Cultivating other Gods
THE BIBLE- Romans 1:18-20 “who suppress the truth in unrighteousness”
Daniel Kikawa: “by finding the native name of God which in, in Japan we found that name is Amenominakanushi, which means the God in the glorious center of heaven and he is their creator God who created everything. And so we found this name of this creator God there, and it immediately says he’s a Japanese God and he loves them. This is what Paul did in Acts 17” (Word to the World interview with Daniel Kikawa Feb 16, 2006 #9)
Daniel Kikawa wants to make the point that God has been a part of Japans history and culture from the beginning (also Korea, China, etc.)
Interviewee Daniel Kikawa: Instead of destroying and ridiculing the native names of the Creator God, we should help preserve them as a legacy for these peoples”
Interviewer Danny Lehmann- “Daniel lets open up a little can of worms here and talk about a controversial subject and in general it is the issue of the names of the native Gods that we find in every culture of the world. We know that many gods in the Bible, Baal, and Ashteroth and Molech and all these were false gods and were demons. We know for instance in Islam that the original Allah name, you can find in any encyclopedia was the name of a moon God and it has been pointed out by some, and you have been under the gun on this issue of Io in the Hawaiian culture, well that’s a bird god and its obviously a demon and so forth, you can’t worship it. We’re not saying that we need to worship a bird god or we’re not saying we need to worship a moon god. But were saying that those people understand it that way and they already have it as their god and perhaps we can use that name and teach the truth about the character of Jehovah God, without going to an Arab Muslim saying you have to accept the Jewish God, so that’s where we are coming from. So give us a little bit of illustration of this out of your experience.”
I’m glad to see Lehmann take a counter position and make the distinction on false gods. However Lehmann’s statement of not wanting to tell an Arab Muslim the truth of who God actually is (the God of Israel) certainly DOES show where THEY are coming from.
Israel was told in Josh 23:7-8: “and lest you go among these nations, these who remain among you. You shall not make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause anyone to swear by them; you shall not serve them nor bow down to them,"but you shall hold fast to the LORD your God, as you have done to this day.”
If one adopts the gods names of the different nations are they not doing what God told Israel not to do. One would be hard pressed to find this kind of evangelistic compromise in the Bible, i.e. the book of Acts. To not go to Muslims and tell them of the Hebrew God and instead allow them to continue to call him Allah is certainly not an answer. (This is what some missionary organizations like YWAM are doing, calling them “Messianic Muslims”).
Baal, and Ashteroth and Molech. Why are these gods considered false and demonic, and the others are not? What is the basis for this judgment? Our basis must be consistent and based on the truth found in the Bible. If these are false gods does this not contradict Kikawa’s whole theory? To let people keep their former god’s names is a name replacement of Israel’s God, which God revealed to man. Nowhere in the Bible does God endorse other nation’s names of God nor did He allow man to make up his own religious system to approach Him.
Israel was told in Deuteronomy 12 “you shall cut down the carved images of their gods and destroy their names from that place.” Deut 6:13-14: “You shall fear the LORD your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are all around you.” These gods had names and practices contrary to what God gave to Israel. “In Canaanite mythological texts Baal is sometimes called the son of Dagon. Dagon (Judg. 16:23; 1 Sam. 5:2-7; 1 Chr. 10:10) was the chief god of the ancient Philistines… With the recent discovery of documents at ancient EBLA in Syria, it is clear that Dagon, or Dagan, was a much more ancient and prominent god. These texts show that Dagon was being worshiped before Abraham entered Canaan about 2000 B. C. Dagon continued to be worshiped by the Canaanites up to the time of Christ” (from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary).
According to the above quote, Baal was the son of Dagon. It would be foolish to use Baal as Jesus to reach those who believed in Dagon? There is a chasm so wide that no bridge built can change the circumstances of history or the religious beliefs held. They must be severed to adhere to the truth.
How can we use the name of a false god with a false religious system to teach the truth about the character of Jehovah? Would it not be more effective and biblical to show the truth that is in the God of the Bible, that their god[s] do not possess.
