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Ritual cleansing and purification

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

When you look at many of the major world religions they have some sort of cleansing ritual associated with normal life events such as with childbirth and death including their normal day to day actives of human experience as with menstruation, flatulence, sleep, sexual contact, unconsciousness, emission of blood, semen, vomit, and disease, etc.
Some of these purification rites involve ablutions such as are practiced among the Bahai Faith while others prefer their bodies to be completely immersed in water.
For the Jews this ritual involves such acts as hand washing and the Mikvah while Muslims have the Ghusl and Wudu. Hindus bathe in the holy river Ganges and practice  Achamana and Punyahavachanam. The Shintoist performs Misogi and the Native American Indian has their Sweat Lodge.
Though these religions have a vast array of differences in their world views there are some similarities or familiarities as involving some form of water which for them carries a real sense in which a person consciously discerns their uncleanness with an innate awareness that they are in some significant way defiled therefore in need of cleansing as symbolized by these actions with the use of this universal solvent as an agent of purification.
This self awareness as found in some religious expressions becomes a behavioral attitude towards having a mindful sense of a transcendent reality with a methodological approach according to the old adage of cleanliness is next to godliness. However to say that there is a correlation to this physicality or materialism as applying it as an effectual agent as dealing with divine disfavor and dissatisfaction or as an opportune to sanitize ones, so called, divine essence proves to be counterproductive  as constantly needing to repeat the same activities over and over again with an endless cycle of washings which intuitively seems to lack a complete sense or sufficient effect to sustainably cleanse. These reactions towards a need for sanctification and holiness seem to fail in creating a stockpile of merit as they are short lived as being negated with the brevity of time as they perpetually rewash themselves again and again as being subjected to their frequent immorality and imperfection as human beings. Thus it appears this need for repetitiveness to be thoroughly cleansed can’t be entirely removed in the ultimate sense as leaving some aspects of their being unclean and in need of someone else who is capable to reach the unreachable part of their self identity as eliminating the defilement of their human hearts.
Anyway there are some real practical benefits of hygiene when it comes to bathing and washing but to make a direct association between the internal and external facets of an individual through these habitual mannerisms of superficial skin deep treatments, which may be sincere and outwardly appear to be a form of wisdom, yet are unable to penetrate beyond the surface level as connecting the physical realm to that of the immaterial and immortal soul  as contributing towards an individuals spiritual well being.
Rabbi Yeshua put it this way as addressing His fellow Jews concerning such practices

Matthew 15:1-2,11, 17-20
15 Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.”
11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”
17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”
Apart from human filth the other aspect of this matter may deal with the significant sense and understanding of a deeper realization to remove the impurity of guilt and shame left behind from their moral failures. This reminds of the Shakespearean play in which Lady Macbeth shouts “Out, damned spot” concerning her role in the death of King Duncan as a need to remove the sin stained bloodshed from upon her hands.
In some respect by performing these rituals it becomes an indirect way through their actions to openly confess as recognizing their state of immorality and therefore washing becomes a way of responding according to their human ability and self effort to somehow mysteriously do the job as sufficiently dealing with their moral failures with this compulsive drive to be made clean. Again, I believe this fails to demonstrate an efficacy regardless of their awareness, desire, piety and zeal in performing these rites as the sufficient means to reconcile or ratify  these matters through the limited and dependent abilities of human factors as a somewhat penitent act to offset as to appease, gain favor and acceptance by these various methodologies. Even if all this were somehow possible then when would  it ever be enough to absolve their status or state of uncleanliness and to what degree of scrubbing can sufficiently eradicate the tattooing that has indelibly left its mark upon the heart which has pigmented the spirit and soul with death from both its past and future actions.
Conclusively there is a real conscious sense which is inherent within all mankind that we have violated the standard of a holy God as indicative with an impending sense of a future judgment for those who fail to resolve this substantial conflict.

