Io, the Hawaiian Trinity, and the gods?
Kikawa insists on their being a revelation of the Trinity with ‘Io that includes the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit prior to any missionary coming to Hawaii with the Bible. This Trinity is traced to prior from where the Hawaiians (Menes) came from in other Islands of the Pacific. If the Polynesians came to Hawaii long before the New Testament, how can they have New Testament revelation? Two main theories are presented- two immigrations deep in the past. One from the Tower of Babel, the other is people who were either Israelites or those who parted from the nation of Israel and another weak option is given. So the only alternative is to believe in direct revelation, which he claims came from the stars.
Peter Bucks book “Vikings of the Pacific” states somewhere in the beginning of the 12th century there was a great influx of adventurous leaders to Hawaii. So there was a possibility of introduction and even adoption into Hawaiian legends. This is not mentioned as an alternative in Kikawa’s book. In fact, this concept is completely avoided to uphold the lineage of a purer revelation in their ancient tradition, as if there can be no syncretism involved.
By researching his resources we found a different story than what is told. This becomes a matter of not what is presented in the book as much as what is left out because it did not fit into the theory of his book. Kikawa was being selective in the books he quoted from, what he calls gleaning.
“At one time The Hawaiians believed and worshipped one God comprised of three equal beings in nature. These three gods were called Kane, Ku, Lono” (p.27 Perpetuated in Righteousness 2nd ed.)
The Hawaiian trinity is Kane- Ku- Lono “Kane (or Tane in most of Polynesia) was the aspect of the supreme being who was, in a sense, representative of the supreme being. He was the creator of all living things. Kane was the heavenly father of all men and the creator of men. In this sense, the “Kane” aspect of the triune god of Polynesia, corresponds to the “Son” aspect of God in the Bible” (p.34 Perpetuated in Righteousness 2d ed.)
How can Kane be the heavenly Father and then be an aspect related to the son? How can he be an aspect of the Heavenly Father and Son at the same time. This is not describing the Trinity of Scripture.
One must wonder if Kikawa holds to an orthodox view of the Trinity or understands the triune nature of God to agree with the numerous quotes cited: these three gods are equal beings. “As God is three separate aspects working as one, so is man in three parts as one: body, soul and spirit" (1st Thessalonians 5:23) (p. 54 Perpetuated in Righteousness)
On creation Kikawa writes, “There are, however, many accounts in Polynesia of the creation of man. Some of them state that the supreme triune god made the heavens and the earth in six days and rested on the seventh day. This is exactly as stated in the book of Genesis. The legends also say that, last of all on the sixth day,' the triune god created man in the likeness of Kane” (p.37 2 ed.; p.69- 70 4th ed. Perpetuated in Righteousness)
Dr. Fruchtenbaum comments on page 37: “Here, again, the author makes a claim and I do not find him providing necessary evidence. He claims that some of the Polynesian creation accounts of man “state that the supreme triune God made the heavens and the earth in six days and rested on the seventh day.” It would be good if the author could quote the exact source word-for-word to see if it really claims all this. Does it really say, “supreme triune God,” and does it really say it was six days, and--does it really say he rested on the seventh day? Of course, this may all be true, but I am simply asking for clear, historical evidence and some form of documentation, which does not seem to exist here. Not even the Old Testament, or even the New Testament.”
Kikawa gives no quotes for this amazing claim (which is consistent throughout his book), in my research I have seen a few similarities but nothing that comes close to the specifics he claims. In relating the Genesis account “the three gods breathed into its nose and it became a living being.' Genesis 2:7 (p.70 4th ed. Perpetuated in Righteousness) If this is his definition of a triune God then he does not understand the difference between tritheism (3 Gods) and the word triune (3 persons that are one being as God).
Is there such a strong resemblance of 'Io- Kane Ku and Lono to the Bibles YHVH Father, Son and Holy Spirit as is claimed in Kikawa’s book? We must look at the complete teachings on Kane Ku and Lono from his sources instead of portions of the ancient stories that are unconnected. It becomes apparent Kikawa is on a campaign to convince people with the selected portions in his book.
