"...they brought with them into the New World a form of Christianity which I cannot better describe than by styling it a democratic and republican religion". Alexis de Tocqueville
Behold: A man of Ethiopia!
But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women...Acts. 8:12.
And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip saying, arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.
And he arose and went; and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet
The Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this Charity. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, understandest though what thou readest?
And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
And he commanded the chariot to stand still and they went down both into the water both Philip and the eunuch and he baptized him.
Read all of Acts. 8: 26-40.
* Is the God that America recognizes (the more State-centric god of Democracy and Republicanism), the one that we have historically been taught about in the West, in reality our God, or is America's God on the other hand a Euro-Centric/Jewish concept of what Euro-westerners believe God to be?
* Is the God of Israel (today mostly political emigres and children of emigres from Europe post Hitler and WWII), 'the exclusive God of Israel', or is the true God the one universal and meta-universal God of all, including that which is outside of the known universe?
* Are homo sapiens, at the center of God's plan, or the apotheosis of God's evolutionary plan - as some humans beings have been taught to believe?
* Have Africans bought into someone else's God concept or idea, and have as a result been serving a 'lesser god' in the west?
* Have we abandoned God in order to please or appease others politically, or in order to adapt to their cultural and religious model(s) in order to improve our own economic and political plight in the west?
* What happened to the spiritual dimension of Christ's ministry? Why aren't people being healed, delivered, converted (even in religion) as they once were where the power of Jesus Christ was alive and well on planet earth?
* Are Africans also just 3/5th's of a Christian in Christian America, just as we were and are still thought by some to be only 3/5th's of a human by some Americans in the larger culture?
* Should Africans or any people follow a Euro-centric model that is based upon European understanding and interpretations, or should we return to the model that was provided for and to us by the Holy Spirit?
*Isn't a regional religious God, a diminishment/obfuscation/denouement of the real and true non-religious extra-universal entity that exists and is responsible for everything that we know of inside of the universe as we know it, and that which is outside of the universe that we can only extrapolate - the one that is too big to abide inside of man-made temples, a material world or mental or religious constructs?
Yesterday, a man explained to me his understanding of the names of God. He was without understanding, and appeared to be oblivious of the fact that a limitless and time-independent God preceded human language(s), or that the names that he referred to were nothing more than descriptions of fractional aspects of the fullness of the non-human entity that is too broad for the human language to define. He made me think of a stanza that used to be sang in the church where I grew up that, 'he will be to you what you let him be'. And for many, that is exactly what the entity that we refer to as God really happens to be, what they envision "IT" (non-gender) or permit) "IT" to be.
However, isn't the non-human entity other than what we imagine or envision it to be. Moses was covered as the glory of God passed him by - 'lest having peered at the very reflection of the God entity would have resulted in Moses' death. In a non-material world, there is still apparently glory, light, heat, cold and consciousness. It is apparent that God can inhabit light, heat, cold, consciousness and for that matter unconsciousness in other reality. We do not, in a material world, define things well that are non-material. From the scriptures we understand that God is non-material, and that out of the nothingness or non-matter he proceeded to create matter and all that we understand is material. And yet, the entity 'God' permits aspects of itself to be revealed, read some of Descartes writing on the subject, Ontology, and other writings on Metempsychosis.
With respect to transcendence, the Christology of Jesus Christ and the realm that God inhabits, (think in terms of meta physics and quantum physics) in order for us to partially understand or to serve that which exists in relative eternity, our reductionism of God through our thoughts and proprietary religions are to limit the essence of what God really is. And I understand that we are required to work to and within our human and individual limitations. Notwithstanding, the Spirit itself, is able to help us to transcend our limited understandings and cogitations. Many scientists today, in the material and non-material sciences have concluded that there is 'something there' which some refer to as, an intelligence, a God equivalent, an unknown or singularity.
I have not only experienced transcendence myself, but like the Apostle Paul who was catapulted into another reality - a third Heaven, I have met both Christian and non-Christians who have experienced a parallel, and a non-parallel reality, if you prefer.
I would ask of all individuals, regardless of your personal or religious beliefs, could you accept that beyond the limits of your current belief system and understanding that there is an existent [non-human] reality that transcends all that we are capable of believing in or imagining? In other words we are only picking up bits and pieces at a time. The question is, which piece did western religions focus on? And how were we affected as result of following a western religious model? God is bigger than religion!
In America there is a lingering paternalistic and exceptionalist belief system still operating. It holds that African Americans and others who happen to be of a different race (if there is any such thing as race), are inherently inferior to white Americans, even the religious ones. Please read the book entitled 'Race' by Gossage. In fact at the inception of this nation, it was no secret that Africans were considered to be 3/5th's human by the early colonizing Christians.
