Thursday, October 29, 2009

animism, alive and well

I worked with a group of southern Sudanese pastors to help them to develop a discipleship training program for their churches. Remembering my own experience, I suggested that the starting point be a study explaining the nature of grace. “Yes”, they agreed, “after we have taught about witchcraft”. It seemed extraordinary that ‘Discipleship 101’ in Sudan should begin with a study on witchcraft. But as I talked with my Sudanese friends, I came to appreciate that to understand grace, we must first realize that God is sovereign over all creation and that our world is not controlled through curses and spells. True grace cannot be understood properly by those trapped in an animistic worldview.1

What the Sudanese church is learning, we are unlearning. We walk around towns and claim them for God; we seek deliverance from family curses; we release Christians from spirits of anger; we refuse to live in places where bad things have happened. Many Australian Christians share the belief of our non-Christian neighbours that evil clings to places and has to be cleansed or it will threaten the future occupants.

My husband and I came face-to-face with this attitude when we moved into our home eight years ago. As we met the neighbours, it became clear that our house had a chequered past. One by one, they hesitantly asked, “Did you know that the people who lived in your house last grew marijuana?” The purpose of the enclosed room under our house with metal brackets welded to the ceiling and an abundance of black plastic tubs on the shelves—the room that the real estate agent pretended ignorance of—became all too clear. ...

You can read the rest at Sola Panel.

1 David Williams, ‘One to one: The essential ingredient of pastoral care’ in The Briefing #372, September 2009, p. 23.

No comments: