Examples of the many cultures aware of the weakness of their own religion
The Mbaka believed that the God who made them told their ancestors (forefathers) that he had sent his Son into the world to do something wonderful for all people. Their ancestors, the tradition continues, later turned from the truth about the Creator’s Son and in time even forgot what he had done for all people. Since then Mbaka people have longed to know the truth about the Creator’s Son. All that they could learn was that messengers, who would probably be white, would eventually come to give back to them the lost knowledge. One day those messengers arrived and the Mbaka joyfully became Christians, seeing it as the answer to their spiritual longings. (56-58)
In the late 1860s two missionaries began preaching to the Santal people, of whom there were about two and a half million. Suddenly Santal wise men excitedly said that this new teaching must mean that the ‘Real God’ had not forgotten them after all. These people believed their forefathers from the far west and that they traveled with a knowledge of the Genuine God, until they came to some tall mountains that they were unable to pass through. In desperation they promised to serve the spirits of the mountains if the spirits showed them a way through the mountains. Soon after, they found a way though (the Khyber Pass?). Because of their promise, the Santal people began serving evil spirits until all knowledge of the ‘True God’ was lost except the name. The thought that Jesus could bring their people back to the ‘True God’ moved them so greatly that tens of thousands became Christians. (41-48)
There was a very old belief in China and Korea that there is just one God and he must never be represented by idols. This belief seems to have existed over 2,000 years before Confucius. By about 1000 BC, however, religious leaders stressed God’s majesty and holiness so much that they decided that the Emperor was good enough to worship him just once a year. Everyone else was forbidden from worshipping God directly. (63)
Pachacuti, king of the Incas from 1438 to 1471, restored one of the temples of the god worshipped by all his people – the sun. But he began to have doubts. He noticed that a mere cloud could dim this ‘god.’ The sun did nothing but the same thing over and over, acting more like a common working man than a god. After careful thinking he decided that the sun is neither universal, nor perfect, nor all-powerful. In Inca tradition there was a dim memory of Viracocha, the all-powerful Creator. Pachacuti’s own father had had a dream in which Viracocha reminded him that he truly was the Maker (Creator) of all things.
Deciding that the Creator, not the sun, was worthy of worship, Pachacuti met with the sun priests. He told them that the Creator is supreme and uncreated. He made all spirits and all peoples by his word. He shows himself as a trinity when he wishes but otherwise he is surrounded only by archangels and heavenly warriors. He warms the world through his created sun. He brings peace and order. He is in his own being blessed and he has pity on people’s wretchedness. He alone judges and forgives and enables people to overcome their evil tendencies. From now on, Pachacuti commanded the aristocracy, the sun was to be regarded, like humanity, as created and that prayer was to be directed to the Creator with awe and humility. (33-41)
(Numbers in brackets refer to pages numbers in Don Richardson: Eternity in their Hearts Revised Edition CA, Regal, 1981, 1984)