Mike Durning reporting in from the SGI conference.
This workshop is entitled “The Antidote to Animism.” J.D. Crowley completes the discussion from yesterday’s workshop.
He recapped yesterday’s session, briefly.
He emphasized that submission of Satan to God’s power and authority—the fact that Satan cannot overcome God’s power is key. Animism puts God and demons on the same side of the great divide. Christianity puts the trandscendent Creator God on the other side, far and above Satan, demons, and all the other created beings. The Word and the gospel puts God on the other side of that divide. And this is the key to converting animists.
The key statement: You fight animism with a robust Gospel and the wise use of the Word.
He spent some time discussing the New Tribes missions approach to sharing the entire story of the Bible through to the gospel (called “Creation to Christ” Evangelism). He characterized it as extremely helpful in combating animism.
Step 1: Use Creation to Christ Evangelism.
Animism is a coherent system, a worldview that makes sense in the sense that it all hangs together. Starting the true story in the middle will not build a new world-view for them.
He noted that Paul started with Creation and ended with the gospel at Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13), where they were essentially animists.
Step 2: Wise use of Scriptures to counter animism.
Looking at the Scriptures through non-Western eyes reveals many Scriptures that counter animism as well as syncretism. Besides the obvious non-divination and sorcery sections (Deut 18:10; 2 Kings 17:17; Ezekiel 13:18-20), you find Simon in Acts 8:9, or Acts 19:19’s magic books. Less obvious, but more effective, are stories like that of Balaam in Numbers 22. It’s a story full of high places, sorcery, etc.
King Balak’s statement at the end of verse 6 is wrong. There is a Creator God who does as He pleases, before whom Balaam and his demonic spirits are as but ants.
Verse 8 should not puzzle us. Even though Balaam talks about the Lord (Yahweh) as if he knows the Lord, shamans commonly want all the power they can from as many sources as possible. It is my belief that God answers Balaam because he is using Balaam to teach important lessons that speak to the animists of the world. And he uses the most powerful sorcerer of the ancient near east to do it.
Verses 9-13 show Balaam being ordered by God to reject the usual Sorcerer’s fee. They are usually a very greedy bunch. Note that the New Testament emphasizes love for money and the use of religion to get rich as part of Balaam’s error.
Verses 14-18 make Balaam sound not so bad, but…
Verses 19-21. Balaam has probably begun to hatch his evil plan to corrupt Israel, so he plans to travel with them.
Verses 22-31. The talking donkey episode is clearly designed to make the powerful sorcerer look silly. The donkey has more spiritual insight than the sorcerer. God uses this story to take the teeth out of animistic sorcery. The arrival of Balaam at Balak’s leads us into the 3 main points for animists—unveiled in the remainder of the story.
I. Don’t be afraid of sorcerers. The crippling fear of animistic sorcerers by animists is addressed in this story.
Note the continual change of venue (high places, move from the mountains to the plain) to try to facilitate their cursings. These are typical of animism.
II. If God has blessed you, no one can curse you.
III. God puts a curse on those who try to put a curse on those He has blessed.
And finally, Deut. 23:3-5 gives a final point:
IV. God turns all curses against His people into blessings.
He closed with the story of Choueng and his daughters, converts in Cambodia, that demonstrates the power of God over these animistic rituals that have their basis in the power of demons. Those wanting the whole story should download the audio of this section when it becomes available.