Blog Post

Should Christians Seek Counsel From a Yoruban Priestess?

MH asks: "What do you know about this lady that appears on Oprah's show, Dr. Lyanla Vazant?"

According to published bios, the Rev. Dr. Iyanla Vanzant is a Yoruba priestess, ordained New Thought minister, talk show host, doctoral candidate, spiritual life counselor and author of several best selling books mostly geared toward the African American community.

Referring to herself as an "empowerment specialist", she is the co-founder of the Inner Visions: The Institute for Spiritual Development which states that its offerings  "are designed to facilitate and support Personal Development and Spiritual Evolution. We believe that personal well-being and spiritual unfolding is a function of knowing who you are - your Authentic Identity; why you are on the planet - your Life's Purpose and the role you play in the divine order of life - your Inter-Connectedness to Source/God."

Some of these offerings include rebirthing (a very dangerous practice that was condemned by the U.S. House in 2002) energy work (including the scientifically unfounded Applied Kinesiology and Muscle Testing), and astrological chart interpretation.

If you haven't spotted enough red flags yet, you might want to consider what kind of spiritual development you may be guided into by a Yoruban priestess.

The Yoruba religion is an indigenous religion practiced by the Yoruba people of Nigeria and Benin. A fundamental belief is that before we were born, we stood before God and were permitted to choose our own destiny, including when we would come to earth, where we would live, who we would love, what we would contribute to the world, and even when we will die. However, once born, all of these requests are forgotten and it's up to us to reclaim our lost destiny.

The Yoruban god, called Olodumare, is not a personal god but is similar to the Hindu's Brahman. He is a distant god who relegates tasks such as answering prayers to beings known as Orishas who serve as intercessors between Olodumare and man. There are several types of Orishas - those who have been in existence since the creation of the world; those who were human and who graduated to semi-divinity; and others that take the form of natural resources such as trees or rivers. Orishas are believed to be very human-like in that they marry, eat, drink, enjoy music, etc.

However, it's hard to discern just how much of this Yoruban philosophy Dr. Vazant espouses because her Institute also offers a four-year ministerial ordination program that culminates in a Minister of Spiritual Consciousness (MSC) degree.

As the site explains, "An MSC is one who recognizes, understands, advances, facilitates and is committed to the evolution of humanity and human behavior through the application of spiritual laws and principles as revealed by the life and teachings of Christ."

Hmmm. Looks we have the typical blend of Christian, pagan, and New Age - something for everyone (otherwise known as mass-market appeal)

I don't know about you, but I'm seeing huge red sheets flapping in the breeze on this one and would not recommend Dr. Vazant to Christians.