddenly confronted by massive castellated stone walls, round towers, turrets, port-holes, cannons, and piles of balls! Strangely out of place as it seemed at first, there comes a feeling of regret in these later years that it could not have been allowed to remain, but the “land craze” came, and its site at so much per foot was too much for mere sentiment, and so the old historic Fort Garry had to go down, leaving scarce a wreck behind.

Here our party broke up. Revs. George McDougall and Peter Campbell, with their families, Messrs. Sniders, the teachers, and several others, whites and Indians, pushed on still farther west, a distance of over twelve hundred miles. The Rev. George Young remained in the little settlement that was springing up around Fort Garry to open our first mission for settlers speaking the English language.

After a few days’ delay Mrs. Young and I started off on our journey for our home, four hundred miles directly north. Many were our dangers and startling were some of our adventures, but after a couple of weeks of weary toil we safely reached our humble home in our Indian mission field.

But we must now go back to the party that we saw start off on their twelve-hundred-mile trip. Their first stopping place would be Edmonton, on the great North Saskatchewan River. A few days after they had left Fort Garry, while Joe and one of the young gentlemen, a Mr. Snider, who was going out as a mission teacher, were walking along the trail, Joe began asking some strange questions.

“Mr. Snider,” said he.

“Well, Joe, what is it,” was the reply.

“Didn’t that young missionary tell lies when he preached that sermon that hot Sunday?”

“Why, no, Joe; he told the truth.”

“But did he not tell a big lie when he said the Great Spirit loved every body, white man and Indian alike?”

“No, Joe; God is no respecter of persons.”

“But did he not tell a great big lie when he said the Great Spirit gave his Son Jesus Christ to die for the Indian as well as for the white man?”

“No,” was the answer of the pious young teacher; “Jesus, the Son of God, died for all mankind.”

“But—but did he not tell a great big one when he said that the Great Spirit had prepared a fine place for all, Indians and whites, if they would be good and love him?”

“No, Joe; that is all true, and the best thing you can do is to accept it and believe it.” Other conversations were held with the Indian, and he said at last, “Well, if I could believe all that that young minister said that hot Sunday was true I would become a Christian.”

When they reached the far-off mission station Joe, instead of going to the plains and joining the wild, warlike, horse-stealing bands, settled down at the Christian village. He was thoughtful and interested, and by and by became a decided and thorough Christian man. His life was so changed that all who met him were conscious of the fact. No one seeing him then would ever have imagined he had had such a history and that he had ever been guilty of such crimes as were imputed to him.

Some years later, Mr. Snider has since fully entered the ministry and is a valued and useful minister. One day somebody came in and told him that there was a poor dying man outside from the Indian wigwams, who wanted to see him and had a message to leave with him. Mr. Snider’s sympathetic heart was at once interested, and he hurried out. He went down the path, and just as he was getting over the fence he saw the dying man. His first thought was that the man was dead; but seeing there was still life in him, he said, “Are you the man who sent for me?”

“O, yes, Mr. Snider, I sent for you. I could not die until I left with you a message. They told me you had come, and I was so glad.”

“Who are you?” said Mr. Snider, for so terribly had the small-pox seized him that the missionary had not been able to recognize him.

“I am Joe,” said the dying man.

“O, Joe, is this you? I am very sorry. Can I do any thing for you? Can I bring you a drink of water or help you back to the wigwam?”

“No,” said the poor fellow, “but I want to leave a message with you. I cannot see you, but I can see Jesus, and I shall soon be with him.”

“Why, of course I will take your message, Joe. What is it?”

“Well, Mr. Snider, if you ever see that missionary who preached that sermon that hot Sunday will you please tell him for me that that sermon made me a Christian. You remember I thought he was telling lies, but you told me it was all true, and now I have found it to be so. You know I have tried to live right and have given Him my heart, and now I cannot see you, but I see Jesus and shall soon be with him.”

And thus he talked, and soon after he died in sweet and simple faith in that Saviour who would light up his pathway through the valley of the shadow of death, though his bodily eyes had gone through the fell disease.

