Mon | Jul 16, 2018

Lennie Little-White | Christianity has a problem

Published:Sunday | June 17, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Lennie Little-White

Conflicts have had their genesis in religious parochialism, which is primarily linked to Christianity. Hold your bows and arrows before you start taking aim.

In English parlance, there is BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini - in the year of our Lord). What is the significance of this demarcation in eras? BC is a de facto acceptance that before the birth of Christ/Christianity, there were other religions that ruled the roost.

Hinduism existed from 4,000 BC, Judaism started in 2000 BC, Buddhism in 560 BC and Confucianism in 500 BC. Simply put, Christianity, which devolved from a Jewish sect, did not manifest itself until AD 1.

Despite these incontrovertible facts, Christians see their religion as the 'Alpha and the Omega', with their members being the chosen few. Is it practical or reasonable to dismiss other religions that predated Christianity? Those who practise these other religions are not skeletons in a graveyard, but real, living people scattered across the globe.

The fact is that Christianity emerged from a Jewish sect that surfaced in Antioch (Syria) then eventually blossomed in Alexandria (Egypt). From the outset, Christians (adapting from their Jewish predecessors) assumed a self-righteous posture when they proclaimed and entrenched in the First Commandment, "You shall have no other God before Me".

In one fell swoop, Christianity devalued and dismissed all religions that are not based on the teachings of Jesus Christ. Christians have no place for Buddha, or Muhammad, who is the progenitor of the Muslim faith. The most cruel cut comes from the Christian emasculation of Judaism, which had its origin in 1812 BC as a covenant between Abraham and God.

 

TORAH DISMISSED

 

Christians' contempt of Judaism even extends to the dismissal of the Torah, which is the book of Jewish law. This blueprint is the primary document of Judaism that was given to the Jews by the prophet Moses in 3300 BC.

Will someone explain to a layperson like me why I should disavow the millions of holy people who are not Christians? As much as I have searched during my adult years, I have found no evidence outside of the Commandments that there is only one true religion for the world. This is despite my parental grounding in the Presbyterian-cum-United Church in my formative years and, later, tangential forays in the teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses under the guidance of a very persuasive uncle. I started asking questions outside of the box when the Christian Church denounced the emergence of Rastafari, with its African deity.

As an African tribalist, I soon discovered that my forebears on the mother continent practised animism - the worship of spirits - until the Christians, led by the Roman Catholics, arrived. This was the start of the three-card trick when Africans were seduced with the promise of milk and honey and a sacred place in the sky called Heaven.

Christianity was the lifeblood of colonialism, which led to the enslavement of people of colour in Africa and other continents. The Caucasian representation of a white Christ and his 12 white disciples is one reason why today, many people of colour still harbour an inferiority complex because their religion still demands that they genuflect at the feet of a Caucasian Christ. Is it any wonder that even today, Rastafari is like a four-letter word to most Christians in Jamaica?

The essence of Christianity is the belief in individual salvation from sin through repentance and receiving Jesus Christ as their God. Despite my many intellectual journeys with different strands of Christianity, I am yet to find a common message from the multiplicity of denominations. Catholics hate the Baptists, who hate the Pentecostals, who hate the Anglicans, who hate the Methodists, who hate the Seventh-day Adventists - and the internecine squabble has become entrenched among Christians.

 

PROUD PANTHEIST

 

I have the greatest respect for those who believe that this is their only pathway to salvation, but I cannot support them - and I am not an atheist or agnostic. For all the sceptics, I am a proud pantheist. Who is a pantheist? What is pantheism?

Pantheism is a religious belief that reality is identical with divinity and that all things compose an all-encompassing immanent God. Pantheism believes in all gods from all religions and a tolerance for all beliefs.

In Greek, 'pan' means 'all' and 'Theos' means 'God'. Those of us who follow the spiritual doctrine of pantheism believe that God is all around us throughout the entire universe. Pantheism sees a lack of separation between people, things, and God - in a world where everything is interconnected.

Based on a historical reality, Christianity cannot claim that it is the only road to our salvation. This is a very outdated and parochial perspective that becomes less appealing to the millennials and the younger generation. While Christianity's membership is treading water, a faith like Islam is multiplying faster than Christianity ever did.

With the advent of the digital era preceded by La Nouvelle Vague, Christianity seems stuck in a time warp, whose raison d'Ítre is 'eternal life'. Some want to go to Heaven when they die, while others "want their Heaven right here on earth" - according to a popular Jimmy Cliff song.

I contend that Christianity needs to wheel and come again if it is to remain relevant and start to grow as fast as other religions are now doing.

- Lennie Little-White, CD, MA, is a Jamaican filmmaker and writer. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and lennielittle.white@gmail.com.