While Kikawa uses this concept in the book he neglects what else Handy (and others said) wrote…” Next to the Supreme Being everywhere in Polynesia was a god who, in a sense, was the representative of that Supreme Being. In Hawaii this god was called Kane. In the other islands he was known as Tane. “In New Zealand the story is that Rangi (who corresponds to the Hawaiian Lani), the 'sky-father, married Papa, the Flat Earth. The children of this union were Tane, (Kane), Rongo, (Lono), Tu, (Ku), and other akua) The word Tane or -Kane alone means “man.” As a creative force, Tane was the parent of all nature, as a man is the parent children. Kane was the heavenly father of all men, the creator of men. As he was the father of all living things, he was a symbol of life in nature” (p.46 Ancient Hawaiian civilization – topic Religion and Education by Handy (Hawaii state library #572.9969)
In Kepelino Traditions of Hawaii “The first ancestors of the Hawaiian race came from the sky; all versions agree in this” (Foreword on p.8 of Kepelino's Traditions of Hawaii Edited by Martha Beckwith).
In Polynesian mythology, Atea is considered the most ancient god, who separated into the two gods Rangi and Papa. Tane is the god of trees and light, and the first son of Rangi and Papa. The Sky Father is a recurring theme in ancient pagan and neo-pagan theology. There is also a Earth Mother and appears in some creation myths. The marriage of Sky and Earth, give birth to the world and all things in it. In Maori mythology, Rangi was the sky father who embraced earth mother and had divine children. Tane, Tu and Bongo would be essentially be considered the same as Kane, Ku and Lono.
Buck writes “Among the beings of the second class the most important are Tane, Tu, Bongo, Tangaroa, Whiro, and Tawhiri-matea, with others of minor importance. These were all offspring of the primal parents, the Sky Father and Earth Mother, and are personifications of natural phenomena. Thus Tane personifies the sun; he is the fertilizer and light-bringer. As the fertilizer he was the origin of trees and all vegetation, and also created woman. He was the most important being of his class”(p.69 Maori as He Was Peter Buck)
“Besides Kane, two other great gods were worshipped. These were Lono and Ku, called in- New Zealand Rongo and Tu. In New Zealand Rongo was the god of cultivated foods, and Tu the god of war. In Hawaii, Lono was the god of rain and of agriculture, and Ku was the god of chiefs and of war” (p.47 Ancient Hawaiian Civilization by Handy) [emphasis mine]
Anthropologist Peter Buck states “TANE was the most important of the departmental gods in New Zealand. He had been the leader among the sons of the primary parents during the creation period. He was the father of trees, birds, and other 'curious progeny. He was the progenitor of man and, in spite of the claims made for Io, man acquired the divine spark through birth from Tane” (p.454 Coming of the Maori, Buck) [emphasis mine]
“This exalted personage was Io, who created all the processes of nature and caused the already existing gods to be. He was given various titles of which lo-matua-kore (lo-the-parentless) indicates that he himself was the very beginning. The old theology had a sky of ten successive levels, but, the new version added two more and paced Io in residence in the highest heaven. He was provided with a house named Rangiatea, … A staff of Celestial Maids (Mareikura) was provided,… Messengers were engaged to carry on communication between the upper sphere and the major gods.”(p.267 Vikings of the Sunrise Peter Buck) ) [emphasis mine]
In his book “ The Coming of the Maori” Buck explains “Kanaloa was part of the original 4 (not 3) and was subtracted so there would be 3 relegated to the nether regions, even though he was unoffending. He also writes neither Io of New Zealand nor Toaroa of Tahiti had a father or mother, so they had to create themselves by what might be termed auto deification, it was an easy matter for them to create or conjure forth other gods (the Coming of the Maori, Buck p.435) [emphasis mine]
Does any of this sound like a biblical account of God’s nature? Why would anyone want to synthesize these differences? The Biblical God is uncreated, always existed having no mother or father and does not make other gods, nor himself.