Years passed away ere I heard of Joe’s message to me and of his happy, triumphant death, and that he looked back to that simple, plain talk on the beautiful verse, the sixteenth of the third of St. John’s gospel, as the time when the good resolution to be a Christian first entered his heart.

Doubtless very much was owing to the faithful words which were uttered by Mr. Snider and others. Still there was a time of seed-sowing, and it seemed to have been that day, apparently the most unlikely when any permanent good would be done.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. (Psalm 23:4-6)

(Excerpt from Stories From Indian Wigwams and Northern Campfires, LT edition)

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NEW BOOKLET: DANGERS & DECEPTIONS of The Martial Arts and Why One Woman Walked Away From a Championship Career

DANGERS & DECEPTIONS  of The Martial Arts and Why One Woman Walked Away  From a Championship Career written by Linda Nathan is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet. The Booklet is 18 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail.  Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of DANGERS & DECEPTIONS  of The Martial Arts and Why One Woman Walked Away  From a Championship Career, click here.

DANGERS & DECEPTIONS  of The Martial Arts and Why One Woman Walked Away  From a Championship Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailCareer

By Linda Nathan

Are you wondering if there’s a problem with involvement in the martial arts? You say your neighbor’s little boy is taking a class, and now your son wants to, too? Several women in your office are learning it for self-defense. And, why, even your church has a class! Perhaps you yourself are involved but feel uncertain and want more information.

How can anything be wrong? How can you tell?

This booklet’s aim is to help you understand and decipher the underlying dangers and deceptions of the martial arts. As we present this material, we remember the words of Scripture, which exhort us:

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Colossians 2:8)

A True Story
“Tonie, I don’t get it. How can you be a Christian and teach karate too?”

Betty’s words stung, bringing into sharp focus the question Tonie Harris had managed to avoid so far. She knew she had to live her whole life for God—and she wanted to. But, after all, she reasoned for what seemed like the hundredth time, knowing and being able to teach karate was one of her talents, and the Bible says we should use our talents, not bury them, right?

Tonie sighed and put down the book she’d been reading. Her own answers sounded hollow, and Betty’s words wouldn’t go away. Do you think karate is what God wants you to do? Doesn’t it teach you how to turn your body into a weapon, fill your thoughts and life with violence? Focus you on fear? Reveal a lack of trust? So she prayed. But when she looked for information, it was sadly lacking.

After rededicating her life to Christ in 1984, Tonie had continued to teach karate for several more years. Now she’d just started co-teaching karate at a Christian high school with another black belt, and she sure didn’t like the implications of her thoughts. Recent memories of her experiences at the school floated up.

She saw kids’ attitudes changing for the worse—bowing to her instead of to God, lured by power instead of by Christ‘s love. Some of the kids were bullies, and their parents thought that karate was going to teach them discipline. Instead, it was sowing more violence in their souls. Many were making trouble in the halls, using the things she was teaching them on each other.

But she was a Christian now! She could use her karate to talk to people about the Lord and help them learn self-defense and self-discipline, too. Others were doing it—there was friendship evangelism at karate tournaments, Christian music during kata, and prayer at tournaments. Some Christian ministries incorporated Bible lessons with martial arts training. There were women’s groups and witnessing groups, and online chat groups and bulletin boards, all insisting that a Christian could grow in Christ while practicing karate and the martial arts. Why, there was even a karate ministry at a local Bible school.

Karate was just a tool—wasn’t it? Have you ever wondered about that?

When Tonie first walked into a karate school in 1972, she thought she’d found the answer to her years of childhood sexual abuse, her feelings of failure, and her abusive marriage: Train to fight. Fight to win.

At first, she just wanted to defend herself. But soon it turned into something much more. As she turned herself into a fighting machine, she was on top for the first time in her life.

In her meteoric career, Tonie Harris won 58 trophies in six years, held Karate Illustrated’s title of Top Female Karateka in the Pacific Northwest for seven years, and rose to national status. She was in Who’s Who, Karate Illustrated, Fighting Women News, and Black Belt Magazine. A 1983 book on women in the martial arts devotes a whole chapter to Tonie as one of the eight most accomplished women martial artists of the time. She was sensei—Master.

