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altruistico:

A message we should all recall – and recall it daily. I thank you for this message and it’s reminder.

May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob bless and keep you and yours always.

Originally posted on Second Star to the Right:

 And they compelled one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross. Mark 15:21

How many times have you been made to do something?  Make your bed.  Clean the kitchen.  Wake up at 6:30am for work.  Nagging parents or complaining housemates or the necessity of an income compels us.  But what if we were forced to move in with strangers?  Or forbidden to ever see our parents again?  Or safety was a physical restraint?

This is reality for the children at Mount Saint Vincent Home.  Due to no fault of their own, these innocent souls have been forced into a system that will likely spit them back into an inhumane world.  Yet they take up this cross with such courage.  The child who joyfully exclaims, “ready, set, take a break!” in gym class is the same who pleas, “a daddy and…

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God and Anger

There’s a verse in Ephesians 4:26 which says “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” From this, I have to assume that feeling angry is just something that’s going to happen. It’s part of life. It’s an emotional response to the things that bother us. But our response should be to deal with it, and put it away, rather than letting it take hold of us. Recently I failed at this in a big way. I was badly hurt and became angry, and instead of dealing with it, I savored it, I let it melt in my mouth, and it became part of me.

I forgot God, and anger became my friend. We talked together often, anger and I. And I began to see everyone as an enemy – first the individuals who had hurt me, and then those associated with them, and then “people like that” and then “people” in general. The world seemed to me full of demons and God seemed irretrievably far away. And predictably, I began to be unlikeable myself, uncomfortable in my own skin, and full of unreasonable and irascible thoughts and words, for “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:20

God and Anger: Escaping with Jonah

I knew I had two options: return to God and draw from His strength or escape. I chose escape, not because I did not trust or love God, but because returning to God meant (in my mind, at the time) that I would have to return also to those Christians who had hurt me – that I would have to approve of them, and accept their judgements of me – and that thought was intolerable. So, I began to wander away from the Bible, away from ministry, away from people who could help, away from the very thought of God. Like Jonah, I was commissioned to minister and help others, and like Jonah, I wound up “angry enough to die”.

I just wanted God to provide me a shady place to sit and watch the world go to hell.

I am fully aware that my response was wrong, and sinful. There is no place, nor justification for anger. But there is a lesson here for believers and the church. Our words and actions matter. We can hurt others deeply when we disregard their feelings, and we can cause a chain reaction that extends far beyond ourselves. When the root of bitterness springs up, it defiles many (Hebrews 12:15). I love this verse from Romans 15:1-3:

“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”

God and Anger: An Exhortation

I heard once that “the measure of a man is not in the way he treats his superiors, but the way he treats his inferiors”. Spiritually speaking, some of us are stronger than others, the Bible says. To those who are spiritually “inferior” (that is, less mature, or weaker, or newer in faith) the strong have this obligation: bear with their failings, for this mirrors Christ. Christ bore our reproaches, and we should bear one another’s sins, failures and reproaches in a similar way. Like one organism, the body of Christ is meant to build itself up, cutting away all the little tumors of anger or bitterness that appear before they cause even more damage.

By Tiffany Wismer

With Russia back in the news in a big way, many people are wondering if recent events in eastern Europe have anything to do with end-times prophecy—and, if so, how? Much of the discussion has to do with an ancient prophecy from Ezekiel: “The word of the Lord came to me: ‘Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshek and Tubal; prophesy against him and say: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, Gog, chief prince of Meshek and Tubal”’” (Ezekiel 38:1–3). The identities of “Gog,” “Magog,” “Meshek,” and “Tubal” are the key to fully understanding the prophecy.

Gog is a person. Whoever Gog is, he is from the land of Magog and is the leader of Tubal and Meshek (some translations add “Rosh” to the list) and a confederacy of other nations: Persia, Cush, Put, Gomer, and Beth Togarmah (Ezekiel 38:5–6). And, whoever he is, he will have plans to “attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people,” viz., Israel (verses 11, 14, and 18). But, regardless of Gog’s plans, the Lord God is against him and will defeat him soundly (Ezekiel 38:4, 19–23; 39:3–5).

