Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. I’m Gary Carmichael. We’re glad to have you along. In today’s program, we continue a series of classics from our Search the Scriptures Daily archives. First broadcast in 1999 with the late founder of The Berean Call, Dave Hunt, and TBC executive director Tom McMahon. This week they address the question “What about Native and Nature Religions?” And now, here’s Tom.
Tom: The topic for today is “Native, Indigenous, and Nature Religion” from Chapter 8 of Dave Hunt’s book Occult Invasion: The Subtle Seduction of the World and the Church.
Dave, now we’ve mentioned in past programs the rising interest in Shamanism, and I’m surprised, because here it is: we’re a modern society, highly technologized, and you’d expect such beliefs to be rejected as mere superstition. But that’s not the case, especially here in the United States. And I’m sure people are surprised, because we can see around us there’s a rise in practices such as Voodoo and Santería, and they’re growing in popularity, especially among the well-educated.
Accompanying that interest is a new respect for nature religions in general, and in particular those of Native Americans. Dave, what about nature religions? Does nature hold the solution to mankind’s problems? I mean, either physically or spiritually?
Dave: Well, it doesn’t make sense, Tom. And, you know, we were flying together and the Lord worked it out in an amazing way that I sat right next to a Marine, and he’s a pagan. He was raised in a Baptist home, but he’s into paganism now, and a lot of the Marines on his base are also into paganism…
Tom: When our audience hears “paganism,” they think of that in terms of a generic term just meaning somebody who’s not a Christian.
Tom: But there’s more…
Dave: …that’s right. They worship nature. There’s all kinds of pagans. Nevertheless, they worship nature. That’s the whole idea of it. I had the opportunity to talk with him a little bit and tell him, “Are you going to pray to a hurricane? How do you cozy up to an erupting volcano, you know?” I mean, nature is not kind. Nature isn’t sensitive to your needs. In fact, we fight nature. All the advances of mankind have been made in opposition to the often vicious, destructive forces of nature. Instead of turning to the God who created the universe, they’re turning to nature. It’s the old religion, Wicca. Star Wars force – Darth Vader and Obi Wan, they’re the followers of – the officer says it to him – the “old religion.” So they’re reverting back to the old religion that has deceived mankind forever. Paul talks about it in Romans 1: “When they knew God, they glorified Him not as God.” How do they know about Him? Well, He says His eternal power and glory are revealed by the things that He made. The more you learn about nature, it’s so incredible, the organization. So when you look at nature around you, you know God created it, a great God. And then Paul says, “When they knew God,” in their conscience, “they glorified Him not as God. They became vain in their imagination, their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like the corruptible things.” They began to worship beasts and creeping things even…
Tom: Dave, let me interject this: they’d say, “Well, no, we don’t worship these smaller things. We don’t worship sticks and stones and so on.” Some would say that. “Our god, Gaia, Mother Nature, it’s larger than that.” But last week we pointed out: don’t we believe in the Second Law of Thermodynamics? If this Mother Nature, awe-inspiring as they try to make her out to be – she’s dying. It is going down the tubes.
Dave: Mm-hmm. That’s why I tried to point out to this young Marine that this whole thing is in decay. This is death. Nothing more natural than death. Now, of course, the reincarnationist would try to say, “Yeah, it’s just part of the natural cycle: death and rebirth.”
Tom: Well, what if we have someone out there thinking, “Wait a minute, the God that you’re talking about, the Creator of all this, how do you square that?”
Dave: In other words, you’re saying if a good God, this great God, created this, why does it decay?
Dave: Yeah, because it’s separated from Him. Satan’s rebellion and man’s rebellion…
Tom: And we will be dealing with that down the line.
Dave: Here are a lot of Marines on this base in Okinawa. They are getting together on their holy days, their holidays at the solstice and various times – going with the seasons of the year, you know, the cycle in nature – and they’re having their worship ceremonies together. They’re very ecumenical. Some of them worship some part in nature, others worship another part and so forth, but they all get along together, and I’m trying to reason with them: “Why would you worship nature? What is there about nature that would cause you to worship?”
