Question: Dear Dr. Younce. My sister sent me this site and wanted my opinion on it. The organization is The Shawl Ministry. I think it sounds a little like using prayer beads to me. I am not impressed; but, I could be wrong. I can remember a story of some big family where the mother used something to cover herself when she was either resting or praying as a sign that no one should disturb her. My sister is alone and in so much pain all the time, I can see where she is looking for some comfort; even in making shawls and giving them to someone else. What do you know about this and what is your opinion?
Answer: I liked your story about the mother who covered herself when she prayed (or rested) as a sign that no one should disturb her. I think very possibly she took to her heart Matthew 6:6 which says,
"But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."
The covering was her "prayer closet” where her prayers would not be interrupted, and she could have blessed fellowship with her Savior.
I did as you requested and visited the website for this shawl ministry. What I found was deeply disturbing. Never once did I find the name of God, the Father, the Holy Spirit, or our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! What I did find was the heresy of a "Mother Goddess."
I looked up the people who began this ministry, Janet Bristow and Victoria Galo, and the Institute they graduated from at Hartford "Seminary" or "cemetery." This was a program of "Applied Feminist Spirituality." When I get to the word "feminist” it immediately translates as "rebellion" in my brain and I was absolutely right. These are women who reject the Bible truth of God, the Father, and say God is being too authoritarian or mean; and gives His love and forgiveness only if we meet certain conditions.
God is not being mean when he says salvation only comes through accepting Christ’s death on the cross as the sin payment for the world. (John 1:12; John 3:16). After all, God loved the world so much that He gave us the ultimate gift of His Son, born to die on a cruel cross. At salvation, God welcomes us to his family and will never "kick us out” if we do wrong; but, he now has the rights of a father and disciplines us as His children. (1 John 1:6-9; Hebrews 12:6-10). Sometimes God has to get us back on the right track of fellowship with Him; and, He disciplines with love, which is not fun; but, for our own good.
Hebrews 12:6,7 lets us know that even though we experience the chastening; or, discipline of the Lord, we are still sons.
“For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. (6) If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” (Hebrews 12:6,7)
When Christ said in John 14:6,
“…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me,”
...the "feminist spiritualists" object and say this is too exclusive. They also reject God as being in the male gender. They do not want God to be "parental or disciplinarian." So, I guess we should immediately throw out the prayer which begins "Our Father which art in Heaven." They don't want a God that is "authoritarian." In other words, God's Holy Word is just a suggested lifestyle and God doesn't really mean what he says...right!
Also, we find in Romans 2:4 where even God extends His
"...riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance
"Repentance" here means a change of mind which results in trusting Jesus Christ as the only payment for sin, plus nothing!
As the context for this passage begins in Romans 1:18, we know these verses are addressed to those who are lost. A far cry from the accusations of the "feminist spiritualists" who accuse God of being unloving.
The feminists can not stomach God, as He is revealed in the Bible, His Holy Word. They must have a God with "maternal" attributes such as nurturing, acceptance and creativity." The website refers to the Trinity as "Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer." That is vague enough to include anyone.
Hold on to your hat, now! Feminist belief systems draw heavily from Wiccan paganism (white witchery), Marxism and New Age; with a big focus on obtaining your "rights" as women. They must be "liberated" from all oppressive males, including God and everything He says in the Bible about women preachers, etc. These are the true goals of the originators of the "The Shawl Ministry." I hasten to say, not everyone who makes a shawl for someone believes this. This is given away by the words from the shawl website, ''with the giver and receiver feeling the unconditional embrace of a sheltering, mothering God."
Romans 1:25 pretty much describes their philosophy.
"Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen." (Romans 1:25)
I am going to try to sum this up. These are Satanic lies perpetrated upon unsuspecting women, probably in a time of sorrow or great need; and who sincerely just want to do something nice for someone else.
When you say something like what is said on their website, "When the shawl is completed, IT is offered a final ritual before being sent along its way;" this shawl has now become an IDOL, receiving ritual offerings. From their page about "Symbolism" they explain, so sweetly, that the Chinese, Mayan, Egyptians, Buddhists all accept their symbolism. In fact, almost any pagan religion recognizing shamans or "witch doctors" would accept it.
If you look hard enough, when they say "birth /death /rebirth (meaning life after death)" they are talking about reincarnation. If you believed in reincarnation, you would say, "This is for me'"
In fact, as I read on and on, this is the worst kind of paganism! They call it "dianic, or worship of the goddess, Diana, the huntress. Search the Zondervan's Pictorial Dictionary for a clue about how vulgar this is. It will show you what the statue of the goddess, Diana, of Ephesus looked like. You can read about her in the Bible in Acts 19:23-41.
I could go on and on; but, there is too much. I'll simply say, Christians should run from this mumbo jumbo! It is perpetrated by rebellious women who do not believe in the God of the Bible; or His words in the Bible; and are under the influence of Satan.
In Exodus 22:18, God forbade witchcraft with a death penalty. Now, I DO NOT mean to infer that we should kill witches; I am just showing how strongly God felt about this. (See also Deuteronomy 18:10).
Rebellious women were a downfall for Israel and surely prevalent in the world, the church, and our country today.
"As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err and destroy the way of thy paths. The LORD standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people." (Isaiah 3:12,13)
Those who talk about "Feminist Spirituality" definitely don't believe God's Word in 1 Timothy 2:11,12.
“Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
I'll just close with this. Our precious Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ tells us in Hebrews 4:16,
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
Other good verses are Philippians 4:5-7, 13,19. I know these words will give you the most comfort in a time of grief or need. A shawl will keep you warm; but, God's word will give real "help in time of need. "
Why take Satan’s counterfeit when you can have the real thing, GOD’S WORD!
Isaiah’s warning in Chapter 30, Verse 1,
“Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, BUT not of me; and that COVER WITH A COVERING, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin.” (Isaiah 30:1)
There is no harm in women getting together to make warm shawls or lap quilts for shut-ins. Just don't fall down and pray to it as an idol before you send it off. Give the shut-in a gift of some of your time, place the shawl gently around their shoulders and say, "I'll be praying for YOU!