Healing Line

Healing Line

Thoughts From Francis

by Francis MacNutt
December 1993

Dear Friends,

Perhaps you are aware that Judith's dad is a nearly full–blooded Cherokee, descended from those ancestors who fled to the mountains 150 years ago, escaping from the tragic Trail of Tears that led to Oklahoma. And she is proud of that inheritance.

This summer, during our Fishnet conference in Vermont, her inheritance was marvelously confirmed by a vision in which Jesus appeared to her as she stood at a favorite childhood spot — a natural bridge overlooking the Red River Gorge in her native Kentucky. Stretching out his arm over the beautiful forests below Jesus said, "All this is yours." When she asked what that meant, he added, "This is your inheritance!"

Jesus had come to counterbalance a very real but disturbing experience of 20 years before when Judith came up against the negative aspects of that same Native American heritage. At that time she was a missionary in Jerusalem lying in bed with a mysterious fever which did not respond to medical treatment. Into her room marched a woman whom she scarcely knew and who was not acquainted with Judith's Cherokee ancestry through any ordinary, natural means. She proceeded to ask Judith if she was of Cherokee descent and when Judith confirmed that she was, this missionary said that the Lord had told her that Judith needed to have her bloodlines cleansed of shamanism. When Judith gave her permission to pray, this woman uttered a powerful prayer of deliverance. And immediately Judith's fever disappeared!

These two incidents from Judith's life contain a teaching that is specially timely today, when some Christians believe that it really doesn't make much difference whether they are Christian, Buddhist, or Hindu: "We all have our own paths up the mountain, and we will all meet at the top" — that kind of leveling attitude. What needs to be affirmed is the age–old Christian belief that many traditional religions are a mixture of good elements and (it needs to be said openly) the demonic —especially if they feature witch–doctors and shamans.

There are two extremes. First, there are those Christians who tend to condemn anything unfamiliar that comes from a foreign culture — say, from Asia or Africa. They are like those Christians in Paul's time who were understandably afraid of eating food offered to idols (1 Cor 8: the entire chapter); yet Paul was not afraid to eat such food, provided his eating did not offend those of a more tender conscience.

On the other extreme we have the more common problem today of those who will accept anything "spiritual" that comes from another religion and automatically consider it good and valuable, simply because it is spiritual. Because the existence of the demonic realm is often dismissed as primitive superstition in today's church world, many Christian leaders tend to disregard the dangers of the demonic in those religions that are not in the Judaeo–Christian tradition. They have lost the ability to discern the difference between the Holy Spirit and the realm of evil spirits.

There are elements of witchcraft — of the demonic — in most traditional religions, and it all needs to be sifted out and discerned, preferably by someone who is deeply Christian, but who also has grown up in that culture and understands it from the inside. They are usually the ones best able to sift out the good from the evil.

I would like to share one remarkable example: in 1977 I spoke in India and there met a fine priest, Fr. Rufus Periera, who in a brief two years had prayed to free more than 400 individuals from demonic influence! He estimated that about one third of them were delivered from demons identifying themselves as Hindu gods. I should mention that Fr. Rufus was not a wild–eyed enthusiast, but was a highly educated cleric who had studied Scripture in Rome. He taught in the seminary and was highly regarded by the Indian bishops, who gave him permission to work in deliverance. Rufus graciously granted me an interview in which he said:

I love my country very much and have a great respect for Indian religion, but perhaps there is no religion that has within itself such a wide spectrum, all the way from the highest form of religious endeavor to the lowest degradation of humanity — all in the name of religion. I have been led to believe that many of the gods and goddesses in Hindu mythology are nothing other than demons.

During one conference at which I spoke five cases of possession surfaced in the congregation, so Rufus asked me to come and observe one young woman — a Catholic — whom they had taken to a classroom. There she was stretched out on a table, assuming the dancing posture you see in some statues in Hindu temples. If you tried to straighten her out, she would immediately contort her body into its original artificial posture. Later Rufus told me what this all meant:

You will remember what she looked like: this girl taking on the poses of the Hindu dancing god (This dancing god is one aspect of the god Shiva). What is really remarkable is that this girl knows nothing about Indian dancing, because she was brought up in a Western culture home. Yet, here she was, assuming the absolutely correct dancing poses in her fingers, her wrists, her hands and feet, the exact poses of this very god. It was something fantastic to watch, if it were not also so very cruel so very abominable. Even her very face — her eyes and her mouth were all changed into the features of this Hindu god. I later found that it got into her because of a spell cast by a Hindu doctor ( who perhaps had lustful motives when he was treating her). Probably he called up his favorite god, the dancing god, to possess her so he could get power over her.

You will notice how Fr. Rufus talks about the noble aspects of religion in India but is also quite willing to face the darker, the demonic side, of Hindu culture.

Somehow Christians need to rediscover the fact Jesus is primarily our Savior (not just a teacher), the son of God who has the power to rescue us from a very real, personal world of evil that is present in traditional religion — whether it is Asian, African, Irish, or Native American. Jesus is not simply a great teacher or prophet, standing on a level with Buddha and Confucius. He is our Redeemer, with healing in his wings, ready to free all of us from the evil that tries to drag us down. It does make a difference — a great difference whether or not we are Christian.

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. December 1993 Issue