Using the Name to teach the truth about the character of Jehovah God is not what Kikawa is teaching. Can we just take a name and remove it from the one behind the name and then say this is the true God? As Kikawa says of the name,
“that we can purify again instead of turning it over to Satan Saying you dirty name of god we’ll throw it away. y’know it’s a precious legacy for them that says God loves you, its like this ring on my finger is a precious legacy of my y’know, my wifes love for me. Now if an enemy of mine took it and threw it in the dog poo would I say ah throw it away its dirty. Or should I say this is a precious memento of my wifes love, I’m going to take it out of there and I’m going to wash it off and I’m gonna put it back on my finger. And so this is what we need to do with these, because it says God loves you” (Word to the World interview with Daniel Kikawa Feb.15, 2006, #8).
Ignoring his bad analogy, we need to understand that names have meanings and they are attached to whole religious belief systems. Each culture worships and prays to their god and Kikawa calls them God. But each name represents something behind it. There are personalities behind the names. These names were invented by men, they weren’t revealed or endorsed by God because they are not the true God.
Use of a generic word like Theos could be applied to both the true God and false Gods, just as Elohim was. You must distinguish the Bible’s concept of God with their concept of god. It is who the name represents, who is the one behind the name. This concept of using a name of god in a given culture is playing semantic games with the names and changing the nature of the true God.
God gives special attention to His Name[s]. A human example of this spiritual concept would be like taking a Mercedes Benz body and putting it on a Ford Pinto and saying it’s really a Mercedes Benz; it never was. What it is called from the outside has nothing to do with what is inside. This is what he is doing when he presents another culture’s gods as the true one. What is being proposed is a silence on certain facts about their cultures false gods so they will not offend people (ie. Arabs, Japanese, and Koreans, etc.) with the truth. I’m all for being tactful when we are trying to explain the Lord to other religions, but there is a difference of being sensitive and compromising the truth.
The Bible tells us that He does not want to have His Name profaned. Calling God by false god’s names is sacrilegious.
Lev 22:1-2: “that they do not profane My holy name by what they dedicate to Me: I am the LORD.’
Lev 22:32-33: “You shall not profane My holy name.”
Are we to use the native name of god in the culture we are trying to reach? Jesus Christ was born a Jew. So if God is a Hawaiian, Chinese, Japanese or Korean we have a different god and a different gospel. The names of the supreme gods of these nations are false gods; Kikawa qualifies a number of them as the True Creator.
The true God says:
Jer. 10:11: “Thus you shall say to them: “The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under these heavens.”
It’s not whether a culture attributes that their god made heaven and earth, but whether He actually did so.
Kikawa comments on the names of the gods of these nations:
“Satan steals everything,” “Yahweh was the true God that Satan wants to corrupt and destroy; “we can purify again instead of turning it over to Satan,” “Satan tries to dirty the name of this God and puts all kinds of barnacles to try to hide” (world to the world interview program, #4).
I agree that Satan is a destroyer and a corrupter, and he is also a deceiver. But no matter how many times Kikawa repeats this expression it does not change the fact that the corrupted stories are being perpetuated into the church by affirming these nation’s creator gods as Yahweh. The message is: “Keep your gods names, keep your culture he formed for you.” His teaching does not take into account counterfeits or what is false. It ignores the different aspects of “a culture” that came before or after, thus it intentionally muddies true evangelism. Every time Israel began to honor another god or other god’s practices they were punished. Does it make sense that Kikawa says these were the true God found in other nations? We can read 1 Kings 14:24 about what God did to the nations who worshipped these gods.
Speaking of the name of the gods of the nations, Kikawa claims:
“But we have to look back and Satan is a destroyer and a corrupter and so what was the original purpose of this name or who was it” (Word to the World interview with Daniel Kikawa, Feb.13, 2006, #6)
Exactly the POINT. Who is the one behind the name? What happens when we find it is not the true God? A gods teachings and practices should prove whether or not he is the same God of the Bible.
“what we need to do is research for instance in Hawaii you have the name of the benevolent creator God who is known as the God of love and you also have a false creator God, now you got to remember that Satan wants to lift himself up as the creator God and make himself as big as possible but you see this, this creator God” (Word to the World interview with Daniel Kikawa, Feb.10, 06, #5)
Kikawa repeats the point that the devil is not a creator God. The names of these other gods (along with their belief systems) are not the true God. That’s not my opinion—God says so.