Romans 2:14-16
14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

Mankind has struggled to deal with this tension in forming or creating a delusional religious dialogue of ideologies as blazing a trail in finding a solution to navigate this journey towards enlightenment while the hostility of the deceived  anti-theistic psychopath just plainly denies the need to leave their personal abode as to venture out on a quest, which according to their belief, leads to no where as religion becomes an avenue by which weak willed persons have succumbed to the Freudian neurosis of fantasy as seeking a path to a make believe land.  So interestingly, either way, mankind has found a method to traverse or cope with this matter as to self manage this conscious appeal from the Creator.
In response to this crisis I would like to suggest a solution by means of the person and work of Christ who unlike other religious expressions isn’t about mankind trying to find, approach or reach out to God but rather it is about God pursuing mankind relationally with humanity reciprocating a trust response. Thus it isn’t according to the the strength, or for that matter weaknesses, of mankind’s personal abilities but rather cleanliness and purity has been graciously offered as a free gift resulting in fellowship and worship by which God, not us has made possible.
Titus 3:5
5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 6:23
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Ephesians 2:8-9
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
1 John 1:7 
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
1 John 1:9
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
You may object in believing Christianity to being no different than any other form of religious expression with its cleansing sacrament of Water Baptism and in part I would have to agree with you as for some it is no more than a mere bath as going through the motions of identifying with the Church but who are in essence unclean as pseudo believers. True baptism, as a central tenet of the faith, primarily serves as an outward sign or symbol of the effectual and cleansing power of the perfect and precious life blood of Jesus which redemptively purifies all believers in judicially declaring them righteous as coinciding with the transference of the Holy Spirit as the personal change agent who through the process of regeneration brings about an inner transformation. Thus the act of water baptism is a witness or testimony to a reality that didn’t come by combining the elements of hydrogen and oxygen in order to benefit from a liquid but rather it was through the saving work of Christ and the living water of the Holy Spirit as the dynamo that inhabits a person as evidenced by a changed heart and life. It is God Himself that gives the good gift of salvation and the Holy Spirit which does not subsist through the plunging efforts of human baptizers and therefore water baptism becomes only a glimpse concerning this heavenly reality of the power of God in this womb like transaction as giving new birth to a person, not as being born of human will or origin such as with religious activities, but rather through the initiation of God as being born from above or born again through Christ and the Holy Spirit. This being born anew is not to be confused with the Hindu and Buddhist concept of rebirth, as it is the resultant work of Christ who imparts the Holy Spirit as contingent upon His initiative followed with a responsive act of faith or trust in His salvation.
The scriptures likens this reality based on future redemption of Israel according to the Hebraic prophet Ezekiel 36:25-27.

25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

Rabbi Yeshua said it this way during the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot in

John 7:37-39
37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

The ancient Jews at best had a temporal satisfaction in their ritualistic duties to God but as stated in Hebrews 10 these were only symbols not the reality  themselves as Christ’s offering for our cleansing was given once and for all as the perpetual sacrificial offering as the “Lamb of God” who takes away the sins of the world. To say that Jews don’t need a sacrifice today as the rituals of prayer, fasting and good deeds will suffice as being satisfactory is an act of violation and rebellion against the inscripturated word as denying the fulfillment of the Torah regarding, Leviticus 17:11.

11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.

No matter how many Mitzvot you perform what surety is there that you have done enough or that your sins have been forgiven apart from the provisional sacrifice of God’s mercy and grace through the Messiah in Isaiah 53?
Likewise for my Muslim friends to deny the death of Jesus as some semblance of failure within the prophetic office entirely misses the point that this was God’s glorious plan to provide an Abrahamic type of  substitutionary atonement by means of the Messiah whose temporary disgrace and shame served as a joyous purpose and occasion as enduring the cross in leading many to glory, Hebrew 2:9-18; 12:2.

In closing Jesus can give you living water which can completely and fully satisfy  and refresh your soul and even though the heavenly Father can lead you to this water He won’t make you drink of it. So finally I would encourage you my friend, like the Samaritan woman, to simply ask for this living water which is essential towards quenching your spiritual thirst apart from false religions, cults  and philosophies which will only leave you high and dry as only being thirsty once again.

John 4:10, 13-14
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this (well) water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Lastly Jesus invites you!
Mt 11:28-30
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
How to have a realtionship with God




The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved. ESV Text Edition: 2007

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Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

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Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

When looking at the religion of Shintoism or Shen-tao/kami no michi which means the “the way of the gods”, “the way of the spirits”, “the way of the kami” it is easy for the contemporary mind to see the mythology of this religious worldview as portrayed in the writings of the Kojiki and Nihongi.

This religion has a polytheistic view which includes a pantheon of gods much like the greek society and yet holds to an animistic belief of eight million million kami which are said to be spirits or gods which inhabit and possess everything from  shrines to swords to everything in-between. This form of animism is a primitive belief system that many of the remote tribal societies have today which through their superstitions have kept them bound in fear.

