It’s Baffling How Africans Defend The Bible?
Acts 17:26-27 (ESV)
26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,
Long Post alert!
This post isn’t going to be as Biblical as some of my other opinion posts for annoyed reasons. Race and racism isn’t a topic that I have properly delved into Biblically and I do not want to say the wrong thing because I am only a baby Christian so I don’t want someone else taking my word as gospel.
I just read this article “It’s Baffling How Africans Defend The Bible” by Thebe Montse via an Instagram picture and it obviously annoyed me being black, African and Christian.
This is a snippet of the article;
“…Arguments for and against the Bishop’s preaching were made.
They included the consistent application of holy laws – some that can be found in Leviticus, which condemn homosexuality but equally condemn wearing polyblend (a type of material), working on the Sabbath and eating shellfish. The challenge, however, it seemed, was reasoning with a religious group that have taken up the position of being the standard-bearers of Christianity without seeing the hypocrisy in doing so, but are bold enough to point out the “sins” of others.
What remains most baffling to me is that it seems as if the most unforgiving of these standard-bearers are Africans.
The tale may be unfamiliar to some Africans but in a sentence; Christianity as we know it now is not ours. Ours is how we worshipped before Christian missionaries, oppression and dispossession.
In fact the Bible gave Europeans the moral justification to enslave Africans. That too is in Leviticus 25:44: “your male and female slaves are to come from nations around you; from them you may buy slaves”.
So how are Africans and, in the case of #GraceBibleChurch, black South Africans so keen on being the standard-bearers for Christian doctrine?
The attempts and successes of Christian missionaries to uproot African customs have contributed significantly to the dispossession and oppression of African people. So, while there is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing to be Christian and upholding good Christian values, such as “love thy neighbour”, it is hypocritical and frankly stupid for African people to be strict in the application of Christian doctrine in so far as it divides Africans…
There are issues in the country that demand our attention. Who people choose to love is not one of those. Finally, the constitution is clear on its guarantee of dignity to all South African citizens…”
The article was written after a prominent South African gay celebrity attended his church for a service by a visiting Bishop but ended up walking out because he felt that the Bishop was being homophobic. I watched the sermon and I had my own opinion about what the Bishop said and how Somizi responded. I may write about my opinion in the future but for now, the Lord isn’t telling me to write anything so my mouth is staying shut. 🙂
I was annoyed by this article for a number of reasons, I thought the article would have gone down a different road, I genuinely thought it would come to the defense of Somizi but it ended up in ignorant, selective Bible verse picking territory – Which is what a lot of Christians get accused of doing (weird huh).– and mentioning racism which has nothing to do with homophobia. I was more annoyed at the article as a Black, African Woman than I was as a Christian, because you see my race and gender before you know that I am a Christian.
My life as a black woman has been massively affected by racism. I experienced it (c)overtly within the world and covertly within the Church. I have come to a point of acknowledging that racism has ruled my life for the past 10+ years and I do not want to allow it to continue working its way into my life especially now that I am saved and articles like this just show me that a lot of black intellects are actually not helping the conversation (in and outside of church) move forward and the healing process is stuck in reverse. (This is just my opinion.)
Lets dive into the matter at hand…
“Christianity as we know it now is not ours. Ours is how we worshipped before Christian missionaries, oppression and dispossession.”
This is an argument that I have seen from a lot of black intellects and it’s an argument that always annoys me because 1, it’s ignorant 2, it doesn’t actually address “Christian Missionary Oppression” and its ongoing effects 3, it only targets Christianity and no other organised religion. I’m not saying go and attack any other religions because that’s wrong.
I found the article to be extremely patronising and ignorant towards Black Africans who choose Christianity. Christianity may have found its way onto the shores of Africa through racism, greed, murder, no value for black life and much more but guess what a lot of people are choosing to be Christians. The above statement completely ignores people who are involved with and choosing to walk away from “indigenous religion or beliefs.”
The same people who cling so desperately to “we have our own religion” don’t actually participate in it and wouldn’t. So who are you protecting from the bad Christianity?
I have included the example below just to show that there are many people who practiced cultural religions / beliefs and have left that life behind. I know that John Ramirez is not Black or African for that matter he is just an example that I came across a while back and thought that he would be great to add to this post.