“In fact Amenominakanushi and what we found in Hawaii that theres, y’know, uh, uh as Io, is much better than what Paul used in Acts 17 in Athens, because he used one God among hundreds of Gods on Mars Hill, whereas Io and are the benevolent creator God, or Hananim benevolent creator God of all things, so its much better” (Word to the World interview with Daniel Kikawa, Feb. 16, 2006 #9) [Emphasis mine]
This is why he can justify this principle “to use the name of the Ancient Benevolent Creator, in the tongue of native peoples.” (p.24, Perpetuated in Righteousness 4th ed.)
He neglects to understand that just because something is called the creator by a culture does not make it so. Being benevolent does not make a god qualify as the true God. It doesn’t matter if their god[s] had benevolent qualities it does not mean that he is the same one revealed to the Abraham, Isaac and Jacob- and the Israelites.
If the Lord does not act as a benevolent God does this mean that the Lord is not the creator God? The Bible teaches that the Lord does punish and destroy. God often promised destruction if the people willfully disobeyed (Lev. 26:15-18).
Joshua 24:20-21: “If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm”
Jeremiah writes if they (Israel) “walk after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be just like this sash which is profitable for nothing”(Jer. 13:9-10). Deut. 8:19 says, if they “follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish.”
Many times the true God judged people for their sinful ways.
To present these gods as the True God (Monotheism) is teaching worship of other gods as worshipping the God of the Bible. Their own gods did not love them as Kikawa claims, but destroyed them. All one has to do is look into the practices of these ancient civilizations.
Daniel Kikawa: “And most of these cultures I would look at them, at, what they know of the creator God in their culture as we know in Acts 1:20 it says that all people (intelligible) are without excuse to know him because he’s made so clear to them. So if they knew him they had a name for him.” (Word to the World interview with Daniel Kikawa, Feb.10, 06, #5).
These cultures worshipped others gods (whom Kikawa thinks are all the same creator with different names). It does not seem that he believes ANY of these are false gods. What he is introducing brings division by culture, not unity in the truth. This is a very clever twisting of what actually took place in history.
These other cultures never had the revelation that God gave Israel. Where is the teaching of the Old Testament found in these cultures? It is discounted and replaced by a whole different system. To evangelize we can use a culture’s examples in their religion to springboard to the Truth, but to use these things as The Truth is a whole other matter.
Did these nation’s gods exist before creation, having all knowledge of what is to take place and the power to create everything from nothing? For example, Amenominakanushi was one of five gods in Shintoism who was born on the day of creation.
The Lord says there is “none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.” This is how God describes Himself—by prophecy. If their god is the true God, why didn’t He tell them anything that is in the Bible? Where is prophecy? Why didn’t he tell them they were worshipping him wrong? Because he could not speak! If the gods of these nations do not have the same teaching of God, the same prophecy, then obviously their god[s] are not the same God. If their god does not mention Israel then you eliminate thousands of years of history that God has specifically interacted with man and given revelation. If the story of the beginning is missing or corrupted, then how can this be God? Is He not accurate?
Isaiah 45:20-23: “They have no knowledge, who carry the wood of their carved image, and pray to a god that cannot save. Tell and bring forth your case; yes, let them take counsel together. Who has declared this from ancient time? Who has told it from that time? Have not I, the LORD? And there is no other God besides Me, a just God and a Savior; there is none besides Me.” Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself; the word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that to Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall take an oath.”
In the name of god[s]
What’s in a name? Quite a lot according to the Lord. Every name represents the God behind it. That God has a religious system. Naming God whatever you want is not an option, since He has revealed His nature and characteristics by His name. Every Name of God in the Bible reveals something of His character, an attribute, an activity, something about His nature. God’s names express His attributes and abilities. A few of the names of God in the Bible are: Yahweh-rapha: “The Lord who heals you”. Yahweh-shalom: “The Lord our peace”. Yahweh-ra-ah: “The Lord my shepherd” (Ps. 23:1). Yahweh-tsidkenu: “The Lord our righteousness” (Jer. 23:6). Yahweh-shammah: “The Lord is present” (Ezek. 48:35).
Even when other names are used we know it is speaking of the God of Israel. Elohay Elohim: God of Gods (Deuteronomy 10:17). Elohay Mishpat: God of Justice (Isaiah 30:18).
