lundi 10 janvier 2022

A Year In Review: Book Reading List 2021

 

Another year is gone and there is much to be grateful to the Lord despite the many hardship and uncertainties from our world (post?) COVID. On a personal note though, I have been growing both professionally and spiritually. I also discovered a new hobby - the game of Chess thanks to the TV Series 'Queen's Gambit'. 

I have had the continuous pleasure last year to still be part of a Bible study group from the Living Word Association (LWA) which gathers weekly to reflect and share the word of God from the Holy Scripture. One major milestone achievement for the year 2021 was the completion of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). With a group of friends, we set our mind to read the Catechism through and through in a year and I am glad that I was able to finally read it through and learn much about the official Church teaching. The reading led to some surprising discoveries about what the Catholic Church really believes and teach in her own words. It reminded me of the first time I read the Bible through and through, at the end of it as I was closing the book of Revelation I wondered where did some people (or even some preachers) get some of their teachings they attribute to the Bible? I had the same feeling reading the Catechism. I highly recommend people to read for themselves what the Catholic Church says about itself from the source. You might just be gladly surprised as I was.

Following the yearly tradition, I will put below the list of books I read during the year 2021. Among the books, I will omit the Catechism since I have already mentioned it above. Each book come with a scoring. This scoring doesn't necessarily mean that the content was perfect or poor. It reflects simply my enthusiasm at the moment I was reading it based on information content and writing style that I found appealing. These are the books that I read and which have contributed to shape my thoughts in 2021:

I. Religious Books

A) Catholic Authors:

1. "Demonic Foes: My 25 years As A Psychiatrist Investigating Possessions, Diabolic Attacks, and the Paranormal" by Richard Gallager -- (5/5)

2. "Jesus, the Tribulation and the End of the Exile: Restoration Eschatology and the Origin of the Atonement" by Brant Pitre (PhD Thesis) -- (5/5)

3. "Renouvelle Tes Merveilles: Des dons spirituels pour aujourdhui" par Damian Stayne -- (5/5)

4. "Behold Your Mother: A Biblical and Historical Defense of the Marian Doctrines" by Tim Staples -- (4.5/5)

5. "Be Healed: A Guide to Encountering the Powerful Love of Jesus in Your Life" by Bob Schuchts -- (4/5)

6. "The Case for Catholicism: Answers to Classic and Contemporary Protestant Objections" by Trent Horn -- (4/5)

7. "Reclaiming Vatican II: What it (Really) Said, What it Means, and How It calls Us to Renew the Church" by Father Blake Britton -- (4/5)

8. "Daughter Zion: Medictations on the Church's Marian Belief" by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) -- (3.5/5)

9. "Personal Prayer: A Guide for Receiving the Father's love" by Father Thomas Acklin and Father Boniface Hocks -- (3.5/5)

B) Protestant Authors:

10. "The Potter's Promise: A Biblical Defense of Traditional Soteriology" by Leighton Flowers -- (4.5/5)

11. "Atonement and the Death of Christ: An Exegetical, Historical, and Philosophical Exploration" by William Lane Craig -- (4.5/5)

12. "Do What Jesus Did: A real-life field guide to healing the sick, routing demons and changing lives forever" by Robby Dawkins -- (4.5/5)

13. "There is More: The Secret to Experiencing God's Power to Change Your Life" by Randy Clark -- (4.5/5)

14. "Marchons par l'Esprit" by Elie et Denis Yapoundjian -- (4/5)

II. NON-Religious Books

15. "The Trouble with Africa: Why Foreign Aid isn't Working" by Robert Calderisi -- (5/5)

16. "Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess" by Bobby Fischer, Dr. Stuart Margulies and Donn Mosenfelder -- (5/5)

17. "CHESS 101: Everything a new chess player needs to know" by Dave Schloss -- (4/5)

18. "One Bright Star to Guide Them" by John C. Wright -- (4.5/5)

19. "Business Strategy" by Brian Tracy -- (4/5) 

....

Overall, the year 2021 was filled with surprises both pleasant and unpleasant but we continue pressing forward with God's grace with hope that the year 2022 will be better than its predecessor and filled with favourable divine appointments for all of us.

mercredi 15 septembre 2021

Quéstion de Youtube: L'intercession de Marie et les origines de l' Eglise Catholique

 Au mois de Janvier 2020, j'ai publier une version amateur repondant en bref au Pasteur Marcello sur ces vues lier à l'Eglise Catholique qui s'intitule, 'Réponse au Pasteur Tunasi sur Marie'. Quelque mois plutard, une personne portant le nom de Clotilde réagit à la video en soulevant une series de questions. Je retranscrit ci-dessous ces questions et mes réponses (avec quelque ajustement de forme) avec l'ésperance que ça pourait aussi aider ceux qui pourront avoir les même questions.

