It’s disturbing, but not surprising, that humanity is so vulnerable to lies. Moreover, the bigger or more outrageous the lie, the more effective it seems to be. Evolution is a prime example of a lie that is received enthusiastically. Then there is psychology’s teaching that humans are innately good; the growing conviction that homosexuality is simply an alternate lifestyle; the propaganda that Islam is a religion of peace and that there is a legitimate, historic Palestinian people; and the belief that humans have infinite potential and can become gods. The “accepted frauds” list seems to be endless.
Mankind’s penchant for being duped can be traced back to his beginning in the Garden of Eden. Satan, speaking through a serpent, seduced Eve into believing she could become like God through rejecting God’s will in favor of her own (Genesis 3:1-5). This was the devil’s own prospect, which he, as Lucifer, deceived himself into believing (Isaiah 14). Lies are most appealing when baited with ways and means of improving one’s situation. Incredibly, Lucifer and Adam and Eve, while in a perfect state and in perfect environments, desired something more for themselves. The self-serving thoughts of Eve’s heart are revealed as being in opposition to what God had specifically forbidden: “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Genesis 3:6). Adam and Eve's acceptance of a lie from a spirit speaking through an animal brought death and destruction into God’s perfect creation.
Satan’s scheme began by encouraging Eve to doubt what God had said, followed by a flat denial of what He indeed had commanded. He then left her with the impression that God withheld from her something that would enable her to be like Him: in other words, God’s only interest in humans is to keep them from realizing their god-like potential. That lie has been the devil’s basic appeal in seducing mankind down through the ages. The Bible characterizes Satan (whose name means “adversary”) as the father of lies, who deceives the whole world (John 8:44), and his fellow demons as his co-workers in the same game plan. Although God’s Word doesn’t go into great detail about the realm of spirit entities, it clearly warns us of the deceptive and destructive nature of demons. We’re to “be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil [and his demonic minions], as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Having rejected that warning, mankind is more involved today in ways that open one up to contact with spirits than at any time in history.
Introduced to the West in the last century under the banner of the New Age movement, Eastern mysticism has provided a veritable marketplace of methods and techniques for “communing with the gods,” with drugs and meditation as the common vehicles. Today, temples for interacting with any of the millions of Hindu gods are found worldwide, including the suburbs of many U.S. cities. I visited a very large temple outside Chicago, one well attended by upper-middle-class suburban dwellers, with many of its worshipers arriving in late model Mercedes and SUVs. Yoga meditation, which opens one up to spirit beings, is standard fare at YMCAs and athletic clubs; numerous evangelical churches have started their own classes under the oxymoron, “Christian Yoga.” The so-called science of Transcendental Meditation (TM) has initiated hundreds of thousands throughout the West, giving them mantras for calling upon Hindu deities. Religions such as Santeria, Vodoun (voodoo), and Macumba, in which ritualistic sacrifices are made to gain favors from the spirits, have attracted increasing numbers of those not usually given to superstition, e.g., doctors, lawyers, business executives, college professors, etc. Occult visualization, perhaps the most effective technique for obtaining a spirit guide, is taught in hospitals for healing purposes, in natural childbirth classes, in sales and business management seminars, by local golf pros, and in kids’ basketball and soccer camps (see Dave Hunt’s Occult Invasion). It is a favored technique among those who practice “Christian” mysticism, known within evangelical circles as the “contemplative movement.” Inner-healing teachers professing to be Christians recommend visualization for communicating with Jesus, who they claim “will appear.”
Contact with nonphysical entities claiming to be extraterrestrials is so accepted today that the tragic event of the suicides of the Heaven’s Gate cult members, who died “in order to be taken aboard,” is seen as an anomaly. UFOs, which are nonphysical, are regarded by millions as vehicles of higher intelligences who will save humanity from destruction. The promises made by these nonphysical “ETIs” are the same throughout the world no matter who contacts these so-called space beings. Furthermore, the various methods of contacting spirits, whether through drugs, meditation, visualization, chanting mantras, ouija boards, or simply a desire for communication by an act of the will, always produce a similar antibiblical message.