But trying to solve her problems with karate left a wake of divorce and broken relationships, six abortions, the blight of lesbianism, and four deeply troubled children. Two became notorious gang leaders. And her plunge into Eastern religious thought and practice opened the door to disastrous spiritual deception.

Thankfully the story doesn’t end there—because the woman who tried to solve her problems with the armor of karate finally put on the armor of God instead. But it didn’t happen in a day, or even in a year. Tonie has had to learn about the real spiritual battle and how to walk in the light with Jesus Christ.

“After I rededicated my life to Christ in 1984, I continued teaching karate for several more years. And, although I’d slowly been becoming aware of its occult roots, it hadn’t seemed important. Until Isaiah 60:1-2 pierced my heart like a sword”:

For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. (vs. 2)

“I was a new creation now, in a whole new universe based upon wholly different principles. In His light everything was looking different—even karate.”

Now you may be saying, “But that was just Tonie. She wasn’t really living a Christian life while she practiced karate.”

It’s true she wasn’t living a Christian life for many years, but even after becoming a Christian, she tried to walk with the Lord and continue karate, too. That’s when she discovered the answer goes much deeper. For there are vital biblical principles involved that are designed by God to help us walk in a godly manner, to avoid the devil’s snares, and to be protected His way.

From Roots Come Fruits
The martial arts didn’t arise out of a spiritual vacuum. They developed over many centuries, spreading through and acclimating to China, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific. In each culture, they were powerfully shaped by basic premises of Eastern religious thought: Confucianism, Taoism, Shintoism, Hinduism, animism, shamanism, and Zen Buddhism; and many of their techniques and concepts of energy and life still manifest those influences.1

Final Goal: “Enlightenment”
Although some people may use them mainly for sport or self-defense, at their core, the martial arts as traditionally taught embody a holistic view of life whose final goal is the Eastern objective of religious “enlightenment.” Unlike Westerners, Eastern cultures don’t try to separate physical techniques from religion and philosophy. It’s all rolled up into one system. God and energy are one. And in the transition to American soil in the early 1950s, the whole package came together.

Empty Hand, Full Purse
From 1950 on, the popularity of the martial arts exploded. Within twenty years of its release, Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon grossed 150 million dollars and spearheaded a worldwide martial arts tidal wave to people of almost every culture. By 1993, the martial arts industry as a whole was topping the billion-dollar mark.2 And by 2000, an estimated five million practitioners were busily absorbing the Eastern philosophies of the martial arts.3 The cultural storm has even taken the Christian church. It has been estimated that approximately 20 percent of instructors and 50-70 percent of practitioners call themselves Christians.4 And apparently many don’t see any more problems with it than Tonie did at first. Karate, the “art of the empty hand,” has a full purse.

Fertile Soil in the United States
Why did the martial arts find such fertile soil in the United States? There are six major factors:

Spiritual Vacuum—Traditional moral and social structures based on a more biblical view of life continue to crumble as a result of the cultural upheaval of the ’60s and ’70s, creating a tremendous spiritual vacuum and hunger. The martial arts appeared during this rising tide of paganism and period of extreme social vulnerability, and their philosophies promised to fill that hole.

Drugs—Psychedelic and other “mind-altering” drugs, visits by Eastern “gurus,” and a massive influx of Eastern thought have opened the way for experimentation with Eastern religions and techniques. With its primarily Taoist and Zen Buddhist foundations, the martial arts movement is a major player in the largest occult revival in history, called the “New Age Movement,” or, in today’s more popular terminology, “interspirituality.”