..............

Bonjour Clotilde. Permez moi de répondre aux questions poser dans l'ordre dans laquelle elles furent presenter: 1. "L'eglise primitive ne priais pas Marie" Il est important de comprendre que le mot prier signifie requête et non adoration. En vue de cette clarification, il y' a des évidences historiques qui montrent le contraire de ton assertion et en voici deux exemples qui nous viennent des premiers Chrétiens avant même que la Bible soit canonisé en l'an 393 (AD 393):

a) «Mère de Dieu, [écoute] mes requêtes ; ne nous méprise pas dans l'adversité, mais sauve-nous du danger »(Rylands Papyrus 3 [A.D. 350]).
b) « C'est pourquoi, nous vous prions, la plus excellente des femmes, qui vous glorifiez de la confiance de vos honneurs maternels, de nous garder sans cesse en souvenir. O sainte Mère de Dieu, souvenez-vous de nous, dis-je, qui nous vantons de vous et qui, dans les hymnes d'août, célèbrent la mémoire, qui vivra toujours et ne s'effacera jamais » - (L' Oraison sur Siméon et Anna 14 [A.D. 305]).

On voit bien que les prémiers chrétiens, bien avant même la canonisation de la Bible, demandaient à la sainte Mère, la vierge Marie, d'interceder en leur faveur.

2) "Rome ... la nommée CATHOLIQUE." Prémierement, Il ne faut pas confondre l'Empire Romaine et l'Eglise de Rome. Cette dernière fait reference à l'Eglise du Seigneur qui était à Rome (Romains 1:8, 15). Deuxiement, l'Eglise du Seigneur n'a pas été nommée Catholique par la Rome (les Romains), car le mot Catholique est d'origine Grec (katholikos) et non Latine qui etait la langue romaine. Et le mot 'Catholique' veut simplement dire 'universel', car l'Evangile du Royaume doit atteindre toute les nations, donc son universalité (Mathieu 24:14). Troisièmement et le plus important, la première fois que le mot 'Eglise Catholique' apparait dans un document historique, c'est dans les ecrits de St. Ignace qui fut l'êveque d'Antioche (la Turkie moderne) entre l'année AD 105-107 et non de l'êveque de Rome. St. Ignace fut martyrisé par l'empire Romaine pour sa foi en Christ. Je le cite:

« Partout où apparaît l'évêque, que le peuple soit, de même que partout où est le Christ Jésus, il y a l'église catholique." - Lettre à l'Eglise de Smyrne (daté entre AD. 105-107)

Il est donc faux et incorrect de dire que c'est la Rome qui a donné à l'Eglise du Seigneur le nom de Catholique. Il n'y a aucun fondement historique à celà!

3) A la question: "pourquoi tous les saints que vous prier sont tous des européens. Je n'ai jamais vu de Saints asiatique, américains ou africain." Au fait il y a toujours eu des saints dans tout les continent, inclut le continent Africains et celà depuis pres de 2000 ans. A titre d'exemple, St. Augustin parexample etait un Africain, il vivait à hyppo (l'Algerie moderne).

Tu trouveras même toute une liste des saints qui proviennent d'Afrique dans cette rubrique de Wikipedia: https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_de_saints_chr%C3%A9tiens_d%27Afrique_du_Nord

4) A votre derniere remarque: "Une dernière chose: osée :4: 6. Tu me dira sûrement que tu une bible,mais.la lis tu?"

Oui je posede une bible et je fais aussi partie d'un groupe de lecture biblique hebdomadaire et celà depuis bien plus de 5 ans. On a même eu l'occassion de la lire completement en commun de la Genèse à l'Apocalypse une fois, et personnellement j'ai dejà lu ma bible dans son entiereté à 3 reprises. Je peux vous rassurer tres chère qu'il ne me manque ni de la connaissance des saintes Ecritures ni ne suis-je sur le chemin de la destruction et celà grâce à l'Esprit de Verité qui me conduit:

'Quand le consolateur sera venu, l'Esprit de vérité, il vous conduira dans toute la vérité' - Jean 16:13
Merci pour vos questions et remarques.

Que Dieu vous benit.

jeudi 22 juillet 2021

Answering: What If God Was One of Us?

