Shamanism in the Church
As demonstrated by native American culture and indigenous people groups worldwide, animal worship has long been a means of contacting and interacting with deceiving spirits. Equally pleased to appear in human or animal form, they often take willing participants on exciting out-of-body experiences or communicate “secret knowledge.”
Modern shamans (who are as apt to wear suits as loin cloths) market seminars where everyday people can “encounter” their personal “power animal.” In public schools, children are encouraged to use their “imagination” and “dreams” for astral travel. Occult relaxation and visualization techniques are reinforced by literature such as the Harry Potter books and Scholastic’s “Animorphs” series, in which hero-children transform into creatures with special powers and abilities.
Fictionalized in popular games and movies, these techniques are based on ancient occult practices that, once widely banned, now flourish virtually unchecked. According to answers.com, “a familiar spirit…obeys a witch, conjurer, or other users of the supernatural, and serves and helps that person….If they look like ordinary animals, they can be used to spy….These spirits [also]…inspire artists and writers.”
Many new age writers and occult practitioners have been assisted or encouraged by animals they perceive as “familiars.” As Patrick Ryan, author of The Eagle’s Call: A Journey of Body, Mind, and Spirit recounts,
When I was writing this book…an eagle often circled the building in which I lived, visiting many times….When I was…doubting my direction, a coyote also came to visit….Across the street, it looked toward me as if encouraging me on….So, led by the spirit of coyote, eagle and the many other guides of the universe, I was able to complete this tale. Its primary message is about following the call of my body, mind and spirit.
Romans 1:18-32 gives a clear account of man’s “call of his body and mind”-a rejection of God in favor of nature worship: “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things” (Rom 1:22-23).
Perhaps in part due to the reverence of “animal spirits” by ancient pagan cultures, animals continue to play a significant symbolic role in our world today. School and professional sports teams adopt animal names such as the panthers, tigers, lions, bears, wolves, or eagles-based on popular significance of animal traits. Consumers even purchase “animal” car models and athletic shoes marketed for their perceived attributes of speed and power.
So, what’s the fuss? Is animal symbology inherently evil? No, even Scripture makes generous use of animals as symbols-from love poems in The Song of Songs to comforting analogies of the Lord: “hide me under the shadow of thy wings” (Ps 17:8b) et al.
Take the eagle, for example. Revered as a national symbol by various countries, Scripture makes several positive references to the eagle. One of the most popular verses cited for encouragement is “they shall mount up with wings like eagles…” (Is 40:31). Many are comforted by the eagle as a symbol of patriotism and American heritage (which is often equated with Christianity). Fewer though, take note of passages that portray the eagle in a negative light, or realize that the eagle doubles as a Masonic symbol of the phoenix, representing “rebirth through fire” in occult mythology.
In addition to its being an “unclean” animal, Scripture also contains a number of negative references to the eagle (“They are passed away as the swift ships: as the eagle that hasteth to the prey” (Job 9:26). Obadiah even contains a reference to Edom as an eagle, apparently as a type of Lucifer: “The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground? Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord” (Ob 1:3-4).
So why do the neo-prophets and apostles of today use the eagle as a symbol of choice? Many “prophetic” ministries associate eagles with tremendous natural vision and observable qualities of “rising above;” but like shamans and seers-ancient and modern-they err in assigning to eagles spiritual qualities. An occult website declares the eagle’s role is that of an “illuminating force” that rises on the east wind, whose gift is that of “seeing hidden spiritual truths” and “whose strength is by its connection to spirit guides.” The website advises: “One who flies with the Eagle has a responsibility…to operate from Higher Intent, to develop the latent abilities of Illumination, and then freely share this Illumination with Others.” In other words, a seer who channels the eagle is to “impart” this knowledge and “gifting” to others.
A number of prominent ministries use the eagle as a corporate symbol, and most of these do so quite innocently. But research into the testimony of a young prophetess associated with C. Peter Wagner’s self-titled New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) raises great concern. (The NAR, a blended resurrection of several modern heresies-kingom-dominionism, manifest sons of God, new breed, et al.-is spreading like wildfire through a growing number of charismatic and evangelical churches.) Here is just one example of cause for alarm:
Sharnael Wolverton…was called to the ministry at an early age….During [an] incredible period of seeking intimacy with [God] she encountered many dreams, visions, visitations and divine appointments leading to the birthing of Swiftfire Ministries….One divine appointment…was with Bob Jones, who introduced her to a golden eagle named “Swift.” “Swift is sent forth to those in order to carry the purposes of God swiftly.” Another encounter was with Patricia King of Extreme Prophetic, who had also been introduced to Swift.
This admission by a professing Christian “minister” is nothing short of astounding! Aside from this startling testimony, most followers of these seers (and even skeptics) would not think twice about the recurring “eagle” motif on the websites of Sharnael Wolverton (swiftfire.org), Bob Jones (bobjones.org/itinerary), and Patricia King (extremeprophetic.com). But with the knowledge that Bob Jones (a proven false prophet who was removed from ministry in 1991 for sexual misconduct) “introduced” at least two prominent neo-apostolic women to a demonic entity that manifests as an eagle (whom all three know as Swift) the “birds of a feather” mascots they share take on far greater significance.
Other “apostolic-prophetic” leaders who often teach with or promote Bob Jones also use the symbol of an eagle in their ministry logo: Paul Keith Davis, Rick Joyner, Bobby Conner, Cindy Jacobs, and others. Does this mean they also have the spirit of Swift to help them “carry out the purposes of God?” Not necessarily-but the connection between “eagle spirits,” shamans, and today’s neo-prophetic seers is unmistakable. This is the New Spirituality.
Though his mystical teaching remains unchanged, none of Jones’ co-ministers or spiritual offspring seem to mind that his misconduct involved giving private “hands-on” readings to young women-disrobed to “stand naked before the Lord”-or that he was rebuked for other occultish practices. Ironically, he is revered as a spiritual grandfather among today’s rising stars of the Third Wave (neo-apostolic) movement, promoted largely by the much-hyped pseudo-prophetic website, “The Elijah List.”
But, Jones is in good company. Many of his disciples, as well as the “apostles” and “prophets” who endorse or teach with him, claim to have met and talked with angels, with the Lord, and with saints of the past (the forbidden practice of necromancy); and, they all take great pride in teaching others how to have angelic encounters and “third heaven visions.”
Undoubtedly believing they are working divine signs and wonders, could they instead be “deceived and deceiving others” (2 Tim 3:13)? As God’s word declares, “There shall not be found among you any one…that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord” (Deut 18:10-11).