Unbroken Racism, Fanaticism and Paranoia

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Here is a feedback I received from Pillah Bee (from Kenya) on my recent Facebook post about Rebecca and Daniel Yoder:

Somebody recommended Unbroken Curses for me to read. I somehow found the writer to be biased against people of other continents, especially the blacks. How can she claim they have tribal gods in the current generation?

This is a good observation. Several reviewers of Unbroken Curses on Amazon have also pointed out that Rebecca and Daniel Yoder appeared to link other races to haunting  ancestral curses, but didn’t apply the same to their own race.

I particularly noticed a prejudicial indent in Rebecca’s first book, He Came to Set the Captives Free, where she referred to an African American couple as “Mr and Mrs Black” and “a negro couple.” She intentionally wanted her readers to know that they weren’t Mr and Mrs “white skinned.”

Considering the history of racial tensions in the American society and the Christian nature of her book, I didn’t consider it appropriate for her to append a pseudonym as “Mr and Mrs black”, or the term “negro” to persons of colour. It was unjustified in the 80s and inexcusable today.

In the Unbroken Curses (Whitaker, 1995) book, Rebecca made Africans (and by extension, African Americans) out as a violence-infested race, dying like flies today because of the influences of their tribal gods. Here is the quote:

The whole continent of Africa is characterized by tribal warfare. In 1995, there have been uprisings of intertribal warfare and massacres in Kenya as well. We have all seen the same thing in Somalia as it was filmed by the news media. The people of Africa have never broken away from the sins of their forefathers. Each tribe is consequently ruled by particular demon gods. Demons hate people and are determined to exterminate them!

Thus, the whole history of Africa has been incessant warfare and massacres among tribes. Until the Christians unite as one body and cry out to God in repentance for the sins of demon worship and hatred and warfare among their tribes as well as their ancestors’ tribes, the curses from the sins of their forefathers will not be removed from their lives. Christians and non-Christians alike are being killed in those massacres. They are wasting away in the iniquities of their fathers (Leviticus 26:39).

“This same problem exists here in America. The biggest problem in any large city is gang warfare and violence. Most of this is black-on-black violence. Why? Because the intertribal warfare among blacks is being carried on right here in America. Each gang is the same as a tribe. It doesn’t matter that these precious people are no longer in Africa. They are still wasting away in the iniquities of their forefathers” (pp. 31-32).

A complete dissection of the unnerving rhetorical device employed here would require a separate post on its own, but few points are in order.

If the author(s) had a slight knowledge of the history of warfare and violence in Africa, she would have realized that Western powers are also implicated in it. Not to mention, her simplistic grasp of the causes of the massacres in Kenya and Somalia.

One only needs to read the paragraphs quoted above in light of violent occurrences in the U.S. in the past decade alone, to see how her racial prejudice negated her prescription for Africa.

I think it would be insensitive and condescending if an African writer cited the American Civil war, the Connecticut, Marysville, Roseburg and Parkland school shootings, the Orlando night club shootings and serial murders in the US and link it to European and Native American pagan gods to conclude that: “Americans are wasting away in the sins of their forefathers.”

The most irking part for me was when she wrote with dogmatic certainty that, “the people of Africa have never broken away from the sins of their forefathers.”

I can only hope that this pair have met enough real African Christians since the time they wrote that hogwash to correct their misconceptions. Racial profiling is bad. It destroys social relations and fosters divisions within the Body of Christ.

A man from the UK who had read my blog articles on the Yoders, told me during a chat few weeks ago that when he read Unbroken Curses at the age of 22, he became so obsessed with demons that he was casting off demons from virtually everything. I can relate to that.

You see, the stories narrated in the book induces in an unwary reader, a neurosis of tying almost anything from a non-American or non-caucasian context with the demonic.

Few examples are in order:

(1) They narrated about a Japanese hand painted fan with the picture of a geisha girl allegedly evoking lustful thoughts in an American couple (p. 54).

We are told that geisha girls “are high-class prostitutes” and since “the painting on the fan honored and glorified geisha girls…the demon of sexual immorality had the legal right to be on the fan, which made it an unclean object” (p. 55).

From my study, geisha girls are not prostitutes, they are rather a symbol of Japanese culture.

Using Rebecca’s logic, Christians will have to be casting Buddhist and Shinto demons out from Japanese cars imported into their countries or they will come under demonic attack.

