Nature Religion vs. Christianity – A Stark Contrast

By: Dave Hunt; ©2001
Nature religions and Christianity are NOT the same. Dave Hunt looks at some of the contrasts, and warns against simply accepting native religions without carefully evaluating those beliefs and practices.

Nature Religion vs. Christianity: A Stark Contrast

(from Occult Invasion, Harvest House, 1998)

In spite of the facts to the contrary, the favorable treatment of indigenous religions, the dishonest cover-up of the evil inherent in their societies, and the libelous opposition to Christianity persist. The Bible is carefully examined by critics in an attempt to find any flaw; and it has withstood that test, as we document in our book In Defense of the Faith. When it comes to native/nature religions, however, any myth will do, no matter how absurd. Truth and verifiability are irrelevant. That a religion or cultural practice is indigenous answers all questions.

Some Christian missionaries have mistakenly identified Christianity with their own Western way of life and have imposed that lifestyle upon other cultures. On the other hand, paganism has brought fear and death, while true Christianity has brought freedom and life.

In Natural History, Shoefoot (Koshiroteri), who had spent his life as a shaman among the Yanomami Indians of Venezuela, reveals the evil behind indigenous religions: “Sha­mans often tell their people that the cause of a relative’s illness or death is a malevolent spirit sent [from] a neighboring village. Wars of retaliation are commonly carried out with clubs and bows and arrows… people are afraid to venture out of their villages, even to hunt or draw water from the river.”[1]

Ritualism and Nature Religion

A basic error of nature religion is the worship of created things and creatures instead of the God who created them. Even though these religions often seem to honor a “great spirit” over all, this god is only the greatest power in a pantheon that is always identified with various aspects of creation. The Bible (and common sense) declares that the universe was brought into existence and is sustained by a Creator. His moral laws have been written in every conscience so that we all know we are morally accountable to this one true God, have violated His laws, and must look to Him alone for salvation. The biblical indictment could not be clearer:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness, because that which may be known of God is manifest in them [mankind], for God hath showed it unto them.
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.
Because that when they knew God [from creation around them], they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves, who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen (Romans 1:18-25).

In all pagan/nature religions there is a presumed cause-and-effect relationship between the ritual or ceremony performed and the obtaining of the power or healing or other bless­ing sought. The whole idea of pagan ceremonies—the rites of shaman or witch, the burning of candles, the making of potions, the use of fetishes, etc.—is that they will (if done cor­rectly) elicit a response from the gods or spirits.

Just as the laws of science require an automatic response in the natural order, it is imagined that the gods can be made to respond as well. So it also is in Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. To make this absolutely clear, The Council of Trent (the highest authority in Catholicism) decreed:

If anyone says that by the sacraments of the New Law grace is not conferred ex opere operato [by the very act itself], but that faith alone in the divine promise is sufficient to obtain grace, let him be anathema [excommunicated and thereby damned].[2]

This cause-and-effect relationship suggests Christianized science, for which there is absolutely no biblical support. In the Old Testament there were many sacrifices and cer­emonies commanded by God, but never was it suggested that any ceremony or sacrifice had an efficacious effect by itself. There was no thought that God was impressed by the act, much less that it brought about an automatic response from God that followed certain spiritual laws. On the contrary, because the hearts of priests and people were not right, God rejected the sacrifices of Israel, even though they followed the ceremonial procedures according to the letter of the law:

To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD. I am full of the burnt-offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts, and I delight not in the blood of bullocks or of lambs or of he goats….
Bring no more vain oblations: incense is an abomination unto me…. When ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear; your hands are full of blood.
Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of our doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well: seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow (Isaiah 1:11-17).

Ceremonialism: Some Important Distinctions

This basic error of paganism is repeated in all ritualism: the belief that by performing certain ceremonies divine favor may be obtained. One finds such rituals everywhere in paganism and nature religions: the vestments the priests wear, the swinging censors filled with incense, the incantations, the elaborate ceremonies performed to obtain favors from the gods. So it is in Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.

