Native ancestors


(Sofia Bustos-Cevallos) #1

First big question: how, by the light is the Scriptures do we explain our Latin American origins? Most of Latin Americans are turning from official religion to ancestral practices…


(Matt Western) #2

That’s a great question. To help me understand the question better from a completely different culture the other side of the world (a European Australian), can you summarise the ancestral practices I can understand better?

I did notice that the Disney movie, Coco, was very popular (I love the Pixar movies), and had the veneration of the dead in it, and if the living relatives did not remember the dead, they passed away from the afterlife to nothingness.

Also, is the Aztec religion part of the Latin American cultural roots in relation to religious practices?

What is the ‘how we got here’ story of creation/origins for Latin Americans who turn away from religion?

The reason I ask this is I’m interested in Australia Aboriginal cultural religion, and have done some reading a few weeks ago to try to at least start to have a basic understanding in order to share Christ, so that I can try and ask questions that lead towards the 4 big questions of: Origins, Meaning, Morality, Destiny.

The Aboriginal creation story is called ‘Dreamtime’, and is also related to ancestral worship. They have Creation Beings, Ancestral Beings, and Totemic Beings as per this page:
http://www.aboriginalculture.com.au/religion2.html

There seems to be multiple creation stories in Aboriginal culture, as I saw in this park sign about a month ago and took a photo. The photo is unclear so the text reads:

Aboriginal people believe they belong to the land, unlike the western concept where the land belongs to man. For thousands of years they lived in harmony with the land and sea without destroying it. A sustainable existence harvesting only what they needed from an abundant food supply from the sea, land and sky

There are two Creation stories running through this park. The story of the Ngurunderi and the story of the Kondoli – Whale Dreaming. These Creation stories are as relevant and sacred to Aboriginal people as the Creation stories are to Christian beliefs in the Bible. They explain the creation of landforms, oceans, birds, fish, whales, kangaroos, possums, snakes lizards, plants spiders, ants, …everything.

What I find interesting is the idea that the people below to the land, not the other way around. As an Australian, I buy some land, and I own it, and I sell it. An Aboriginal Australian, would say the land owns me, I think because they view the land having given birth to them as a culture, it almost appears as though the land is their creator somehow.


I’ve heard many times on the news/media the idea that an Aboriginal person ‘goes country’, and in the cities they lose their connection to their spiritual origins…?
http://www.visitmungo.com.au/aboriginal-country

The reason I’m interested in this, and bring it up in this conversation, is that I listened to a conversation between a Pastor and an Aboriginal couple who received Christ as Saviour 20 years ago through the ministry of the Pastor, and it seems they have moved somewhat back towards cultural belief - though this was not explicitly stated in the conversation I recall.
http://www.aboriginalculture.com.au/religion.html

I found interesting how some individual Aboriginal testimonies state that once they read the Bible they completely reject cultural religion of Dreamtime, but still have respect for culture and their history. Whereas others merge the two beliefs together…?

Also I found the quote in this source quite interesting (source from a Young Earth Creation point of view).

One very old tribal Aboriginal from north Queensland who had become a Christian, recalled for me a conversation he had with his father when only a young boy. He asked, “What is God like?” his father replied, “I don’t know—we have forgotten.”

From a Biblical point of view, a starting point for your question ‘How to explain different cultural origins?’: God’s command was to spread out over the face of the earth and multiple, but mankind said: ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth’
At Babel, God put a stop to man’s attempt to ‘be like God’ and confused the languages, and caused people to spread out.