Exod. 23:20-21 records that God sent a messenger to Israel and tells them, “Beware of Him and obey His voice; do not provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgressions; for My name is in Him.” Obviously God’s Name is connected to His nature and is not to be misused or replaced by other god’s names. Most understand this messenger of the Lord to be a Christophany- the Son of God in the Old Testament before He became man.
Paul instructs the believers on idols
1 Cor. 10:20: “the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons.” Ps. 96:4-5: “For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens” (also 1 Chron. 16:26; Deut. 29:17-18).
The majority of these names are gods the nations built idols to. It's not just what they called their gods but how they worshipped them and what kind of religious system was practiced in accordance with these gods. Paul says their gods are demonic. These other names find their origin in other religions, there is no way possible that they can correlate to the name in the Bible. If the name of god was used previously in a false religion then it has all that this religion attached to it and cannot be the God of Israel. Then it is impossible to separate it from its years of former use, instead it must be abandoned.
“But that, that the son of your creator came who made himself known to us as Rom.1:20 says and so this is what we bring to them” (Word to the World interview with Daniel Kikawa Feb.14, 2006, #7)
“So by finding the native name of God which in, in Japan we found that name is amenominagimushi which means the God in the glorious center of heaven and he is their creator God who created everything” (Word to the World interview with Daniel Kikawa Feb 16, 2006 #9)
He makes Jesus a Chinese son for a Chinese god, a Korean son for the Korean god, etc. Do we see this type of evangelism in the Bible? God's work through the apostle Paul among the Gentiles was not about affirming their former gods. His intention was not to syncretize their heathen, pagan beliefs with Christianity. Paul did not use the method of “your god is God and let me introduce you to his son”. The apostles did not embellish cultural stories and myths to get more converts. Kikawa is teaching the tradition of men as if it is the Bible’s position. He is telling us to accept the names of (other) gods as the True One, as long as there is some similarity. This is justified, in his mind, because the goal is to tell someone about Jesus. To Kikawa it’s okay to say Jesus is THEIR god’s son. This he calls “evangelism”. It is not. Evangelism is about the truth. It’s about the Jesus of the Bible. You cannot bring someone to the goal of salvation without having the Truth as your basis.
The name (YHWH) Yahweh was used over 6,000 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. It is unthinkable that God would allow his people to call upon Him by another culture’s god’s name (He knows that it is not Him) and make believe it is Him. The Gentile nations named their own gods. God did not reveal himself to them. The name is not correct if the name is not revealed by God to man, for God’s Name reveals who He is in his nature and character.
Exod 20:3-5: “You shall have no other gods before Me.”
God recognized the nations had other gods. If what Kikawa is saying is true, then we can throw out the whole Old Testament, forget it ever happened.
Deut. 4:39: “that the LORD Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other,”
Deut. 5:7: “You shall have no other gods before Me.”
Exod. 18:11: "Now I know that the LORD is greater than all the gods”
Jer. 22:9: "Then they will answer, 'Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD their God, and worshiped other gods and served them.'"
Josh 23:3: "You have seen all that the LORD your God has done to all these nations because of you, for the LORD your God is He who has fought for you.”
Obviously God did not think these supreme gods were just different names for Himself. God even destroyed a number of these nations that Kikawa would find had a supreme beings. Not just any god that is called supreme or the most high can be acceptable, but only the One that actually is. He can’t be the true Creator if he has not communicated or ruled over the people in the same way revealed in the Scripture with Israel.
When God revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush:
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: `I AM has sent me to you.'“ (Exod. 3:14). “I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, LORD, I was not known to them” (Exod. 6:3).
This is crucial. What He is saying is that there was an intimacy in relationship that they did not have before that is now being made known to Moses and to Israel by His Name. The Name “I AM” expresses the fact that He is the infinite and personal God that is behind everything in history. The use of the name Yahweh would be in reference to the national covenant into which He was about to enter into with Israel (Exodus 6:7).
Exod. 6:1-9: “I will take you to me for a people, and I will be your God.”