Beginning in the fourth century, with the influence of Emperor Constantine, Roman Catholicism became a mixture of paganism and Christianity. Augustine himself testified:

The man who enters [a church] is bound to see drunkards, misers, tricksters, gamblers, adulterers, fornicators, people wearing amulets, assiduous clients of sorcerers, astrologers….
The same crowds that press into the churches on Christian festivals also fill the theatres on pagan holidays.[3]

There were those within the Church and even among the kings and emperors the popes installed who realized the evil in the old pagan practices and from time to time forbade them. Roman Emperor Charlemagne decreed: “With respect to trees, stones, and foun­tains, where certain foolish people light torches or practice other superstitions, we earnestly ordain that that most evil custom detestable to God, wherever it be found, should be re­moved and destroyed.“[4]

At the same time, however, similar pagan practices were being “Christianized” and absorbed into the Church, where they remain part of Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy to this day. The priesthood and ceremonies of Israel commanded by God in Old Testament times are often cited as justification for the sacramentalism within professing Christianity. The New Testament, however, makes it clear that the redemption we have in Christ made the Old Testament priesthood and sacrificial system obsolete.

An important distinction must be made between the rituals of pagan religions and Ro­man Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy (which presume to obtain favor from God through sacraments), and the specific ceremonies of the Jewish priesthood. The latter were sym­bolic of the redemption that would be effected through Christ. All of the Old Testament sacrifices looked forward to the Lamb of God, the true sacrifice, God Himself come to earth as a man, to give His life in payment of the penalty for our sins:

Which [the tabernacle/temple] was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices that could not make him that did the service perfect as pertaining to the conscience; which stood only in meats and drinks, and diverse washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.
But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands….
Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us (Hebrews 9:9-12).

The entire Bible testifies that God is neither bound by, nor does He respond according to, any alleged “spiritual laws.” There is no automatic response that can be gotten from Him through certain rituals.

The Present Trend

The pagan beliefs which oppose God’s plan of redemption now permeate Western society undermining the strong influence which the Bible once had. And it is that biblical influence to which much of the credit for the West’s scientific, technological, and economic advancement must be given. The resultant prosperity stands in marked contrast to the abject poverty of the Third World, where paganism has reigned, and Communist countries, where materialistic atheism has been the religion.

Technological benefits, however, affect only this life. The question of what lies beyond this brief sojourn on earth has haunted mankind since the dawn of history. This is where religion enters in: to offer something beyond death—the happy hunting ground of the American Indian, the celestial harem of the Moslem filled with beautiful maidens… a land to which spirits go, but a land of shadow and fear. Hope of life after death is vain, however, without a resurrection.

Not Buddha, not Confucius, not Mohammed, nor any other religious leader rose from the dead. Christ alone, after giving His life to save sinners, came back from the grave. The apostles gave their lives to bring this good news of redemption, “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24), to the lost. Martyrs by the millions have died to keep that message pure. Today that truth is mocked—and in the name of Christ! In a fine display of mea culpa the United Church of Canada confessed to the Native American Indians, “Our Christian image of God is twisted and blurred. We were closed to the beauty of your spirituality. Please forgive us.”

Try to imagine Christ apologizing for dying for the sins of the world and being the only Savior, or the apostle Paul apologizing to Jewish, Greek, and Roman converts for winning them to Christ! The stakes are too high—the eternal destiny of souls—to compromise truth. Unfortunately, compromise, as we shall see, is coming from the highest levels of Christian leadership.

Everyone is free to accept or to reject Christ. But it is dishonest to call oneself a Chris­tian while misrepresenting what Christ taught and accomplished. By the same token, native and nature religions must be honestly evaluated for what they truly are, including the be­liefs behind them and the results they produce.


  1. Copy of letter on file.
  2. Shoefoot, “Ashamed to be a Shaman,” in Natural History, January 1997.
  3. Translated and introduced by Rev. H. J. Schroeder, O. P., The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent (Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1978), Seventh Session, Sacra­ment of Baptism, Can. 4., p. 52.
  4. Augustine, de cat. rud., XXV, 48.

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