Saturday, October 27, 2012

Why am I a Protestant Christian?

In this blog entry, I want to share on why I have consciously positioned my stance as a Protestant Christian. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, Protestants in my understanding are Christians that protest submitting to a pope or papal authority as the final authority in matters pertaining to the Christian faith. Protestants generally hold the view that the final authority to which they must submit is God's written word which in this case is the Christian Bible. (I however always like to point out that early Christians only had the Jewish canon of scriptures for their guidance in determining doctrines and matters of the faith, and that the entire Christian canon of Scriptures came up later due to papal authority. This makes it paradoxical to be a Protestant Christian).

I am more sympathetic to the Roman Catholic Christianity and their challenges than in my early twenties. No other Christian denomination is known to carry out so much poor relief globally. At the same time, the same denomination is often haunted with a history of intolerance, violence and inquisitions. Add to that, the denomination also suffers from more modern stories of sexual scandals and pedophile leaders. While I have not always been sympathetic based on the historical works I have read, more modern news have satisfied me to conclude that the Roman Catholic church in particular no longer fits Protestant Christianity's traditional ideas of the beast. In fact, radical Islam seems a more likely candidate, which is something that is hinted in one of my previous blog entries.

Protestant Christianity has its own history of intolerance, sanctioning slavery and committing genocide of indigenous people, killing pagan practitioners of witchcraft etc. Hence Protestant Christianity like Roman Catholicism also has its sins. Despite the past, I still find that even though the messengers did evil, the message is still appealing. It appeals to my fears and to my hopes for utopia. The truth is, after evaluating other religions, only Christianity (and possibly Islam) paints the most awful picture of what might happen to you if you do not believe their message. I like to take calculated risk, but the uncertainty that death presents is not something that I think I want to gamble with.

However, having been raised as a child in a Christian environment and milieu, while experiencing God for myself within those boundaries, I have consciously decided on the path of Protestant Christianity. Apart from the obvious reason being that I was born into a Protestant family, as an adult now, I find myself with good reasons to be a Protestant Christian as opposed to a Christian submitting to some papal authority. One notes that there are other papal Christian groups apart from Roman Catholicism such as the Eastern Orthodox Church or the Ethiopian Orthodox (also Russian and Greek and perhaps other regional variations). If I were to choose among papal Christianity, I would definitely go for Ethiopian Orthodox as a Jamaican influenced by Rastafarian ideas and racial consciousness. After all, I can find more spiritual connection to Ethiopia, which is mentioned so many times in the Bible, from Genesis down to the book of Acts.

However, I find good theological grounds to adopt a Protestant stance to Christianity, rather than submit to papal authority. In my view, no one person should be given the authority or control over the interpretation of the Bible or how Christianity must be practiced. I know that this poses a problem, as it permits the possibilities of multiple interpretations, traditions and practices. However, this very problem is necessary in order to permit the growth and spread of Christianity. Let me explain.

There is in the book of Acts and Galatians  the mention of the story of how the Jerusalem church had conflict with the Gentile churches established by Apostle Paul (See Acts 15). Apostle Paul, following revelation, made a trip to Jerusalem to hold a meeting with the credentialed apostles (the inner-circle trio that got special attention from Jesus), that is Peter, James and John (Galatians 2:9).  From that meeting, the 3 apostles (not one) made decisions that they would assume control over the Christian outreach to the Jews, while Apostle Paul and Barnabas were to be given equal authority to assume control over the Christian outreach to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:9). As such, Apostle Paul and Barnabas were given similar authority and worked in a similar capacity as Peter, James and Peter. Hence, there was no one person that was apparently elevated to be head over the church.

Hence this to me, raises the issue that earthly church government is a democratic affair, and not a monarchy. Decisions about the direction of the church must be made by at least three persons, and not one. After all, most of Christianity believes in the tri-unity concept of God, three governing as one (). It therefore makes sense to me that if there is to be a papacy at all, there should be 3 or at least 2 persons who comprise that Papacy.  Three or two witness are required to enforce a decision to be made as evident in Paul's writings (see 2 Corinthians 13:11 Timothy 5:19), Jesus teachings (Matthew 18:16)  as well as the Jewish Scriptures (See Deuteronomy 17:6; and even John 8:17). 

From the same story, I also perceive that if the Galilean Jewish apostles had not compromised with apostle Paul and Barnabas, then entire growth and spread of Christianity beyond Jerusalem could have been compromised. Hence, there is wisdom in not having one man vested with all the decision-making authority and the power to interpret the mind or heart of God. Doesn't even the Bible tell us that a cord or strand of three is not easily broken? Further, doesn't even the same wise book tell us that the multitude of counsel is valuable to establishing a thing?