And when you couple that with the fact that when blacks were eventually evangelized in America, it was done so in an Amero/Euro-centric fashion, even though we were still considered a libidinous and barbaric form of human being. And many of the teachings and instructions that blacks received, were based upon Euro-Centric Calvinist and other forms, not to mention a mostly Puritan cultural model at the onset. Does it matter? We know that the Eunuch that Jeremiah was sent to minister to had gone though a process of infibulation or castration if you prefer. Are we, like him still considered to be less than whole both politically and religiously, by our counterparts in the west?
It occurred to me the other day that something is wrong, or at least missing. To put it succinctly, most African-Americans still live in a nation where they are considered inferior to their white counterparts, to the extent that they are even taught to worship a God who is the God of another nation, as if to say that your nation did not have a God and you should beholden to our God for even accepting you, these Gentiles having forgotten that they too were apparently grated in by grace. For many, God apparently accepted Africans, particularly African-Americans, despite what we read in scripture, as an after thought, just as Africans in the Diaspora were accepted as Americans as an after thought to a compromise!
In fact blacks are still beholden to a nation that many in it still do not fully accept them as human equals, much less superiors in many instances.
It begs the question, is the God that we have been taught about as Euro's have envisioned God, our God? For we know that this nation is truly not our nation, at least we not been fully accepted as equals within it. Or, are we worshipping the Euro-centric model of God, and who and what Europeans believed to be God? I personally believe that all religions obfuscate the true essence and largeness of what we refer to as God, for within religion, particularly each denomination - God is seen through a limited prism of one's own beliefs, or his understanding of some written text or oral tradition.
II. Does it matter?
Over the past few days, Presidential Candidate Barack Obama has received numerous death threats simply because of his color, and as a result he has been provided with protection by America's Federal Government. One of the Grand Wizards of the Klan has already proclaimed that if he were to become President in 2008 (in white man's land) he would be assassinated.
My thrust and some of the questions that I will ask and hopefully answer, will be as follows:
1). Should we, Africans, follow Euro-centric Calvinist and other Euro-centric models of religion, or should we simply return to our roots, trace our steps back to where we were grafted into the vine - and follow the God who happens to be Universal as opposed to some limited parochial or regional form that is often used for gain by the inhabitants of a respective region, nation or group? For example, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in his tome, Democracy in America, the following re some nations:
"...The permanence, the glory, or the prosperity of the nation had become parts of their faith, and in defending their country, they defended also that Holy City of which they were all citizens." And just as the Jihadists in the Middle-East are often wont to do, many Americans and other nationals tend to adapt or attach God as an extension to their cultural belief system or to their politics or nation of origin. How often have you heard it said that God, Allah or Jehovah is with us? Americans believe that God is America and that America is God. Ever read the book, "The God That Failed". Read it, and you will understand what I mean when I say that Americans believe that America is God. In other words, America is supreme, and America will supply my needs.
III. Africans Grafted In
The scriptural example that I refer to where Africans were first mentioned of having been grated in spiritually is found not only in Acts 2 (on the day of Pentecost), however, more fully in Acts chapter 9 - albeit an African disciple had not been selected by Jesus. However, in Acts chapter 9, we see where the Holy Spirit directed the successful efforts of Deacon/Evangelist Philip to embark upon a proprietary mission where he was to locate a Ethiopian eunuch who was an officer under the authority of Candace.
This eunuch was apparently on the way back to Ethiopia, having departed from the convocation at Jerusalem. Philip subsequently led the Eunuch, who reportedly became a Bishop in Africa to Christ! And this Bishop reportedly led many in the African continent, particularly the nation of Ethiopia, a portion of the greater continent from which most of us descended from to Christ - albeit many of us in the American Diaspora were believed to have originated from regions more in the western part of Africa. Having said that, our spiritual ascendancy may have come about as a result of this man.
What is so fantastic about this story is, and I must point it out, is that it was spirit-inspired, spiritually directed and spiritually culminated. Why was this man so important to the Spirit of God, that God would direct Phillip to him personally? Have you ever noticed how spiritual Africans and their descendants tend to be, in comparison with some of their cerebral counterparts? What is our unique connection with the God of the Universe? Why are we so important to God? I f nothing else, perhaps God felt that we would have been left out by most nations, many of whom despised us, given our darker hue and cultural habits? Dark contient meant more than obscure, to many of them!
Isn't it ironic today that most of Israel and Europe are both majority secularist, while at the same time most Africans and Americans are the more spiritual of the two groups that I just mentioned? Is it because we started out with the spirit, the same spirit that led Philip to connect us to Jesus Christ, versus the religio-philosophical dimensionalist expressionism in the west? God has always been a part of their politics, whereas Africans and their descendants, it would appear, have found and followed God totally apart from their politics (the eunuch is a perfect example of one who found Jesus seperate from politics).
