Our trip to Hawaii recently gave us an interesting view into Native Hawaiian culture, mostly because we avoided the tourist traps in favor of historical sites and nature preserves. We learned that Polynesians came to the Hawaiian Islands seeking out a new home (before Jesus' birth). Their find turned out to be a wonderful island paradise! They brought food sources with them like plants and sees, pigs, chickens, and dogs. Another wave of Polynesians came in who brought a religious system called Kapu and a more formal system of government. These people built homes and settled into their new world.
Native Hawaiian Gods
The first Hawaiians discovered the activity of the volcanoes, the way the rain and winds affected these islands, and the tsunami activity which brought on worship of natural activity with "gods and goddesses" assigned to natural phenomenon, and a social class system, or caste. The Hawaiian religion was derived from ancient Polynesian culture.This kapu system was strict requiring sacrifice of animals and people for violations of some laws. For other violations, there were other forms of punishment. To appease the gods, they gave other offerings of fruit, flowers, and many other items which you will see left at their statues: Pele (volcano goddess), Kamapua'a, husband of Pele, god of war, Hi'iaki, sister of Pele, goddess of the ocean, among many others. They also worshiped dead ancestors. Today, you will find offerings left at the site of burial or death. Our guide for the 4 mile hike into the Kileau Caldera threw a flower toward the volcano in honor of Pele. This way of life was very foreign and disturbing to the new visitors who came later from Europe. Picture King Kamehameha, Hilo, Hawaii.
Influx of Missionaries
Many people over a period of 100 years after James Cook's discovery and putting the islands on the map. The people who came over were primarily Christian, Catholic and Protestant. Disturbed by some of the practices they witnessed, many of the visitors shared their faith with the Hawaiian people. Unfortunately, the missionaries who came later were blamed for "putting an end to the kapu system and the Hawaiian way of life". Nothing was further from the truth according to the guide at the Hawaiian Mission House and the first original Church in Kona, HI. According to the information at the Kualoa Ranch Museum, the Judd family, original owners of the ranch and former missionaries, stated they were not to interfere with the affairs of the native people. Their mission was to share Jesus with them, develop a written language to translate the Bible for them, and provide aid as needed. The Word of God and conviction of the Holy Spirit was the agent of change.
One young man, Henry Opukaha'ia, a young native Hawaiian wished to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to his people.1 He sailed back to New England in 1819 on the Triumph, an American ship, to escape the war that took his family's life. It was in New England where he accepted Jesus as his Savior, then went into a foreign mission school at Cornwall, Connecticut. He never was able to see his desire fulfilled; however, the foreign mission board decided to make it real by sending 7 families and 4 Hawaiian converts to begin the work. Their mission was fulfilled by the early 1860's. They had established churches and schools as well as formed a written language for the Hawaiians while they translated the Bible into the Hawaiian language. If the missionaries had anything to do with the end of the kapu system, it was a result of the conviction of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the native people and the Word of God. They never involved themselves in making direct changes to the society nor the governmental system. Hawaiian Mission Houses Museum.
We found this statement interesting, which was posted in the Mission Houses Museum, by a prophet of the Kahima (priest) named Kapihi during the time of Kamehameha I, "The ancient Kapu will be abolished; the heiau and alters will fall' the islands will be united; the heavens will descend and the earth will ascend." This was fulfilled during the reign of Kamehameha III and Queen Ioliani. It was the first Kamehameha who united the Islands in 1795 and the kapu abolished by Kamehameha II (Liholiho), not the missionaries. The missionaries refused to accept political stations that would drastically change the government and society of the people to whom they ministered. The Hawaiians had left the bondage of an animistic, polytheistic religion of works to accept the freedom found only in Jesus Christ.They learned their idols "had eyes, but could not see, ears but could not here, mouths, but could not speak" (Psalm 115).This freedom allowed the women who had once been segregated from the men during meals and some other events, as well as being forbidden from eating certain foods, to become a more effective part of their society. The chains were gone! Picture taken at the Mission Houses Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Greed of Men
As Europeans and Americans came to Hawaii for trade, France and England recognized sovereignty to Hawaii. There was a recognizable governmental system, so these two European countries felt no need to interfere. They were happy to have the freedom to come and go as well as trade with Hawaii. It was the Americans, primarily Dole and Gibson, who forced the King into the Bayonet Constitution, weakening the monarchy. Queen Ioliani, who succeeded King Kamehameha III, was framed by the American businessmen for treason to her country, imprisoning her for 8 months in one bedroom of the royal palace. If anyone truly stole the Hawaiian way of life, it was the greed of American businessmen who took their sovereignty away, not the missionaries.
