Category Archives: Theology Thoughts

Animism or Traditional Religions

Last night as part of the DIA class I talked a bit about Animism – since I had the notes typed out, I figured I would share them with you all. Enjoy. Laughing
or Traditional Religions


“The term ‘animism’ comes from the Latin world anima, which means ‘soul’ or ‘breath’. As such it refers to that which empowers or gives life to something. It follows, then, that animism is the religion that sees the physical world as interpenetrated by spiritual forces – both personal and impersonal – to the extent that objects carry spiritual significance and events have spiritual causes”. – Dean C. Halverson, The Compact Guide to World Religions

Why understand animism? It is….

  • the form of religion to which people gravitate
  • popular because it infuses the sacred into a reality that has been emptied of anything spiritual by the scientific / evolutionary perspective
  • offers a way for people to deal with everyday problems

[@more@]The Ultimate / Immediate Division

  • Ultimate – who is God, what is humanity’s problem, what happens after death
  • Immediate – everyday issues such as illness, loss of job, find a mate, restore relationships

Different parts of Animism

  • Necrolatry (the worship of the dead)
    • reverence for a departed ancestor
    • fear that the departed with harm or haunt the living
  • Spirit Worship
    • The existence of personal spirits/demons as well as impersonal spiritual forces in nature (commonly called mana)
    • Shamanism
      • a shaman, priest or witch doctor who knows all the proper sacrifices and rituals designed to calm the spirits
    • Magic
      • rituals designed to control an impersonal spirit for good or bad
    • Fetishism
      • charms, amulets, or fetishes
  • Naturism
    • The personifications and worship of the forces of nature
    • Rituals tend to focus on fertility (both in agriculture and human reproduction
    • Totemism
      • the unity of the clan or people with a sacred plant or animal

Four characteristics as suggested by William Paton:

  1. The whole of life is pervaded with fear
  2. The absence of love and consolation from his religion
  3. There are no absolutes of morality
  4. The lack of relationship with God causes a fatalistic attitude since all the events of life are predetermined and controlled by nature or demons

Suggestions for Evangelism

  1. Be sensitive to the animist perspective
  2. Be aware of the influence of Secularistic thinking in our lives
  3. Find common ground
  4. Highlight the differences
  5. Model trust in God alone
  6. Be ready for God to work in mighty ways
  7. Turn their heart towards desiring a relationship with God
  8. Address their fears
  9. Be clear about who Christ is and who we are in Him
  10. Point out the deceptive nature of the spirits


Halverson, Dean C. The Compact Guide to World Religions. Bethany House Publishers; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. 1996. pages 35-53

Olson, C. Gordon. What In The World Is God Doing? The Essentials of Global Missions: An Introductory Guide. Global Gospel Publishers; Ceder Knolls, NJ, USA. 2003. pages 183-186

Additional Resources:

Corduan, Winfried. Neighboring Faiths: A Christian Introduction to World Religions. InterVarsity Press; Downers Grove, Illinois, USA. 1998. pages 135-188


“Christianity is essentially a religion of belief in the coming of the Kingdom of God. It begins with the message preached by John the Baptist on the banks of the Jordan, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Mt 3:2). It was with the same preaching that Jesus came forward in Galilee after the imprisonment of the Baptist (Mt 4:12,17).”

Thus Albert Schweitzer's The Kingdom of God and Primitive Christianity begins.

In order to understand the Christian view of the Kingdom of God, we must go back to the Jewish view of the Day of Yahweh. The original idea of the Day of Yahweh was that God would execute judgment on the nations whom fought against the people of Israel.

Amos challenged this picture:[@more@]

“God's judgement would be executed not only upon the enemies of his people but upon the people itself as well. Because Yahweh is an ethical God, to show himself as such he must execute judgement upon all peoples, including the people which belongs to him in a spical way, and the verdict would be based solely on the good or evil of their deeds.”

“In these tremendous utterances (Amos 3:2; 5:18, 20-24; 5:14; 7:17; 9:8-10, 11, 15) the knowledge of the completely ethical personality of God is for the first time made known, and it follows that ethical thought and action along give the right to a place in the coming Kingdom of God.”

“Elijah and Elisha were zealous for the purity of worship of Yahweh. For Amos the cultus no longer has any meaning. It does not create any relationship between man and God; only moral action does this. The culic reverence for Yahweh demanded by his two forerunners turns in Amos into an ethical reverence. The change means a spiritualization of religion which has never since been lost.”

Wow! This could not of come at a better time…. last night in our Bible study, I had a disagreement whether or not the 'true' Israel was one of blood or faith. To hear Schweitzer echo the words of my heart that God's people are tied together by a common faith in Him – not by dna – was refreshing.

Adding to this refreshing view is a verse God gave me from Amos about a month ago… at the time, I did not see Amos in this light. Now I will have to go back and re-read Amos in the light of the Kingdom.

Gloria al Dios

Dreams or "The Year of the Goose: Part II"

Do you ever wonder why God gives us dreams? I'm not talking about the "dreams" one has while asleep – I'm referring to those "dreams" concerning the future. Dreams about your life; your goals; your life focus. Sometimes I wonder if I heard Him correctly… Other times, I'm dead certain that I'm doing exactly what Him said to do. It's a strange place to live – between two opposite poles, trying hard not to lose your balance.

We are in a new year – 2008.

2008 – wow, it has been 10.5 years since that day I pledged my allegiance to the ultimate Master. Sitting here, writing this post, my heart goes back to July 19, 1997 at 4:30 pm on the steps of the National Museum in San Jose, Costa Rica. It was at that time, on that day, that the Man from Galilee showed me how real He was and is.

I will never forget the look of that young man's face as he looked at me with tears in his eyes. His words echo through my ears day in and day out: "I feel something now". This man felt the presence of the Kingdom where a minute earlier he confessed his hollow soul.

The Kingdom. It is here today and yet It is not. We are to walk each day as it's the last.


Did you ever wonder about Jesus story of the Pearl of Great Price? Why was it that a man went out and sold all he had to buy a single pearl? It never made sense to me. If the pearl cost the same as all his belongings, why buy it? You're not making a profit? In fact, all you're doing is tying up all your resources into one item – an item that could be stolen or lost.

If the Kingdom of Heaven is the rule and reign of the One Mighty Lord, Creator of Heaven and Earth. If the Kingdom of Heaven is all that Isaiah said it was. If it really is what Jesus demonstrate – that the lame will walk, those in bondage will be set free, the dead shall live, leapers will be cleaned and the oil of gladness will be given instead of mourning.

If THAT is the Pearl of Great Price – then "YES" – I want that. I want to walk where angels tread. I want to walk in the Kingdom, across the highways and byways of this life – searching for those in shack cloth; those in the ditches; those whose faces are stained with tears of mourning; those who have no hope, no future, no life – just a chain of guilt and emotions. To those we walk towards – like the man who discovers that there are tress outside the cave and runs back inside to bring joy to those left behind.

I do not want part of the Pearl. I want ALL of it! I want to see His Kingdom crash in upon this world. Ah – to play a part in the coming Kingdom.

Yet who am I that I might play a part on the great orchestra of life? Nothing but a serf playing out his part as directed by his Lord.

2008. A new year full of old and new dreams. Some may call it the year of the rat. I am calling it the "Year of the Goose: Part II".