“Well, she gives birth to us, you know.”
I mentioned to him – he was raised a Baptist, and I said, “You know, Isaiah the prophet, inspired of God, he mocks people like you. I’m sorry. He says they cut down the tree; with part of it they light a fire to warm themselves, to roast their meat, to pick their teeth, and then with some of it they form it into a god, a god that has eyes, but it can’t see; it has ears, but it can’t hear.
Our vice president hugs trees; a tree doesn’t know that you’re hugging it, okay? It just is ridiculous.
“But we want to honor our native people.” In our public schools, you could bring anything you want about Native Americans in. “Oh, it’s culture!” But you can’t talk about Jesus Christ in our public school. But they’ve got their god, and you cannot separate their culture from their religion. It is their culture.
And then we have these…
Tom: Dave, on this point, you know, we’re shifting here from paganism, which – in the form of Wicca, in the form of the worship of nature – to native religion. Now, one of the big differences here is contacting spirit entities. Pagans worship Gaia, Mother Earth, nature, but they don’t usually commune with images and power animals and…
Dave: Well, no, Tom, they ultimately get involved in it. If you worship a tree, something from that tree is going to talk to you. It just all runs together. You can’t escape it.
Here’s a prayer in the steam lodge, and listen: it says, “O, you ancient rocks who are sacred, you have neither ears nor eyes, yet you hear and see all things. Through your powers, this young man,” this is the initiation of a warrior, “this young man has become pure, worthy to go to receive some message from Wakan Tanka.” So now he’s going to go out on his spiritual quest, and things appear to them, and they get messages. We can bring this into the public school; we can worship these – even teach the little kids in grammar school how to get involved in nature worship, and so forth. And as we’ve mentioned in previous programs, the Native American Indians have the right to take peyote, and that’s how they contact their spirit being. But we get a lot of lies about this culture, okay?
Tom: Well, that’s the way it comes in. That’s the first thrust: “This is culture. We don’t want to diminish the ethnic aspects of a people.”
Dave: Tom, there’s a very good point there, because maybe it points out the departure from true Christianity that we’re experiencing in this country so that we have people who claim to be Christians. But it doesn’t impact their culture. It doesn’t impact their job, but they try to separate it. They try to keep it in compartments: “Oh, yeah, I go to church on Sunday and I worship God, but then during the week I live like a pagan.” And that’s a problem here. At least the Native Americans, or indigenous people everywhere, they’re consistent. Their religion is their culture. Their religion is their life. They live it every moment of every day. It’s all intertwined; you can’t escape it. So religion comes in as culture, and it ought to be the same for us. If America were a Christian country (which it is not), then Christianity would permeate our society. It would be in everything. But you have a big complaint if a judge wants to have the Ten Commandments in his chambers, you know, or in the courtroom. So we try to separate, we try to keep the God of the Bible – we won’t let Him be part of our culture; we won’t let Him be part of our life. You dare to talk about God, you know, on the job or somewhere, you’re introducing a foreign element. But for the indigenous peoples, their religion is their life. It is everything. So that’s a problem. So when you bring it in as culture, you’re bringing in religion.
But then, Tom, we also have a lot of lies, misinformation, revisionist history about these indigenous people. They’re almost held up as perfect, you know: the native in the jungle, he’s part of nature…
Tom: Well, he’s pure.
Dave: Right, he is so pure…no. That’s not the case. They were scalping, they were fighting, they were torturing before the white man – we’re not defending the white man, but before the white man ever came here…. Talk about respect for animals and so forth, they would be – American Indians would drive an entire herd of buffalos over a cliff and then just take from the dead bodies just what meat they wanted and what skins they wanted and so forth, and let the rest of them rot.