John Ramirez Testimony
“Christianity as we know it now is not ours.” This statement is never applied to other religions for this reason alone which is also the underlying issue in the above statement; “I don’t like Christianity because it belongs to white people.” It’s that simple.
A lot of black people live with fear and hatred towards white people, because of racism and the trickle down effect of slavery and apartheid. And so when it comes to partaking in Christianity black people look at it as though it belongs to white western people (even though Jesus was Jewish.) Christianity doesn’t belong to any race. God through His word the Bible is very clear about this! African people have come into contact with Christianity before slavery and apartheid, but exactly what happened between the Ethiopian Eunuch being baptised (Acts 8:36-38) and colonialism is something that I don’t know because like I said I am still a baby Christian also I am not a historian.
- So, while there is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing to be Christian and upholding good Christian values, such as “love thy neighbour”, it is hypocritical and frankly stupid for African people to be strict in the application of Christian doctrine in so far as it divides Africans.
A lot of people want Christians to follow the good that’s within the Bible but then ignore the rest of what the Bible says. The Bible is not an easy read, if it was everyone would be a Christian. Non believers call us hypocrites for talking about sin* they want us to pick the nice verses that tell us to love our neighbour (Romans 13:8-10) but ignore the ones that talk about all sin.
*Specifically homosexuality which doesn’t just live in the “Holy Laws” it lives in the New Testament too. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Romans 1:26-28, 1 Timothy 1:10.) some not all of what the Bible says in the New Testament. **Something that’s extremely important for non-believers to do is to learn the difference between worldly language and Biblical language. Learn what the word sin means and what your vocabulary translates it to. Go further ask God to help you understand the relationship between Grace & The Law.
Christianity is not there to divide. People divide people and when the Bible is not applied in accordance to one opinion; feelings get hurt, egos get bruised and we have this repeated cycle of calling other people who don’t live according to how we view the world stupid.
“The Bible gave Europeans the moral justification to enslave Africans.”
What the statement above actually means (I’m reading between the lines) “the Bible was used to oppress you so why are you involving yourself with Christianity?”
I know that the Bible played a horrific part in slavery and apartheid, and I live with the effects of these horrific things. I don’t look at the Bible and get angry at it for what it says, I get angry at the people who use it to for their own selfishness. I think that this is the issue; non-believers can’t separate the Bible (which has been around for centuries) from things that people have selfishly used it for but they can tarnish all Christians with the same brush and call us stupid in the process.
We are too concerned with our emotions to actually care about what we are saying in response to the past.
The author of the article quoted the Bible to say that homosexuality is mentioned in Hebrews as part of the “Holy Laws,” which also include not eating shellfish, not wearing polyblend (these are the go to verses that a lot of non-Christians run to) but fails to mention the verse he picked out (Leviticus 25:44) that highlights the justification to enslave black people comes from the Torah (Law) first five books of the Bible. This shows me that the writer is like most other people who write articles to criticize and condemn Christians, knows nothing about Grace and the relationship with the Law but is willing to judge all Christians by the selfishness of people who used the Bible to try to gain financially.
Calling black people who choose Christianity stupid because it came over on the slave ships, with colonialism and apartheid does not make us stupid, it makes us brave and stronger than those who do not want us to heal and move forward with our lives. Since I came to Christ I found new hope for my life. I allowed my race to dictate how I behaved around white people and this crippled my progress in life but since coming to Christ I no longer feel bound to racism and apartheid.
I am not going to allow a racist to stop me from getting into Heaven, that’s my choice. The world is not helping black people heal and move forward from slavery, apartheid and all forms of racism. I acknowledge that the social justice movement helped me understand some of the different ways that I experienced racism but that same movement started to slowly cause me to get angry and feel hate towards white people who haven’t done anything to me.
We didn’t create racism but we behave as though we created it and we think that we have to go to racists and convert them to not being racist. sounds a bit like what you’re angry at the missionaries for doing. We have issues within our own communities that stem from racism and spiritual bondage that is linked to slavery / apartheid but we march and protest in other communities. We are trying to heal other communities but we haven’t healed our own and we don’t gain anything when those communities start to grow and heal.
