‘Christians’ are typically the most materialistic, selfish, judgemental and unforgiving people.
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Compared to African tradition, which remains the same over the years, Christianity seems to allow its users to bend it to suit their own selfish needs, at the expense of those unable to fend for themselves. Read more:
On this website already several webpages were brought which deal with ancestor worship and this again happened in connection with the prayer of intercession.
See 2013 Mar 04 (2) – About the nature of intercession
Today now I read the following article. It gives insight into this subject:
Christianity is confused
The other day, a friend of mine made a remark that traditional African churches do not know the concept of being ‘redeemed by Jesus’. He was saying this as a declaration aimed at me, because I attend a traditional African church.
That got me thinking; I thought about how far I have come with my religion, the learnings from it over the years and how it shaped my life into the person I am today; the same person he likes as a friend (I hope). My mind went back in time when I was growing up and the issue of going to church, how I adopted this religion and the doctrine I follow.
My mother was a single parent for us 8 children but even though she was a busy woman, she made sure we learnt about our tradition (through rituals) and God (through church). Most of my siblings, especially my brothers, never liked church, they still don’t; but my sisters and I loved church very much. I still love going to church, any day of the week, I love the doctrine my religion follows and I hold it dear.
So, when my friend threw this accusation around, I asked why; he responded that he also grew up in a traditional African church and he does not agree with the praying of ancestors, consulting of traditional healers (inyanga’s), as well as the use of traditional muti; he indicated that this is not supported by scriptures in the Bible. Hmm! Point to ponder.
I indicated to him that I believe that Christ did not come to earth to redeem churches; He came to redeem individuals that believed in Him and His Father. Therefore, I told him, a doctrine does not dictate the relationship between an individual and God. I also told him that people seeking redemption in churches are looking for it in the wrong places and setting themselves up for disappointment; seeking redemption begins with one’s heart and their relationship with God, not the church they go to or the doctrine they ascribe to.
I further advised my friend that I was never taught to pray to ancestors, I was taught to respect my ancestors and obey any instructions they gave me; I was taught that there is a difference to praying to God and to having a conversation with my departed loved ones, who are now my elders in the spiritual land.
That was the end of the conversation but more thinking for me. I started to analyse and compare teachings of the Bible against traditional African teachings, to try and see if they are really that different
My elders believed that the souls of our departed family members do not die, but go to spiritual land where they become divine beings and are closer to God. Not matter the age of the person at death, once they passed on, they became an elder to us living souls.
I remembered the rituals my mother used to perform; in my tradition rituals are done communicate with our ancestors, to report important things or ask for something, examples: when a new baby is born, one of my siblings is going away for some reason (work, “mountain school”, etc.), a wedding is coming up, there has been death and the family needs to be cleansed. Other times, she would perform a ritual in a response to an instruction by the ancestors (through a messenger) that they wanted her to do something.
Performing rituals was not always about slaughtering, we only slaughtered if we had and/or if we could afford to slaughter. Slaughtering was seen as an invitation to the ancestors to spend time with us; therefore, we needed to provide a meal for them. Just like when you invite friends over to share an important situation with them.
The use of muti (traditional medication), has helped my ancestors throughout the centuries, way before science could create a laboratory for the research and development of the ordinary cough mixture. For my people, drinking a concoction or taking some herbs in any form is just part of ordinary existence. Traditional home remedies are the most tried and tested medicines in the world, handed down from generations before. My people believe that muti evolved through God’s wisdom, through which he imparted knowledge onto our ancestors and taught them to mix concoctions that would heal those in need, physically and emotionally.
Of course, as with everything we know, there was good use for muti (e.g. to cure a sore throat from herbs, to protect your property from thieves and enemies) and there was also bad use for muti (e.g. to perform a curse on someone out of jealousy). Continued use of muti in this day and age, for some is by necessity more than by choice. For me, it is by choice because I understand the benefits and the results from usage of both muti and modern medicine.