(2) Rebecca said she “fell into the trap of honouring demon gods…while visiting Hawaii for a speaking engagement” (p. 60).

She explained that when she arrived at the church the first night, two little girls placed a lei of flowers around her neck and welcomed her. Then when she began to speak, she became confused, her mind blanked out, and she couldn’t put two sentences together to make any sense.

Later, she realized that the pagans on the islands regarded the leis flowers as sacred to their gods and a sign of good luck. Thus the quirky conclusion:

I had unwittingly given honor to the demon gods of the Haiwaiin Islands when I accepted the leis around my neck! This brought me under a curse and gave the demonic spirits the legal right to attack me! (p. 61).

I must confess, that this is a twisted path. First of all, who created those plants? God. Even if some pagans sincerely believed that they were sacred to their deities, they can’t bring one under a curse or make one susceptible to demonic attack.

Apostle Paul directly addressed this: “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving” (1 Tim. 4:4).

Rebecca quoted this same passage when addressing unclean foods on p. 116, but she probably forgot to apply the same in this situation.

Pagans also believe roses to be sacred to their gods, but to assert that giving someone a rose flower as a gift will bring down a curse on them, is a demonic delusion in itself.

(3) A statement she made on pg. 63 would be of interest to Christian archaeologists and historians:

Thus, around the world, and on St. Croix specifically, ancient demon gods are being dug up, carefully restored, and placed in positions of honor. Money is being paid in honor as tourists go to see them. In essence, little difference exists between these tourist attractions and pagan temples.

This is a display of fanaticism. A museum is an institution that cares for a collection of artifacts and other objects of artistic, cultural, historical, or scientific importance. It’s not a pagan temple.

The ethnic images placed in museums are not for religious veneration. The money paid by tourists are not paid “in honour of demon gods.”

Various scholarly works are done by digging up such past artefacts and many of them have been useful to biblical authenticity and understanding.

The Yoders laid a burden of guilt on their Christian audience at St. Croix (and by extension, their readers):

We had to tell them that if the Christians of St. Croix do not join together to vigorously protest the [museum] project and do everything possible to stop it, then they would be guilty of sinning against God by being partakers in giving honor to demon gods...” (p. 67).

At this point, a reasonable reader should question if Rebecca and Daniel Yoder have ever vigorously protested the building of Masonic lodges, Wiccan covens, Hindu or Buddhist temples in their own state of Arkansas before asking Christians to fight against a museum project – which is a purely secular undertaking?

This is why I can’t recommend any material by this pair for new Christians. They simply capture the fevered imaginations of their own minds and syringe them into their readers.

There is a world of difference between a person enlightening you and someone filling you with hysteria.

There is a part of the book where they relayed a story about “a powerful American Indian demon god” called Tsagalalal and how she ruled over the whole region of Stevenson, Washington DC.

But when you read about this Tsagalalal from any reference work, you will realize that the Yoders exaggerated her power and influence in their book more than the Native Americans themselves.

I must also point out that the “vision” relayed by Daniel Yoder, of the rainbow bridge between heaven and earth where pets await their owners, is a variation of an American Indian myth. So much for their earlier fuss with their lei flowers.

Expectedly, on pg. 122, Rebecca exhibited her demonic paranoia towards African arts in a hotel in Abidjan:

A large, woven tapestry was hanging on the wall at the head of our bed. It had African figures woven into it. We quickly recognized that the figures were representations of demon gods. A painting of the opposite wall was a watercolor of an African tribe holding a ritual ceremony. Both were legal grounds for demons.”

Take note of two things. Once they found out an African (or non-Western) painting in the room, they instantly branded it as demonic. The silent inference is: if it isn’t Western art, it must be satanic.

Second, the figure woven into the tapestry in that hotel were plural (“representations”). Later, things went downhill:

During our stay, I developed a physical problem. I realized that I was under heavy demonic attack, but I was unable to gain victory.” (p. 123)

Now, this narrative of being defeated by demons in spite of prayer is a recurring trope in the Yoders’ books as I have pointed out. Eventually, the key to the puzzle was found when the hostess came to their room:

As soon as she looked at it [the tapestry], she said, “Oh, that is the god Poro. He is a powerful god of the tribes in northern Ivory Coast.

Earlier, we were told that there were figures woven into the tapestry, but now we are told it’s a singular figure – Poro. Rebecca further said:

Poro “hated women so much that any woman who dared to look at him or at a depiction of him immediately had a curse of death placed on her. There are no images of Poro among those northern tribes because the women who look at them die.”

