Could Rastas and Christians Really Unite?

Discussion in 'Rastafari' started by CanuckRasta, May 21, 2005.

  1. CanuckRasta

    CanuckRasta Rastaman

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    Interesting question.

    One Love
    CanuckRasta
    Lij Marques Benjamin

    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/132/31.0.html

    Could Rastas and Christians Really Unite?
    There's more in common than you might think, but some factors keep adherents wary of one another.
    Hundreds of Rastafarians came together last month in Jamaica, the birthplace of the movement, for the weeklong Rastafari Global Reasoning 2003. The official motto for the worldwide meeting, which centered on planning for the future and calling for greater respect, was "Rastafari Family United for Progress and Development."


    While Rastafari certainly maintains a sense of family, it is not a unified bloc. Several subgroups and varying beliefs vie for the soul of Rastafari. These differences in theology, lifestyle, and behaviours all fit within the broad umbrella of Rastafari because, at its heart, it is an Afro-Caribbean identity movement—not primarily a religion with clearly defined, universally accepted dogma and doctrines. However, a growing movement within Rastafari is calling Rastas away from their New Age beliefs and idolization of Haile Selassie I—and to a Trinitarian, orthodox Christian faith.

    As Caribbean churches have recently become more welcoming of Rastafarians, reggae music, and Afrocentrism, a greater rapprochement between Rastas and Christians has developed. Growing numbers of Rastas have entered Christian churches and taken Jesus as their Saviour while continuing a dreadlocked Rasta lifestyle. But if more Rastas are going to follow this path, their significant belief changes will have to be met with attitude changes in the Christian churches.



    Rastas and Christians have much in common
    Like Christians, Rastafarians honour Yeshua, the Christ, as worthy of worship. In fact, most Rastas consider themselves uncorrupted Christian people. A large percentage of Rastafarians follow the lead of seminal preacher, Leonard Howell, who referred to Yeshua as "Our Lord" in his foundational book, The Promised Key.


    Both movements are fiercely monotheistic. Rastas, like Christians, look to the Bible for divine counsel, keying off the Ten Commandments and Golden Rule to teach respect for God and God's creation, preservation of life, mercy toward opponents, and moderation and holiness toward money, sex, power.

    Two significant figures in Rastafari were Christians. Marcus Garvey, an outspokenly Trinitarian Christian from a Free Methodist background, is deemed a prophet in Rastafari. In the early 1900s, Garvey led a movement to create an Africa homeland for blacks. This encouraged the strong sense of Afrocentrism in Jamaica and the Caribbean.

    More significant to Rastafari is Haile Selassie I, a devout Ethiopian Orthodox monarch. Formerly named Ras Tafari Makonnen, before his coronation as the emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie was thought by early Rastafarian preachers to be the Messiah—or God himself. The Oriental Orthodox Churches have declared Haile Selassie a defender of the Christian faith. In 1997 members of one branch of Rasta, The Twelve Tribes of Israel, declared their faith in Christ alone, but still maintain a place for Haile Selassie in biblical prophecy.

    While a common bond between Rastas and Christians, Selassie is also the largest barrier. What separates the two groups the most is the treatment by many Rastas of Haile Selassie as divine. For Christians to reconcile the reverence that Rastas give him is extremely hard. Such reverence is due only to God.

    Christians can, however, respect Haile Selassie as a devout Christian emperor, friend of Billy Graham, and outspoken follower of Christ. If desiring a dialogue with Rastas, Christians need to respect the Rastafari position that the emperor is the Davidic king of prophecy, though Christians certainly need not agree with it.

    All Rastas need to accept the emperor's own self-denial of deity, as the Twelve Tribes of Israel have done, and follow his lead to full faith in Christ alone for salvation.



    Blocks to Unity
    Other Rastafarian attitudes and beliefs are blocking more Rastas from embracing orthodox Christianity as their own—but these too are being challenged.


    Rastas object strongly to the name Jesus, preferring Yesus, Yeshua, or Kristos because the first ship commissioned to begin the British slave trade was the S.S. Jesus of Lubbock. Rastas suspect the conciliatory motives of Christian churches that historically permitted the conquest of the Americas and black slavery. Christians need to separate Yeshua from the oppression done in his name.

    Christian Reggae songs like Carlene Davis and Papa San's "Wish I Knew Then (what I know now / how sweet the name of Jesus sounds)" reach out to Rastas with a new understanding of the name above all names. But caution when using the name of Jesus among Rastas is still recommended.

