Animism is a superstitious way of life that believes in spirit worship, fetishism and the worship of nature. Although manifesting itself in different ways, animism believes that everything in nature has a soul and that there is a spirit or force residing in every living and inanimate object, including animals, rocks, trees, mountains, rivers, volcanoes, heavenly bodies or other created objects. Every thought, word, prayer or dream has an individual spiritual meaning and magical power that can aid or hinder them in the course of nature. Since these things have an effect upon their lives, they must be endowed with souls or spirits and these have become their gods.
Animism cannot be strictly classified as a world religion because there is no connected rule, but in practice, it gives rise to the polytheistic practices and idolatrous superstitions of many of the mainstream religions. No cultures have been uncovered that do not believe in the existence and survival of souls. It has been estimated that 40% of all peoples practice some sort of animism, including parts of Christianity and the occult. The word itself is derived from the Latin "anima," meaning breath, which became to have the secondary sense of soul, as did the equivalent word "spiritus."
Man seeks to control his environment toward practical ends. Each "anima" is a powerful spirit that can be harnessed toward specific objectives. Animists worship the creation rather than the Creator. They use incantations, rites, magic, prayers, sacrifices, live or dead animals, fetishes, talismans, blood, horoscopes, relics, amulets, icons, divination, crystal balls, spells, idols, voodoo, charms and anything else that the ignorant mind can think of to move a spiritual force. They consult the soothsayer, witches, shamans, priests, wizards, sorcerers, fortunetellers, magicians, diviners and astrologers to intercede for them. Individual gods can mean victory or defeat in battle, harness the stream or send the flood, control the wind, provide the hunter with meat, bless or curse, send feast or want, cause illness or cure and in general bring good or bad luck. The innocence of Holloween festivities becomes a danger when its observance leads to a belief system that accepts gods and godlings, ghosts and demons, fairies and ghouls, witches, warlocks and sorcerors, all of which may lead to their acceptance and lead a person away from the true God.
There are many who have never heard the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Where is our true God in all this? If done in ignorance, the scriptures suggest that God can overlook these false practices. After all, if He is truly a loving God and Jesus died for the whole world, God could honor these entreaties to false gods if done in innocence, a pure heart and without malice. God should be a blessing to them. Don't be misled by this teaching, however, for if we have been exposed to truth, there is no excuse for us to walk in ignorance. The big problem with the church is with so many false prophets telling the people what they want to hear, our own people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. It just might not be their fault and the key again lies in the pure heart. The pure heart will not condemn the ignorant but it may condemn the false teacher who does and you will know the children of the kingdom by their love irregardless of false practices.
Missionaries today should be careful in trying to shape ignorant people in the image of a conservative denomination. Those raised in the world's voodoo societies believe in that old black magic and will not believe otherwise just by preaching against it. It takes Holy Ghost power, not conservatism to reach these people. By trying to convince a person that voodoo is evil only worsens it, the magic is too strong and they have experienced the power. The only way to cast out these kinds of demons is through the power of the Holy Ghost with sufficient charisms to overcome the negative power. A missionary that does not have this power has no business trying.
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