If these were true, then the hotel management must have been part of a hidden conspiracy to afflict and murder foreign women by putting up a tapestry that could bring death curses on female visitors. Ah, such unbroken curses!

Let anyone reading this take a moment to do a brief Internet search about “Poro” and you will realize that it’s a male fraternal society, not a deity. Poro society is known for hunting and they are resident in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and the Ivory Coast.

The Encyclopedia of African Religion (Molefi Asante and Ama Mazama, 2008), says that “Sandogo is the women’s society, and Poro is the men’s society. Although Poro is the men’s society, young girls and post-menopausal women are permitted to join Poro, and men are permitted to join Sandogo.”

There are depictions made of Poro men and their masks, but there’s no such thing as a “powerful god of Ivory Coast” called Poro, whose hateful gaze makes women drop dead.

The argument that the hotel staff wouldn’t know her own culture as to misinform the Yoders doesn’t wash. The Yoders’ claims betray a premeditated and wilful intent to deceive their readers and sensationalize spiritual warfare.

From what I have documented so far, honesty seems to be the farthest thing from Rebecca and Daniel Yoder’s minds whenever they communicate with the public. Take their stories and visions with much caution and discretion.

I end this with the words of Pillah Bee:

That put me off. If she (or should I say they) wanted to put across their points, they need not to be biased, if their argument is valid. It is very wrong to misinform the readers especially because that’s a print media, we have people who are truly seeking to know more about biblical truths, and they need to be guided in the right direction.

Here is my exchange with a zealous fan of Rebecca Brown on this piece.

Weighing the Grail Message: Wrong Courses?

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If there is an obvious fact that one gets from reading some chapters of the Grail message, it’s that its author tapped into his vivid imaginations and was influenced by a quirky spirit. Predictably, those who soak in these writings also have their thoughts reconfigured to work that way.

A regular feature of Grail materials is the destructive condemnation of Christianity, hence the need to examine the biblical and epistemological basis of their antagonism and (hopefully) correct some misconceptions.

To this end, some of the claims made in the Grail Message, vol. I, ch. 17 entitled “Wrong Courses,” will be analyzed:

“With few exceptions, mankind labour under a boundless delusion which is fatal for them!”

That, right there, is elitism – one of the alluring tools of religious cults. The prospect of belonging to a select “few exceptions” unlike billions of other people is always appealing.

This is how cult leaders gain much following. They make their followers feel “special” by constantly emphasizing that they have been chosen as part of a small group of elites that have been liberated from boundless delusion through esoteric knowledge.

Their thoughts and feelings are constantly stoked. The mixture of being charmed and made to feel special is a cocktail that so intoxicates followers that they readily believe and do things they ordinarily would not.

“God has no need to run after them and beg them to believe in His existence. Nor are His servants sent out forever to admonish people on no account to turn away from Him. This would indeed be absurd. To think and expect such things is a dishonouring and debasing of the sublime Godhead.”

Indeed, “for since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature -have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20).

God doesn’t have to force mankind to believe in His existence, but in several places in scripture, God invites mankind to seek Him and pleads with His people to return to Him. He sent many prophets after His people whenever their hearts departed from Him (2 Sam. 12:13; Jer. 3:17; Ezk. 33:11; Zech. 1:3; Mal. 3:7).

The Lord Jesus also lovingly pleads with people to come to Him (John 5:40; Matt. 23:37). He gave to Christians “the ministry of reconciliation” to call mankind back to God from the dominion of Satan and sin (2 Cor. 5:18).

“This erroneous conception causes great harm. It is fostered by the behaviour of many truly earnest pastors who, out of a real love for God and men, try again and again to convert people who turn only to material things, to convince them and win them over to the church.”

Apart from the disjointed nature of his lines, Oskar is switching horses in mid-stream. He is blaming pastors for the materialistic tendencies of those won over by the church.

By transposing a universal moral flaw onto a specific group of men, he intends to poison the well – to create a very negative image of pastors in a bid to appeal to the prejudice of his readers.

His choice of words regarding pastors who “convert” people and “win them over to the church” betrays a man who has a dim understanding of biblical Christianity.

The preaching of the Gospel results in people being convicted and converted by the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 2:36-37). They become the disciples of Christ, not a putty in the hands of a church. Some ignorant or mischievous folks might have done that, but it’s not a Biblical precept.