If Kane is God- the Son then we have some very different confusing teaching. Buck found “The origin of the gods is clothed with the confusion characteristic of the Hawaiian genealogies. The Kumulipo states that Kane and Kanaloa were born together as the children of Kumu-honua (Foundation-of-the-earth) and Haloiho (Peerbeneath). Nineteen pairs later, in the same list, Wakea appears. This placement is directly contradicted by the chant of the priest, Pakui, who is described as a lineal descendant of historians from the very darkest ages. He states that Wakea lived with Papa, and born to them were Kane and Kanaloa. In the New Zealand myth, Rangi (Sky) takes the place of Wakea (Space) and, by marrying Papa, gave birth to Tane and Tangaroa. The origin of the gods Ku and Lono apparently did not stimulate the literary efforts of the Hawaiian bards. All bards agree that Wakea was the son of Kahiko (Ancient-one) and his wife Kupulana-ke-hau (Growth-of power)” (p.252 Vikings of the Pacific, Peter Buck). [note: Wakea was born of human stock in 125 A.D.]
If Kanaloa is the Devil according to the Christianized version of the story and Kane is his brother, then we have more of an affiliation to Mormonism than historic Christianity.
Buck writes from the conversion of the missionaries work “The later Hawaiian historians, influenced no doubt by their acceptance of Christian teaching, grouped Kane, Ku, and Lono into A trinity and relegated the spare but unoffending Kanaloa to the nether regions (The Coming of the Maori p.526 Buck) “Kane, Ku, and Lono have been selected to represent the Trinity, and Kanaloa has been conveniently relegated to Hades as the Devil” (p.251 Vikings of the Pacific by Peter H. Buck).
Despite there are some similarities in the stories there are some glaring dissimilarities “Tane himself took the first woman to wife, for to him was assigned the position of procreator; it was he who begot man. Their offspring were females, who appear to be personifications” (Buck, The Maori as He was p.41)
If Tane is God, one of the trinity as Kikawa claims Hawaiian stories teach, then we have a problem as he married and had offspring.
“The process of mating the primary gods to reproduce other gods was not used much in New Zealand: Tane certainly had a variety of wives”… “In Polynesia, particularly in the Society. Islands, the primary gods usually had more than one wife. They produced a host of children, some of whom became important gods” (The Coming of the Maori, Peter Buck)
Peter Buck discovered “The following eras enumerate male and female pairs in the form of a genealogy and give long lists of various kinds of Nights. The gods Kane and Kanaloa, Wakea and his wives, the Maui brothers and their father Akalana all occur, but the gods Ku and Lono are not mentioned” (p.251 Vikings of the Pacific Peter Buck)
As we can see Kikawa selected certain portions to quote and often ignored those that contradict. “And the spirits of the gods were fixed to no bodies, only the three above gods had power to create heaven and earth. Of these three Kane was the greatest in power, and Ku and Lono were inferior to him. The powers of the three joined together were sufficient to create and fix heaven and earth” [from Ke Au Okoa, October 14, 1869), From Kamakau in Fornander, Collection (“Memoirs,” No. 6), pp. 322-23).
This is not the Godhead in the Bible and not as Kikawa claims -all equal, Kane who is the Son is superior to the other two.
“Io sent the Mana across the Po (the darkness), and created Kane, the creator, and creation began” http://www.huna.com/gods_diagram.html
Can Kane be the Son of God in the Bible if he is created?
Best writes “In his account of the religion and myths of the Hawaiians, or Sandwich-Islanders, Fornander remarks: “1 learn that the ancient Hawaiians at one time believed in and worshipped one God, comprising three beings, and respectively called Kane, Ku, and Lono (Tane, Tu, and Rongo in Maori), equal in nature, but distinct in attributes; the first, however, being considered as the superior of the other two, a primus inter pares; that they formed a triad commonly referred to as Ku-kauahi (lit. `Ku stands alone,' or`The one established'), and were worshipped jointly under the grand and mysterious name of Hika-po-loa.” We will learn more concerning this trio when we come to consider the departmental gods of the Maori, and we shall see that this tendency to combine gods, or attribute many names to one being, is also observable in New Zealand” (The Gods of the Maori by Best P.151).