Crime—The rise of immorality, crime, and violence has contributed to personal, family, and community breakdown, unsafe schools and neighborhoods, spiritual emptiness, and feelings of vulnerability and isolation, especially among women and children. Seniors, women, and children are the most frequently attacked people in our society.5 According to one report, 40 percent of the martial arts market consists of children between seven and fourteen.6

A “god” within—As faith in an outside creator God, Bible-based meaning and truth, and morality wanes, the search for stability and meaning keeps shifting inward. Eastern religions and personal spiritual disciplines are pouring into that gap. Witness the incredible spread of Yoga and meditation, which actually were created to foster Eastern-style “enlightenment” but are now popular in churches.

Rebellion—Those in rebellion and involved in paganism are attempting to throw off a creator God who judges in exchange for a “god within” who doesn‘t.
The Media—Martial arts may never have achieved such popularity had it not been for their phenomenal growth in the media.

“If it were just a matter of sport or fun, I doubt the martial arts would’ve become so popular so quickly,” Tonie says. “People are searching for solutions to more urgent problems, and the arts promise them. The conditions in our culture have been just right for their growth.” She should know; she rode in on that wave.

What Are “The Martial Arts” Anyway?
Achieve total self-confidence and inner harmony; develop supernatural powers and wisdom; hone your ability to concentrate on achieving worthwhile goals; find inner peace; and unite the energy of the mind, the body, and the spirit—find and tap the energy of life itself.

The claims for the martial arts are huge and many. Who wouldn’t want to achieve such goals? But what is the basis for these claims anyway?

Are they true? Are they truly compatible with biblical Christianity? Can a Christian become more sanctified by the Holy Spirit through these practices? And are they the answer for the true battle? Why be concerned? Aren’t the martial arts just a neutral sport, like skiing or golf?

Well, no.

Although the phrase “martial arts” can refer to all kinds of fighting on many different levels, today it commonly means hand-to-hand fighting systems of Asian origin that merge spiritual and physical dimensions. It’s this integration of the physical and spiritual, based on Eastern religious principles, that leads its practitioners to make such extravagant claims, and wherein the problems lie.

“Hard vs. Soft“
Martial arts that are used just for sport or physical discipline are called hard or external arts. These include intensive body conditioning, powerful foot and hand strikes, and the use of force (i.e., Kung fu, karate, and judo).

Some people say you can separate these disciplines from the internal or soft arts, which emphasize mystical Taoist and Buddhist concepts. These include spiritual development, balance, form, and seeking control of the so-called chi or Ki force to become attuned with the universe (i.e., t’ai-chi ch’uan and aikido). The Ki concept is common and central to most Eastern religions and refers to a supposedly impersonal universal “life energy” or force. (More about that later.)

While karate and some of the other martial arts have lost some of their overtly “soft” religious approach in their transition to the United States, this handy division is nevertheless much too simplistic for the actual facts. Elements continually overlap, and such worldview coloring can be very subtle indeed.

Some of karate’s greatest living masters, including Joe Hyams, Herman Kauz, Masutatsu Oyama, George Parulski, Jr., and Yozan Dirk Mosig, all agree that Eastern religious concepts and techniques are key to mastering karate and the martial arts.

Mosig, the influential chair of the regional directors for the U.S. Karate Association (USKA) and an eighth-degree black belt insists that Eastern philosophy should be central to all martial arts instruction. Kauz emphasizes that the martial arts really are training in Eastern meditation.7

The River is Wet
As Tonie discovered, if you set foot in the river, sooner or later you’ll get soaked.

Like some of those masters quoted above I started out just trying to get physical control. My first school even de-emphasized the spiritual aspects, but as I went on I got them anyway. Just because you think you‘re avoiding the mental and spiritual aspects of the martial arts doesn‘t mean you won‘t absorb and be subtly affected anyway.

Bowing, specific methods of concentration, meditation, and breath control, emptying the mind, visualizing yourself doing the kata, calling your teacher “master,” centering in the Ki, and trying to “flow” with the “oneness of nature” and your “inner self” are all part of Buddhist and Taoist philosophy. Doing the arts without absorbing at least some of those influences is like trying to swim in a river and not get wet.