Magog is a land “in the far north,” from Israel’s point of view (Ezekiel 38:15; 39:2). Most Bible commentators interpret “Magog” as Russia—and, indeed, Russia is straight north of Israel, all the way up to the Arctic Circle. According to this view, “Rosh” is a reference to Russia, “Meshek” is either Moscow or the people north of the Black Sea (the area of southern Russia and Ukraine), and “Tubal,” which is always listed with Meshek in Scripture, is identified as a city in Siberia or an area in central Turkey.

Others see “Magog” as a general term used in Ezekiel’s day to identify barbarians living near the Black and Caspian Seas. Regardless of the exact locations of Magog, Tubal, and Meshek, there is no doubt that the general area includes portions of Russia and the former Soviet Union, and possibly some Arab countries.

So, yes, the Bible does mention Russia, although not by that name, in connection with the end times. Ezekiel 38—39 definitely refer to a nation coming from northern Asia to attack Israel. After the Cold War, Russia lost its superpower status, making the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy seem unlikely in some people’s eyes. However, recent events have shown that Russia is gaining strength, and many believe that the invasion of Crimea is just a first step in Russia’s plan to restore its dominance in that hemisphere. It is also interesting to note that, in the Soviet era, Moscow was solidly aligned with several Muslim countries in opposition to Israel. Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia has continued to make overtures to the Muslim world.

According to the Bible, there will come a time when Russia, in alliance with several other countries, will amass a huge army against Israel, with a view to plunder the Jews’ land. The nations aligned with Russia for this military endeavor are Persia (modern-day Iran), Put (modern-day Sudan), Cush (modern-day Libya), Gomer (part of modern-day Turkey), and Beth Togarmah (another portion of modern-day Turkey or possibly Syria). Most of these nations are currently militant Islamic states with an express hatred of Israel. Ezekiel says that, when the aggressors move against Israel, a few other nations (“Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish”) will remonstrate, as will “all her villages”—possibly colonies (Ezekiel 38:13). Sheba and Dedan are associated with areas of northern Africa. Tarshish could be a reference to Spain (which colonized much of South America), Britain (which colonized the United States), or somewhere in eastern Africa. The objections to Magog’s aggression will fall on deaf ears, however, and the invasion will continue.

Some commentators believe this war is one of the events leading up to beginning of the tribulation. Others believe it will occur close to the midpoint of the tribulation, since Israel will be “dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates” (Ezekiel 38:11)—in other words, Israel will feel secure at that time, possibly because of the covenant they have signed with the Antichrist (Daniel 9:27). Either way, this battle is distinct from the Battle of Armageddon, which occurs at the end of the tribulation.

God promises to destroy Gog’s army: “I will execute judgment on him with plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him” (Ezekiel 38:22). The bodies of the fallen army of Magog will be buried, but it will take over seven months to complete the macabre task (Ezekiel 39:12, 14). This supernatural judgment will have the effect of preserving Israel and turning many hearts to God: “And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 38:23). Many will be saved during the tribulation (Revelation 7), and the fulfillment of Ezekiel 38—39 will be one means by which God will bring people to a knowledge of Himself.

There is much we do not know for certain about Ezekiel’s prophecy, including the timing of these events. However, it is clear that Russia will be involved and will in fact lead an end-times league of nations to seize Israel’s land. The prophet Ezekiel comforts Israel in much the same way as Moses had centuries ago: “The LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory” (Deuteronomy 20:4).

The Bible prophesies of many events that will occur in the end times. These events can be categorized as natural signs, spiritual signs, sociological signs, technological signs, and political signs. We can look to what the Bible says about these things, and if the signs are present in abundance, we can be certain that we are, in fact, living in the end times.

Luke 21:11 lists some of the natural signs that will occur before Jesus’ Second Coming: “There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.” In 13 years, between 1991 and 2004, the United States alone has experienced 5 of its costliest hurricanes in history, 3 of its 4 largest tornado swarms in history, and 9 of the 10 greatest disasters as determined by FEMA. We have recently seen Hurricane Sandy, which some have called the “perfect storm.” There is a huge upswing in the prevalence of sinkholes. As for great signs from heaven, we’ve seen the Chelyabinsk meteor, which exploded over Russia, emitting a powerful shock wave. All of these events seem to be a warm up to what is coming next—“birth pangs,” as Jesus called them (Matthew 24:8).