When looking at these copious amounts of gods and kami’s I’m not for sure how they can accurately account for these numbers especially since the kami should be increasing or multiplying due to ancestral deaths.

Also this religion is not unique or pure as it has borrowed and incorporated syncretistic  elements from both Buddhism and Confucianism which ironically are atheistic in their philosophy. There are also many and varied sects which make up this religious system therefore making it difficult to keep track of or navigate the nuances of belief which has resulted in a lack of uniformity.

Another aspect of Shintoism, which is controversial, was its former practice of emperor worship which was renounced by Hirohito after the downfall of Japan in World War 2. He basically dethroned himself as being any kind of a Demi-god  after his defeat which ultimately proved him to be an impostor concerning his deification.

Is it possible that this wrongful association of divinity that was attributed to the imperial family could be equally applied to the the kami and gods as well who were also conquered as being the creators and protectors of the Japanese people?

Anyway Shintoism has failed to support its truth claims and more than likely the reason why it could no longer be considered a state sponsored religion is because Shintoism couldn’t adapt to explain its defeat to other inferior creatures or cultures therefore destroying the internal structure of its religious agenda. After all was the kami of the West more powerful or was it because the kami of Japan were angry at its devotees and unresponsive therefore not coming to their aid at a critical moment in its history. Maybe it was that these ideas were just man made myths concerning the gods and kami that had been created in the imaginative folklore of religious superstition? In actuality the latter seems to be more of a reasonable explanation which attempted to validate their existence which was ultimately rendered powerless and non-existent due to the kami’s inability to act.

The danger of these tales help depict how that the Japanese people were superior due to the creation of their island and as being direct descendants from the kami. I understand that Japan is a beautiful place and they are an industrious nation but to elevate themselves to being the elite offspring of the kami is egocentric. Its easy to see that there is a much bigger world out there which encompasses the realm of the creation.

I think it is typical for people groups to somehow elevate themselves above others in taking a sense of pride and independency as a special or unique creation.This competitiveness of human nature often takes this kind of prevalent and predominant view among cultures in identifying themselves as the super race.

Unfortunately Japan who had these types of religious ideologies formed an alliance under the tripartite pact with the likes of Mussolini and the evil genius Adolph Hitler who held to this same type of racial elitism. Ironically his philosophy of the Aryan race of white supremacists would be antithetical to its Asian counterpart.

Anyway Hitler’s attempt to proliferate his ideas and take dominion of Europe and perhaps the world resulted from his propaganda campaigns of hatred which brought about a false sense of superiority which ended in all forms of discrimination and prejudice which afflicted others who were under the observation of the Fuhrer’s spectacles as they were viewed as objects of an inferior race.

These atheistic cultures saw mankind as being no different that just another animal and therefore people are reduced to being bags of proteins. This kind of thinking is what has helped to justify some of the horrors that we have seen come out of these Godless societies which has created these mindless genocidal endeavors. After all to those who have taken this evil course of action towards outsiders saw them as no more than lower life forms that are not fit to be classified as human beings. These bigoted cultures fail to recognize the sanctity and value of human life and therefore the labor camps of the Holocaust were no more different to them than the bacterium that was at work in a sewage treatment plant. The final solution towards their actions came from under the influence of Darwinism which supports a view that justifies the survival of the fittest where might makes right.

Japan as apart of this antagonistic regime had taken a position of aggression on Southeast Asia and the Pacific which ultimately failed therefore removing its self acclaimed status of greatness.

This power struggle to establish itself as a world power seems inconsistent with their religious commitment which had portrayed their culture as ethical in being upright in heart, courteous, honest and who were acting as basically good people. Yet their actions speak louder than words as they positioned themselves for domination during World War 2.

4 Today we see evidence of this ethical facade as well due to the moral failures of Japanese culture whether it be the ruling class or the individualism of the rebellious teenager. In Japan there is a rise of anti-social and violent cults along with presence of materialism,drugs and sex slaves which makes it easy to notice that there is something wrong within the so called sacred grounds of Japanese society. Whether it is the cult of  Aum Shinrikyo and their attempts at mass murder or the leftist groups like the Japanese red army and the opposing 1000 or so right wing extremist groups these examples all show the breakdown of Japanese society.