I don’t mean to change the conversation towards Aboriginal Australians specifically, but thought as the topic was ‘Native ancestors’ it made sense to add to the conversation to compare similarities between Aboriginal Australians, North American Indians, and Latin Americans, and any other ancient cultures that were there before European cultures were there, to be able to reach individuals for Christ in a culturally sensitive way… :slight_smile:


(SeanO) #3

@Sophel When people want to return to their roots they often think the best way to do it is to get involved in ancestral religions - whether its African roots or Latin American roots or Native American roots. However, those roots are shallow compared to the roots that go all the way back to Adam and Eve. According to Scripture, we are all descendants of Adam and Eve and of Noah and his family. So to truly return to our roots is to return to the worship of the true God who put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Here are some resources on the origin of race and a book on how the scientific evidence verifies the Biblical account:

The Longing for Home / The Need for Belonging

Some people return to their ancestral religions out of a desire to belong or out of a longing for home - for Eden - for God. If that is the case, then we need to address their deeper felt need - to show them that we are all exiles in this world whose home is with God in Christ. We are created to live with God, but our sins have put a wall between us and Him. To return home is to return to God - not to ancestral religion or idolatry.

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” – C.S. Lewis

“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” – Saint Augustine

I Peter 2:11 - -Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles

Hope that is helpful - Christ grant you wisdom as you reach out to folks where you live :slight_smile:


(Sofia Bustos-Cevallos) #4

Thank you so much. What you have shared widens my point of view. Here in Southamerica, there is a tendency to see that what comes from English speaking countries is an imposition of some sort of imperialism. So, besides returning to “our roots” people need to stay away from what it seems to be alienating our culture…


(Sofia Bustos-Cevallos) #5

Thank you for your extended response. Basically our southamerican backround is also based on the land, what it is named as Pachamama, where she is recognized as the mother of all. When Catholicism came centuries ago to be the mandatory religion of the colonies, the mixture of cosmovisions created a new Catholic culture, more enslavering that the preliminar belief. It gave birth to a whole range of new deities and festivities very much alike to the Mexican culture…


(SeanO) #6

@Sophel I agree that the association with colonialism and the West is unfortunate, especially since Christ was not Western, but for all people. Below are two articles you may find interesting to read. The second article actually looks at some counterexamples of Protestant missionaries who stood against colonialism and stood up for the rights of the native people.

So there are 2 approaches that come to my mind:

  • show counterexamples of the stereotypes - even during colonialism there were real Christians standing up for peoples’ rights not because of culture, but because of Christ
  • point to the fact that Christ is for all people and we should not let the abuse of religion for power blind us to the beauty and glory of Christ

The Stereotype and a Critique

The fundamental thesis of this incompatibility is based on the concept that, according to our Pan-Africanists, Christianity is a Western, colonial religion, that at the service of colonialism, contributed to the erosion of the intellectual, cultural, religious and political values and richness of Africa.

One of the greatest criticisms of Christianity is the famous statement by the first Kenyan president, Jomo Kenyatta: “When the missionaries arrived, they had the Bible in their hands, and we had our land in ours. They told us to close our eyes to pray. When we opened our eyes, they had our land, and we had their Bible.”

A Critique

‘One stereotype about missions
is that they were closely
connected to colonialism. But
Protestant missionaries not
funded by the state were
regularly very critical of
colonialism.’

Areas where Protestant
missionaries had a significant
presence in the past are on
average more economically
developed today, with
comparatively better health,
lower infant mortality, lower
corruption, greater literacy,
higher educational attainment
(especially for women), and
more robust membership in
nongovernmental associations

SurprisingTruthAboutThoseMissionaries.pdf (191.5 KB)


(Sofia Bustos-Cevallos) #7

@SeanO I’m very, very grateful of what everything you have shared with me. It has enlightened me to keep opening my ears to what Our Father is telling humanity nowadays. I would be great to have these resources in Spanish, but if there are no resources in this language I would love to take a time to translate them for the glory of God and for the spreading of the Gospel…


(Matt Western) #8

I don’t know if you’ve seen, but theBibleProject have some translation work happening?

Yes, I’m grateful to Sean for his post - how to address the human longing we all have for ‘Home’ and for belonging. Still pondering it…


(SeanO) #9

@Sophel Glad it was helpful! I do not personally know of a Spanish translation, but that does not mean there is not one. If you think it would be beneficial for those you know, may the Lord bless you in the translation process. The Christianity Today article may be in Spanish? You could search for the title and see… Christ be with you.