What are you doing in your community to actually help people heal from racial oppression?
“So how are Africans and, in the case of #GraceBibleChurch, Black South Africans so keen on being the standard-bearers for Christian doctrine?”
After all the “Biblical knowledge” that was displayed in this article the writer then asks the above question but also adds the below to the same article.
“…Harsher economic times have made black South Africans desperate. Reports of congregants being sprayed in the eyes with Doom, eating grass and snakes and being trampled on in the name of a miracle promised by men of faith made headlines all of last year….”
This is the very reason why we need to be standard bearers; many people don’t actually know that Bible, they know select verses that they have / use(d) to tell Christians not to judge etc. But they don’t actually know God themselves, they know of the miracle-working God but don’t know the Gracious God. Being standard bearers stops people being taken advantage of as far as cultural beliefs / practices mixing with Christianity.
As Africans we have always been spiritual, in our ancestral beliefs and now in Christianity. It is easy to see why someone who has gone from putting their money into the hands of a sangoma, witch doctor etc would be looking for an alternative to fixing their lives. Being the standard-bearer means that we uphold what the Bible says and we don’t allow the word of God to be diluted / polluted for a more self-centered world.
We should be the standard-bearer so that no one is exploited when they seek deliverance, a miracle or anything else that would lead them to the Church. The Black African Church has been responsible for many atrocious things that have nothing to do with Christianity but everything to do with culture and indigenous belief systems. Many young children have died at the hands of deliverance ministries. No one is willing to address the actual issue but everyone is willing to blame racism for the mistakes / false teachings that have caused pain and even death within the black church.
It is time for black people to stop looking at Christianity through the eyes of fear and racism and actually seek to know and understand what the Bible actually says. So that the lack of knowledge that came with being taught the wrong things thanks to slavery and arpartheid can be removed from our minds and hearts and none of that can mix with our indigenous beliefs which false teachers are using for their own financial gain.
“In the name of a miracle promised by men” NOT “in the name of a miracle promised by GOD!”
“There are issues in the country that demand our attention. Who people choose to love is not one of those.”
This article seems to be extremely confused because in the closing sentences the author tells us “who people choose to love is not an issue that demands our attention,” but the author wrote a whole article telling Black South Africans that they are stupid for choosing to be Christian. Who people choose to worship is not an issue that demands your attention.
Opinion; LGBT people who aren’t seeking God should not get in the way of your relationship with God, who someone “chooses to love , have sex with etc.” is no concern of mine because it doesn’t directly / indirectly affect my relationship with God. 🙂
Anyway I’m probably reading too much into it but this article has added more fire to my life because I want to help other people to truly heal from racism. If you allow self-pity to stop you from getting into heaven and eternal life that is your choice, you have eternity to live with your decision.
What I learned from this article and whole storm is this; regardless of all the good that is said and done by Christians, people are still searching for excuses (because that’s what they are) to stop someone else from actually pursuing a true relationship with God. People will use the Bible to argue against what one person said in accordance with the Bible or misguided. People will accuse Christians of being selective in their condemnation or pointing out of sins – the service that caused all this outrage mentioned more than just homosexuality but that’s then ignored because Christianity is homophobic – but they will also selectively pick out a few minutes of a sermon, use selective Bible verse to argue why that was wrong.
You may not believe in the same things that I do; you may not believe in God. My job is not to convert you or convince you of God’s existence that’s your job, that’s God’s job. My job is to help you on that journey, hold you accountable because you are publicly representing God. Church will not get you into heaven, someone else’s prayers will not get you into the book of life, (Romans 10:9-10) is the only way to be saved.
Granted there are racist, sexist, homophobic people within the Church. But a few racist/ sexist/ homophobic people do not represent God’s Grace.
When you start adding opinion / emotions / self to what the Bible says about race /gender /homosexuality that’s when you start to cross the line from acknowledging and upholding God’s word to being a racist /homophobe /misogynist.
As Black people we have bigger issues to deal with than “stop going to church because Christianity is not ours.” That mentality doesn’t fix the issues that we have it only creates more. We shouldn’t cause pain in other oppressed people’s lives because of ignorance, we have been and continue to be oppressed ourselves so we should understand the pain and strive to heal our communities in order to help others heal theirs.