It is wrong to incorporate the rituals of false religions into our lives and Christian worship. Unfortunately that is what the ELCA's Augustana Lutheran Church in Portland, Oregon, is doing in multiple ways.
Augustana Lutheran holds a weekly service that includes "smudging." The church website tells us "Open Circle is held at 5 pm on Sunday, in the Fellowship Hall on the lower level of the church building. This service is led by Native American worship leaders and incorporates Native traditions including smudging, flute and drums..." (see here or below)
What is smudging?
“Smudging is the ritualistic burning of herbs and plant resins in a shell or clay bowl while prayers of gratitude and wellbeing are said aloud. The smoke is traditionally fanned using the hand or a feather (eagle feathers are treasured for this) and directed over a person or throughout a living space. The purpose is to wash away impurities, sadness, anxieties, dark thoughts and any unwanted energies or emotions that may be clinging to a space or individual.” (see here)
Is smudging wrong?
"There is nothing inherently wrong with burning incense or using herbs to beautify the fragrance of one’s home, but that is not what smudging is about. As with all New Age teachings, there is no biblical basis for belief in smudge sticks, auras, vibes, or household energy. The Bible tells us that God protects His children from evil (2 Thessalonians 3:3). We have no need to smudge; in fact, smudging is sin. We do not trust in pagan rituals but in God our Savior. God is the source of life, of all that is good and true. God promises, 'The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore' (Psalm 121:7–8). He will provide the strength and peace we need to make it through any test.
The devil cannot be made to flee with smoldering sage; our refuge is the Lord alone (Proverbs 18:10). God provides us with powerful tools to fend off the enemy’s spiritual attacks (Ephesians 6:10–17). Smudging is not one of those tools." (see here)
This same Evangelical Lutheran Church in America church also has “Taize Meditation" that "meets monthly for prayer, meditation and singing.” (see here)
“(A) Taizé worship service is an unbiblical attempt to connect with God. Scripture says that faith comes by hearing, and hearing comes by the Word of God (Romans 10:17), yet the Taizé model dispenses with preaching. Rather, it relies on idolatrous images, repetitive chants, and mystical experience to manufacture a sense of unity and peace.” (see here)
Additionally, “Tai Chi Classes meet twice a week to provide meditative exercise for people of all ages.” (see here)
“Tai Chi is more specifically called Tai Chi Chuan, which can be translated as 'supreme ultimate force.' Tai Chi is a martial art, though it’s often called a 'moving meditation' since the movements are done slowly and deliberately, and it is taught more as a meditative and health-enhancing practice than as a martial art. Though its origins are unclear, the foundation of Tai Chi is the Taoist belief in a universal energy called chi (also spelled qi or ki depending on the language of origin). Chi is believed to be the binding life force in the universe, existing both externally and internally, moving through invisible channels in the body called meridians.
Taoism teaches that strengthening and reinforcing one’s inner chi will bring good health and long life as well as spiritual benefits. Certain breathing techniques, meditations, and bodily movements are taught to cultivate and enhance the chi. This belief is the basis of Tai Chi. There is no supreme God or Creator in Taoism; all originated from the Tao, which is an impersonal principle or source of creation.…Doing Tai Chi, even for physical purposes, is paying homage to a spiritual belief system at odds with God’s Word.” (see here)
Augustana Lutheran also has “Acupuncture Clinics" that "are administered twice a week by a certified acupuncturist.” (see here)
Is acupuncture wrong?
"If the practice of acupuncture can be separated from the philosophy/worldview behind acupuncture, perhaps acupuncture is something a Christian can consider. Again, though, extreme caution must be taken to avoid the spiritual aspects behind acupuncture. Most acupuncture practitioners genuinely believe in the Tao/ying-yang philosophy that is at the origin of acupuncture. A Christian should have nothing whatsoever to do with Taoism." (see here)
The Pastor at Augustana Lutheran Church
What kind of person is leading Augustana Lutheran Church into these false-religion teachings and rituals? His name is Mark Knutson. On the church's website, Rev. Knutson is asked, “What is your biggest challenge?” He replies, “Discerning what the cutting edge issues of justice, peace, diversity, equity, reconciliation and inclusion are going to be and helping to position the church to be ready and relevant to be proactive with others as a voice of conscience and a movement in action always ready to step out in faith to do what is right.” (see here) If that isn’t the most telling answer explaining the state of this ELCA church, I don’t know what is.
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Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
1 Thessalonians 5:21
Former ELCA seminary student and former ELCA member who is fed up with the ELCA's consistent mockery of God's Word.
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Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. - Ephesians 5:11