Fornander interpreted, “what he gathered from the lips of old people, is both large and varied “Collating the different narratives thus preserve I learn that the ancient Hawaiians at one time believe In and worshipped, one god, comprising three beings, and respectively called Kane, Ku,1 and Lono,2 equal in nature, but distinct, in attributes ; the first, however, being considered as the superior of other two, a primus mater pares; that they formed a triad commonly referred to as Ku-kau-akahi, lit. “ Ku stands alone,” or “ the one established” (p.61 Fornander The Account of the Polynesian Race)
Notice there is one greater than the other two, this is the exaltation we find often in the various ancient cultures.
Elsdon Best comments on the classes“In the first grade, and standing alone in His majesty, comes Io, He who is termed Io the Parent, Io the Parentless, Io the Great, and Io of the Hidden Face. The second class is composed of what may be called departmental gods, as those who preside over war, peace, the forest, winds, ocean, agriculture, etc. Then we come to a third class, whom I term tribal gods, not so widely known as those of the second class, and of a somewhat lower grade” (Elsdon Best [1856-1931]. R.A. Falla. 1954. Some Aspects of Maori Myth & Religion. page 23.) Kane or Tane were of the second class, therefore they are not persons of Io, the supreme God as interpreted in Kikawa’s book.
Buck wrote “The major gods of Hawaii are Kane (lane), Ku (Tu); Lono, (Ro’o, Rongo), and Kanaloa Ta'aroa, Tangaroa), derived erectly from Tahiti. The reduction of the pantheon to four had led the modern Hawaiians to interpret the gods in terms of the Christian religion. Kane, Ku, and Lono have been selected to represent the Trinity, and Kanaloa has been conveniently relegated to Hades as the Devil. The selection of the Devil has been unfortunate in view of the concept held” (p.251 Vikings of the Pacific, Buck)
Peter Buck’s conclusion “later Hawaiians, in arranging their pantheon to conform with" ' Christian pattern, elevated Kane (Tape), Ku (Tu), and Lono (Rongo)” (Coming of the Maori)
Peter Buck of whom is respected among the scholars for his tenuous work made it clear about what he thought Kepelino did “To make confusion even greater, the Hawaiian historian Kepelino, after conversion to the Christian faith, revised Hawaiian mythology. He states that the major gods, Kane, Ku, and Lono, who were gods without source, creating earth and sky, the celestial bodies, and the living things of earth, created man to rule over the things they had made. They fashioned a man out of earth, breathed into him the breath of life, and named him Kumu-honua (Earth-foundation)…. This neo-myth finds no confirmation in the other Polynesian areas, and its nearest affinity is with the Book of Genesis with which Kepelino was evidently saturated when he wrote his version of the `Traditions of Hawaii'” (p.253-254 Vikings of the Pacific by Peter H. Buck) [emphasis mine]
Later when men like David Malo, Kepelino, and Kamaltau were encouraged to write up their native myths and traditions, they attempted to translate the Creation and Flood of Christian teaching into Hawaiian myth.
In spite of contradictions, inclusion of Biblical teaching, and dislocation in the time sequence of gods, heroes, and ancestors, Hawaiian mythology has retained certain elements that belong to a widely distributed Polynesian pattern. (.255 Vikings of the Pacific by Peter H. Buck)
Almost all ancient cultures had a supreme God or a better description would be “greater god” or most powerful god over the other gods, the leader of the pantheon. This is not a true monotheistic belief in one God. Buck made it clear “The gods, who inhabited the twelve skies were graded as follows (80 pp.xiv,xv) 1.The Supreme God, Io, dwelt in the twelfth sky at Matangireia” (Coming of the Maori Peter Buck p.446).