Mr Oskar obviously spent too much time in detention and relied on hearsay, or the spirit(s) inspiring him was just off the charts.

Perhaps, the crave after material things was used as bait in some German churches during the Great Depression of the 1930s, so Ab-dru-shin extrapolated that incident onto all churches. In any case, we expect his readers to know better.

“Thousands upon thousands feel a certain inner satisfaction, an exaltation, in the consciousness that they believe in God, that they utter their prayers with such earnestness … and they sense a being linked with God, of Whom they also think at times with a certain sacred thrill that produces or leaves behind a state of bliss, in which they revel. But these legions of believers take the wrong course. Living happily in a self-created delusion.”

Thousands upon thousands? Did this man take a poll, survey or collect a data of religious people and their spiritual experiences? Was he privy to the inner states of a multitude? How then did he arrive at this assertion?

Notice also the vagueness in his descriptions. Who are these “believers” and what do they believe? Are they Christians? Muslims? Hindus? Taoists? Druids? Do they all pray to the same God? Unfortunately, no sufficient identification was provided.

This is a psychological chess game of sorts. An aggregation of mystical twaddle – replete with terms like “sacred thrill” and “state of bliss” – is thrown at the reader who is expected to just lap it up and adapt the subjective experience to his own religious persuasion.

The chapter’s title itself – Wrong Courses – presupposes that other paths are wrong, though they seem to be right. So, this puts both the knife and cake in the hands of guru Oskar. He has set himself and his system up as the arbitrate by which all spiritual courses are to be judged.

He then sits on his throne and declare legions of believers guilty of living in a self-created delusion without convincingly demonstrating that himself and his followers are not included in that very category.

“Their petitions are demands, their inner being hypocritical. They will be swept away like empty chaff before His Countenance. They will have their reward, certainly, but it will be different from what they imagine … The feeling of well-being will rapidly disappear on passing into the Ethereal World.”

Not only has the author blurred the boundary lines between reality and imagination, worse still, his illusion has supplanted his imagination.

We need to ask: what makes his course right and the Christian course wrong? How does he define “right” and “wrong” and why should his definitions be accepted? How did he determine what is “true” or “false”? And more importantly, why should Christianity be considered wrong and his Grail spirituality be considered right?

His followers can answer these questions on his behalf and polish his apples if need be. But let none of them think they can threaten Christians into kissing the ring of guru Oskar with the blast of his impersonal deity.

“[God] will calmly abandon to the Darkness all the wicked, even all the wavering ones, so that those who are striving upward shall no longer be exposed to their attacks; enabling the others thoroughly to experience everything they consider to be right, and thus come to the recognition of their error!”

In other words, those who readily put their heads beneath the toes of Mr Oskar are allegedly ascending, while those who waver, those who question his claims and scrutinise them with the Word of God are the ones who will be left down in darkness.

These are creative performances of self-protection from threatening opposers that all cult groups espouse. But such threats cannot displace the strong confidence that Christians have in the Rock of Ages (Rom. 9:33).

Virtually all ancient cultures, whether Greek, Roman, Celtic or Egyptian, had some sort of mystery religion. Although these groups were called by different names in different parts of the world, they all had certain elements in common.

The basic features of this pagan mystery religions are:

1. Polytheism (a belief in many gods or goddesses) or pantheism (a belief that God is the universe) or panentheism (God permeating every element of the universe).

2. A cyclical view of history (the belief that there are eternal, repeatable cycles of life – reincarnation).

3. The veneration or worship of the regenerative processes of nature (sex) as the “sacred mystery.”

This contrasts with Biblical Christianity, which holds to:

1. Monotheism (belief in one God).

2. A linear view of history (the belief that time has a beginning and an end, and that God has intervened, is intervening and will intervene in the history and affairs of mankind).

3. The worship of God through His Son Jesus Christ.

The Grail spirituality fits with these ancient religions rather than Christianity. That’s why no true Christian can be a Grail adherent. He/she will have to follow one and reject the other.

In Volume I, chapter 24 titled “Indolence of the spirit”, Ab-dru-shin spews more of his venom against what he imagines to be Christianity:

“And this main weakness of the souls was love of ease, the indolence of their spirit!

“The church knew very well that it was bound to achieve great success as soon as it showed much leniency towards this weakness, and did not require it to be overcome!