    Rastas also need to drop their idea that the Pope is the Antichrist. The idea originated with the Pope's blessing of Mussolini's troops on their way to conquer Ethiopia, Rastafari's spiritual homeland. A sincere apology and some act of penance from the Roman Catholic Church is definitely in order.

    Conservative Rastas, like the Bobo Dreads, need to reexamine their subjugation of women to the extent that menstruating women can be enclosed in-house and fed through a small aperture for a 21-day period each month. The Rasta male propensity for polygyny (serial unmarried mates) must also cease. Rastas insist that promiscuity, child abuse, and homosexuality in Christian churches must also end if Rastafarians are to take Christians seriously.

    The Rastafarian use of cannabis (called ganja) is also a great barrier for Christians. Some Rastas, like the outspoken Mutabaruka in his poem "Dispel the Lie," are already critiquing this addictive blight. As Marcus Garvey campaigned against ganja and Haile Selassie outlawed its use in Ethiopia, the Church at large rejects it.

    The demonic structures of "Babylon," the world's ungodly systems, are the real enemy of the Rasta camp and the church—not each other. The Rev. Clinton Chisholm, a Jamaican Christian apologist, observes:

    Rather than rejecting [Rastas] as we used to … people are beginning to open up with them. I think the increasing sensitivity of the churches in general to things cultural and things ethnic could also catalyze a dialogue. They've added quite a strong corrective to the almost anti-black sentiments of some of the churches in Jamaica and in the region.
    They've made us generally more culturally aware, more accepting of ourselves, more at ease with our need to be involved in the cultural expressions of the country. To their credit they've been leaders in the field. People could live with the issue of seeing Ethiopia as the new Zion. They might not agree with them, but they could live with that. But the major doctrinal barrier would be the view of Selassie as God and the view of ganja as a sacrament.
     
  2. InLove

    InLove at peace

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    Hello, CanuckRasta--

    Theologically? I doubt it. In my best friend's backyard? Entirely possible. ;)

    I also submit to you that I love the music of Bob Marley, but as a Christian, I am prone to making up my own lyrics to replace a few of his lines--the ones that seem to be an attack on Christ as Savior.

    InPeace,
    InLove
     
  3. Blessed87

    Blessed87 A restored soul

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    That's quite interesting. Sounds like Rastas are on the right track, and recognizing problems. I hope Rastas and Christians do work on their differences and work together as brothers, as 1 Peter 3:8 (NIV) says, "Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble."
     
  4. truthseeker

    truthseeker New Member

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  5. CanuckRasta

    CanuckRasta Rastaman

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    InLove,

    Just wondering what Bob Marley lyrics did you replace??

    One Love
    CanuckRasta
    Lij Marques Benjamin

    My thoughts on the article:

    First, I must take issue with this statement: “Growing numbers of Rastas have entered Christian churches and taken Jesus as their Savior while continuing a dreadlocked Rasta lifestyle.” It makes it seem like the Rastas in question did not follow Christ or Christian teachings previous to their entrance into a Christian church. That is false. Their decision was merely a result of them following in the steps of Haile Selassie. That choice does not make them less Rasta or more Christian.



    Next, “In 1997 members of one branch of Rasta, The Twelve Tribes of Israel, declared their faith in Christ alone, but still maintain a place for Haile Selassie in biblical prophecy.” Let’s clarify. In 1997, Prophet Gad, the leader of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, spoke on a Jamaican radio station, saying that he believed Jesus Christ alone. Considering the TToI have always been very close to Christianity in their teachings, this statement is neither unexpected nor unusual. How this statement became a statement on the divinity of Haile Selassie, I do not know. It could very well be that Prophet Gad assumed that when he said Jesus Christ it was understood that he included and meant Haile Selassie. Either way, not all members of the Tribes accepted this statement. Luciano, a reggae artist and TToI member, was still praising Haile Selassie as “God and King” two years after the above statement. It also must be noted, that unless mainstream Christianity recognizes Gad as a prophet (an occurrence for which I wouldn’t hold my breath!), the statement is nothing more than a personal statement of belief.



    Such reverence is due only to God.” Well, I could have told them that. I guess there might be a reason why Rastas venerate HIM so after all.



    “All Rastas need to accept the emperor's own self-denial of deity, as the Twelve Tribes of Israel have done, and follow his lead to full faith in Christ alone for salvation.” Addressing Selassie’s “self-denial of deity” opens a whole can of worms. Suffice it to say it will never really be decided what he meant by those words.