Tom: And this is humanity, no matter what color. This is the way we are.
Dave: Exactly. Exactly. It’s no reflection upon Native Americans, Indians any more than upon Europeans…
Tom: That’s right.
Dave: …or Africans. The Africans – the fact is the Africans were fighting, torturing…
Dave: …enslaving – they had slaves long before the white man ever got there. In fact, it was the Africans who themselves sold the slaves to the white man. By the way, it was the Arabs first, the Muslims, who were the first slave traders back there, and yet the blacks today are so enamored or can be so enamored with Islam. Go to Africa today, it is blacks who are killing blacks. The Zulus – you don’t just go into a Zulu area if you’re not a Zulu. And what’s been happening in other parts of Africa…
So it’s the heart of man. We’re all the same, whether you’re white or black or red or yellow, whatever you are, we’re all sinners before God, and we need to stop blaming one another and trying to make it out that certain groups of people are pure and without sin. No, we’re not.
But the problem that we’re talking about is religion and a false god. We’ve talked about that. They knew the true God in their conscience by the evidence that He had created this universe, and then they turned to the worship of nature, which it makes absolutely no sense, because nature’s not kind, it’s not going to help you, and in fact everything that we do is in opposition to protect ourselves from the destructive forces of nature.
Tom: You know, within Christianity, we have a movement now that attempts to redeem the culture of an indigenous people, of a tribe, whatever it might be. In other words, you just mentioned earlier that the religion is so integrated within the culture, the society. You can’t separate them. How then do we redeem false religion?
Dave: Well, Tom, on the one hand, a missionary, let’s say, that goes with the gospel, he doesn’t try to change the diet or the way people live basically. But he does bring the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that’s going to change their religion…
Tom: You would admit, some missionaries have gone that route.
Dave: Oh, they have, tragically. It’s like today in America, Christianity for many people is conservative politics, conservative right-wing politics. We equate Americanism, our brand of Americanism, with Christianity, and that’s not true. So that is – it’s wrong to do that.
On the other hand, we don’t then try to Christianize native religious practices like the sun dance, or the sweat lodge. Those things that are part of their religion but also their culture – “Well, then we’ll let them keep that and we’ll try to adapt it to Christianity.” No, you can’t adapt Voodoo to Christianity. Now, the Catholic Church, of course, has done this, as you know, around the world…
Tom: But we’re not talking biblical Christianity.
Dave: No, we’re not. So that’s one of the reasons, one of the evidences, that Catholicism is not biblical Christianity, because you follow it around the world…you go to Haiti, it’s all intermingled with Voodoo. Go down to Brazil, it’s intermingled with Candomblé or Macumba. Santería is a mixture of the paganism that was brought from Africa by the slaves with Catholicism, and you have the Catholic saints are all intermingled – now they’ve become the gods. They’ve changed the names of the gods – like in Rome, they changed the name of the statue that was Isis, now it became Mary; and Horace, her son from Egypt, became Jesus. They left the same statues, but they just changed the names and so forth. You just can’t do that. This is what Catholicism has done: it has adapted itself to the religion. They have the sayings, you know, in Haiti: Haiti’s 85 percent Catholic and 110 percent Vodun. And every Voodoo ceremony begins with prayers to the Catholic saints, and you’ve got this thing all mixed together.
Now, we know that, but now it is astonishing. Youth with a Mission is one of the leaders in this movement, and they’re talking about redeeming the culture, and now somehow we’re going to Christianize these religious ceremonies that were for the worship of false gods, and somehow… “Well, we don’t want to change that, but now we’ll do this to Jesus Christ.” You can’t do it. It doesn’t work.
Tom: Isn’t this like bringing strange fire, as the Scriptures tell us, from pagan altars before the true and living God? God’s not going to – He’s not going to put up with it, or accept it.