“Anything so incredible can only be possible with thoughtless people of herd mentality, who by such action brand themselves with the mark of the greatest spiritual indolence … What does a man give to his God by obedience to the church! He does not have with it a single, natural intuitive urge, which alone can help him to ascend.”

Before I respond to this flawed argument, I need to point out that whenever this man (and his followers) use the word “church”, they always read into it their Mephistophelian imagery of a gang of evil men enslaving and corrupting thousands of innocent souls.

This tends to resonate with those who have been disgruntled by certain people in churches. They fail to make any distinction between those who truly know the Lord and those who don’t.

But they want us to believe everyone in the Grail movement is sweet, kind and peaceful (actually, the feedback I get from these folks show a contrary, disturbing picture).

Without missing words, a certain Grail adherent wrote:

All religious organizations have always feared giving power to the people by preaching spiritual independence which will make members use there [sic] own God-given abilities to understand the Word and thus reduce the power and influence of these religious organizations and leaders if not make them totally irrelevant.”

He is merely regurgitating what his grand master said above. He makes references to “the Word” but doesn’t tell us whether he’s alluding to the Bible or the Grail message.

Ah, yes, he knows what all religious organizations (except his own) fear because Ab-dru-shin the Great has told him their deepest secrets.

This statement, and what Oskar himself wrote, further lends credence to the occult philosophies undergirding the Grail message.

In Satanism, Satan or Set is believed to typify the alienation of man from creation. Therefore, a Satanist is expected to rebel against and reject conformity with institutions. He must be able to wield his own occult powers alone.

For those in groups like the Church of Satan and Temple of Set, Satan represents self, so they worship, follow and please their ‘self.’ “Herd conformity” is one of Anton LaVey’s Nine Satanic Sins, and a repeated critique that Satanists have of Christians.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) was a man who had much influence on 20th century satanic thought. His criticism of the “herd mentality” became one of the philosophical bedrocks for Satanism’s criticism of “herd mentality.”

Nietzsche believed that: “Every superior human being will instinctively aspire after a secret citadel where he is set free from the crowd, the many, the majority” (Beyond Good and Evil, England: Penguin, 1990, p. 57).

Ironically, being “free from the crowd”, being part of “a superior few” or “striving for ascent” are the tools cult leaders deploy to pump their followers full with destructive arrogance which prevents them from seeing where the journey really leads.

The Christian, for Nietzsche, is “the domestic animal, the herd animal, the sick animal man.” (Twilight of the Idols and The Antichrist, England: Penguin, 1968, 128).

This is exactly what we read from Mr Oskar and his followers. Evidently, the dark spirit behind Satanism is also the same spirit that inspired the Grail message. It’s the spirit of the lone or desert goat.

While Bible Christianity denounces blind following (1 Cor. 7:23), it is based on denying self and following Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Lk. 9:23).

He also declared, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:29).

To be a Christian entails following Christ as Lord. Christianity is not a self-intuited path, it’s Christ’s path!

The Bible uses the metaphor of sheep and shepherd to convey what it means to follow Christ. The yoke of the Shepherd must lead you in the Way. The ideas of self-mastership, cultivating powers using your intuition or being “a freethinker” are from the devil.

There are only two courses: the narrow Way of Christ which leads to eternal life and the broad path of Satan (which encompasses various false religions, alternative spirituality, and philosophies) which leads to eternal destruction.

Christianity and Iconoclasm

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The parishioners of St. Jacob’s Catholic church, Enugu, were shocked beyond words in January 2019 when a woman went to their Marian grotto on a Sunday morning, doused their statue with fuel and set it ablaze.

Conversely, in several parts of Southern Nigeria, it’s not uncommon for mobs of zealous Christians to seek out pagan shrines, burn them to the ground and destroy their idols.

The same trend is reported in other countries where Christians vandalize Buddhist or Hindu temples, decapitating their images and spray-painting words like “Jesus is the only true God” on their walls.

Many of these Christians fondly see themselves as warriors defending the faith, and would identify themselves as iconoclasts.

The term iconoclasm comes from the word icon (from the Greek eikon, “to resemble”), signifying a religious picture or image, and klan (Gk., meaning “to break”). Hence, an iconoclast was one who advocated the destruction of images.

From history, the use and adoration of images in the church began toward the end of the third century. This was a common practice in the Eastern branch of the church due to the influence of heathen worship (E. H. Klotsche, The History of Christian Doctrine, Grand Rapids, 1979, p. 118).