Children are particularly vulnerable to spiritual influences, as Tonie discovered when teaching karate. One California karate teacher has been teaching Yoga, Native Spirituality, and Eastern philosophies to 800 children ages four to eight.8 Adults are often not much more discerning about the subtleties of such influences.

“Christian parents,” says Tonie, “why place your children in a pagan system that teaches them to kill? Why put dirty rags on your kids? All the things advocated by the martial arts schools can only be found in Christ: discipline [Hebrews 12:1-13; 2 Timothy 1:7] family togetherness, peace [John 14:27; Romans 5:1; 8:6], power [2 Timothy 1:7; Ephesians 1:19], self-control [Galatians 5:23; 1 Peter 1:13], all the fruits of the Spirit [Galatians 5:22-23; Colossians 1:10]. Why be attracted to paganism? Why return to the world to get what’s in Christ? Where your heart is, there your treasure will be” (Luke 12: 30-31, 34).

So What’s Wrong with Eastern Religions?
When you think “martial arts,” what symbol comes to mind? The dragon, of course. It’s painted on studios, it covers clothing, and it’s in countless movie titles. Why is that? What does it mean?

Two Views
The dragon isn’t just an interesting symbol; it represents a deep cultural worldview—a view of God and energy. Despite the enormous variety of religious ideas in human experience, there are only two basic—and utterly antagonistic—views about the dragon, and they correspond with each view’s approach to salvation and life.

Each system has its own unique view of truth, wisdom, energy, love, and harmony with God and the universe, and yet each is at war with the other. To accept one is to reject the other; you cannot serve two masters.9

The Eastern View: Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism view the serpent-dragon as positive. Although these cultures differ in ways, their view of energy has basic similarities. The dragon represents a supposedly natural force that assisted in the world’s creation and exists “within” each person. Practitioners believe they can release its power (called the inner Kundalini or Ki force) through occult doctrines and techniques, many of which have been incorporated into the martial arts. This is the camp of salvation by works. It is human-centered and draws upon both human and demonic strength for its victory.
The Biblical View: The Bible exposes the serpent-dragon as Satan, an evil fallen angel, who deceived the first man and woman into sin and death: “. . . that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world.” Salvation through Jesus Christ and walking in the light with Him is the only way of escape. (See Genesis 3:1; Revelation 12; 13:2; 20:2; Ephesians 2:1–9.) This is the camp of the Lord. It is God-centered, fueled by faith in Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. And it offers the only true victory.

Dangerous Techniques: Body, Breath, and Mind
The Eastern religious approach dismisses the biblical teachings about the reality of sin, the need for salvation, God’s judgment, and the need for deliverance from a powerful spiritual enemy.10 Instead, it teaches that there is an impersonal universal psycho-spiritual-physical force within each person (the Ki) that we can manipulate for personal power and wisdom. Such a concept is the heart of witchcraft. To achieve this, practitioners of this view developed occult techniques that also became, over the centuries, incorporated into the martial arts.

The Ki Force
It’s often taken for granted that releasing the Ki force refers to some kind of physical centering, like getting comfortable with yourself, but it really refers to a psychic force said to be produced by the interaction of two basic forces that supposedly comprise nature (or the Tao). These two forces, called the yin and the yang (symbolized by a sphere split by a large “S” dividing black from white), supposedly interact back and forth in a wavelike process.

In karate, the interaction of yin and yang is said to occur in attack and defense. Therefore, learning to use the Ki is viewed as very central to achievement in the martial arts. This central assumption of the nature of spiritual power has untold ramifications for the practitioner. And it can best be seen in the three areas of discipline: body, breath, and mind.

Physical Discipline
Physical discipline is the first level of training and does not necessarily have to conflict with Christian teaching, although it may. Christians are commanded not to let sin reign in their bodies but to offer them to God. Physical strengthening and self-discipline are useful but not central. And sexuality must be kept within heterosexual marriage. In the East, however, sexuality is seen as a vehicle of sexual energy, and many basic meditations center on bodily sensations alone, especially in the lower abdomen. Many techniques to arouse the Ki come from observing the snake’s writhing, sensuous movements.