The Bible lists both positive and negative spiritual signs. In 2 Timothy 4:3-4 we discover that many people will follow false teachers. We see now an increase in cultic groups, heresy, deception and occultism, with many choosing to follow new age or pagan religions. On the positive side, Joel 2:28-29 prophesies that there will be a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Joel’s prophecy was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:16), and we are still seeing the effects of that outpouring in revivals and Spirit-led Christian movements, worldwide preaching of the gospel message, and the emergence of Messianic Judaism.

Along with the signs in the natural and spiritual realms, there are signs in society. The immorality rampant in society today is a symptom of mankind’s rebellion against God. Abortion, homosexuality, drug abuse and child molestation are proof that “evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse” (2 Timothy 3:13). We are now living in a hedonistic and materialistic society. People are lovers of themselves – “looking out for number one” – and doing what is right in their own eyes. All these things, and many more, can be seen around us every day (see 2 Timothy 3:1-4).

The fulfillment of some end-times prophecies seemed impossible until the advent of modern technology. Daniel 12:4 foretold an increase in knowledge. Some of the judgments in Revelation are more easily imagined in a nuclear age. In Revelation 13, the Antichrist will control commerce by forcing people to take the mark of the beast, and, given today’s advances in computer chip technology, the tools he will use may very well be here already. And through the internet, radio and television, the gospel can now be proclaimed to the entire world (Mark 13:10).

And there are political signs. The restoration of Israel to her land in 1948 is the single most impressive fulfilled prophecy proving that we live in the end times. At the turn of the 20th century, no one would have dreamed that Israel would be back in her land, let alone occupying Jerusalem. Jerusalem is definitely at the center of geopolitics and stands alone against many enemies; Zechariah 12:3 confirms this: “On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.” Matthew 24:6-7 predicted that “nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” “Wars and rumors of wars” are definitely characteristic of this present age.

These are just a few of the signs that we are living in the end of the age. There are many more. God gave us these prophecies because He does not want anyone to perish, and He always gives ample warning before pouring out His wrath (2 Peter 3:9).

Are we living in the end times? The rapture could occur at any moment. God will deal with sin either by grace or by wrath. John 3:36 says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” Those who do not accept Jesus Christ as their savior will remain under the Lord’s wrath.

The good news is that it’s not too late to choose eternal life. All that is required is acceptance, by faith, of God’s free gift of grace. There is nothing you can do to earn grace; Jesus has paid the price for you (Romans 3:24). Are you ready for the Lord’s return? Or will you experience His wrath?

There is a lot of confusion regarding what Easter Sunday is all about. For some, Easter Sunday is about the Easter Bunny, colorfully decorated Easter eggs, and Easter egg hunts. Most people understand that Easter Sunday has something to do with the resurrection of Jesus, but are confused as to how the resurrection is related to the Easter eggs and the Easter bunny.

Biblically speaking, there is absolutely no connection between the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the common modern traditions related to Easter Sunday. As a background, please read our article on the origins of Easter. Essentially, what occurred is that in order to make Christianity more attractive to non-Christians, the ancient Roman Catholic Church mixed the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection with celebrations that involved spring fertility rituals. These spring fertility rituals are the source of the egg and bunny traditions.

The Bible makes it clear that Jesus was resurrected on the first day of the week, Sunday (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2,9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1,19). Jesus’ resurrection is most worthy of being celebrated (see 1 Corinthians 15). While it is appropriate for Jesus’ resurrection to be celebrated on a Sunday, the day on which Jesus’ resurrection is celebrated should not be referred to as Easter. Easter has nothing to do with Jesus’ resurrection on a Sunday.

As a result, many Christians feel strongly that the day on which we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection should not be referred to as “Easter Sunday.” Rather, something like “Resurrection Sunday” would be far more appropriate and biblical. For the Christian, it is unthinkable that we would allow the silliness of Easter eggs and the Easter bunny to be the focus of the day instead of Jesus’ resurrection.

By all means, celebrate Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday. Christ’s resurrection is something that should be celebrated every day, not just once a year. At the same time, if we choose to celebrate Easter Sunday, we should not allow the fun and games to distract our attention from what the day should truly be all about—the fact that Jesus was resurrected from the dead, and that His resurrection demonstrates that we can indeed be promised an eternal home in Heaven by receiving Jesus as our Savior.