This trend spread to the West and continued until 726 A.D. when Emperor Leo III issued an edict forbidding the use of images in the church and commanding them to be destroyed. This resulted in the Byzantine iconoclastic movement provoking riots, persecution and destruction of entire monasteries.

Even though some Catholics were also opposed to image worship, the practice began to gain impetus at the Second Council of Nicea of 784.

During the 16th century Reformation, Calvinists led waves of iconoclasm which swept through many Protestant cities and territories in Europe:

“The destruction was radical, but orderly. It was effected by the co-operation of the preachers and the civil magistracy, with the consent of the people. It began at Pentecost, and was completed June 1524 … the churches of the city were purged of pictures, relics, crucifixes, altars, candles, and all ornaments … The Swiss iconoclasm passed into the Reformed Churches of France, Holland, Scotland, and North America” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, VIII ch. 3, S. 19).

This, of course provoked riots from the people, including Lutherans, who favoured such religious arts in their churches and homes.

Other instances of iconoclasm also occurred in several parts of Africa and Polynesia during the colonial era, between the 19th-20th century. Though, the extent of aggression or cooperation involved in these movements is quite debatable.

Those in the West where religions enjoy legal protection, would find it puzzling that someone would have such fanatical zeal to destroy the objects of worship of marginal religions.

But for many of us raised in cultures that were steeped in paganism, the constant tension between indigenous religions and a more civilized religion/faith is an extant reality.

On the one hand, the Christian seeks to eschew idolatry and on the other, in his fervour to please God, he feels the need to obliterate what is detestable in His sight.

How one can balance both levers without falling into the ditch on either side needs to be vigorously discussed in the church, otherwise, we can negate our message with certain actions and stir up bitter hostility where there ought to be none.

Here’s the lingering question: is it biblically and logically right for a Christian today to carry out mass destruction of physical images and structures of other religions?

1. The motive behind every iconoclasm should be weighed. To be sure, iconoclasm has also been (even more) executed by non-Christian religions.

(a) In ancient Egypt, Akhenaten instituted a state monolatristic tradition focused on the god Aten, the solar disk. So he sent his officials to destroy temples and monuments and chisel out every reference to Amun and the names of other deities besides Aten on tombs, temples and cartouches.

(b) When Muhammad and his armies captured Mecca, they destroyed the physical images of all the deities in the Kaaba, though retaining some of their rituals.

Later in the 8th century, the Edict of Yazid ordered the destruction of crosses and Christian images within the caliphate. Islamic conquests also executed iconoclastic agenda against Hinduism, Buddhism, Egyptian religions and the Shi’ite sect. Up till today, historic sites and minority religious structures are being destroyed in Islamic climes.

(c) During the French Revolution, numerous monuments, religious works and other historically significant pieces were destroyed in an attempt to wipe out the memories of the Old Regime.

(d) During the Chinese Tang dynasty and Xinhai Revolution, there was widespread destruction of Buddhist temples, images as well as historical artwork – whether secular or religious. The same occurred during the Northern Expedition in Guangxi in 1926 and the Cultural Revolution led by Mao Zedong.

Iconoclasm in these instances was about power – one side with dominant political power seeking to establish itself by eradicating others. Iconoclasm can have purely political, expansionist and triumphalist motives.

2. Granted, God commanded the Jews to “destroy their altars … break down their sacred pillars… cut down their wooden images” (Dt. 7:5), “burn the carved images of their gods” (Dt. 7:25).

However, these were directed at the pagan nations inhabiting the Promised Land which God had given to the Israelites. They only carried out iconoclasm on specific pagan nations as God directly commanded them.

These iconoclastic commands have not been given to any other nation since then, and it can’t be properly applied to the Church – since it’s worldwide and doesn’t have an earthly Promised Land. Thus, those passages have limited application.

3. When Israel became an identifiable nation with God-chosen Judges, Kings and Prophets, national repentance was often signified by collective destruction of pagan artefacts, altars and shrines and renunciation of pagan worship (e.g 2 Kgs. 10:27-28; 2 Chr. 17:5-6).

These were purgings initiated by converted hearts, even if mediated by monarchial or prophetic orders. An analogy can be drawn from these today when a community forsakes their idols and turn to the Living God.

This is by far the most legitimate expression of iconoclasm. This occurred during the 20th century revivals held by Apostle Joseph Babalola in the South West.