Severe problems can arise when Christians are not governed by the Holy Spirit but by doctrines of demons and that demonic power. These include mental derangement, delusion, sinful, immoral behavior, and oppression by evil spirits. At the very least, a Christian cannot fully receive the Holy Spirit’s joy and power.

Besides physical discipline, practitioners also seek control of the Ki through breath control and mindlessness.

Breathing Discipline
Masutatsu Oyama says, “[K]arate brings spiritual concentration which depends for its life on breathing methods.” Thus, breath control in the martial arts is far more than just a physical discipline. It is an attempt to master the Ki, to gain immortality, and to control the universe. Sound far-fetched to our Western ears? Consider the philosophy contained in “Star Wars” about the “Force.” It’s exactly the same. Such concepts from Eastern religion saturate our culture.

Mind Discipline: The dangers of mindlessness
The fundamental state of meditative practice is also the prerequisite for mastery in the martial arts—author Peter Payne.11

The technique of suspending judgment and opening one’s mind to everything is extremely widespread today—from occult educational techniques in the public schools to relaxation techniques and New Age channelers. But the goal is the same: to reach an altered state of consciousness. The Bible, however, teaches that God is not a force to manipulate. It also teaches that God has given us all we need for godliness (2 Peter 1:3) and has instructed us to be sober minded (Titus 2:6), to “receive the word with all readiness of mind” (Acts 17:11), and to walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh (Galatians 5:16; 6:8). And we are to test everything and weigh all against Scripture.

The method of mindlessness is dangerous for several reasons:

1. One of Satan’s great snares is to lure a person into giving up thinking and discerning.
2. The mind will become filled with one thing or another.
3. Trying to “open” one’s mind this way is actually a form of self-hypnosis leading to a passive state that invites domination by other wills and demonic influence—and even possession. The truth is that one must enter the Eastern mystical experience—and obtain so-called control of the Ki—through a dangerous, trance-like state.

Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John14:6). The Bible says that Jesus Christ is the mediator between God and man. He IS the path to God, and there is no other.

What’s more, Scripture promises us this:

His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Peter 1:3–4)

Therefore, why walk under the dragon’s system?

THE BATTLE For Which The Martial Arts HAVE NO SOLUTION
“I began to realize that ‘putting on the armor of God’ wasn’t such an easy thing,” Tonie says. “Just putting on my karate gear and quoting Ephesians 6 wasn’t going to do it—because first there was a lot of taking off to do! Greed, lust for power, position, and authority. It’s a daily, fierce battle with self, Satan, and the fallen world. It’s the kind of battle karate never prepared me for—the battle that counts the most—for the state of my soul.”

It’s the battle that Eastern religion doesn’t deal with—because it can’t. There is no sacrifice for sin, no Christ-centered system of sanctification, no true holiness. “The martial arts are man-made victory,” Tonie says. “And it’s a miserable failure. With God you work from a different foundation and fight a different battle. You begin with repentance of sin (acknowledging we are sinners who cannot save ourselves and are in need of a Savior) and new birth through faith in Jesus Christ. Then, through the power of the Holy Spirit flows the transformation of mind, emotions, will, and body. It’s just the opposite of the self-made Eastern method. There’s warfare all right, but it’s with sin, Satan, and a fallen world—and it really can’t be discerned except by God’s light.

“To those Christians who say there’s no problem training in the martial arts if you have the ‘right’ instructor, I say that, even when occult methods aren’t taught directly, enormous changes can take place training under the dragon’s image. Just the sheer hours and hours of repetitious, concentrated kicking, striking, blocking, and focusing upon becoming a powerful killing machine can deceive you into thinking you’re superior—and even godlike—and quench new life in Christ. There are many powerful, ungodly situations in the martial arts scene. The homosexual lifestyle is popular. You’re all increasing each others’ sin natures. And there’s a terrific war that goes on within yourself to be on top that’s devastating in the end. That’s not what God calls Christians to be.”

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:3–7)

The real question is not: Can I avoid spiritual influences? The real question is: Whose spiritual influences am I going to get?