An article was brought to my attention recently by a lady friend of mine. It is titled, 'What if God was one of us?' From a Christian perspective, it is believed that God became one of us. For it was testified by the ancients that God who is, "The Word became a human being and lived here with us. We saw his true glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father. From him all the kindness and all the truth of God have come down to us." - John 1:14 (CEV).

But the author of this article doesn't think in Christian terms, meaning the brotherhood of all men. No, she think in racial terms, she means what if God become an African in particular not a human in general. And not any type of African but the black one as the introductory image at her article suggest.  

I'd like to review some sections of her article and propose alternative ways to assess the situation. Let me start from the beginning of the article and go systematically through her different reflections.

1) Is Christianity Foreign to Africa?

"Moreover, Africa went as far as completely adopting the colonialists’ ways of life and belief systems: Christianity, for example. But there are many issues pertaining to the adoption of foreign religions in Africa, a few of which are examined here."

It is important to note that the author might be oblivious to the point that Christianity has been in Africa for almost 2000 years. It is in no way foreign to Africa historically speaking. Matter of fact, the Holy Bible was first canonized in two African towns, first in the council of Hippo (Algeria) in AD 393 and the same Bible canon was reaffirmed in the council of Carthage (Tunisia) in AD 397. Last I checked, both Algeria and Tunisia are African nations and formal members of the African Union

2) Christian doctrines are no Jokes

"God doesn’t subscribe to the worldly conceptualisation of the divine. In fact, human perceptions of God are merely perspectives conditioned by socio-politico-economical environments. God is neither Christian nor Muslim nor all these things because God is so big and elusive a ‘concept’ that it cannot be entirely grasped by our limited human intellect. That is essentially why religious doctrines end up reflecting the values of the society in which they operate, or from which they were borrowed."

This segment is what could be qualified as an anthropological critique of the major world religions. It is based on this rather simplistic assumption: religion doesn't shape society but rather the reverse is true, human sociological experience such as culture, politic and economy shape religion. And what is the evidence she gives for it? Well, none. No evidence. She simply makes a claim that 'religious doctrines end up reflecting the values of the society' but she gives no concrete example. Which religious doctrines does she have in mind? Which society is she thinking of? We can't tell. But we don't have to imagine what could have been the interaction between religious doctrines and society. History is filled with examples.

In his acclaimed book, "Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World", Tom Holland who is an agnostic writer of ancient history (i.e not a Christian), does take his reader from ancient Palestine to modern day and he points out how Christianity changed the behaviors (ethos) of cultures and ancient powers through the force of its doctrines. Here are just two examples, 

(1) the idea of universal human rights and the equality of every individual was developed not by the philosophers of the Enlightenment but by Christian canon lawyers in the 12th century. And this was based on the doctrine of Genesis and our creation in God’s image which will be emphasized repeatedly in the New Testament doctrinaire. To quote Holland in the chapter titled "Revolution", he said: "That the rich had a duty to give to the poor was, of course, a principle as old as Christianity itself. What no one had thought to argue before, though, was a matching principle: that the poor had an entitlement to the necessities of life. It was – in a formulation increasingly deployed by canon lawyers – a human ‘right’." 

 (2) the idea that every person has a right to his or her own body—and that therefore sex must be completely consensual—was a startling new concept that came into the world through Christianity. To quote a section of his book on the chapter titled "flesh", he writes: "A sexual order rooted in the assumption that any man in a position of power had the right to exploit his inferiors, to use the orifices of a slave or a prostitute to relieve his needs much as he might use a urinal, had been ended. Paul’s insistence that the body of every human being was a holy vessel had triumphed."

It is therefore incorrect to assume that religious doctrines, especially Christian doctrines, are mere reflection of existing socio-cultural phenomena. Au contraire, Christian doctrines were at time so foreign to cultures in which it was preached, and this from Palestine, passing through Greece to Rome. There is a reason those who became Christians were said to have been 'converted'. For religious conversion, the Christian type, is a profound change that goes beyond adherence to a new spirituality. The change also impact one's view of life, death, love, child development and else.

3) Are You Triggered by a 'White' Jesus?

"As a matter of fact, Christianity is a post-Christ religion that appropriated God to itself through civilisation, and, through the years, whitened “God”.  When Christ was taken to the middle east, he was not as white as depicted by Christianity today, for instance. Later, Christ was taken to Greece, which made him white and Greek-speaking. He was then taken to Rome, which made him Latin-speaking. He was then taken to England to allow King Henry VIII to marry as the church of England was renamed; then to Scotland, where he was a Presbyterian; and then to the United States, where he became an Episcopalian."

