I’m very tempted to just leave it at that and let you wonder what I’m talking about, but I guess I’ll keep going.
I’m taking a class called Folk Religions this semester which focuses on things such as the occult, voodoo, witchcraft, spiritual warfare, etc., and how to handle and respond to encounters with them from a Christian perspective. Needless to say, it is a very interesting class.
The class counts for 3 credit hours, but we’re only meeting for 2 hours per week. The 3rd credit hour will be made up by a group field trip to New Orleans…and that trip is tomorrow.
I don’t know exactly what all we’re doing, but I think we’re meeting with a Christian church planter in the morning who focuses primarily on helping people transition from voodoo, witchcraft, occult, etc to Christianity. Then we’re meeting with a Voodoo priestess for 4 hours, and she is going to tell us about her religion and let us ask her all sorts of questions. We’re also visiting the Voodoo museum. We’re spending whatever time we have left in the Quarter and hopefully meeting with some palm readers to talk about their beliefs and practices as well.
Of course we’ll be handling all of this from a Christian educational perspective. For example, we’re not going to visit palm readers and ask to have our palm read and misrepresent ourselves in order to gain information and insight. Rather, we’ll let them know exactly who we are and what we’re there for and hopefully learn a little more about what they’re doing. The plan is to come back with a greater insight into the types of religions and beliefs out there that are so often overlooked, but more importantly, we are hoping to be able to gain a better idea of how to respond Biblically to these types of things in ministry.
This is of course a difficult thing to spend a semester studying, because spiritual warfare is a real thing and a dangerous thing. We have to go into it with the understanding that it is more important to study what is real (the gospel) rather than what is false (other religions). Our professor used the analogy of government officials who try to learn how to detect counterfeit money. They don’t spend hours and hours studying counterfeit bills, because counterfeits are always changing. It’s more important to spend hours and hours studying the real thing, so that when you’re confronted with something that’s false, you can spot it instantly. While we need to know what’s out there and how to respond, we don’t spend our time there. We spend our time in the Word so that we know it so well that when something contradicts it, it’s glaringly obvious.
That being said, we’re not going to New Orleans to study this stuff in depth. We’re going to get an introduction to some of it in a more real way than we can get from a text book. And while it will no doubt be intriguing and interesting and we will probably want to know a little more about it, I have a feeling that we’re going to come back more motivated to study the Scriptures than ever before.
If you think about it, pray for our group tomorrow.