To learn more about how Jesus’ death and resurrection provided for our salvation, please read the following article: What does it mean to accept Jesus as your personal Savior?

Easter Sunday Calendar:
2014 – April 20
2015 – April 5
2016 – March 27
2017 – April 16
2018 – April 1
2019 – April 21
2020 – April 12

  The origins of Easter are rooted in European traditions. The name Easter comes from a pagan figure called Eastre (or Eostre) who was celebrated as the goddess of spring by the Saxons of Northern Europe. A festival called Eastre was held during the spring equinox by these people to honor her. The goddess Eastre’s earthly symbol was the rabbit, which was also known as a symbol of fertility. Originally, there were some very pagan (and sometimes utterly evil) practices that went along with the celebration. Today, Easter is almost a completely commercialized holiday, with all the focus on Easter eggs and the Easter bunny being remnants of the goddess worship.

In the Christian faith, Easter has come to mean the celebration of the resurrection of Christ three days after His crucifixion. It is the oldest Christian holiday and the most important day of the church year because of the significance of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the events upon which Christianity is based. Easter Sunday is preceded by the season of Lent, a 40-day period of fasting and repentance culminating in Holy Week and followed by a 50-day Easter season that stretches from Easter to Pentecost.

Because of the commercialization and pagan origins of Easter, many churches prefer to refer to it as “Resurrection Sunday.” The rationale is the more we focus on Christ and the less we focus on the pagan holiday, the better. As previously mentioned, the resurrection of Christ is the central theme of Christianity. Paul says that without this, our faith is futile (1 Corinthians 15:17). What more wonderful reason could we have to celebrate! What is important is the true reason behind our celebration, which is that Christ was resurrected from the dead, making it possible for us to have eternal life (Romans 6:4)!

Should we celebrate Easter or allow our children to go on Easter eggs hunts? This is a question both parents and church leaders struggle with. There is nothing essentially evil about painting and hiding eggs and having children search for them. What is important is our focus. If our focus is on Christ and not the eggs, our children will understand that the eggs are just a game. Children can participate in an Easter egg hunt as long as the true meaning of the day is explained and emphasized, but ultimately this must be left up to the discretion of parents.

Oprah Winfrey is arguably one of the most influential women in the world. With a daily viewership that has peaked around 10 million, The Oprah Winfrey Show definitely has the potential to impact the lives of many people. The Oprah Winfrey Show definitely promotes much that is good. However, there is another side of Oprah that has only recently become an integral part of her show—and that is her rejection of biblical Christianity. Oprah has made statements on her show in the past that have given a small glimpse into her personal spiritual beliefs, speaking mostly about her belief that there are many ways, millions even, for a person to “get to what some call God.”

This more recent exposure of her beliefs revolves around the book A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, which she helped to make a best-seller by promoting it on Oprah’s Book Club and on her website. Beyond simply promoting the book, Oprah has partnered with Tolle in presenting weekly online webcast classes in order to explore the ideas and principles expressed in A New Earth.

Some have gone as far as labeling Oprah a cult leader—and with good reason. She is a figurehead for the promotion and propagation of anti-biblical beliefs which deny every foundational truth of historical Christianity. Her webcasts have attracted hundreds of thousands of participants with the promise of gaining new perspectives on how to live a life of enrichment, peace, newfound self-worth, and spiritual freedom.

Eckhart Tolle, a well-known New Age author and speaker, promotes nothing short of personal divinity in his teachings. In an attempt to deceive people into thinking that his religion is compatible with Christianity, Tolle occasionally quotes from the Bible and refers to biblical principles. The problem is that Eckhart Tolle’s book, A New Earth, is in complete opposition to biblical Christianity from cover to cover. Nearly every reference to, or quote of, Scripture is twisted by Tolle’s consistent misinterpretation and misunderstanding.