4. Christian iconoclasm, however, can have a boomerang effect if it’s ignited by legalistic and totalitarian objectives. It can have both good and bad outcomes.

Let’s take the Protestant Reformation as an example. Though Calvin himself did not support iconoclastic violence, many of his associates and followers did.

In Switzerland, in the Rhenish and Netherlandish territories, and in England, 16th century Calvinists defaced, destroyed, and confiscated a great many works of art, paintings, sculpure, stained-glass windows, ecclesiastical furnishings and whole buildings.

Libraries were burned, pianos were removed, tapestry and other ornaments were sold or given away. Though their intentions were to purify Christendom, their methods were extreme and severe. Eventually, it didn’t fare too well.

When iconoclasm is animated by legalistic impulses, what qualifies as “sacred” and “abominable” is often subject to the view of the iconoclast.

For instance, some Christians believe jewelleries, hair extensions, make-up, body ornaments and even statues or paintings of animals like frogs, fishes and fishes are demonic and detestable before God. If they should carry out a mass purging of a city they deem to be ungodly, all these materials will fall under their destruction category.

Such a move may be touted as a discontinuity with the past, but it can actually revive a need for continuity with the old trends. This is a consequence of imposing true worship with the arm of the flesh.

5. In addressing iconoclasm, we also need to understand that idolatry is nuanced and complex. It is more than just physical images. It has spiritual, mental and psychological hold on people.

Spiritual, in the sense that whenever people make an idol – whether with wood, clay, bronze or gold – and gather to worship it, some evil spirits are assigned by Satan there to hover around the shrine and influence the lives of those worshippers. They can also speak through the priests and priestesses to the adherents and from there, rites of worship develop.

Mental, in the sense that an idol is often a representation of a god or gods conceived by the mind of man. So an idol may not necessarily be a physical image or representation. A person can have an imagination or false conception of God (or a god) and direct his worship toward that false god. It’s still idolatry, but a mental one.

Psychologically, most idolaters make physical images from the archetypes embedded within their psyche. No Catholic has seen the actual Mary before. No Hindu has seen Vishnu either. But they attach that name to whatever image has been made with human hands and infuse it with certain features and attributes which they desire in themselves or seek to banish.

Therefore, merely destroying physical images of idols or pagan deities doesn’t solve the problem. The worshipper can simply pick up the same idol in another form.

This is obviously why God didn’t command Christians to go from house to house destroying people’s physical idols in the New Testament like it was done in the OT.

The reason is simple: it would be a useless exercise if the spirits behind those idols are still influencing the people and those image archetypes still exist in their minds.

6. Indeed, some Christians have shared genuine experiences where they were led by the Holy Spirit to engage in spiritual warfare prayers and some pagan idols or altars were supernaturally destroyed.

While I do not discredit such experiences, I will say that these are exceptional cases.

I know that many Christians involved in “spiritual mapping” and territorial warfare prayers visit shrines or temples and pray against the idols there, with the intent that the ruling demon would lose its hold and the worshippers will be saved.

Some Christians even proceed to deface and wreck religious artefacts, like the examples given at the outset, drawing on the example of Gideon in the OT.

My take is, unless God specifically directs you to go on such an assignment, you are skating on thin ice. One, because you can’t successfully fight a battle that our Captain (Jesus) hasn’t authorized you to fight.

Two, you can’t expel an evil spirit from its residence unless its legal right to rule has been revoked. As long as its altars, images, emblems and the shrines are there, the demon still has the right to reign there.

Three, having studied the book of Acts over and over, I can’t find a place where the apostles or early Christians (who lived in pagan cultures) were praying against the spirits of Zeus, Mars, Artemis, or Castor and Pollux or destroying their images and temples so that pagans would massively come to Christ.

Instead, they went about preaching the Gospel by the power of the Holy Spirit and many were saved. That’s the power of God’s Word. When the people were truly converted by the Holy Spirit, they gathered their own occult books and burnt them in public (Acts 19: 19).

7. The Bible says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5)

In other words, our battle is not really against physical structures or images and it shouldn’t be fought with physical weapons.

Therefore, as true Christian iconoclasts, we are to demolish arguments and imaginations that fuel false worship and bring down false ideas, philosophies and imagery that enslave people to them.

When those freed now decide to physically destroy their objects of false worship, we know the victory won in the spirit has been sealed in the physical.