By saying all of this I don’t mean this as an attack on the precious and dear people of Japan but rather these statements serve as a reflection in showing that their cultural  tendencies towards evil is no different than the rest of the world community regardless of their religious intentions. I personally  have enjoyed and loved the people of these asian cultures because of their general warmness but in the final analysis they are people who likewise suffer and struggle under the common human problem of sin which has invaded Japanese culture.

Shintoism has avoided such notions as sin because of its emphasis on the goodness of mankind and yet the evidence shows there’s a lack of support for this claim. Therefore it fails to identify and address the societal evils that is resident even among the land of the shrines. Ironically I do believe that Shintoism does identify at least to some degree a sense of depravity in their society as expressed by the negative prohibitions of the “do not’s” as found in the ten commandments or the ten precepts of Shinto belief.

In conclusion I think that the Japanese society has seen the duplicity of this movement which has left a spiritual void in which the Japanese have been trying to insatiably fill. Its no wonder that this emptiness of religious belief has left them disillusioned and searching for more relevant answers in their quest to find meaning for life. 4 Is it any wonder that every year that there are uprisings of about a 100 new religions?

When looking at this from a biblical perspective their is an association between the new testament text and what we see as a religious phenomena that is underway in Japan. As a part of ancient greek culture the Apostle Paul while visiting Athens saw a plethora of religiosity and gods which resulted in him taking the opportunity to address the Athenians and philosophers on Mars Hill in helping them to solve their religious identity. These Greeks much like the contemporary Japanese were searching for new suggestions or ideas to fit within the religious context of their society and it is within this context that Paul is able to give a defense towards finding a unifying truth behind their religious behavior.

Acts 17:22-31 22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man’s design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”

This discourse that Paul made is a general summary to resolving the religious questions that these philosophers were wrestling with concerning the sozosha “Creator’’ or sozo no kami “creator God”.

Maybe you like them have wrestled over these very same kind of questions as related to existence and the meaning of your life. Perhaps Shintoism has failed to answer your purpose in life “ikigai” or the  relevant questions that resound within the depths of your soul and I hope that you would prayerfully consider and be open to some things which I would like to share with you from my personal testimony.

How to know God

Before God we have a sense of indebtedness because we are all polluted by sin and need to be washed and cleansed by being purified “harai” through spiritual regeneration which is accomplished as Jesus comes to commune with us by the Holy Spirit.

Jesus can bring about this fellowship in your life as you trust in Him to set you free from this law of sin and death which has separated you from God in giving you the gift of eternal life. This is a gift which can not be earned or merited by human achievement or action because a gift is free.

Finally the makoto or truth reality which goes beyond my propositional claim can be readily identified and attested to by my personal life testimony.

Literally when Jesus came into my life it was like taking a bath on the inside resulting  in a pure heart “kokoro” as now I can approach God.

You might be saying to yourself that you can never accept this premise because you  view Christianity as just a foreign religion and therefore resist anything that smacks of Westernized ideas but in reality Christianity had its origin in the East and unlike Shintoism it has proliferated itself beyond its geographical boundaries as a universal movement. Paradoxically, even though Shintoism has remained predominantly isolated as a movement it still sees a value to the world according to its fifth precept which recognizes a big family concept.

Jesus said in John 3:16,17 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Jesus is for all peoples and this is evidenced even in Japan where there are around 2 million Christians. So don’t allow the confines of culture to dictate your value as based on the religious ideologies  of Shintoism which as you can see has had many shortcomings. Anyway your society has already broke free of the traditional forms of religion just from its flurry of religious activity which has them searching in other arenas for the essentials of life and in turn I would ask you to seriously consider the content of this post and to believe upon Jesus who is the “Son” that is rising over Japan to bring light to every heart by illuminating their souls.

Mt. 11: 28-30: 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”



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1 The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996 (electronic ed.) (Ac 17:22–31). Grand Rapids: Zondervan

2 The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996 (electronic ed.) (Mt 11:28–30). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

AMG’s World Religions and Cults, AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, Tennessee

4 Extract taken from Operation World, Copyright© 2001 by Patrick Johnstone. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

What’s the Big Deal about Other Religions, Copyright 2008 by John Ankerberg and Dillon Burroughs, Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene,OR 97402,, Used by permission

Handbook of Today’s Religion, Copyright 1983 by Campus Crusade for Christ Inc., Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers

Hume, Robert E., The World’s Living Religions, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, rev. ed., 1959, pp. 172

Smart, Ninian, The Religious Experience of Mankind, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1969, pp. 192,193.