Consider what can be found in just the pages of the first chapter: evolution of life over millions of years is accepted, assumed, and understood to be fact; Jesus is misquoted; flowers, crystals, precious stones, and birds are believed to be temporary manifestations of the Universal Consciousness and are themselves considered enlightened life forms; the definition of sin is misinterpreted; Jesus Christ is thought of as just one of those rare people who, like the Buddha, achieved divine consciousness; other religions, such as Buddhism, are considered just as valid and true as Christianity; an early Christian cult, Gnosticism, is portrayed as one of the few groups who actually understood the teachings of Jesus; original sin was simply a forgetting of the connectedness and oneness with the Source, along with everything else connected with the Source—a delusion of separateness; heaven is portrayed as merely an “inner realm of consciousness.”

These teachings are found in just the first chapter. Obviously, Eckhart Tolle is promoting a new religion, one which combines the most mystical aspects of every major religion. The first chapter, of course, sets the tone and direction for the rest of the book. This direction happens to be as far from biblical truth as is possible. If you are concerned at all with whether or not this book is compatible with the Christian faith, you need not read any further than the first chapter to understand what Tolle believes and what Oprah is encouraging others to believe.

Tolle ends the book writing about the new heaven and new earth spoken of in Revelation 21. He states near the end of chapter 10:

The only existence the future actually has is as a thought form in your mind, so when you look to the future for salvation, you are unconsciously looking to your own mind for salvation. You are trapped in form, and that is ego. “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth,” writes the biblical prophet. [T]he foundation for a new earth is a new heaven – the awakened consciousness. The earth – external reality – is only its outer reflection. The arising of a new heaven and by implication a new earth are not future events that are going to make us free. Nothing is going to make us free because only the present moment can make us free. That realization is the awakening. Awakening as a future event has no meaning because awakening is the realization of Presence. So the new heaven, the awakened consciousness, is not a future state to be achieved. A new heaven and a new earth are arising within you at this moment, and if they are not arising at this moment, they are no more than a thought in your head and therefore not arising at all. What did Jesus tell his disciples? “Heaven is right here in the midst of you.”

In line with chapter 1, chapter 10 places the final stamp of approval on a belief system completely void of biblical truth. Salvation is presented as a state of being, achieved through one’s own power; heaven is referred to as simply a state of consciousness; and Jesus Christ is relegated to a spiritual master who taught that one only needs look within oneself to find spiritual release. Scripture is used only out of context and presented as obscurely as possible.

There is no room for Jesus Christ, the God-Man, or His teachings in Oprah and Tolle’s belief system. In fact, Oprah and Tolle propose that all people free their minds from a belief in Christ. Truly, deception is the only thing that Eckhart Tolle and Oprah Winfrey offer. They, and those that follow their teachings, have fallen for Satan’s original lie, “you will be like God” (Genesis 3:5).

Scientology is a difficult religion to summarize. Scientology has gained popularity due to some Hollywood celebrities who have embraced it. Scientology was founded in 1953 by fiction author L. Ron Hubbard, just four years after he made the statement, “I’d like to start a religion—that’s where the money is.” That is where he found wealth, also—Hubbard became a multi-millionaire.

Scientology teaches that mankind is an immortal being (called a Thetan) not originally from this planet, and that man is trapped by matter, energy, space, and time (MEST). Salvation for a scientologist comes through a process called ”auditing,” whereby ”engrams” (basically, memories of past pain and unconsciousness that create energy blockage) are removed. Auditing is a lengthy process and can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. When all engrams are finally removed, the Thetan can once again control MEST instead of being controlled by it. Until salvation, each Thetan is constantly reincarnated.

Scientology is a very expensive religion to pursue. Every aspect of Scientology has some sort of fee associated with it. This is why Scientology’s “pews” are filled only with the wealthy. It is also a very strict religion and very punitive against those who would try to leave behind its teachings and membership. Its “scriptures” are limited solely to the writings and teachings of L. Ron Hubbard.

Though scientologists will claim that Scientology is compatible with Christianity, the Bible counters each and every belief they hold to. The Bible teaches that God is the sovereign and only creator of the universe (Genesis 1:1); mankind was created by God (Genesis 1:27); the only salvation available to man is by grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:8); salvation is a free gift that mankind can do nothing to earn (Ephesians 2:8-9); and Jesus Christ is alive and well and is seated at the right hand of God the Father even now (Acts 2:33; Ephesians 1:20; Hebrews 1:3), awaiting the time when He will gather His people to Himself to reside with Him for eternity in heaven. Everyone else will be cast into a very real hell, separated from God for eternity (Revelation 20:15).