One of our staff members had a recent encounter with the owner of a business near our ministry. Since he heard her use the phrase “Praise the Lord,” he asked her if she were a believer. Her response startled him: “Yes…I’m a shaman!” She explained that she believed in many “lords.” The term “shaman” comes from the language of the Tungus tribe in Siberia and refers to the tribal medicine man, or witchdoctor. The shaman’s main function is to contact the spirits in order to gain assistance for his people. Anthropologists are intrigued by the fact that in every part of the world where shamanism is practiced, it is basically the same. That consistency among diverse people groups (who have never had contact with one another) is compelling evidence for the reality of the spirits with whom they interact. It also supports the biblical claim that there is a central, and evil, source for the content and power obtained from the spirit realm.
Today we have shamans of all kinds from Bend to Beverly Hills and all points east, west, north and south. Our national park guides are delighted to introduce visitors to the sweat lodges, vision quest, and other shamanic trappings of Native Americans. White, middle-class “shamans” are popping up all over the place, much to the disdain of those who see their pursuit as “inauthentic” and the “exploitation of Native American culture.” Evidently, the spirits are not cultural purists, given the glowing reports that multitudes of non-indigenous Americans have contacted their “power animals,” or spirit guides, simply by reading the books and following the techniques and directions of the less-than-authentic shamans! Rarely, if ever, do you read in such books that problems may arise, or that the spirits may not be as all-wise and all-wonderful as advertised.
I recently interviewed a man who had spent most of his life communing with spirit entities. There is no doubt as to his “authenticity.” He was a shaman, a medicine man and chief of his Yanamamo tribe, which resides deep in the Amazonian rain forest of Venezuela. At odds with the lie promoted in anthropological circles–that the lives of primitive tribes-people are pure, natural and Eden-like and therefore best kept from outside influence—Chief Shoefoot and his people’s violent, fear-filled existence is documented in a book titled Spirit of the Rain Forest, written by Mark Ritchie (available from Island Lake Press).
As a young boy, Shoefoot was singled out as one sensitive to the spirit realm and subsequently initiated into the sorcerer’s world. Again, a shaman is one who, through knowledge and power obtained from the spirits, heals and guides his people. Although the initial process of enabling him to contact the spirits was brutal, involving days of food and water deprivation and having someone force hallucinogenic drugs into his system by blowing them up his nose, the spirits he met were at first benign and curiously captivating. His initial impression was that many of them inhabited and spoke through plants and especially through animals (reminiscent of the ploy first introduced in the Garden of Eden and supportive of the lie of evolution that all living things are related and equal). Shoefoot’s desire in all of this was to serve the needs of his tribe; therefore, he followed the counsel of the spirits, even when to do so seemed at odds with common sense.
At the beginning, help from the spirits was somewhat encouraging, yet it always seemed tainted with unresolved problems, or worse. For example, sicknesses among the Yanomamo children, which the spirits too often had trouble healing, were usually blamed on powerful curses placed on the village by a rival tribe.The usual spirit-provided solution to offset the curses was to murder, rape and pillage the suspected foes. The abduction of women was commonplace for such raids. Yet whether it was to retrieve their stolen women or simply to exact revenge, violent payback was only a matter of time. The knowledge supplied by Shoefoot’s spirits often proved to be less than trustworthy, causing his tribe to live in confusion and constant fear of their enemies.