For example in ancient history the Babylonian Ellil was the creator of mankind who caused the great flood. http://ancienthistory.about.com/library/weekly/aa102197.htm
Sumerians Supreme God was Enlil produced by the union of “An” and “Ki's.” Enlil is the air-god and leader of the pantheon from at least 2500 BC. He assumed most of An's powers. He is glorified as “the father of the gods, ‘the king of heaven and earth.’
In Babylonia it was Marduk, who became prominent at the time of Hammurabi (about 1800 B. C.). The ancient ideas about the ordering and governing of the universe were taken over by these two gods. Marduk, for example, achieved his prominence by victory over Tiamat, goddess of the sea. This cosmic conflict is described also in ancient Sumerian, Indian and Canaanite myths.
Bel was the patron god of Babylon (Jer. 51:44) identified with Marduk, head of the Babylonian pantheon. The Hebrews called him Merodach. The Babylonians paid him supreme tribute and exalted him to the headship of their pantheon shortly after 2000 B.C. According to Enuma elish” (from New Unger's Bible Dictionary)
Io is called the hidden one, Amon is known as Lord of Creation. His name also means “The Hidden One.” He is considered the father of all gods; thus he does not have a mother or father but is husband to Mut, the Great Mother. Later combined with Ra (another creator god) to become Amen-Ra, and worshipped as the King of Gods. The Egyptians represented him in their art with the sun. Ma'at was the goddess of truth, justice and harmony. Ra, the sun god, was her father. Geb was “Father Earth” or the earth-god. He is said to live forever below his wife Nut was the goddess of the sky.
The Egyptians worshiped the physical sun as the symbol of the one God. The numerous other Gods were attributed to nature and creatures. Like most who held this the gods were in charge of the earth, the sky, water all the essential in nature. These gods reflected the needs and fears of the peoples
The Hittites Supreme Being was first among the gods; who spent some time as king of heaven Alalu was the former king of heaven before Anu. Other gods were Kumarbi(s)- father of all gods. Anshar: was the father of heaven.
The Greeks Supreme Being was Zeus and then there were many other gods.
What of the Golden Calf Aaron made for the Israelites, he says of this single image- this is your GOD who delivered you from Egypt; he was monotheistic in his idolatry. Does this mean this was the true God? The argument of having a supreme being is monotheistic and that this God is equal to the God of the Bible is absurd. This can mistakenly be applied to other religions. Consider Islam and Bahai. Islam Denies there is an eternal Father and a Son and that God can become human (they deny many of the essential elements of Christian beliefs). The Bahai who are also monotheistic claim that all religions are from the same God, that God sent his prophets in various different religions, they deny that Christ is God and the only way. If one is going to make the correlation of monotheistic equality within the various ancient cultures, they will end up with the same belief system Kikawa is promoting.
Anthropologist and researcher Peter Best did not believe the supreme being of the Maori’s was based on Christian teaching. Because “There would have been some analogies or some rendering of the old Scriptural myths.” However he goes on to say “ Nor is there any resemblance between the Io of Maori myth and the somewhat truculent Jehovah of the Old Testament” (Maori Religion and Mythology by Peter Best p.47). No matter what few references (or words) one may find to correlate them with the God of the Bible to come to this deduction they must go against many of the writers conclusions from their research. A number of the anthropologists used in the book did not believe in the God of the Bible but considered these all ancient myths as equal, similar to i.e. Joseph Campell)
To make things absolutely clear let us go to the source of almost all the researchers H T. Whatahoro in The Lore of the Whare-wananga; Who Kikawa quotes at least 6 times in his book discriminately. Whatohoro writes, “It will be observed how frequently the number twelve enters into these myths; there are twelve heavens *, seventy gods (there are indications that the number was-seventy-two originally), the offspring of heaven and Earth, and in many other cases also appears to a favourite or sacred number” (p. vi The Lore of the Whare-wananga; Teachings of the Maori College On Religion, Cosmogony, and History Written down by H T. Whatahoro)
He goes on to write, “1n this, and following karakias, I have attempted, with the aid of the Scribe, to render these exceedingly difficult, cryptic and elliptical compositions, in a form from which a slight understanding of the meaning may be gathered, with, however, very little satisfactory result. No one who has not tried it knows how difficult it is to render this class of composition into understandable English.”