Even the canon of Christian scriptures, which is another story altogether, is incomplete. It does not seem to me that God would have only given us 66 books. That very number is too co-incidentally close to the infamous 666 of the Anti-Christ. In addition, there are numerous books mentioned or quoted in the Bible that were not included in the canon, including the book of Enoch, which is cited at least twice by Jude and Peter (see this blog entry on that topic). Yet, Protestant Christianity, while believing in principle that they must not be limited in their interpretation of the mind and heart of God by  a pope, are yet still limiting their own reformation by sticking to the orthodox practices, traditions and even actions established by popes - including the definition of the Bible as being the 66 books canonized by papal authority, as well as celebrating festivals, occasions and times sanctified by papal authority. Hopefully, I will not be persecuted for posting this. After all, even the Roman Catholic's papal see could benefit from this insight in reforming the political or papal structure of the Roman Catholic church in keeping with the Biblical traditions that they have seemingly drifted away from.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Case for a Jamaican English or Patois Bible

The Jamaican Patois translation of the New Testament of the Holy Bible had its official launch in London recently at the Jamaican High Commission. In this post, I want to make a rare injunction into the debate, by making the case for the need for this Bible translation. This is in part motivated from an online discussion or debate on the subject that I had with my Facebook friends.

My point is basically that the God of the Bible wants his message to be given in every tongue, tribe and nation, and as such, Jamaican English or Patois (Patwah) is one such tongue that I do not think he would want to ignore. This is quite evident in the book of the Acts of the Apostles, that on the day of Pentecost, every member of the Jewish diaspora visiting Jerusalem could hear their dialect being spoken by the Jewish Galileans. God gave sound to every dialect that day, and the same God of yesterday would want to give his message in the Jamaican dialect today. In fact Apostle Paul states: "There are, it may be, so many kinds of languages in the world, and none of them is without significance" ( 1 Cor. 14:10).

For those Jamaicans who can read the Jamaican Patois Bible, I believe it can have a more local and personal impact than the King James English. Already, I know that Jamaican pastors and Evangelists preach in Jamaican patois. So why not also read the word in patois as well as preach in patois? Especially if pastors and evangelists during their sermons need to preach the word so that the common and poor man can understand. As the Bible says, Jesus came to preach to the poor, not the well educated and rich (Luke 4:18). So having a bilingual sermon that both preaches and reads the word in the language that the common man can understand, enables them to receive the message. It seems hypocritical that we can have the pastor preach bilingually in patois and English, yet have the Bible verse read only in English. Why not do both conducting the service fully bilingually?

Next up, we need to do the hymns. As the apostle says, sing but sing with understanding (1 Corinthians 14:15). In addition, he said that he would rather preach a short sermon that everyone can understand, than speak in different languages/tongues (1 Corinthians 14:19). Hopefully, even more Jamaicans will be interested in reading the Bible in their own language. And hopefully, they study both English versions and Jamaican English versions.

What I learned from watching Noah's Ark documentaries

This weekend, I watched two documentaries on the subject of Noah's Ark. One produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in 2003 (Bragard, 2003)and another based on the findings of an amateur archaeologist produced in 1988 (Snider, 1988). BBC's production relied on experts who poured doubt over the Bible's story of Noah and instead, relied on Babylonian sources to recreate a different version of what they considered the historical reality upon which the flood story was based. After watching their documentary, one got the feeling that Jewish priests just adapted the Babylonian story into the Bible to make a point that disobedience to God's laws has consequences. However, I asked the question, why would Jewish scribes go through all the trouble of giving names and indicating genealogies if they just wanted to concoct a parable to make a point? They could have easily omitted names, just like the Babylonian source, and ignore the presentation of genealogies and all the details which just takes away from the flow of the story. Below is the Noah's Ark video by the BBC for those who want to watch it for themselves.


Another thing that turned me off from the BBC presentation is its poor journalism. Good journalism in my view presents balance: two sides of a story and allows for the audience to draw their own conclusion and make up their own mind about which story to believe. For me, all the experts used by the BBC seemed to doubt the authenticity of the Noah's Ark story as presented by the Bible. However, one would have expected that a good journalist would present a debate, between the experts against and the experts for the Noah's Ark story. Hence, I decided to watch another video, a more amateur and not so big name one, that was entitled the best evidence. This video, licensed to UFOTV, highlighted actual evidence and not just theories about how the world works, nature and material things work, but actually presented visual evidence of the presence of a boat like shape and structure in a mountain region corroborating with the Biblical dimensions of the ark in the Bible's story. Watch the following documentary for yourself for details, if you have the time.


 At the end, I wondered why a BBC production in 2003, would ignore and not even mention this particular event and work by this amateur archaeologist, and present his side in their documentary. Lesson: be critical of all information sources and media, and evaluate them for balance in presenting truth and reality, especially in so-called documentaries.


Bragard, Jean Claude (dir.)(2003).Noah's ark: The real story. British Broadcasting Corporation [BBC]. Retrieved from [uploaded by Dara Kosnav on Jul 16, 2011]

Snider, Douglas A. (dir.) (1988). Noah's ark found. Retrieved from: [uploaded by UFOTVstudios on Nov 11, 2010)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Implementing a postmodern tithing system in keeping with Christian tradition

After posing an important question in my previous blog post entitled Questions about paying pastors monetary wages, I feel compelled to offer an alternative to the problem posed in that post.

