Thursday, July 9, 2009

Indigenous and Imported Religions.

I wonder what Bible some people read when they say that the Bible mentions only God almighty (Hebrew God as they say it). It is terrible to ask and respond that “Did these other gods exist? Prophesy said they did not and when Israel was not caught up in the cultures with which they co-existed, they believed the prophets” Perchance you did not see these ones have a peep. I don’t have time to bring out all the verses. If they are in the Bible then the Bible acknowledges their presence and existence. Take a look below: Milcom: (I Kings 11:5, 33; 2 Kings 23:13), Dagon, (Judg 16;23; I Sam 5;2-7; I chr 10:10), Baalpeor Numb 25:3,5 and Baalim,Judges (2:11; ISam 12:10)

However, although the Bible accepts their physical presence but it rejects their importance as non existent. “For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many, But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him” (I Cor 8:5-6). That means rituals to them are useless. Take another look at gal 4: 8 “Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods”. That means the nature of such supernatural beings did not exist but it does not mean the imagination, represented in fetishes and art work was nonexistent. Anyway, if those words exist in the Bible and the Bible says Israelites at a time worshipped them (a reason they are charged with adultery) then which should we believe.

Others have said it is due to faulty hermeneutics. They make me laugh; hermeneutics is the same if done properly. If you do a proper interpretation of a text no matter where you all come from you will arrive at the same conclusion. But it is difficult to find proper answers when one fluctuates between two religions. Today he is a Muslim and tomorrow he is an ATR worshipper. What is really their religious affiliation?

The connection with Monotheism is that some Christians think that when Christianity says we believe in one God they must kill the other people or that ATR should not exist. The fact is that though there was and is a God who has no beginning or end, is the first and the last; before Him there was no God and after Him there will be no God, there existed Milcom, Dagon, Beelphegor, Baalim, and manifested in fetishism, totemism and animism. So it trickles down to choice making. To make a choice one considers alternatives and then decides for what they deem fit and best. That is what we call choice. No choice can take place in the absence of alternatives then there has not been any choice.

Some people stumble that Aquinos teaching in the City Of God mentioned other gods. Perhaps they wanted to say St Augustine of Algeria and not Aquinos because we only had one Thomas Aquinas (famous for his Quinque Viae- Five Ways ). But the author of City of God was St Augustine of Hippo (he lived more). ATR could still be replaced without pillaging the people because the principles of humanity are intrinsic in Christianity and exemplified more than in ATR. Thus, if we select Christianity then we must follow its main tenet: worship only one God (Ex 8;10; 15;11; Deut 6;4; 4:35; I Tim 2:5). ATR affirms that there is a particular God and that though there are myriads of gods they serve as anthropomorphic mediators to the Almighty God. Yet this beckons for the question: why take that many mediators when one could still just use the one and only Jesus Christ to reach Him. The community aspects inbuilt in ATR are embodied in the Christian Bible: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Mat 22: 37-40).

Yet considering that no theological statement was made in a vacuum, the Africans cannot embrace Christianity and despoil themselves from the customs and traditions that correlate with the Christian norms. Those customs that are culturally relevant and theologically sane will enhance our belief system. Consequently Africa and the world would far better if they practice Christianity in spirit and in truth.
It is wrong to claim that African Traditional Religions (ATR) was the initial religion. ATR is a summed total of the religious and cultural life of the indigenous Africans. It goes beyond religion because even those who do not have a particular belief system still partake in the cultural aspects of the community which are still governed by the same belief system they have rejected. There are many varieties of religions and systems of worship in Africa that one would find difficulty in referring to monotheistic worship.

Monotheism has never been the religious worship of any group of people on this earth. Not even Israel. The presence of polytheism in Africa did not annul their belief in the Almighty. The advent of Christianity instead creates the inherent awareness that was enveloped in but overshadowed by the polytheism of the ATR.
Christianity entered Africa a long time before it entered Europe and the US . So it is mind boggling why Africans still call Christianity the Whiteman's Religion. God directed Philip southwards, to the treasurer of Ethiopia (Ethiopian Eunuch); to relay the Gospel out to the heart of Africa (Acts 8:4-10). From Africa the Gospel went to Asia: Troas and Philippi first before entering Europe: Thessalonica, Berea and Athens (Acts 16:6-19:20). Then it went to the New World during the around the 17th century via the pilgrims of the Mayflower.

Until then not every indigenous culture supersedes exported culture.

Prince and PA Hamilton Ayuk

“Bonyfish beware because the same net that caught the jawless fish, caught the cartilaginous fish” (Hamilton Ayuk).
Beware earthly paradise seekers because there is a serpent in every paradise"(Hamilton Ayuk).

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