“That their memories may acquire the support of the gods The ancient learning, the occult learning,
By thee, OIo-e!
The ardent desire towards thee, O Tane-the-life-giving 31
Rest within the heart, within the roots of origin;
O lo-the-learned! O Io-the-determined! O Io-the-self-created!”
The end note number 31 says “Tane, God number sixty-eight”
“This prayer of the priest ends here. This invocation is to purify the house and make it very tapu; to call on the gods to exert their god-like powers” (p.92 The Lore of the Whare-wananga; Teachings of the Maori College On Religion, Cosmogony, and History Written down by H. T. Whatahoro)
We have Tane is number 68 of 70 plus gods. So how can he be part of a Triune nature of God? Io the parentless is also named the self- created. This is why He is parentless; whereas all the other gods were created by another. But the God of the Bible was not self created (impossible logic), He always existed, this is a very different concept.
H. T. Whatahoro later comments, “Because the tapu was all important-the first of all things' without it none of the powers of the gods were available.”
H. T. Whatahoro writes “When the menstruous time of their mother Earth came, then Tane (68) came forth. This was in the seventh Po, or age of their desire to search for the “way of the female”12. (the reference Te Matarohanga says, they found an exit between papas legs, which explains the above.
Whatahoro explains, “The Adam's apple which Hine ‘knotted’ in the throat of Tane, was on account of his sin to her, in making his daughter, his wife]; (p.146 The Lore of the Whare-wananga; Teachings of the Maori College On Religion, Cosmogony, and History Written down by H. T. Whatahoro from the teachings of Te Matorohanga and Nepia Pohuhu, priests of the Whare wananga.)
Does this sound like Tane is part of the triune God of the Bible? One cannot pick words and phrases, lift them out of the context of the story to make ones own story and be true to the ancient myths. Kikawa is often telling you what he thinks it’s saying, he rarely giving the exact quotes because he knows they could not be manipulated.
Elsdon Best comments on Te Matorohanga of whom Whatahoro owed most of his knowledge to “Whereas Te Matorohanga had clung obstinately to the pagan beliefs of his ancestors, Whatahoro had been baptised a Christian. In fact, he had lived much of his life after the manner of the Europeans. This was a serious disadvantage for a tohunga, because he inevitably brought acquired attitudes to bear in rendering traditional accounts” (p.147 Man of the Mist a biography of Elsdon Best by E.W.G. Craig)
Whatahoro did not influence Te Matorohanga to become Christian despite all his work of translating their cultures history.
To a Christian the Bible is our Book of Truth.In Scripture Sound doctrine is juxtaposed with myths. 1 Timothy 1:4: “Neither give heed to Myths and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith” (also 1 Timothy 4:7) 2 Timothy 4:4 they will turn away from the truth, unto MYTHS. Let us not forget 2 Peter 1:16-21: “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” V.19 “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
I can honestly say that most of the people who have accepted Kikawa’s book as a valid work have not looked up the sources. This is a ongoing problem in the church, no one does any real research first to see if what someone says is correct. Not in a Dictionary, a Concordance and neither in books like these. YWAM endorsing this book and teaching it as valid world history to its youth is very concerning, in fact they should be embarrassed. For those who take the time to do scholarly work in these fields to have something like this become popular and influence peoples evangelism or history is disastrous.
