Saturday, June 29, 2013

What to do when your religion becomes outlawed?

Recent events in the world have made me realise how quickly Bible believing people are becoming minorities. The legislation in traditionally Christian countries are gradually sanctioning and permitting societal phenomena that are anti-Biblical principles (see a previous post on the subject). It is at this state, we need to prepare ourselves for the new world order in which Christians and Jews that uphold traditional Biblical interpretations and principles may find themselves the minorities that are targeted by law. As such, we need to ask ourselves the question, "What do we do when and if our religion becomes outlawed in states and nations that were one built by Judeo-Christian minded founders and leaders?"

For the answer to this question, I find no need for us to look back at church history or traditions, except the Jewish Bible. There are two stories in question. One reflected by the story of Daniel in the lions' den and the other by queen Esther, (both of which found themselves faced with this dilemma in the land of Persia).

Consider this, both candidates had their nation dismantled and completely changed by the ruling authorities who instituted and permitted religion and other practices that were contrary to their beliefs. However, their responses to their situations are instructive, as they did not act to change the laws that gave people the right to do what was wrong according to their beliefs. Rather, they continued their traditions and even service to the authorities (for Daniel it was the service of public administration, while for Esther, it was marital sex work being a good wife).

In the case of Daniel, even though he recognised that praying was outlawed in Persia, he did not decide to hide when practicing his religious tradition of praying. Instead, he still persisted in his public prayer tradition, doing what he always did to worship and serve God.

For Esther, the queen practiced her religion quietly and perhaps even secretly, not letting the king know her religious beliefs, even though she was his wife. She only made it public after fasting and prayer, when the king made a law that affected her and all her people that practiced her religion. Only then did she make public her religious background and how the new laws negatively affected her and the other people who practiced her religion. In other words (for the feminists among us), here we see a woman making political representation for minorities.

From both stories, we can learn the following principles:
  1. Represent our religion to the authorities. We should at all times make the authorities aware of our religion and religious practices, so that they are less likely to pass laws that negatively affect our religious and spiritual practices or activities.
  2. Continue the practice of our faith. If the authorities still outlaw our religious practices and activities, even after being aware of our beliefs, traditions and practices, then we continue to publicly or privately practice them until we are prosecuted.
  3. Present our convictions for the final time and prepare to face the outcome. When and if prosecuted, we make our final attempt to present our case before the authorities. It is those times, when we should pray and fast so that we can present our convictions about our beliefs and practices to the authorities in the power of God and his anointing. Then we let God decide whether or not to get the authorities to change the laws and make provisions or allowances for us. If not, then we need to stand in our conviction and in the power of God , ready to face the punishments that the law prescribes for practicing our religion and spirituality.
So, prepare yourself for the times and don't get caught up in false doctrines or let world events change your religion. Rather, remember Daniel and Esther, and keep the ancient faith even in the new world order. God bless you!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

How my theology is being challenged in Canada

The Lord is surely dealing with my worldview here in Canada, exposing me to radical rebuke and corrections through my circumstances, experiences and readings. More than any sermon, my lived experiences are pointing out flaws in my understanding of Scripture and the applications to real life. In this post, I just want to share how some of my theology and theological views are undergoing "reformation".

For the Sabbath of May 25, 2013, I listened keenly to a discussion on the practice of Adventism by Africans and Caribbean folk/nationals. It was noted that while both groups shunned jewellery and make-up wearing (to a greater extent than North American Adventists), both Caribbean and Africans emphasize fancy dress, attire, hats, accessories and even cars. One of the persons speaking made mention that where she comes from, "Adventists are known by how they dress".

Yet, in my own experience, the ideas apply not only to Adventists, but to most Christian denominations that I am acquainted with. Most Christian denominations that I have fellowshipped with put some amount of pride in the material things and/or outward appearance. Make-up, jewellery, accessories, fancy dress/attire, and fancy hairstyles are more or less a feature of every institutionalised Christian denomination that I have visited. These are in contrast to the Biblical admonition given by Apostle Peter to women:

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, (1 Peter 3:3-5; New International Version)

Here is my simple rule for modest dress: if you do not need it, do not wear it! You only need clothing that is functional, that covers your body parts and do not reveal too much to others.

Yet, most of the assault on my theology comes from this book by Bruno Dyck entitled Management and the gospel: Luke's radical message for the first and twenty-first centuries:

Dyck does a critical inquiry into management and the dominant viewpoints on the teachings of Jesus in Luke. His radical interpretations have revealed to me how Christians today have not rightly interpreted the practice of Christianity as taught by Jesus. My take home points from the book so far are:

  1. Christians must not practice acquisitive economics (seeking to increase our money and wealth), but rather, we should practice redistributive economics (sharing wealth with others). For example, a Christian must not have money put down in the bank to earn interest. Instead, we must redistribute the money that we do not have immediate need for to help those who have immediate needs to be addressed.
  2. We must challenge the social economic order of the day that allows individuals to heap riches upon riches, through making debtors of others. We must also challenge income inequality and the situation where there are those that have more than they need and still hoard resources, while ignoring to help others who have dire immediate needs.

If there is one thing that I most value about Canadian culture is this tendency to live by those two principles, whereas my own Jamaican culture tend to justify inequality and not sharing wealth. Yet, I find that Christianity as practiced today by multitudes, tend to do the same: buy and wear things that they do not need, adorn their facilities and institutions with things that are unnecessary, and ignore the needs of members within who really need help. May God make these lessons stick with me and you for the future and make us like his son Jesus, to challenge the establishment and also to make the personal adjustment in our thoughts and attitudes.


Dyck, B. (2013). Management and the gospel: Luke's radical message for the first and twenty-first centuries. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.