He is going to fulfill his promises given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He would be known as the God of Israel that delivered them with power, who provides for them and has a relationship with them like no other nation or culture enjoyed. When Moses wrote down the record given to him, he did not write God Almighty but Yahweh-Elohim, the self existing One that will do whatever is needed. The first time Moses uses this name in Scripture is in Gen. 2:4:
“This is the history of the heaven and earth when they were created in the day when the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,”
This makes the point that it is this God who made the heavens and the earth, Israel’s God, not the other gods of the nations. There is no other God in history that was ever considered to be the same God that chose Israel and sent the Messiah?
Elijah did not think Baal was God but the priests of Baal certainly did. They were sure he was the most high God.
What did Nebuchadnezzar say to Daniel after he was able to help him?
“The king answered Daniel, and said, “Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret” (Dan. 2:47).
After Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were delivered, Nebuchadnezzar said of the Hebrews,
that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God! “Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego ….because there is no other God who can deliver like this” (Dan. 3:28-29).
Nebuchadnezzar knew the distinction that Kikawa and others are not recognizing, that his god (Marduk or any other supreme one) was not the true God.
During Jonahs escape, the Fisherman in the boat recognized the God of Jonah was not the same as theirs. The whole city of Nineveh had a creator god but Jonah never told them to worship him in another way. They repented and forsook their god and took refuge in the God of Israel. He alone is to be glorified.
I King 8:60: “that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God; there is no other.”
Mal. 1:14: “And My name is to be feared among the nations.”
This does not mean that every nation’s name of their creator is to be feared?
There is no place in the Old Testament where the Lord (YHWH) allows Israel to call Him by other names of the nations, names He has not designated. Nor does He allow man to worship these other gods by the ways He gave to worship Him. Neither does he allow them to worship Him by the ways of the nations around them.
Micah 4:5: “All the nations may walk in the name of their gods; we will walk in the name of the LORD our God.”
Again, the God of Israel has history, interaction with man, hundreds of prophecies and promises to his people- the gods of the nations do not.
To “find whatever is closest in their culture” may work on paper but not in the heart where it counts. They are foreign gods and no mixing and matching can change this fact.
Kikawa is bringing corrupted versions of truth and making it The Truth. If these religions only need to have a similar creator god and add a son to him then what do we do with cults that already affirm God’s name and believe in the Bible such as Jehovah Witnesses or Mormons? Where does any of this uphold the incarnation of Jesus who came through Jewish lineage or the deity of Christ on whom the gospel is centered? They downplay the God of the nation Israel and make him equal to the gods of all the nations.
Kikawa is teaching to look to your God to be saved Which one? His answer- the one of your culture! In the New Testament God says:
“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Yeshua, in Hebrew, means (YHWH) is salvation, only the God of the Israel is salvation.
Luke 24:47: “and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” And whose name is this? JESUS.
When the apostles went out with the Good News this was their Gospel, not the god of your nation is god who had a son. Paul did not use any of the Greek god’s names but a generic word for God when he witnessed to them. Did he say the Greek’s Zeus had a son, or any of the gods of the nations had a son who is their Savior? Certainly when Paul taught them he used the Old Testament to teach them about who Jesus is (look at 1 Corinthians and all the Jewish illustrations). What Kikawa is teaching is cross-cultural syncretism with other gods, not cross cultural evangelism. This is NOT the way to evangelize them. It is 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 and the Name it exalts. How dangerous is this syncretism—to say their culture’s god has a son, when the Bible speaks directly against this? It is near blasphemy.
In the New Testament He commends those who “you hold fast to My name” (Rev. 2:13) Rev 3:8 says you “…have kept My word, and have not denied My name.” God's Name is tied into His nature, who He is. When Paul was called (Acts 9:15) the Lord said to him, “… for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.” Whose name? The name of their god[s] or the God of Israel? Yet, we are told by Kikawa and others that he did not bring the Hebrew God to those on Mars Hill.
Peter, when witnessing to the Gentiles for the first time in Acts 10:43, said: “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins." Was he not referring to the prophets in Judaism when addressing them?
The Apostles preached repentance in Acts 17:30:
“Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent.”
Acts 20:21: “testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Acts 26:20: “but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.”
How can you repent if you do not forsake your former gods and religion? There is nothing to repent for if your culture’s god is actually God. Redeeming cultures has nothing to do with repentance but much to do with synthesizing it.
We are told that Jesus is placed “far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come” (Eph 1:21).
“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:9-11)