In Elwell’s Evangelical Dictionary we find these definitions and cautions: “Syncretism is the process by which elements of one religion are assimilated into another religion resulting in a change in the fundamental tenets or nature of those religions. It is the union of two or more opposite beliefs, so that the synthesized form is a new thing. It is not always a total fusion, but may be a combination of separate segments that remain identifiable compartments. Originally a political term, "syncretism" was used to describe the joining together of rival Greek forces on the Isle of Crete in opposition to a common enemy.
“Syncretism of the Christian gospel occurs when critical or basic elements of the gospel are replaced by religious elements from the host culture. It often results from a tendency or attempt to undermine the uniqueness of the gospel as found in the Scriptures or the incarnate Son of God. The communication of the gospel involves the transmission of a message with supra - cultural elements between a variety of cultures. This includes the disembodiment of the message from one cultural context and the reembodiment of it in a different cultural context.
In the striving by missionaries for an indigenous national church with a contextualized gospel, the danger of syncretism is ever present in attempts at accommodation, adjustment, and adaptation. Tippett reminds us that while striving for relevance we must remember that in communication only message is transmitted, not meaning. Beyerhaus points out three steps in biblical adaptation:
The supracultural teachings of Scripture must be judge of both culture and meaning as God works through men using various forms to bring all creation under his lordship”(S. R. Imbach, p.1062, Elwell’s Evangelical Dictionary.)
Daniel Kikawa makes use of all three of these areas that we’re to prevent, giving general stories and myths to be near or exact equivalents to the doctrines and meanings found in Scripture. When teachings and practices are assimilated into another religion the result is a change of the nature of that religion[s]. This is a recipe for all nations religious soup.
A picture in the Honolulu Advertiser had the caption “Ancient Hawaiian Beliefs, Christianity in Conflict?” There was a picture of a Hawaiian woman holding a Bible in one hand while standing beside a Hawaiian heiau at Makapu'u. In the article, a woman tells us that she has reached the position of being able to reconcile the God of the Bible with her Hawaiian gods. To this woman, the Hawaiian gods exist, but only at the bidding of Jehovah, thus combining Hawaiian spiritualism with the worship of the God of Scripture. She states that it was “the Jewish God (who) taught me to embrace this other side.”
We might wonder: how are such reconciliation and blending are possible? This is the type of syncretism is what is taking place, it directly challenges the Bible, not agrees with it.
“Certainly, Whatahoro possessed a sophisticated approach to these matters, as a typical conversation with Best bears out. The tohunga one day remarked: “If the early missionaries had learned and studied the Io cult and not despised our religion, I think it would have been incorporated with Christianity and would now be part of the Bible.” Best's comment was to the point (p.168 Man of the Mist a biography of Elsdon Best by E.W.G. Craig)
Consider the similarity of the statement that Kikawa poses for the Christian in light of ancient worship “It is time that Christians reclaimed the many beautiful names of the One Creator God in native languages instead of falling into Satan's trap and destroying them. We should reclaim those names and wash the dung of corruption off of them instead of giving them up to Satan. We must cast off the corruption that Satan has thrown on the many beautiful names of God in native languages.”
“God is the creator of all nations, tongues and peoples And is spoken of in each language. The Hawaiian people and others like the Navajo did not reveal the, knowledge of their Supreme Benevolent Creator God to the white man because their God was too precious to them They-could not stand to see their beloved Creator belittled, ridiculed, laughed at, and called the devil by the white man” (pp.26-27 4th ed.) [emphasis mine]
While there is a certain element of truth to all this, God is the creator of all people, Kikawa’s assumption is that all cultures supreme God and worship is the true same God of the Bible. This borders on syncretism and promotes universalism. What he is claiming is that these cultures and people were worshipping correctly and missionaries were not necessary to tell them the truth, they already knew it. The nation of Israel is the prime example against this held belief. God did not reform the nations, nor correct them, but took Abraham and made a nation and priesthood to serve him unlike any other. This nation He alone gave his revelation to.
In The Gods of the Maori by Best, he makes the observation “and we shall see that this tendency to combine gods, or attribute many names to one being, is also observable in New Zealand. (p.151) That is the pattern that Kikawa is following and he is very wrong.