The Jesus of Another Gospel
It was evident that Christian faith spread through Hawaii while we were there. Christians comprise 50% of the religious fabric of Hawaiian society today. Several churches were scattered throughout the islands of Oahu and Hawaii Island (Big Island). However, the proverbial sharks entered the scene. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), 69,872 in 2011, took advantage of the religious language the Hawaiians held dear. This "Jesus of another gospel" took hold after 1850. The Mormon university, Brigham Young University operates the Polynesian Cultural Center. We chose to not attend because we refuse to support false teachers. The reviews on Trip Advisor brought this to our attention (see Mormon Temple & Brigham Young University). Why? We wanted to learn about it's culture, but not support the Mormon Temple. Mormons beliefs are influenced by the writings of John Smith. They believe that Jesus is fully man, but not God, having been born to the virgin Mary. They also deny the doctrine of the trinity, the Book of Mormon as Scripture along with the KJV Bible, the salvation of all people who have never heard the gospel, the inheritance of worlds by Mormon believers after death, differing degrees of glory (heavens), and some who inherit lesser degrees of heaven become angels. Joseph Smith claimed he was given revelation by God through the "finding of golden tablets", which he showed no one. Paul met Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, becoming an Apostle (Acts 9). What he said did not contradict the word of God as the disciples who followed Jesus knew. What these other groups teach conflicts greatly. The Serpent came into Hawaii through people who taught "another gospel" preying on the Hawaiians open hearts. Picture first mission church in Hawaii Kona, Hawaii.
The Masons, grouped in the 17% of the other category, also crept into the Hawaiian culture. The Masons believe in the freedom of people to practice whatever faith they choose, but it is a belief in works for salvation. Many people do not realize the religious nature of secret societies such as this. My first husband, as a pastor initially with the United Brethren in Christ, learned of their doctrine. He refused to conduct funerals in conjunction with the local leader of the Lodge of Freemasons because of their doctrinal differences.This also is a false gospel which pulled some Hawaiians off course.
Many modern Hawaiians have also embraced, in smaller numbers, Asian religions. How easily people can be pulled from Jesus if they are not firmly grounded in the reason for their faith! Paul said in Galatians 1:6- 12 NKJV ,"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Paul Called by God want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ." We were sad to discover this deception crept in.
Eve was Never Framed!
Although Hawaii seems like paradise, it is by far not true Paradise. My hubby saw a bumper sticker stating, "Eve was Framed!" Was she really? She was fooled, but not framed. It all boils down to a serpent who enticed Eve to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and convinced her husband, Adam, to do likewise. They both knew God said to leave it alone, but they listened to the Serpent's lies. God cast them from the Garden of Eden to protect them from eating of the Tree of Life, which gives eternal life. It would essentially put them in a state of living forever in a sinful state (Genesis 3). God is god, we are not.
Can you see how Paul's words at the Areopagus fits the missionaries' situation (Acts 17:16-31)? The Greeks and Romans had mythological gods and goddesses much like the Hawaiians. Instead of worshiping the Creator, they worshiped the creation. Henry Opukaha'ia could see the error of their religious system best because he once lived by it. Missionaries all over the world share Christ with people who have similar religious systems. We also have interactions with people who worship Gaia, or Mother Earth. The Big Island was a haven for Nature worshippers! How many people do we know who worship the Mother Earth, believe God is in everything, and there is an impersonal life force, Ch'i (manna to the Hawaiians)? We have a responsibility to share the Creator with those who have been misled by such practices (Matthew 28:16-18). We also must be careful we do not fall into these practices like the Israelites who adopted foreign religions from the people around them.
We are not much different as main landers. We have the Bible's words and teachings, yet we listen to the Serpent's cunning lies that we can be like God. Who are we to take "ownership" of other worlds in eternity? Who are we to believe we can be God? Instead, Jesus tells us in John 14:2-3 that His Father's house has many rooms (mansions) and He is preparing a place for us and will take us with Him. In Revelation 20-21 we are told about the Judgements and our eternal home as believers in Jesus Christ. Why would we want to work for our salvation when Jesus offers it to us freely? Why would we settle for a planet, if we are promised eternal life with God on His throne at the center and Jesus, the Lamb of God, as the source of light? It's seriously important for us to understand our faith so we are not led astray. Let us stand firm in our faith as many Christians in Hawaii have clung tightly to their faith in Jesus.
May God bless you!
Ioliani Palace, Honolulu, Hawaii http://www.iolanipalace.org/
Hawaiian Mission Houses Museum tour Honlulu Hawaii http://www.missionhouses.org/
Hulihee Palace, Kona, Hawaii
Mokauikaua Church, Kona, Hawaii http://mokuaikaua.com/
1 The Mission Houses Museum. Copyright 2001 Mission Houses Museum. Honolulu, Hawaii.
Volcanoes National Park https://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/jaggar_museum.htm
Hawaiian Religions https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawaiian_religion
Hawaiian Masonic Lodge www.hawaiifreemason.org
Also there are several links within the this post.