There is two important points worth being raised here:

The First one is theological in nature. Christianity is not a 'post-Christ religion', whatever that may mean. There is no such thing as 'post Christ' since he is still alive and celebrated as the risen one, hence Anno Domini (AD) and not After Christ, which implies that he still reigns. Christianity is the nomenclature under which the community of believers (i.e disciples) of Christ Jesus are categorized among world religion. Christianity may simply mean - the religion of Christians. And Christians is the name given to the disciples of Christ (Acts 11:26). The Lord Jesus has always had disciples and this during his earthly ministry before his crucifixion (Luke 10:1), during his crucifixion's as witnessed by the presence of St. John at the Cross with other Jesus' female disciples and his blessed mother, Mary (John 19:25); and after his resurrections from the dead (Acts 1:2-3; Acts 11:26). That community of disciples are what later was called Christianity after the event of Pentecost, when the Church was theologically birthed. The community preceded the label 'Christian'. 

Chinese Jesus at His Baptism

The second point is anthropologic in nature. It is easy to sympathize with the comment about the ever changing face of the Lord Jesus Christ depending on which continent one finds oneself. Truth to be told, I have personally grown looking at a dark-brown portrait of Jesus at the cross in the Catholic parish I've attended since my teenage years, that was 25 years ago. When I lived in South Africa for an extended period of 6 years, the portrait was that of a white looking Jesus on the cross. I have seen many depiction of Jesus which reflects a wide rage of nations

Native American Christ Shows Compassion

It is improper to play the race card with the different cultural depiction of Christ. It is rather better to realize that Caucasian Christians have shown a greater preference for a depiction of Christ that look like themselves. African are also doing the same as evidence by the Church I grew up in. So does the Hispanic population and the Asian population. Different communities are simply trying to identify themselves with their savior, hence projecting their cultural preference in their depiction of Christ. I think this is an acceptable practice by different nations as long as it doesn't degenerate into racial competition. The truth is Jesus was neither black, dark-brown, Hispanic, far-east Asian-looking or white historically speaking. Jesus was a Semite living in the near eastern region. His completion must have reflected those of his countrymen. The Lord Jesus portrayal should not become a divisive issue within Jesus' community as it is in the secular community. For in Christianity, "There is neither Jew nor Greek ... for you are all one in Christ Jesus" - Galatians 3:26 

It doesn't matter at the end which depiction of the Lord Jesus is chosen for illustration, for we, Christians, knows what the Lord expect of us in this global brotherhood of believers: "For there is no difference both of Jew and of Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call on Him" - Romans 10:12.

4) Is Christianity Good for Africa? 

"Africa is the only place where Jesus didn’t transform. Why? Africa, as a whole, missed that vital part and adopted an alien concept of God, which propagates other people’s values and interests. It is tragic! The consequences include the denigration of African culture."

As a much needed reminder, the 'concept of God' in Christianity is not alien to Africa, as history demonstrates. Christianity has always been good and valuable to all who where touched by the good news of the Gospel, and Africa is no exception. It is interesting to note that although skepticism has been expressed by the author who seems to believe in what she called the 'concept of God', another author who does disbelieve in the very existence of God, the British atheist Matthew Parris, has shown more optimism of the impact of Christianity in Africa. Matthew Parris penned an interesting article a decade ago and which was published by the TIMES titled, "As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God: Missionaries, not aid money, are the solution to Africa's biggest problem -the crushing passivity of the people's mindset".

Parris makes this observation: "Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good. I used to avoid this truth by applauding - as you can - the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It's a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it."

5) Is the Biblical Message Antithetical to African Heritage?

"Consider this. The bible is written in a way that paints everything associated with African indigenous practices as pagan while promoting Western Judeo-Christian ideologies and beliefs."
First, there is no such thing as a Western Judeo-Christian ideology in the bible. The Bible was written by Jews, not Westerners. The possible exception might have been Luke who simply reported the lives of its Jewish characters, after all Jesus and all his apostles were also Jews who lived in Israel. Whatever misgivings one has with the West, it is irresponsible to import such prejudice in one's reading of the Bible. This is an intellectually irresponsible behavior. 

Second, the Bible is not against nor hostile to African indigenous practices as long as those practices are not in contradiction with divine revelation. The Bible ultimately reveals to us God's only begotten Son as the way, the truth and the life. This means that he is the standard of maturity and perfection God expects of all humanity, and yes, this also includes Africans (Acts 17:24-31).

