Pulling Down Altars: a Night Mission

Tearing down altars: smashing the stone, melting the metal, and burning the wood. That does not exactly sound like a polite thing to do. It may not be polite, but young Dong Christians have to make decisions like these. Do they tear down the family altars? Do they eat food the family sacrifices to the spirits?

In Judges 6, we see Gideon following the Lord's bold order to tear down the altar to Baal and use the wood from the Asherah pole to burn a sacrifice to the Lord. The Lord did not say when it had to be done, so Gideon, in fear of his family and the townspeople took ten servants with him and did it at night.

Good or bad? The Lord does not seem to be distressed that Gideon feared their reaction, but only that Gideon was faithful. The surprising part is that when the townspeople came to kill Gideon, Gideon's father (who is the owner of the altar and pole) defends Gideon's actions: "Will you contend for Baal? Or will you save him? ... If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because his altar has been broken down."

What a statement! Again, though, the important part is that Gideon obeyed the Lord. This event shattered the superficial practices of Baal worship and crystalized the faith of the people in the Lord. Gideon was willing to follow the Lord, and a couple verses later, when the Medianites and Amalekites crossed the Jordan to attack, Gideon's tribe followed his call of action into battle.

The Dong people as well have altars, altars in every house, scattered around the village at important locations, beneath sacred trees, in their drum towers and wind and rain bridges, and in their hearts. What are Dong Christians supposed to do?

Do they eat food sacrificed to idols? Do they make a stand? Do they all have a call like Gideon to rip down the village or family altars? Or in an attempt to stay holy, create their own Christian subculture where they can cook non-sacrificed food and remove idols, thus pulling away from their family, friends, and neighbors?
Dong culture, Chinese culture, and Asian culture all would strongly disapprove of such rebellious actions as Gideon's (remember, Gideon was from an Asian culture), but maybe that is exactly what is needed to break the Dong church out of the deception of their felt need to fit back into their worldly culture, to break them free from their attempt to blend back in to their own people. Let's pray for the Dong people to have an unconditional obedience to the Lord, to be willing to submit to his perfect plan.


  1. What a tough question. This is a really difficult one for me. It seems like the eating food sacrificed to spirits aspect is somewhat different from simply allowing the family to have their own altars. The Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 addressed this one, but not others. Hmm...
    How have Dong believers chosen to respond to this question?

  2. That is the difficulty: these questions have no one answer, but need discernment and guidance from the Word. Acts 15:20 forbids "food polluted by idols." That is clear enough (but the Dong are often not even doing that).
    The tougher question is if there a difference between actively sacrificing to your ancestors or just keeping the ancestral idol in your house without any sacrifices? That is a fine line, and one that could easily promote luke warm faith, half idol half Christ.
    The Dong Christians, as mentioned in another Journal entry, Good Teaching & Good Culture, need to receive good teaching from the Word, discuss these issues among the believers, and come to a decision. As it now stands, they have recieved superficial, black and white teaching that does not address many of the underlying issues relavent to the Dong people.
    To clearly answer your question, the Dong people are not responding to these questions. They go on quietly and hope nobody calls them on these issues.