The Armor of Karate Versus THE ARMOR OF GOD

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3–5)

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:11–12)

While it is true that we live in a fallen world full of physical trials and dangers, and there are times when we need to train and defend ourselves on a physical level, obviously wearing the armor of an ungodly world-system is not the answer. This is the real problem with the martial arts: the worldview hidden within it.

“To really succeed in karate, you have to go its way. Use its principles. Think its thoughts. And become its creation,” says Tonie.

“The Lord showed me that I was still depending on my karate armor rather than on Him. I hadn’t really understood how different His armor is. I saw I’d been trying to combine the two.

“I cried out, ‘Dear God, show me your way!’ And He did.”

Through His Word, we can obtain the wisdom and understanding we need to walk through life with Him:

[F]or what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? (2 Corinthians 6: 14-15)

And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:16-18)

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1)

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:2)

“Through such verses, I came to see my life and my sins in the light of Jesus’ forgiveness. As I began to weep and call upon that Person Who lived and died for me, I put my complete trust in Him, and He took away my sins and gave me His armor. What a Great Exchange!

“Now I don’t believe we should become pacifists. God forbid Christians should be passive in the face of evil! But we have to use discernment and not the world’s systems to gain victory.”

Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. (Luke 10:19)

“If we let God teach us to fight His own way and direct us to the battles that He chooses, we’ll grow holier and draw closer to Him, experience more joy and love and peace, and be more able to really help others.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. (Ephesians 6:10)

“Let’s put on the whole armor of God.”

Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. . . . And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12: 12, 17)

DANGERS & DECEPTIONS  of The Martial Arts and Why One Woman Walked Away  From a Championship Career, click here.

Endnotes:
1. For a detailed chart of the Religious and Historical Elements in the Development of the Martial Arts, see pp. 17–19 of the book The Dark Side of Karate by Linda Nathan and Tonie Gatlin (AuthorHouse 2003).
2. Erwin De Castro, B. J. Oropeza, and Ron Rhodes, “Enter the Dragon? Wrestling With The Martial Arts Phenomenon,” Christian Research Journal (Fall 1993), pp. 26-27.
3. U.S. Industry estimates for 2000 for participants six years or older. Martial Arts Industry Association. http://web.archive.org/web/20011104064144/http://www.masuccess.com/industry/stats.htm.
4. De Castro, et. al., op., cit., p. 27. The authors of the article obtained this information from a personal interview dated 7-14–93 with Scot Conway, founder of the Christian Martial Arts Foundation.
5. Linda Atkinson, A New Spirit Rising (New York,NY: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1983), pp. 2-3. A chapter on Tonie Harris Gatlin as one of the eight leading women martial artists of the time also appears in this book.
6. De Castro, et. al., “Enter the Dragon,” op. cit., p. 27.
7. See The Dark Side of Karate, pp. 24–26, for full quotes and details.
8. John Bishop, “Karate School Queenpin: L.A.’s New Business Star Raises the Bar!” www.masuccess.com/features/barnes.htm.
9. For a complete Worldview Comparison Chart comparing the biblical and Eastern religious worldviews in six different categories (the nature of reality, the problem of evil, the nature of good and evil, the solution to evil, the nature of Jesus Christ, and the view of the serpent/dragon), see The Dark Side of Karate, Figure 7.1, p. 48.
10. See Ephesians 2.
11. Peter Payne, Martial Arts: The Spiritual Dimension (London, England: Thames and Hudson, Ltd., 1981), p. 47. Published in the United States in 1987 by Thames and Hudson, Inc., 500 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10110.

For the whole amazing story, order the book The Dark Side of Karate: The Story of Tonie Harris Gatlin by Linda Nathan and Tonie Gatlin. AuthorHouse, 2003. ISBN #9781410717665 in e-book ($3.95) and soft cover ($10.25). Call 1-888-519-5121 to order, or order online at www.AuthorHouse.com.

DANGERS & DECEPTIONS  of The Martial Arts and Why One Woman Walked Away  From a Championship Career, click here.

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