Whether one attributes the re-visioning of Hawaiian history by their own people that faced the challenge of the missionaries or the missionaries themselves, the end result is still the same. They changed many things to be more in line with the Bible. Kikawa expands on their mythology adding his own myth, following the same pattern done over 100 years ago. His whole theory can be proven wrong by his own interpretation and more so by the research he himself quotes. Unfortunately those who endorse this book have not done the research, they want to believe what they want to believe.
Kikawa continues, “Instead of destroying and ridiculing the native names of the Creator God, we should help preserve them as a legacy for these peoples. It is their legacy of God's enduring interest, involvement and care for their culture and people! Christians should cease representing Jesus as the Son of the foreign God of a foreign people, especially if these foreigners had never shown concern for nor had any involvement in the lives or culture of the natives. We should instead introduce Jesus as the Son of their creator God. God lovingly created them in the beginning never left them without a witness and, in his great love for them, even sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, to die for them! (p.27)
Is this what the apostle Paul did? Did he say the Greeks Zeus had a son, or Odin has a son or any of the gods of the nations had a son who is the savior? What Kikawa is teaching is cross-cultural syncretism with other gods as the way to evangelize them, the very thing God warned us not to do. This is trading our salt for sugar to attract people that are turned off by the narrow truth of the gospel. How dangerous is this syncretism to say their gods have a son, when the Bible speaks directly against this far back in history.
Deut 6:14: “You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are all around you” These are other elohim (gods), not Yahweh Elohim. This is not love nor truth to tell them their God had a son but deception, because it is a lie, it is calling the God of the Bible another God. Who wants us as Christians to have us accept all the cultures as equal in their religious practices? The Bible repeats over and over from the beginning there is no God like YHWH, He alone is God. This is in direct contradistinction to the gods of the nations (Deut. 12:2).
Joshua 23:7-9: “You shall not make mention of the name of their gods” Why? Because they were false gods. But the draw of worshipping other gods was too great at times, even for Israel as they intermarried. Judges 3:5-8: “Thus the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons; and they served their gods. So the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD. They forgot the LORD their God, and served the Baals and Asherahs.” The Gods of the nations in ancient times were not the same as the God of the Bible.
God, Yahweh Elohim of the Bible specifically took a single person (Abrahm) and made a nation from him among all the nations. They were a people He trained in His truth. 2 Samuel 7:23-24: “And who is like Your people, like Israel, the one nation on the earth whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people, to make for Himself a name-- and to do for Yourself great and awesome deeds for Your land-- before Your people whom You redeemed for Yourself from Egypt, the nations, and their gods?” There is no other nation that God chose to deliver, give his commands and Scripture to. Kikawa is wrong, and so are others that are promoting this type of mission work. If nations and cultures were worshipping God correctly he would not have had to separate Abraham and build the Hebrew nation, he would already have many Abraham’s.
“for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Exodus34:14).
It should be apparent Zeus, Ra, Krishna or any other ancient supreme being are not YHVH, the God of the Bible. Primarily because of their nature and actions, and most importantly because God Himself says so. And you cannot say their son (many had sons and daughters) are the same as the God in the Bible. Many were in existence before New Testament revelation; this is changing their history. I don’t think this is the answer, to synthesize two opposing religious belief systems as if they are compatible. Only by reducing the God of the Bible to the lowest common denominator - calling him the supreme God over creation, ignore other contradictory details can they find similarity to these ancient stories.
Could any of these nations have the commandments of God without the Law of Moses? Its the law that lead us to the savior not just a belief in a supreme God. How could they know of a triune God when they did not have the revelation WRITTEN in the New Testament? To say you heard the gospel when Rom.16:25 says it came from the Scripture and the apostles, is not the same gospel.
Here is what Paul said to the Gentiles in his day Ephesians 2:12: “that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
Does God honor dishonesty? We need to be preaching Jesus Christ to them not the god of their nation or culture and make up a Christianized story to reach them.