    “Rastas also need to drop their idea that the Pope is the Antichrist. The idea originated with the Pope's blessing of Mussolini's troops on their way to conquer Ethiopia, Rastafari's spiritual homeland. A sincere apology and some act of penance from the Roman Catholic Church is definitely in order.” He did a little more than bless soldiers. He blessed bombs destined to fall on Ethiopia and he also encouraged the use of chemical warfare on innocent Ethiopians. The view of any Pope as the Antichrist is personal.



    My major problem with this article is the fact that it suggests Rastas are the ones that need to change everything they believe. There is no mention of Christians being encouraged to take the Nazarene Vow, or avoiding the cutting of hair. After unification, many Christians would still receive Communion. Both groups should decide to coexist peacefully, and Rastafarians should be accepted as a sub-branch of Christianity, with some basis for their beliefs.
     
  6. Awaiting_the_fifth

    Awaiting_the_fifth Where is my mind?

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    I have to agree with you CanuckRasta, my first thought on reading this article was, "This was obviously written by a Christian and not by a Rastafarian"
     
  7. CanuckRasta

    CanuckRasta Rastaman

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    It's a pity that they didn't want to cover both sides of the issue. That's not the way to unite. Would be interesting to see if someone wanted to look at both sides. From our side, many bredren I talked to were not opposed to the idea.

    One Love
    CanuckRasta
     
  8. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    And welcome to the new Rastafarian board, CanuckRasta - I finally set it up. :)
     
  9. Awaiting_the_fifth

    Awaiting_the_fifth Where is my mind?

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    On the other hand....

    After reading through some bits and pieces, (mostly from wikipedia, I admit) I understand that the Rastafari religion broke off from Christianity largely because of the treatment of Black people.

    Since this treatment has drastically changed in the last half century, what else must the rest of Christianity do to appease the world's Rastafarians?
     
  10. truthseeker

    truthseeker New Member

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    Treatment of blacks just isn't as publicly blatant as it used to be. After many generations of disrespect to blacks, it isn't just done away with in one or two generations. Christianity can't even respect the denominations therein. Why would Rastafarians want to dive into a mess like that? Rastari gets respect among black Christian organizations. I think they should maintain and grow from there. There is power and strength in each system of belief and Rastarianism was given birth and grew from the nature of blacks in need of a system of belief that belonged to blacks and was not governed and would not be sought to be governed by whites.
     
  11. CanuckRasta

    CanuckRasta Rastaman

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    While the treatment of blacks was a major factor in the separation of RastafarI from Christianity, in reality the theological factors were probably the greatest reason.

    It would seem that Rasta beliefs are just too drastically different for them to be accepted by the Christian community.

    One Love
    CanuckRasta
     
  12. truthseeker

    truthseeker New Member

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    I guess the beliefs would be too drastically different if you are claiming that the Ethiopian emperor would be the messiah and not Jesus. I don't think that Christians who are not Ethiopian would feel comfortable putting thier complete trust and faith in a man that is flesh. Then Christians may have the audacity to believe that if this man who is flesh and blood has access the God-head without a medium, then I too could possibly have access to the God-head without a medium. That is a threat to the belief. A possible revolution of Christianity. No one is going to risk going to hell just for the sake of empowerment.
     
  13. Judah_B

    Judah_B New Member

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    Greetings in the most precious and divine name of my Lord and Saviour Yesus Christ, [font=Verdana, Geneva, Arial, Sans-serif]who has revealed Himself to I in the true personality of H.I.M Emperor Haile Sellassie I The First.[/font]

    Greetings in the Orthodox faith which is not a faith of ritz or writz. This whole conception depends upon the Orthodox doctrine of faith which regaurded as a function of the heart acquired through a mystical incorporation, or unity in one, in plain words to be born again.

    Greetings also to the 12 Tribes of Israel which was scattered north, south, east and west, and restablished in JA since '68' by Prophet Gad.

    12 Tribes of Israel from its beginnings have always sighted Yesus the Christ as Lord and Saviour. InI been saying dat from the beginning, even from the scripture, Our forefathers the Prophets foresaw this, and recorded it; that God wud walk among men to redeem them from their sins, so the Son was born via Mary blessed among women.
    Also InI do not worship the flesh...God is a Spirit, so He must be worshipped in Spirit. Rasta is not a colour thing, God does not see the flesh, but the heart of men. Remember the laws of man does not govern the ways of God, meaning mainstream christanity don't need to recognise InI prophet, it don't matter. Why? Becoz InI have Yesus Christ as InI Saviour and that is wot really matters. I don't say dat to create discord, but it is the truth.
    And His Majesty is the one who shewed InI to uphold the teachings of the scripture, saying 'If you want to walk in this path one must sight up Yesus Christ and xecept Him as Lord'...Remember InI TTI RasTa is waiting for Christ to take the throne, for He was never crowned in the first advent except with thrones. The 2nd Advent is still to be fulfilled.
    Blessed are they that believe without seeing, for the same shall be saved.
    Where 2 or 3 are gathered together in His name, there He is, in the midst of dem.