To put it in the eloquent words of CS Lewis in his book, "Mere Christianity": "if you are a Christian you do not have to believe that all the other religions are simply wrong all through. If you are an atheist you do have to believe that the main point in all the religions of the whole world is simply one huge mistake. If you are a Christian, you are free to think that all these religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of the truth. When I was an atheist I had to try to persuade myself that most of the human race have always been wrong about the question that mattered to them most; when I became a Christian I was able to take a more liberal view. But, of course, being a Christian does mean thinking that where Christianity differs from other religions, Christianity is right and they are wrong. As in arithmetic—there is only one right answer to a sum, and all other answers are wrong: but some of the wrong answers are much nearer being right than others."

6) Christianity, Colonialism: The Eternal Hot Topic

"Christianity justified Africa’s partition and initial colonisation; it was used as a double-edged sword to subjugate the masses while portraying the violent conquest of Africa as a divine mission. The arrogance of colonialism and European Christianity completely disregarded African indigenous knowledge systems and imposed their own systems at the expense of African indigenous religions."

In dealing with the spread of Christianity in Africa in the 19th century, it is important to take an objective look at the data of what really happened. For many, the story goes like this: western powers came to Africa masquerading as religious benefactors in order to rule over its indigenous population and take advantage of its natural resources. 
This is the predominant narrative among Africans even among educated Africans surprisingly. The truth of the matter is that history is filled with nuances, and it is never as white and black as we hear it in cabaret or in movies. In an academic work by Dr. Etim E. Okon, titled "Christian Missions and Colonial Rule in Africa: Objective and Contemporary Analysis", he remarked that African historians still hotly debate the correlation between missions and colonial occupation in Africa. The reason of the debate is due to the complex interactions of foreign actors on Africa land. There were three foreign group of actors who were actively engaged with natives: the missionaries, the traders and the colonial powers. These three actors had different objectives even though they also had at time overlapping interest. Collapsing these three groups into one category is the reason of much misunderstanding and discussions about Christianity roles in Africa's colonialism. For many, to introduce nuances is to ask for more rigorous intellectual effort, and who want to bother with nuances if they can simply judge people by the color of their skins (white) instead of the content of their missions? 

Dr. Okon comments: "Since missionaries, traders and administrators knew they were British residents in Africa with a common interest to protect; they cooperated and united as vital element in the attainment of their set goals. Missionaries in critical times of need, depended on traders for funds, and relied completely on administrators for physical security and protection. That was the logical root for A Gikuyu proverb that says 'There is no Roman priest and a European- both are the same!'"

Dr. Okon continues, "It cannot be denied that Christian missionaries paid the supreme price, at the risk of infection and even death to evangelize Africa, modem Africa owe so much to the sacrifices and resilience of good and dedicated missionaries. Christian missions in nineteenth century Africa represented a positive social force with tremendous vitality for the extension of the good part of European civilization to Africa. Missionaries did so much to redeem the negative image of European conquest and economic exploitation of Africa. It is poor historical thinking to erase the numerous and comprehensive achievements of the missionary enterprise because of human shortcomings and failures."

Here is a distant example that can help understand the situation in a different continent. When I was still in university, I remember reading the story of British missionaries trying to access China with great difficulty due to lack of resources in transportation. Fortunately, they found traders that were willing to accommodate them for their extended long maritime trips. Though missionaries disliked drugs and resisted opium on moral ground: after all drugs damages people physically and socially, they still saw the access the mercantile agents of opium had to China as an opportunity to get an easy access to the Far East in order to preach the Gospel. It looked like a beneficial opportunity at the time until Chinese authority started to link the missionaries with opium traders. After all, they seemed to reason, these missionaries came in the same vessels/boat that brought this destructive substances called 'opium' in China. They must be drug traders. This was a serious miscalculation on the part of British missionaries as they later found out to their horror. It is said that when the British Empire wanted to harmonize their relationship with Imperial China, the Chinese Prince Kung said to Sir Rutherford, British Minister in Beijing, "Take away your opium and your missionaries and you will be welcomed". The damage was done.

Maybe the lesson  for any future missionaries should be, be wise and careful with whom you associate, even if it is just a sheer material association that doesn't bind you in friendship. For your audience and your enemies may not have the charity to sieve through the nuances of who is who in that relationship.  

7) Is Christianity Sufficiently Practical for Africans?

"The question is, why was Africa’s “paganism” exorcised instead of transforming Jesus into its image as had been the practice elsewhere? One possible explanation is that indigenous African religions are mainly heterogeneous, often concerned with carrying out the obligations of the communal aspect of life. A transformed Jesus to African religious reality would have been preoccupied with the communal facets of life." 