Dave: Well, there’s a reason for it, because, as you know, Tom, these native ceremonies, the pagan ceremonies, they were all designed to pacify or to encounter, communicate with, the false gods. And behind the false gods, Satan is called the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4). And Paul says, “The god of this world has blinded the minds of those that believe not lest the light of the gospel of Christ should enter in and they should be saved.” So to take something that was – for example, visualization has been adapted now. Visualization you don’t find in the Bible. Visualization is actually condemned in the Bible. But the witch doctor, he uses visualization. He goes on a journey into the past, the future, into the upper world, the lower world, and that’s where he encounters his spirit guide. His power animal could be a jaguar, coyote, it could be some human being, and so forth. Now we have Christians who are using that methodology to encounter Jesus Christ.
So here is an example. It’s an occult technique which the rain dance, the sun dance, these things, dancing yourself into an altered state, into a trance, dancing yourself into a state of consciousness where these spirit entities that are not of God can enter you and possess you. Now, to do that sort of thing in order to worship God is not biblical. Not only is it not biblical, but it’s going to be destructive. It’s like Elijah saying, “Well, we’ll just kind of Christianize Baal worship, or Judaize Baal worship. We’ll let you carry on with your same ceremonies…”
Well, we were reading from the Old Testament in a previous program, and the Old Testament lays out very specifically the worship: the tabernacle, the sacrifices, the priesthood, and everything, because there is a purpose behind it – it is looking forward to Christ. It’s a picture of heavenlies. And now to take demonic activities that were designed for worshipping demons and to try to Christianize those, it’s staggering. But this is part of what is happening in our day, and people think, “Oh, but I’m doing it in the name of Jesus.” Well, that brings us back again to that verse that we keep quoting: “Lord, Lord, in your name, didn’t we do this?” And Jesus says, “I never knew you.”
Tom: Didn’t Jesus say, “Well, you were sincere…” No, He didn’t.
Dave: “Yeah, that’s all that matters. You were sincere. You did it in My name. That’s okay. You meant well.” No, He doesn’t.
Tom: No. “I never knew you.” Those are sobering words.
Dave: So we have to know the true God, and if I’m going to know – and again, we keep quoting it, John:17:3: “This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” If I’m going to know God, I’m going to have to know Him on His terms. I’m going to have to know Him for who He is.
Tom, I use ridiculous illustrations; I hope people forgive me. But I have in my wallet, let’s say, a picture of Marilyn Monroe, and I say it’s my wife. And you say, “Wait a minute, that doesn’t look like Ruth at all!”
“Well, what does it matter? I mean, it’s a woman, and I just – you know, this is my wife, and I look at it, and I…” So God doesn’t want you to mistake Him for someone else. He must be known for who He is, and it’s not enough to say, “Well, I believe in some higher power. I’m just going to be religious. I’m going to be spiritual and not religious,” some people say, “and I really mean well.” That’s why God has given us His Word, and that’s why we have the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Tom: You know, Dave, your analogy is really good, because on a human level, what would Ruth think of this? You’re carrying around a picture of somebody else in your wallet and attributing qualities to her. You know, we’ve talked in other programs about manipulation. What would Ruth think if you came to her on a basis of manipulating, of trying to get her to do what you wanted all the time? I mean, we wouldn’t put up with it on a human level. Why would God? Why would we think God would want to put up with it?
Dave: He won’t, and He shouldn’t, and there’s no reason why we should expect it. We’re lowering Him to not only our level, but we’re destroying God as He really is. So that’s why we want people to be Bereans. Don’t accept what we say, but check it out from the Word of God, see what God Himself has said.
Gary: You’ve been listening to a special edition of Search the Scriptures 24/7 with Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. The complete radio discussion of Dave’s Occult Invasion is available from The Berean Call.
We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter, contact us at PO Box 7019, Bend, OR 97708. Call us at 800-937-6638, or visit our website at thebereancall.org. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for being here, and we hope you can be back again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.