Healing by Jesus and Reiki (#1)

Japanese Jesus Lightworkers,

There are Christians who believe that the Japanese healing technique of Reiki  is demonic. This judgment means (so I infer) either: a) demons give people the idea that something harmful (Reiki energy healing) is actually healing;  and/or b) the use of Reiki healing methods invites demons into one’s life. This explanation supposes  the reality of demons, i.e. unclean or evil spirits, which cause confusion, chaos, and morally debased actions.

In the youtube video below, please find the testimony of a former Reiki master, who meets up with a Christian evangelical group in Denmark, led by Torben Sondergaard.  (For a critical article about this leader see: Torben Sondergaard Article).

Apart from the question of the efficacy of Reiki — which I will not evaluate, here — the video raises a serious scruple about the Christian teaching of this Danish evangelical teacher. Before I make this critique, note that this group, called the Last Reformation, may have good things to say.

However, their critique of Reiki, and their larger theology, contain some dubious premises.  The leader of this group argues, in this video, that the Fall of Adam into Sin characterizes our lives unless we accept Jesus Christ as savior and the baptism by the holy spirit. So far his theology sounds like a standard evangelical Christian teaching.

If we listen more closely, however, it emerges that the God against whom we sin in our pre-saved predicament (i.e.  before accepting Jesus) resembles a tyrannical demon himself. This part of Sondergaard’s theology seems to promote a God who condemns us to guilt and fear.

For instance, Sondergaard says that when we come before God at Judgment Day, because God’s holiness is absolute and unparalleled — (infinitely grander and vaster than any human virtue or goodness)– our every sin will sink us. No matter how much good we have done, it will be our sins not our virtues, our evil not our goodness, that will be measured and judged.

According to Christian teaching, however– so it may be urged — God is infinitely good and wise. He or She rewards acts with the greatest mercy. Those who love God and have faith, even as small as a mustard seed, will obtain mercy. Though our sins be scarlet, he will make them as white as snow. Would a good and infinitely wise God really judge sinners in the manner of a tyrant or demonically angry Despot — as Sondergaard’s theology of intimidation suggests?

Is God himself a Vindictive, Suspicious, Angry Deity ? Such a characterization approximates the personality of a demon, according to  Webster’s Dictionary, whereby a demon is: a) an evil spirit angels and demons; b) a source or agent of evil, harm, distress, or ruin. This Pseudo-God (advanced by the Danish evangelist) seeks our harm, evil , distress, or ruin, insofar as anybody who fails to be baptized by the holy spirit and to recite the proper creeds will be condemned because of the slightest sin, no matter his or her goodness and righteous deeds.

Whatever one believes about Reiki in relation to Christian healing, it is surely lamentable that a Reiki master should fall prey to such a distorted preaching of the Christian Gospel. This kind of theology can make one suspicious of practices, like Reiki, which are either benign or innocuous in themselves.

Happiness and Healing : the example of Martin Brofman (1940-2014)

A puzzle about the Gospels: how does spiritual healing actually work? Did healing take place as described in the Gospels? and if so, how does spiritual — or specifically Christian healing — apply for our own day? Occasionally, we post about healers and healing (by spiritual means), in order to probe this question.

Martin Brofman (not a Christian) was given a diagnosis of terminal cancer, while he was still a young man. He decided that if he had only a small time to live anyway, he would live his remaining days in peace and freedom. He began a quest for happiness, to mold his life according to his deepest desires.

In the process, he healed himself — against all the odds — and taught others to do the same. Surely, this interconnection between happiness and healing follows from, and confirms, a spirituality of abundant life and love. That is good news.

 

Crossing Cultures: Algonquin Bible (1663): First Bible Printed in the USA

Hello Lightworkers, and other spiritual non-conformists,

How do cultures and religions mix, so that each party has an equal standing with the other? May such free exchanges occur? Or does religion tend to take hold and spread only through conquest and rank aggression? As I will indicate, certain figures play mediating roles, between cultures, even in times of strife or warfare. Such was the case in colonial America.

Please note before we start that I am not an expert about this complicated and controversial episode in the history of North America. However, I am judiciously concerned to raise some questions about the history of missionary pursuits and intercultural religious exchange.

Throughout  US history, Indian culture and religion came to be curtailed and rudely suppressed by the government. There were massacres. Yet, episodes of equal exchange, mutual curiosity, and reciprocal aid, may have punctuated early Puritan history.  In the 1600’s, in fact, the English colonists in North America to the “new world” were often quite eager to find refuge, welcome, and hospitality among the Indians. In turn, the Indians may have been comparatively reluctant to assimilate to European ways. (See: Crossing the Cultural Divide: New Englander and Indians).

John Eliot, the 17th century Puritan, “apostle to the Indians,” who translated the Bible into Algonquin, an Indian language, undertook his work in collaboration with Indian allies. A biblical scholar, adept in translation and ancient biblical languages (Hebrew and Greek), Eliot had the linguistic ability to translate not only the Bible but also documents, called the Indian Library, which preserve Native culture for later generations and other cultures. Eliot may have served, also, to defend Indians against the more rapacious colonizers, among Eliot’s compatriots, who would seize and plunder their land. Eliot immersed himself in the culture of the Indians and learned Algonquin, a difficult language, so well that he preached in the Algonquin language, for the first time in 1647. He set up towns of Praying Indians, which governed themselves. He advocated for the Indians with the British King.