Scientology categorically denies the existence of the God of the Bible, heaven, and hell. To a scientologist, Jesus Christ was simply a good teacher who unfortunately was wrongfully put to death. Scientology differs from biblical Christianity on every important doctrine. Some of the most important differences are summarized below:

God: Scientology believes that there are multiple gods and that some gods are above other gods. Biblical Christianity, on the other hand, recognizes the one and only true God who revealed Himself to us in the Bible and through Jesus Christ. Those who believe in Him cannot believe the false concept of God as taught in Scientology.

Jesus Christ: Like other cults, Scientology denies the deity of Christ. Instead of having a biblical view of who Christ is and what He did, they assign to Him the characteristics of some sort of lesser god who has obtained legendary status over the years. The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus was God in the flesh and through His incarnation He could act as a sacrifice for our sins. It is through Christ’s death and resurrection that we can have the hope of eternal life with God (John 3:16).

Sin: Scientology believes in the inherent goodness of man and teaches that it is despicable and utterly beneath contempt to tell a man he must repent or that he is evil. On the other hand, the Bible teaches that man is a sinner and the only hope for him is that he receive Christ as his Lord and Savior (Romans 6:23).

Salvation: Scientology believes in reincarnation and that personal salvation in one’s lifetime is freedom from the cycle of birth and death associated with reincarnation. They believe that religious practice of all faiths is the universal way to wisdom, understanding, and salvation. In contrast, the Bible teaches that there is only one way of salvation and that is through Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Comparing the teachings of Scientology with the Bible, we see that the two have very little, if anything, in common. Scientology only leads away from God and eternal life. Scientology, while sometimes disguising its beliefs in Christian-sounding language, in fact diametrically opposes Christianity on every core belief. Scientology is clearly, and most definitely, not Christian.

Voodoo is a name for several religious practices derived from West African Voodoo. The original West African Voodoo is a polytheistic religion called Vodon (also spelled Vodun, Voudoun, Vodou, Vaudoux, Vodoun or Voudou). This religion honors a god with a dual nature, both masculine and feminine, and spirits that rule nature as well as spirits in rocks, rivers, trees, etc. These spirits are the vodon or vudu. This form of Voodoo also includes animal sacrifices and ancestor worship.

Voodoo in Haiti and Louisiana (as well as in Haitian communities in Miami and New York City) is derived from West African Voodoo but blended with the superficial aspects of Roman Catholicism. This came about when slaves were brought to the New World and pressured to convert to Roman Catholicism. They mixed West African Voodoo with Roman Catholicism, thus forming an underground type of Voodoo found in Latin America, Cuba, Haiti, and Louisiana. In Cuba, this blend is usually called Santeria; in Brazil, it is Candomble (other terms may be used as well). In Haitian Voodoo, worship is directed to the loa, deities who serve the one god. The loa became associated with Catholic saints.

Louisiana Voodoo has a strong emphasis on belief in spirits that supervise everything. Slaves changed the African names of these spirits to the names of Catholic saints as part of the blending of West African Voodoo with Roman Catholicism. Women in Louisiana Voodoo who presided over rituals and ceremonies and used charms and magical potions became known as Voodoo Queens. The most well-known Voodoo Queen was Marie Laveau of New Orleans who also considered herself a devout Catholic. Because of this, further syncretization between Voodoo and Roman Catholicism ensued.

Because it is based primarily on oral tradition, Voodoo can vary from person to person. There is belief in one god, called Bondye, but this god is remote and is not active in daily life. Voodoo worshipers connect with the spirits through singing, ecstatic dancing in which the worshipers invite the spirits to “ride” them, and the use of snakes. Additionally, there are special diets, ceremonies, rituals, spell casting, potions, and talismans and amulets (charms) for healing and aiding followers.

Voodoo involves the worship of spirits and occult practices such as divination (fortunetelling) and sorcery. These practices are strongly condemned by God throughout the Bible, such as in Deuteronomy 18:9-13, where God forbids consulting anyone who practices “divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead” (also see Leviticus 19:26, 31, 20:6; 2 Kings 17:17; Acts 19:18-19; Revelation 21:8, 22:15).

