Native Spirituality “Renewal” Emerges |

Des Gerlaise, Nanci

While those practicing Native Spirituality may believe they are practicing a completely unique form of spirituality, originating with them, they couldn’t be further from the truth. Native Spirituality is just one part of a vast movement that is creating a paradigm shift in our present-day culture away from biblical Christianity and replacing it with an all-inclusive interspiritual global religion that relies heavily upon mystical practices. The results will create a “Christianity” that has no resemblance to biblical Christianity whatsoever.

As part of this massive global shift, many Native American or First Nations tribes are exploring the renewal of their ancient spiritual traditions and reinstituting ancestral and mystical practices. Natives involving themselves in this pursuit see this as an opportunity to bring recognition to the forgotten and once persecuted Native American religion. They fail to realize that they are actually participating in a mass deception spreading throughout the world in the days prior to Christ’s return.

Richard Twiss [now deceased], of the Lakota Sioux tribe, is looking for this renewal or awakening among Native people. In his book, One Church, Many Tribes, Twiss states:

This is a time of transition in ministry among indigenous believers around the world—a time of exploration and sincere inquiring of the Lord for new perspectives and approaches to Native ministry. Around the globe among indigenous Christians, cultural identity is surfacing as the key dynamic in this emerging new Native ministry paradigm and spiritual awakening. (emphasis added)

Twiss adds:

Christians are debating the use of Native American drums, gourds, rattles and dances as legitimate expressions of godly faith. In the next decade or so, this controversy will also subside and we will hear and see indigenous sounds and movements in church services across the land in glorious worship to Jesus Christ. Indeed, that day is already dawning. (emphasis added)

But while many Native American Christians, like Twiss, are looking for a great spiritual awakening within the First Nations and Native American groups—primarily by incorporating Native Spirituality cultural practices into their Christianity—right under their noses, a massive worldwide deception authored by Satan is incorporating Native Spirituality into its plan and is surging forward, ultimately forsaking the purity of the Gospel message.

Incorporated into Society

Native Spirituality is being incorporated into contemporary culture in popular forms of interspirituality such as goddess worship in public part of multiculturalism; throughout the environmental movement; and in the work of prominent politicians such as former Vice President Al Gore. Even the movies Pocahontas and Dances With Wolves have given mainstream culture a “crash course in Native spirituality.” Partly in overcompensation for very real injustices committed against Native Americans, Native Spirituality has become politically correct inasmuch as traditional biblical Christianity is on a fast track to becoming politically incorrect. Sadly, in the process, the Gospel which is “the power of God unto salvation” (Romans:1:16) is being pushed aside, as if it were to blame—leaving countless numbers of people—both Native American and non-Native—without the sure hope that only comes through knowing Christ.

Native Spirituality and Catholicism—“A Natural Fit”

The Catholic Church has joined the ranks of those embracing Native Spirituality. In a November 2006 article in Western Catholic Reporter titled “Catholic School Makes Room for Native Spirituality,” the principal of Ben Calf Robe Catholic School in Alberta [Canada] states that the school, made up of 200 native children, “combines the teaching and Gospels of the Catholic Church with the various aspects of native spirituality.” The article states:

There are four sacred drums in the school and some 60 drummers. Drumming is the sacred heart beat of Mother Earth, Richardson said. “When the drum is beat upon, we believe that all of the prayers within the children are lifted to God.” ...In their monthly liturgical celebrations, the school uses the Catholic rite but they bring in native spirituality in the methods of smudging and the prayers to the Creator.

The principal...says that the “similarities between Catholicism and native traditions and processes are evident.” He adds, “[W]e believe Catholicism and native spirituality are equal....We don’t see one being more important and we don’t see them being entwined. We do see them over-lapping at times.”

In an article in the News of the Northwest Jesuits, a Montana Jesuit novice says he has found “a beautiful marriage between Catholic and Native Spirituality,” and is encountering “new light” in the sweat lodge.The article describes what transpires in a sweat lodge ceremony:

The space eventually is packed with Nakoda and White Clay tribe members of every age, surrounding the awestruck Jesuit guest. Three young men bring rocks from the blazing fire outside and drop them into a pit. The holy man—whom Herman describes as entirely Indian and entirely Catholic—douses his flashlight and begins splashing water and tossing sweet grass on the smoldering stones. Red sparks dance, intermittently lighting up the many Native faces. The people chant sacred songs in their native language, calling on their local saints, the ancestors.

Embraced by Mainstream Christianity

Within the evangelical/Protestant church, Native Spirituality is cropping up more and more all the time. For instance, the Mennonite Church Canada offers on their Resource Centre website a Medicine Wheel Poster. It states:

This poster is a tool for living in harmony with God, each other and creation. It’s a part of the Reaching Up to God our Creator resource box which highlights the common ground of Aboriginal Sacred Teachings and the Bible, in the hope of fostering respect and understanding among Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities.