Many of the colonizers, and missionaries to the Indians, were exiles from their own homelands in England and the continent. They had lost their religious home. They were, themselves, deracinated.  Such was John Eliot. In the process of leading missions to the Indians, he was escaping religious persecution, directed at him as a “non-conformist” in his native England. If the colonizers knew persecution and violence first-hand, some of them – like John Eliot – refrained from inflicting the same on Indians in the new world –while others perpetrated such ills against them.

Indian figures like Squanto (who died in 1622), and Samson Occom (an Indian convert to Christianity and preacher during the Great Awakening), established concord with the Christian white people, although their peace and kindness were later repaid by betrayal–(at the hands of other men). According to the Life of John Eliot, the Apostle of the Indians, by John Wilson (1828), similarly one Indian named John, a Sagamore, requested of a Boston clergyman, on his deathbed, that his son might learn about the God of the English.

Conquest, kidnappings, and the cruel suppression of Native American cultures did occur in US History. Was the Algonquin Bible, however, a counterexample and a testament to amicable relations, across cultures?

Such questions cluster around the first printed Bible, in the Algonquin language, produced by John Eliot. The Indians he met in Massachusetts did not read or write. They relied on their spoken language.  Eliot taught them the English (Latin) alphabet. He then used this alphabet to transcribe, phonetically, the Algonquin spoken language.

Thus, the first translation into a Native American language of the Bible may exhibit a spirit of friendship, between the English and the American Indians, thus modeling a certain parity and amity. Some scholars do regard John Eliot as an inter-cultural mediator of beneficent impact (see: Eliot as Mediator). Eliot may have protected the Indians, and advocated for their rights, with his own more bellicose compatriots.

Below is a leaflet from the first edition of the Algonquin New Testament. Here is a reprint of the Algonquin New Testament: Algonquin NT. Dartmouth holds Eliot’s originals : Eliot Collection. Here is some information about religious persecution in Europe of the period: 17th century religious persecution

leaf_eliot1663

Vision of Female Christ (Early Christian Female Visionaries and Prophets)

Dear Lightworkers,

Our devotional lives depend on the imagination. A rich imagination prospers our emotional and spiritual foundations. We connect personally to a God/Spirit who comes to us in forms that arouse our yearnings or our curiosity. Why then is the contemporary imagination, pertaining to Jesus Christ, sometimes rather fixated on the maleness of Jesus? It was otherwise for early Christians.

Here is a report — from the second or third century — about a vision of the female Christ, which came to a female prophet. We learn of this vision from a church writer and heresiologist Epiphanius.

To be clear, the vision of a female Christ that Epiphanius reports may not be a literal and accurate report. This church writer may have been defaming and slandering the group, against whom he argues, by imputing to their female leaders a vision of the female Christ. Nevertheless, the passage is intriguing and may speak to the actual devotional practices of early Christians.

Epiphanius of Salamis, Cyprus (c.311-403)  put together a book called Panarion (literally: Medicine Chest), in which he makes a collection of heresies (figuratively: diseases) and orthodox truths (figuratively: medicines).  He writes about the Montanists, a group which adhered to the teaching of the prophet Montanist, and Maximilla and Prisicilla, two female prophets. They lived in the mid-second century in the area of Phrygia (in modern day Turkey).

Their movement, at its inception, was called the New Prophecy, and went through a number of iterations during the several centuries of its lifespan.  Besides accepting females as leaders and prophetesses in their movement, the group were millenarian, who supposed that heaven would come to earth in the Phrygian city Pepuza. [See below for a link to more writings about the Montanist movement].

In one report Epiphanius argues against a certain off-shoot of this movement, called the Quintillianists. Their prophetess had a vision of Christ as a woman. Although Epiphanius does not favor this group – he conceives them to be heretics – we, as modern people, are free to examine the matter from their side. In any case, we have evidence, here, of the visionary richness of the early Christian movement.

Here’s the report from Epiphanius, Panarion 49.1:

  1. … The Quintillianists or Priscillianists say that either Quintilla or Priscilla (I am not sure which one, but one of them), as I mentioned before, slept in Pepuza and Christ came to her and he slept next to her and it happened this way according to the misled woman: “Christ came to me dressed in a white robe,” she said, “in the shape of a woman, instilled into me wisdom, and shared with me how that this place is holy, and that Jerusalem will come down from heaven here.” And, because of this, even down to this day, they say, that certain women and men also are initiated there on the site, so that those people can wait for Christ and see him [themselves]. They are women in this group whom they refer to as prophetesses.

**Tertullian (155 – 240 CE), the North African Christian theologian, was an adherent to the New Prophecy. Later writers, of which there are a great number, argued voluminously against the Montanists. For a comprehensive set of documents, see Montanist Archives

***For female Christ images see: Art that Dares