First, anything that is opposed to the revealed image of Christ in Holy scriptures (Bible) and which has been authoritatively taught by Church tradition throughout the centuries can not be promoted by Christianity. It is not something particular Christianity has against Africa's 'paganism'. It is its modus operandi everywhere else, in all continents.

Second, Christianity doesn't promote a tailored made Jesus. It invites the world rather to be transformed to the image of Christ has already revealed (Ephesians 4:13). Why would the perfect be transformed into the imperfect, it should be the other way around. And since we recognize that we, mere mortals, are imperfect, it is just logical that we be open to resemble Christ and not vis versa. Although the moral and divine image of Christ doesn't change, Christianity practices nevertheless allows for enculturation which is how Christianity makes use of existing cultural features to vehicle its message.

Third, Christianity is very concerned with carrying out communal obligations of life. This is why missionaries have built schools (education), hospitals (health), got involved in social works as evidenced by the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Caritas, Iris Global and else. We can also read in the Bible this exhortation, "Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." - 1 Timothy 5:8 

8) Is African Spirituality more advantageous than Christianity in Design?

"The essence of African indigenous spirituality does not seek to hold or maintain a uniform doctrine; on the contrary, African indigenous religions are dynamic, inclusive, and flexible."

I am not sure of which African spirituality the author is referring since Africans have diverse spiritualties and not one singular spirituality. There is an imprecision in her thinking here. Moreover why consider that having a vague, shifting and imprecise set of doctrine is something desirable? What is relatively malleable and subject to time and human caprices can not stand the test of time, precisely because it lacks that enduring quality of firmness that seems to be so maligned by the author. And this may also explain why 'this spirituality', whatever that might have been, has more or less disappeared for it was not built to last but it is sentenced to fade with time. Why then the complaint?

9) A Rejection of Colonial Education, but Why?

"the occupation of the African mind was essential for colonisation and explains why the decolonisation has been nearly impossible: our memory and minds were the first casualties of colonial education, and, since it has remained unchanged, the mind remains captive. This mental occupation has been as all-encompassing in determining the life of the African but in the opposite direction of African spirituality."

It is not clear what is the indictment the author is raising against the western education receive during colonial time. She doesn't say what it is exactly that keeps her and other African captive about that education. Hence it is difficult to know what is exactly the complaint. Is she complaining to have learned English as a language? Is she complaining to have learned how to Write? Is she complaining to have learned to use a Computer? Or is it that she sees no educational value in the use of standardized pharmaceutical products to relieve pain? It is really unclear what part of western education does she consider as maintaining her and other Africans captive? More importantly, it is not clear either what is she proposing to replace it with.


10) Concluding Word:

The author ends her article by mentioning what Africans are losing by jettisoning the 'ancestral spirituality'. The problem with her concluding words is that there can't be such a thing as an ancestral belief that is being really abandoned given that whatever the ancestors used to believe, that belief can't be the same thing she want us to believe today. This is the logical implication of having an ever shifting and impermanent set of doctrines as she advocated. 

She proposed that this ancestral African 'spirituality' is 'not written', is 'malleable', is 'dynamic', it is 'not uniform'; in brief it can not withstand the test of time. For what is not written will inevitably be changed with time or get lost. And the logical implication of a shifting doctrines is that whatever she sees today as 'THE African spirituality' (whatever that means), it must certainly be radically different from what our ancestors would have regarded as  'The African spirituality' due to the never ending evolution of doctrines through time. In other words, we are not losing anything really, we can't possible lose anything since nothing is supposed to have been preserved intact and uniform from the original spirituality.

I want to propose another way for those who are Christian and non-Christian, here is what is promised by Christ the Lord and which can be gained through a vibrant spiritual experience with Christ:

"Come to me, all of you who are weary and loaded down with burdens, and I will give you rest. Place my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest for your souls, because my yoke is pleasant, and my burden is light." - Matthew 11:28-30 

"The thief comes only to steal, slaughter, and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly." - John 10:10

lundi 11 janvier 2021

A Year In Review: Book Reading List 2020


The year 2020 was quite an unusual year for many. The great unforeseen event was the apparition of the COVID-19 pandemic that has disturbed nations and adversely affected individuals around the world. During this difficult period for many, I managed to focus my reading on some literature of interest that I had always wanted to read. As I have started to do each year, I will be posting below the books that I read and their ranking. One special mention though, with a team of friends from the Living Word Association (LWA), we were able to finally complete our reading of the Bible.