A few of the most fundamental teachings from my ancestors were:
God is the highest in the hierarchy of life and therefore humanity needs to respect and acknowledge him in any way they can. As a sign of respect, no one was allowed to speak directly to God.
Respect for one’s elders: Children were taught to respect anyone older than they are the same way they will respect their own parents, brothers or sisters.
Love for one’s neighbour: everyone was expected to take care of each other, each other’s property and each other’s children. Back in those days, it took a village to raise a child.
Responsibility for one’s actions: there is a saying in our language that goes “wa e gapa o molato, wa e tlogela o molato” (loosely translated “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”). It is a teaching that for every action there is a consequence; it was inexcusable for one not to do anything about something if one was presented with the opportunity, no matter the potential results.
I always regarded myself as a believer in God and a Christian; back in my day, the distinction between the two terms was almost non-existent. This was long before modern Christianity came into my life and started throwing semantics in my Bible vocabulary and tried to shake our beliefs. Yes, there seemed to be different views on the right way to express one’s belief in God and His son Jesus, but not on the definition of the two terms. I still regard myself as a believer of God, but I am not sure about being a Christian; it seems my definition of Christianity is different to the modern definition I see and hear all around me. Talk about semantics taking over a religion.
In church, our basic guiding principle was the 10 commandments from the Old Testament, and Christ’s two commandments about honouring God and loving one’s neighbour. My interpretation of Christ’s commandments is that they link back to God’s instructions in the Ten Commandments; something Christ said about not changing the law but extending on it I read somewhere in my Bible.
In summary, African tradition teaches us to respect God and love our neighbours, the same teaching as the Bible; what I can’t figure out is why Christians don’t seem to understand this. Frankly, I think the misunderstanding is intentional on the Christians’ part, so that they can flaunt their religion as the best in the world; I don’ think this bodes well with God’s teachings in the old Testament and Christ’s teachings in the new Testament. Something about “Judge not, lest you be judged”.
In my experiences, I have found ‘Christians’ to be typically the most materialistic, selfish, judgemental and unforgiving people I have come across. From a materialistic and selfish point of view, I have seen how most of them ‘Christians’ live lavish lifestyles, while surrounded by poor and starving people. When Christ was on earth, He fed the hungry and healed the sick, an instruction He gave to His followers to carry on; most Christians do these once a year around Christmas.
From a judgemental point of view, one only needs to look at the number of different churches in the world, who claim to be preaching the same doctrine but whose members cannot get along, no matter what they try. Hear how church members and leaders spend time criticising each other for not preaching, praying or practicing according to the Bible; this instead of embracing and showing each other love, as instructed by Christ himself.
From an unforgiving point, one just needs to listen around and hear the reasons why so many doctrines were founded by leaders who could not reconcile their thinking and opinions with their own, to the point of separation. Christ encouraged patience with each other; only when we are patient with each other, can we help each other understand what God is trying to teach or tell us. I wish Christians would be patient with each other.
My friend accused African tradition for relying on muti and not on God’s healing hand, a statement I find funny because the other day he had a headache and he took an Aspirin, a product of science. I don’t see a difference between a traditional concoction and a pill or a cough mixture; they were both created by man’s hand. Science, in my opinion, believes in evolution, not in the powers of a ‘being’ proclaimed to be above all beings, as practiced in both African tradition and Christianity.
In my view, the concept of Christianity is confused because it allows itself to be misinterpreted for personal gain by its general population that ascribe to it. Compared to African tradition, which remains the same over the years, Christianity seems to allow its users to bend it to suit their own selfish needs, at the expense of those unable to fend for themselves.
My concern is that if Christianity does not take control of its own destiny and population soon, its followers are going to realise too late that they are doomed, while they continue sitting in judgement of others who practice different religions. In my opinion, it is going to be a while before Christianity wakes up and realises that things should be done differently; something from the Bible itself that says “It is not all that says “Lord, Lord” that will see the kingdom of heaven”
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