Here is a thought, why is purportedly Christian America, supporting mostly secular Israel against God-fearing Muslims? I remind Christians all the time that the angel of the Lord spake to Hagar, just as he appeared and spoke to the Virgin Mary. And most Christians don't know what to make of that statement, or me for pointing it out. I witnessed a Muslim gentleman praying on a television documentary, wherein he was asking God to save both he and his Muslim family from the Christian American war machine. er herm! From the example that I just provided, it is clear that God loved the descendants of Abraham and Hagar, as much as loved those who descended from Hagar and Sarai.
Back to the point, should we Africans have taken the detour that we did, having placed too much emphasis on following a Eurocentric Christian model that was based upon European understanding of Jewish teachings, Constantine's canon and traditions and interpretations derived from ancient texts? Or, should we reconnect with the one who was sent by the Spirit to bring us into the fold via Philip, perhaps inhabiting the Coptic Church? I admire the African Methodist Episcopalian church in America, particularly Bishop Allen for attempting to keep the church in America attached to its heritage.
And let's give an 'attaboy' to the founder of the A.O.H. Church in America, whose original foresight caused him to name his church the 'Ethiopian Overcoming Church. An Ethiopian pastor who I spoke with and question on this topic, confirmed that much of what I said about the Ethiopian Bishop is in fact true. How many Christians in America, consider the Coptic Church a viable model to be understood or attended to, and how many ignore the Coptic Church and the Coptic Bible altogether?
Consider the following quotations from the book: African Religions (Symbol, Ritual and Community).
Margaret Uba said: "...the white missionaries who came first, they brought only the word of God. They did not bring us the Holy Spirit", and
"Under colonialism, the missionaries were partners with the Western political and economic forces that introduced a wide range of Western values and institutions..., while also indoctrinating Africans with a sense of racial inferiority and a strong dislike for their own religion and cultures.
Under these circumstances, conversion to Christianity amounted to "conversion" to a whole new culture: colonialism".
Lannin Sarrich said: "Missionary Christianity as the propounder of a Universal God turned out be an ethnocentric world view". Prophet Dona Beatriz Kimpea said: "..the Italian Capuchin missionaires had deceived the people about the African origins of Christianity and the true teachings of the Gospel, and they had suppressed black saints".
IV. Geographical Religion:
Why is a major region in the world - where all 3 of the major religious groups in the world the most volatile, a region where Christian America is smack dab in the middle of the fray, I ask?
In Romans chapter 3, verse 29, the scripture reads as follows: Do you suppose God is the God of the Jews alone? Is he not the God of gentiles also? Certainly, of Gentiles also.
It is worth considering that just as African-Americans were forced to ignore much of their own cultural heritage, the same African-Americans have been too quick to forfeit their religious heritage and spiritual foundations. Where am I going with this? Just as we have had cultural limitations placed upon us in the West, denying us all that we could potentially be, we have had the same done to us spiritually - and we should stop cooperating with either. For both prevent us from reaching HIGHER. In effect we have been conditioned to leave behind, many of those who are supposed to be ourinferiors.
The Lord showed me an open door that was above the place where I was standing. The door was opened, my task was to go up and through it, for I believe that I was being invited to see and partake in more that up until this point I had come to understand. Religion, in a generic sense can only bring you so far. However, its aim to bring you to Christ, and to understand the will of God must be taken over by each individual, yielding to God and permitting God (probably an it), and the Spirit -paracletos to carry one to apotheosis. Please recall what the Apostle Peter wrote in his Epistle to those who 'were of like faith'. Peter explained how those of like faith had been permitted to partake of 'the divine nature'.
The Lord once spoke to me, saying the following:
Ought to be
To pursue different passions for different people!
Then ought our praxis to be to search for, find and obey the non-political, non-regional and non-anthropomorphic entity that is responsible for our existence (and apparently everything else that is around us) that is integral to life, as opposed to a symmetrical regional God equivalent that has more to do with one's culture and secular politics than with holistic reality? I suspect that Africans, and other religious people have been limited by the latter, and that there is something greater than the proportional divine entity that we have been taught to believe in during our sojourn in the west. I suspect that "it" wants to reveal itself to us and to be known by us!
Oh Christ man, will thou be made whole?
Peace, love and grace,
So what? If we have Africans, not to mention other ethnics, have been prevented from reaching our full potential as American citizens, given our ascribed status as being less than, how much has our potential to be fully actualized as God requires, been impacted by our sojourn in economic America, living under American religious-political dogma and its self-serving and preserving constructs that have been mixed with faith?
Are we all that we (God people) can be, given our circumstances in a secularized, Christ by name only, country?
Reference to Democracy In America, Alexis De Tocqueville, Copyright 1945