The god of Voodoo is not the biblical God but a remote god who is not involved with humanity or nature. The worship of the Voodoo spirits is the worship of false gods, and as such is condemned throughout the Bible. Not only is Voodoo a religion that is incompatible with Christianity, but its practices and beliefs are against God’s Word. Moreover, the occult practices of Voodoo are dangerous because they open people up for the influence of demons.

By blending polytheistic spirit worship with a superficial form of Christianity, Voodoo has effectively denied the primacy of Jesus Christ and His atoning work on the cross and the need for redemption solely through faith in Christ. Voodoo, therefore, is incompatible with God’s Word in three ways: the true God is not worshiped, Jesus is secondary to the spirits, and occult practices prevail.

The word “Rastafarianism” often calls to mind the stereotypical images of dreadlocks (long braids or natural locks of hair), ganja (marijuana), the streets of Kingston, Jamaica, and the reggae rhythms of Bob Marley. Rastafarians have no universally acknowledged leaders, no universally agreed-upon defining principles. It is a black consciousness movement—Afro-Caribbean—and there is a split between the religion and its accompanying social consciousness, so people can appreciate what Rastas are trying to do socially while not embracing the religion.

The movement takes its name from the title “Ras Tafari.” In the Ethiopian (Amharic) language, ras means “head,” “prince,” or “field marshal,” and tafari means “to be feared.” Within the system of Rastafarianism, the term is a reference most particularly to Ras Tafari Makonnen (1892–1975), who became the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I (his Christian baptismal name) upon his coronation in 1930, when Selassie was lauded with the title “Lion of Judah, Elect of God, King of Kings.” This sent a shock wave through Afro-Caribbean culture. In the streets of Kingston, Jamaica, preachers like Joseph Hibbert started declaring that Haile Selassie was the long awaited Messiah, the second coming of Christ. Thus was born one track of Rastafari, which looked to Selassie as the living God and black messiah who would overthrow the existing order and usher in a reign of blacks.

Another track of Rasta has sprung up alongside the messianic track. This group traces its roots to Leonard Percival Howell and has definite Hindu elements. Sometime in the early- to mid-1930s, Howell produced a 14-page pamphlet, “The Promised Key,” which laid the groundwork for a second track within Rastafarianism influenced by Hinduism and Rosicrucianism. Many of the leaders in this track have also been Freemasons. The result has been a sort of Rastafarian pantheism that looks for “the Lion Spirit in each of us: the Christ spirit.”

A summary of Rastafarian theology, as evidenced in the pantheistic track: the belief that “God is man and man is God”; that salvation is earthly; that human beings are called to celebrate and protect life; that the spoken word, as a manifestation of the divine presence and power, can both create and bring destruction; that sin is both personal and corporate; and that Rasta brethren are the chosen people to manifest God’s power and promote peace in the world.

Both tracks of Rasta are in direct contrast to the revealed Word of God in the Bible. First, Haile Selassie is not the Messiah. Those who worship him as such worship a false god. There is only one King of Kings, one Lion of Judah, and that is Jesus Christ (see Revelation 5:5; 19:16), who will return in the future to set up His earthly kingdom. Preceding His coming, there will be a great tribulation, after which the whole world will see Jesus “coming in the clouds of heaven with great power and great glory” (see Matthew 24:29-31). Haile Selassie was a man and, like all men, he was born, he lived, and he died. Jesus Christ, the true Messiah, is alive and seated at the right hand of the Father (Hebrews 10:12).

The pantheistic track of Rasta is equally false and based on the same lie that Satan has been telling mankind since the garden of Eden: “you will be as God” (Genesis 3:4). There is one God, not many, and although believers do possess the indwelling Holy Spirit and we do belong to God, we are not God. “For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me” (Isaiah 46:9). Furthermore, salvation is not earthly, another anti-scriptural, “salvation by works” idea. No amount of earthly works or good deeds can make us acceptable to a holy and perfect God, which is why He sent His holy and perfect Son to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21). Finally, Rastafarians are not the chosen people of God. Scripture is clear that the Jews are God’s chosen people and that He has not yet completed His plan for their redemption (Exodus 6:7; Leviticus 26:12; Romans 11:25-27).