Not only did Shoefoot grow weary of the excuses from the spirits when their counsel went awry, but some spirits were of such a vicious nature that they wrought mayhem and death among his people. During drug-induced rituals where these spirits might make their presence known, the men needed to hide their weapons to prevent the spirit-controlled warriors from killing one another. At one point of near hopelessness concerning his inability to improve the deteriorating condition of his people, Shoefoot increased his drug intake in order to go deeper into the spirit world to find more trustworthy and benevolent spirits. That led to even more wicked spirits (Luke 11:26), greater frustration, and intense despair. However, during his dark spiritual journey, he was made aware of a powerful Spirit, who, he was told, was the enemy of his spirits and his people. Ironically, the location where this Spirit, Yai Pada, dwelled was a beautiful place of abundance and peace, the very blessings Shoefoot desired for his tribe and for himself. Since he had been lied to so often by his spirits, he was driven to know if they were telling him the truth about Yai Pada.
Fulfilling His promise given to all humanity through the prophet Jeremiah, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13), the Lord led Shoefoot to a missionary named Joe Dawson, one of the very few foreigners able to speak the Yanomamo language. Joe taught Shoefoot about Yai Pada, the God of the Bible. He taught him that sin made us all God’s enemies, yet Yai Pada loved us so much that He sent His Son to pay the full penalty for our sins, and by admitting our sinfulness and putting our trust in Jesus and our faith in what He accomplished for us, we could have peace with the God of Peace. Moreover, he was told that all who believe in Jesus will spend eternity with Yai Pada. Shoefoot’s testimony (found in detail in Spirit of the Rain Forest and in a rough but powerful video, “I’ll Never Go Back!” A Shaman’s Story from Don Shire Ministries) of how Jesus delivered him from his bondage to sin and to his spirits is a testimony to the truth of God’s Word.
I asked Shoefoot through interpreter Mike Dawson, Joe’s son, who grew up among the Yanomamo, how he would answer a skeptic who thought his experiences with the spirits were nothing more than hallucinations brought on by the drugs he took. Shoefoot’s 70-something-year-old eyes sparkled at the question; he enjoys responding to challenges by skeptics, especially when he speaks to university anthropology students. It’s ironic that this “primitive” man considers the highly educated anthropologists who study his people naïve at best, deceived at worst. He told me of knowing shamans who had many of the same spirits he had had, yet, unlike him, they did not come to know them as a result of taking drugs. Whether the contacts were made with a clear mind or in a drug-induced state, descriptions and details were nearly always identical—they all communed with the same spirits.
Mike added that we of the sophisticated West have trouble relating to a culture in which spirits, i.e., demons, are a real, everyday part of life. However, that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily exclusive to the dense jungles of the Yanomamo. He said that on one autumn trip to the U.S. with Shoefoot, he was shocked as his friend, the former shaman, continually pointed out representations of spirits he had known being featured across America as it celebrated its most financially successful holiday: Halloween. Some time later, Shoefoot was given a sampling of TV’s Saturday-morning cartoon characters and power figures. It was more of the same. He was not aware of the worldwide popularity of the Harry Potter books, which introduce children to sorcery and encourage them in the practice of witchcraft. As Mike explained this series of books to him, he was grieved that so many young people were being set up for the suffering and bondage that had tormented his own people.
Shoefoot’s subjective experiences in a culture dominated by lying spirits are readily substantiated when compared with other demon-driven lifestyles throughout the world. Furthermore, they are consistent with what God’s Word says about such spirits. The prince of “the rulers of the darkness of this world” (Ephesians 6:12) is a devourer of human souls, who also delights in their physical destruction through depravity and disease. The technologically advanced societies on this planet may be able to ward off the latter, but they will reap the far worse temporal and eternal bondage of their souls. The culmination of this will take place under the demon possessed and empowered Antichrist. However, the preconditioning for that event, which began in the Garden of Eden and has become widespread in our day, will manifest itself in an increasingly demonized society and an apostate Christianity, as the Apostle Paul warns: “Now the [Holy] Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1). The world, blinded and bound by “the god of this world,” is ripe for every form of contact with spirit entities and will reap its horrendous consequences.
Lord, give us a love for the truth, and a heart to rescue those in bondage to the lie.