I. Religious Books

A) Catholic Authors:

1. "Scripture Wars: Justin Martyr's Battle to Save the Old Testament for Christians" by Rod BENNETT -- (5/5)

2. "PAUL, A New Covenant Jew: Rethinking Pauline Theology" by Brant PITRE, Michael P. BARBER and John A. KINCAID -- (5/5)

3. "Rapture: The End-Time Error that Leaves the Bible Behind" by David B. CURRIE -- (5/5)

4. "Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The Attack on 'Romanism' by Bible Christian" by Karl KEATING -- (5/5)

5. "The Rite: The Making of A Modern Exorcist" by Matt BAGLIO -- (4.5/5)

6. "The Catholic Case for Trump" by Austin Ruse -- (4.5/5)

7. "Hail, Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God" by Scott HAHN -- (4/5)

8. "Coming Soon: Unlocking the Book of Revelation and Applying its Lessons Today" by Michael BARBER -- (4/5)

9. "Healing: Bringing the Gift of God's Mercy to the World" by Mary HEALY -- (4/5)

10. "The Catholic Church Saved My Marriage: Discovering Hidden Grace in the Sacrament of Matrimony" by David ANDERS -- (3.5/5)

11. "The Anti-Mary Exposed: Rescuing the Culture from Toxic Feminity" by Carrie GRESS -- (3.5/5)


B) OEUCUMINACAL (Catholic and Protestant Authors):

12. "The Spiritual Gifts Handbook: Using Your Gifts to Build the Kingdom" by Randy CLARK and Mary HEALEY -- 4/5


C) Protestant Authors:

13. "Authentic FIRE: A Response to John MacArthur's Strange Fire" by Michael BROWN -- (5/5)

14. "The Fate of the Apostles: Examining the Martyrdom Accounts of the Closest Followers of Jesus" by Sean MCDOWELL -- (5/5)

15. "John Wimber: His Life and Ministry" by Connie DAWSON -- (5/5)

16. "Translating God: Hearing God's Voice for Yourself and the World Around You" by Shawn BOLZ -- (4/5)

17. "Tactics: A Game Plan to Discuss your Christian Convictions" by Gregory KOUKL -- (3.5/5)

18. "Growing in the Prophetic: A practical, biblical guide to dreams, visions, and spiritual gifts" by Mike BICKLE -- (3/5)

19. "The Essential Guide to Healing" by Bill JOHNSON and Randy CLARK -- (3/5)


II. NON-Religious Books

20. "God's Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science" by James HANNAM -- (5/5)

21. "Case Interview Secrets: A Former McKinsey Interviewer Reveals How to Get Multiple Job Offers in Consulting" by Victor CHENG -- (4.5/5)

Overall, the year 2020 was a time for greater clarity for me, in terms of spirituality, family, socio-political issues, and professionally. The only unfortunate aspect of this clarity is that it came with some economical hardship for many people. May the Lord grants us peace and true freedom!

samedi 4 juillet 2020

A Messianic Jew Problem with Catholicism

ONE FOR ISRAEL Ministry - Jewish Evangelism, Bible College ...I have recently watched a series of videos from this extraordinary Jewish Messianic ministry in Israel called, 'One For Israel'. Their staffs are dynamic and the quality of their message delivery is quite outstanding. This Christian ministry geared for the evangelization of non-Christian Jews is operated by Jewish converts to Christianity. By their own statistic of the year 2017, Messianic Jews (Israelite Christian) amount to only 0.3% of the Jewish population, which means they have approximately 50,000 Jewish Christians in the land of Israel. It is an extreme minority that is not always welcomed in the Country due in part by the opposition of Rabbinical Judaism (the predominant religion in Israel).

Despite the great work that "One For Israel" is doing, there is one particular feature of their work that tries to depict repeatedly Catholicism in the worst possible light. I think this may very well be due to the fact that One For Israel is a Christian organization run by protestant Christians trained at the Dallas Theological Seminary. This latter one is not known to being friendly to the Catholic faith as clearly articulated by David Currie. Due to the repeated comments against the Christian Catholic faith, I thought It would be useful if I put in this blog comments that I had put in the YouTubes where those issues were presented. I will focus on only two specific claims for now.