Also on the Mennonite Church Canada website is a booklet titled Teachings of the Sacred Tree “to compare Aboriginal Sacred Teachings about the Sacred Tree and the Bible’s use of trees.” The site also offers several resources by Native American Richard Twiss, a leader in the Indigenous People’s Movement (IPM), as well as several other resources on Native Spirituality, the emerging church, and contemplative mysticism.

The ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) is another Protestant denomination that is embracing Native Spirituality. In Lutheran Woman Today magazine, the president of a Lutheran seminary wrote this in an article titled “Dream Catchers: The ELCA Commission for Women”:

Beside the bed of my now-teenage daughter hangs a dream catcher, one of the many treasures of Native American culture. According to legend, the dream catcher filters dreams, sending good ones to the sleeper and trapping bad ones until they evaporate at dawn’s first light. I thank God for the past 15 years of history during which the Commission for Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has been a dream catcher for thousands upon thousands in our church and beyond.

You can find examples all over the Internet of mainstream Christian groups and denominations that are integrating Native Spirituality. Medicine wheels, circles, dream catchers, sweat lodges, and shamanism—it’s all there.

Praying in (Dangerous) Circles

In 2011, a book titled The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears by emerging church pastor, Mark Batterson, was released. Batterson says his book is inspired by a legendary Jewish sage, Honi, the Circle-Drawer. The premise behind the book is that if we draw circles around important things in our lives, including our prayers, we will receive great blessings. In the legend of Honi in 1 BC, the land was subjected to a drought. In the excerpt below, Batterson says:

With a six-foot staff in his hand, Honi began to turn like a math compass. His circular movement was rhythmical and methodical. Ninety degrees. One hundred and eighty degrees. Two hundred and seventy degrees. Three hundred and sixty degrees. He never looked up as the crowd looked on. After what seemed like hours, but had only been seconds, Honi stood inside the circle he had drawn.

Sure enough, it rained, and Batterson went on to say, “The circle he drew in the sand became a sacred symbol.” What Batterson has done in his book is turn “circle making” into a practice and a ritual...that will supposedly bring great results in a person’s life.

While Batterson doesn’t talk about Native Spirituality in his book, his “circle making”...conditions Christians to more readily accept Native Spirituality, whether Batterson intended it or not. Everything in Native Spirituality is done in circles because [natives believe] the power of the world works in circles. As the moon, sun, and earth are all round, so it is that all circles attract a spiritual energy as does symbolic expression. The circle that the medicine wheel represents is an integration of energy and matter, as well as spirit and man, so as to achieve a greater spiritual understanding and creation. Some segments of Native Spirituality involving circles are: round dances, talking circles, pipe ceremonies, drums, four quadrants (north, south, east and west), seasons, and life of man.

The Emerging Church, The New Age, and Native Spirituality

[Supposedly reaching out] to the new postmodern generation in a more relevant way than traditional Christianity...the emerging a full-scale ecumenical effort to unite all religions against biblical Christianity [through] mystical practices.

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

When Twiss tells us to “imagine Native believers enjoying the fragrant aroma of burning sage, sweet grass or cedar” or “smudging,” I believe he is misleading many. Galatians:3:28 tells us, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” In other words, our focus as born-again believers isn’t to practice rituals from the cultures we were born into. We are born again, into a brand new culture—God’s culture. The one “culture” that God has bestowed on all mankind is the Gospel; it is the one heritage passed on to us by God, yet we are destroying it today: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians:5:17).

In 2010 at the Emergent Village Theological Conference...[a] blog for the event states:

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

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

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

Satan is not simply trying to draw people to the dark side of a good versus evil conflict. Actually, he is trying to eradicate the gap between himself and God, between good and evil, altogether. When we understand this approach it helps us see why...Jack Canfield said he felt God flowing through all things....Such reasoning implies that God has given His glory to all of creation; since Satan is part of creation, then he too shares in this glory, and thus is “like the Most High”....If the all-is-one view were true, then salvation through a Redeemer would become unnecessary and Jesus’ death on the Cross would be rendered altogether futile and pointless.

The Native view, which maintains there is no division between the secular and the spiritual, goes against what the Bible says about the wretched carnality of man. God is so holy and so pure that He cannot even look upon such sinfulness....The plan of the emerging church is to see the earth “healed” by bringing in a global, all-inclusive kingdom of God....The problem with an all-inclusive “kingdom” is that there is no room for a Savior who proclaims there is only one way to Heaven. One very popular New Age/New Spirituality proponent who believes man is on the threshold of enlightenment and healing for the earth says this:

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

[Note: Biblical leadership among Native  tribes does exist.]

Excerpted from Muddy Waters: An Insider’s View of North American Native Spirituality by Nanci Des Gerlaise