    Peace In
     
  14. Bandit

    Bandit New Member

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    i dont know what to think of it all. what i do know is that whenever we have talked, it was informative & peaceful. i did not feel like either of us were at some dead end argument.:)
     
  15. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    Hi Judah_B and welcome to CR - thanks for the comments. :)
     
  16. CanuckRasta

    CanuckRasta Rastaman

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    First InI give most Ilaful welcomes to InI brother from the Tribe of Judah, Judah_B.

    Just wanted to point out to truthseeker that Haile Selassie does not replace Christ as the Messiah, he is just an addition.

    Also would like to agree with Bandit. Certainly examples such as us prove cooperation is possible, though if we tried to sit down and agree on a central theology, some problems might arise, lol.

    One Love
    Lij Marques Benjamin
     
  17. queenofsheba

    queenofsheba New Member

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    I just visited the rastafari forum for the first time. Today, most Ethiopians don't see Haile Selassie as divine and they even recognize that the genealogy tracing back to Solomon and Makeda (=me) is only meant symbolically. There is still someone alive who claims to be Rastafari's son: Mekbeb Abebe Welde.

    The creed that the Ark of the Covenant is still in Axum is very much alive. I visited the church, it's called Saint Mary of Zion. The Ark is supposed to be in the little chapel behind the church. The angel of Exodus is supposed to live there.
     
  18. truthseeker

    truthseeker New Member

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    Welcome to CR, Judah B.

    This would be why Christianity and RasTafarI would not be able to unite. If this comment (which is straight to the heart of any matter, respectfully) is the foremost understanding of the RasTafarIan, then there would not be any conflict from the side of the RasTafarIan. Sounds to me that the RasTafarIan is Christian, even; brought into a fuller understanding through the prophecy of Emperor Haile Selassie I (I don't mean any disrespect if I am wrong or didn't say it right). The Christian would argue that there is none other than Jesus, whose teachings are best understood through Paul. Anything else is blasphemy.
     
  19. Judah_B

    Judah_B New Member

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    I know it might of come across a bit tuff..but I was hoping that u wud undastand wot I meant, all that matters is having Yesus Christ as ur Lord and Saviour, if peeps say this and that, wots the point. Wot I do know is that, wot InI have in common...Is Yesus Christ. RasTaFarI to me(TTI) is Christain coz Sellassie I shewed InI. Even the queen of Sheba after being with King Solomon, made the peeps burn their idols, and were not to worship the sun and moon etc no more, but to worship the God of King Solomon, and they have been doing so ever since...Ethiopia is the last standing Independent Christain Nation. Also remember reading in the Acts of the Apostles of how Philip baptised the Ethiopian official. He is the first Ethiopian on record to have followed Christ, from that time, the Word of God has continued to grow.
    No disrespect is meant But I have read the book, and I saw the 12 Tribes of Isreal, I didn't see Catholic's or the many other branches where ever they came from. I saw the disciples and the followers of Christ, and in the end times I saw the great multitudes that followed Christ, they were brought up to HIM, I also saw the 12 Tribes of Israel being sealed up, 12000 from each tribe making the number, 144,000.
    And now that I write this I do see the other branches regardless of their names, like I said earlier Yesus Christ is Our Lord and Saviour. So InI are brethren and sistern, we all have a apart in the prophecy.

    Blessed are they that see without believing for the same shall be saved.

    Oh and one other thing before I get analysed sumone said sumthing about Luciano, Well I have a quote for ya...
    "First let me give thanks to the Almighty Creator Yahweh I AM That I AM for making all things possible. Hail Yesus Christ the Redeeming Lamd that was slain.
    Hail Emperor Haile Sellassie I The Conquering Lion who rule and reigns"
    2001

    PeAcE iN
     
  20. sparrow

    sparrow New Member

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    Due to the differences in theology, I usually prefer to keep some details of my faith between myself and my maker. The rest is just political, imo.

    The holy spirit has also guided me in these matters, imo, through the sacred smoke.

    As long as mainstream Christians continue to view the holy sacrament of marihuana as evil, I fail to see how the rasta and christian faith will ever unite.

    lw
     

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