A. Is The Catholic Cross Problematic?
In a 2018 conference presentation by Dr. Eitan Bar about Jewish Evangelism in Israel which can be found in the following link (Click Here), Dr. Eitan Bar gave a message which can only be presented as being at the same time so encouraging in one hand and so disappointing on the other side. 
Christianity - Dogma, Definition & Beliefs - HISTORYThe disappointment comes from his repeated desire to divide furthermore the Christian Church founded by the Lord Jesus 2000 years ago with statements like this:
"We do not share [preach] the blond, blue eye gentile Jesus who is dead on a Catholic cross for 2000 years now. We share a Jewish, Israeli Messiah -Yeshua - who is not dead but alive and changing people's lives" (see comment in minutes 25:08).
Put aside the blond hair and blue eye comment which is inconsequential given that Asians depict him as an Asian, African depict him as an African, and Europeans depict him as a European for the simple reason that each world demography want to identify themselves with the Lord Jesus trans-ethnic work of salvation. None of these folks are saying with their images of the Lord Jesus Christ that he is not Jewish, or that he was not a Jew. This is not the point of the artwork. The art has an anthropological motif, not a historical motif!

Moreover, about the issue of the Cross of Christ in Catholic Churches, it is worth noting that St. Paul (a Jew himself) who was a witness of the resurrected Messiah spoke of the importance of a depiction of Jesus on the Cross:
A) 1Corinthians 2:2, "For I resolved to know nothing while I was with youexcept Jesus Christ and him crucified."
B) Galatians 3:1, "You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes, Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified."

Clearly, St. Paul the apostle does not shy away from the thought of a Crucified messiah even though he knew very well that he was resurrected and sited at the right hand of God as Lord overall. Dr. Eitan simply brings his extreme prejudice against Catholicism in his theology, and this prevents him to fully appreciate why the Cross has been so central to the Christianity of history.

I love "One For Israel" ministry but their attitudes towards Catholicism are extraordinarily misguided! May the Lord Jesus' prayer to the Father for the unity of his Church be fully realized once again!
"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that ALL OF THEM MAY BE ONE, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me." - John 17:20-21 

B. Was Pope Pius XII Bad for The Jews?
In another video by Dr. Eitan Bar titled, "It is time to talk about Anti-semitism in the Church" (link here), he attacks again the Catholic church for what he perceives (incorrectly may I add) as the silent complicity of the Catholic Church in partnership with Hitler NAZI party for the killing of Jews during the Holocaust.

May I suggest a correction to the presentation of Dr. Eitan Bar? Since he repeatedly informed his listeners that he was once 'moved to jealousy by the truth' in his teenage years which inevitably led to his conversion to Christianity, I hope he can be again moved by jealousy for truth in his prime years as an important figure in Israel evangelism.

I take the liberty to replicate a small excerpt from a Protestant thinker about the significant role that the Catholic Pontiff - Pope Pius XII - played during the period of the holocaust in helping Jews. Since he might be less inclined to listen to Catholics (I presume), maybe listening to a fellow Protestant who ain't favorable to Catholicism would help him consider this point from a non-prejudicial place of thinking (Here is the link to the full source):
"For it was Pius XII, not the deceased Pius XI, who protested the October 1943 order from Berlin to arrest the 8,000 Jews in Rome. In a letter given to Obersturmbannführer Herbert Kappler, the SS Commander in Rome, the Vatican warned that the Pope would publicly denounce the planned arrests of all Jews of Italian citizenship if the Germans followed through with them. Adolf Eichman later wrote: "The objections given and the excessive delay in the steps necessary to complete the implementation of the operation, resulted in a great part of Italian Jews being able to hide and escape capture." 
Pius XII can also be confirmed to have vigorously and repeatedly protested the National Socialist actions through direct communications with the German government. The Foreign Minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, testified at the Nuremburg Trials: "I do not recollect at the moment, but I know we had a whole deskful of protests from the Vatican. There were very many we did not even read or reply to."
Israeli sources report that papal relief programs saved more Jews than any other, an estimated 860,000. It is not an accident that 80 percent of Italy's Jews survived the war despite the German occupation, about four times more than survived the war in other occupied countries. Many important Jewish leaders of the era, including Israel's first president, first foreign minister, and chief rabbi were explicit in their gratitude towards Pius XII and the Catholic Church for their defense of the Jewish people.
Time Magazine printed a letter from Albert Einstein in 1940: "Being a lover of freedom, when the revolution came in Germany, I looked to the universities to defend it, knowing that they had always boasted of their devotion to the cause of truth; but, no, the universities immediately were silenced. Then I looked to the great editors of the newspapers whose flaming editorials in days gone by had proclaimed their love of freedom; but they, like the universities, were silenced in a few short weeks. . . . Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler's campaign for suppressing truth. I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom. I am forced thus to confess that what I once despised I now praise unreservedly."