For me, I'm at that age where I really begin to become critical of traditions and how we interpret and practice traditions today. The problem posed is the question regarding how do we continue to practice Christian tradition today? In this case, how can we maintain a Jewish tradition of tithing in contemporary times, seeing that Jewish tradition of tithing as taught by the Torah did not compel any mandatory monetary tithe? Even the "New Testament" endorsement by Jesus of the good of tithing (see Matthew 23:23) makes it clear that we tithe grains, spices and of things that are come naturally from the creator, and not from some man made economic system.

In a greater urbanised world and the movement away from agriculture, can we legitimately practice a Judeo-Christian tradition of tithing without using State-printed money? What about those who advocate that the church must be separate from the state, but still accept the use of state-printed funds to pay their shepherds?

I propose this alternative. That instead of pastors receiving monetary wages, that they receive wages in kind from the congregation that they serve or shepherd. This can be implemented through tithing of grocery and clothing. Let every member of the church reserve a tenth of their shopping and purchases to give to the pastor and those who minister. Tithe not the state-printed money, but the farm produce and other goods purchased with the state-printed money. Hence, even those who don't have farms, can still legitimately partake in a Judeo-Christian heritage of tithing without the use of state-printed money. This will truly liberate the church from state, an essential value of American Protestant Christians.

Questions about paying pastors monetary wages

I am reading through the book of Luke with the university student Adventist group on campus. Their closed Facebook page allow us to share our thoughts on what we have been reading. Being the critical and analytic person that I am by nature, some interestingly critical questions arise regarding the church traditions today in comparison to what I read in Luke.

On reading Luke 20, Jesus uses the imprint on the coin to tell the people to render to the Roman emperor what belongs to the Roman emperor. I then wondered if the people gave Roman coins to the temple or if they had their special temple coins. I know that some pastor taught me in the past that money temple changers existed and developed a business on exchanging currency to the temple currency, which gave rise to the situation where Jesus had to chase them out and rebuke them for turning God's temple into a den of thieves (See story in Luke 19:45-46).

I also noted that God did not require monetary offerings, but only animal and grain offerings which would also serve as the wages for the priests as recorded in whole book of Leviticus.

This got me wondering if the church today has totally rejected Biblical principles in its funding. Shouldn't we be bringing food offerings meet our pastors grocery and dietary needs? And shouldn't we also bring clothing offerings to meet the clothing needs of our pastors? I can understand the paying of offerings to take care of building and utilities, but tithe going to conferences to pay wages for pastors? Isn't is like using Caesar's money to pay God's officers? Just asking.

Weapons of our warfare (Song post)

This song was written to illustrate the idea that the LORD is the LORD of Hosts. He is a warrior God. A commander-in-chief of the armies in heaven. Such a concept I know seems out of touch with post-modern society. However, this songs means a lot to persons who are under attack (whether spiritual or physically). Imagine if you are surrounded by enemies who are seeking your destruction. You definitely want to know who to call on, to defend and protect you.

I entitle the entire song  "Prayer Warriors", but alternately "Warfare" or "Weapons of our Warfare". However, there are verses and other parts of this song that have not been included in this clip. Hence what I post here is just a synopsis. Again, the soundtrack is not professionally and perfectly recorded, but the message and spirit of the song is still conveyed.

The lyrics:

The weapons of our warfare,
They are not carnal,
The weapons of our warfare,
Yes, they are spiritual,
Pulling down, pulling down,
Pulling down the strongholds

Pulling down, pulling down,
Pulling down the strongholds

  Warfare by Mark-Shane Scale

Place of inspiration (Song post)

I've been writing songs for a long time now, as the inspiration comes and goes. Well, today I have decided that it is now time to publish sound clips of my original voice tracks via this blog. While my voice tracks may not be perfectly edited and sometimes sung without first going through proper vocal exercises, I have decided that I can no longer wait to find musical contacts and a professional recording studio. In fact, perhaps, by posting my raw and unedited musical and song ideas and lyrics here, I may in fact be closer to connecting with the right persons to publish the songs. Hence, starting from today, I will be giving voice to the songs that have found me in my times of inspiration

The one below, I have entitled "Let's go to the place" or alternately as "Jesus, I want to be inspired by you". This song communicates the need to be in a place where one can receive inspiration from the LORD.

The words/lyrics of the song goes like this:

Let's go to the place, where love first found me,
Let's go to the place, where God's love surrounds me,
Let's go to the place, where love first found me,
Let's go to the place, where he puts his loving arms around me,

Jesus, I want to be inspired by you (By you),
Jesus, I want to be inspired by you,(By you),
Jesus, I want to be inspired by you
 By you, By you, By you...