One of the most critical issues facing
the Native Christian Church
today is the effort to revive, adapt, and
utilize Native cultural forms of worship in the church. In the light of
the resurgence of Native religious traditionalism, the coming of the peyote
movement (Native American Church), the influx of New Age philosophy, and questions
concerning Native spirituality and Biblical truth, we as Native believers in Christ, from a score of tribes and with hundreds
of combined years of experience in tribal ministry among us, have gathered together to speak with one voice on these subjects
to the body of Christ at large, basing our responses on clear statements of the revealed Word of God.
1 Tim. 4:1, 2 Tim. 4:3-4, 2 Cor. 4:1-2, 1 Pet. 4:1.
Native leaders, we believe that God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is
personal, eternal, and pre-exists all of creation. God is both the Creator
and the Reason for all creation, including the heavens and the earth, plant
life, animal life, and man.
Life originated from God who is our
true heavenly Father, not
from earth as our "mother".
Gen. 1:26, Heb. 4:14, Jn. 1:14. 1 Tim. 1:17, Jn. 1:1-3,
Col. 1:16-17, Neh. 9:6, Rom. 1:20, Acts17:26-30, Gen. 2:7, Deut. 32:39, Ps. 104:5, Isa.
51:6, Job 12:7-9.
2. We believe that Christ should
have preeminence and permeates all aspects of our lives and, through us, all aspects of our cultures, to promote the glory of God. God will not share His glory
with anything in creation. To do so is idolatry. To combine the elements
of Native religion and Biblical truth is syncretism.
We must renounce and avoid any form
of idolatry and syncretism,
because they are forbidden in Scripture.
Deut. 32:39, Col. 1:17-19, Eph 1:6,12,14, Heb. 1:3-4,
1 Cor. 10:31, Isa. 42:8, Ex. 20:3-6, Rom. 1:23,
Col.3:5, 2 Ki. 17:40-41, 2 Cor. 6:14-17, 2 Cor. 4:2,
19:18-20, 1 Cor. 5:11, Is. 42:17.
3. We believe our salvation is
the finished work of Christ and that we cannot add anything to that work
to improve our relationship with God. As believers, we should not, therefore, use or attach any spiritual value to items regarded
as sacred such as tobacco, cedar smoke, sweet grass, peyote, prayer feathers, fetishes, masks, drums, dances, etc.; to places regarded as sacred such as mother earth, kivas, mountains, sweat lodge,
long house, or other traditional religious places of worship, etc.; or to spirit beings such as kachinas, skin walkers, animal
and nature spirits, etc.
Jn. 19:30, Eph. 2:8-9,5:8-12, Ex. 20:1-5,
Deut. 18:9-13, Jn. 4:21-24, Deut. 12:2, 2 Chron.
4. We believe that Christ has
always been and always will be the one and only mediator between God and
man. Man is totally helpless to reach God through any traditional spiritual
efforts such as Native ceremonies, rituals, and forms of worship.
Jn.14:6, Acts 4:12, 1 Tim. 2:5-6, Josh. 24:14-15, Mark 7:1-9,
Rom. 3:9-18,23, Col. 2:20-23.
believe we are redeemed and purified only through the blood of Christ for forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation; therefore,
we should not teach that a Native can be purified by any other means (smoke, sweats, smudging, other blood sacrifices, etc.).
To do so is to substitute or add Native
rituals and ceremonies to the finished work of Christ.
1 Pet. 1:18-19, Eph. 1:7, Heb.9:12-14,22, 1 Jn. 1:7, Col. 1:14, Tit. 3:5, Eph. 2:8-9,
Col. 2:7-10, Col. 2:20-32.
6. We believe that Christ
has set us free and that the liberty we have in Christ should not be used
as a license to introduce anything from the native traditional ways that
would hinder our lives in Christ, that would offend any of our fellow believers,
or that would hinder our witness to unbelievers.
Gal. 5:1, Jn.8:32-36, Gal. 5:13-15, 1 Cor. 8, 1 Cor. 10:31-33, Rom. 6:16-18.
7. We believe that Christ
reigns supreme above all cultures.
When Christ redeems and transforms
us through faith and obedience to His Word, then Christ will transform our culture through us.
(We believe that Christ only redeems
people by His blood; the Bible does not teach redemption of culture.)
At the same time, we affirm that there
are many good traditions within our Native cultures, which enhance both the lives of both Christians and non-Christians. Such
traditions include: respect for elders, love for children, sharing with others, entertaining strangers, considering others
before oneself, honoring the accomplishments of others, etc. These are all outstanding examples of the scriptural "law of
love" and are to be encouraged.
Eph. 1:20-23, Col. 1:16-18, Phil. 2:9-11,
1 Pet. 2:9-12,
Gal.2:20, 2 Cor. 5:17, Rom. 12:1-2, Rom. 1:5-6, Tit.
Gal. 2:16, Eph. 2:8-9, Rev. 5:9, Heb. 9:22. Eph. 1:7-8,
Eph. 2:12-13, 1 Pet. 1:18-19, 2 Thes. 2:15, Phil. 4:8-9.
By biblical truth,
we mean the sole authority of the divine revelation of God to man, clearly
inspired by the Holy Spirit in the Holy scriptures, and not what man thinks
By native religious traditionalism,
we mean the influence of the unwritten rules concerning spiritual conduct
in our historical cultures which are not in accord with the revealed Word
By native culture,
we mean the dynamic learned life ways, beliefs and values of our people
as revealed in our languages, customs, relationships, arts and rituals.
In native culture, religion permeates all aspects of life and is often identified
as being the culture, even though it is only an aspect of it.
we refer specifically to the subtle attempt to
integrate Biblical truth
and faith in Christ with non-biblical Native religious beliefs, practices,
and forms. The result is an adulteration of biblical truth and the birth
of "another gospel
By idolatry, we
mean exchanging the worship of the Creator for
the worship of the creation.
The Bible teaches that we must not
"exchange the glory of the incorruptible
God for an image in the form of corruptible man and four-footed animals
and crawling creatures (Rom. 1:23)."