Globally church pews are emptying and it is a cause of worry (read more here), Every year more than 4000 churches close their doors compared to just over 1000 new church starts (read more here) and churches in Europe are starting to go on sale. According to the wall street Journal “
The Church of England closes about 20 churches a year. Roughly 200 Danish churches have been deemed nonviable or underused. The Roman Catholic Church in Germany has shut about 515 churches in the past decade.
But it is in the Netherlands where the trend appears to be most advanced. The country’s Roman Catholic leaders estimate that two-thirds of their 1,600 churches will be out of commission in a decade, and 700 of Holland’s Protestant churches are expected to close within four years.”
The closing of Europe’s churches reflects the rapid weakening of the faith in Europe, most of these churches are turned to boutiques, skate parks and libraries.
“By 2020, if the analysis of the recent census is to be believed, most people in this land will no longer identify themselves in any way as Christians.” –Bishop Davies preaching in Norfolk UK
In America, confidence in the church and organized religion has fallen dramatically over the past four decades, hitting an all-time low this year of 42%. Confidence in religion began faltering in the 1980s. read more
The story is very different in Africa, Not only is Christianity thriving, It is big business. Africa has become the foremost exporter of Religion (mostly to Africans in the diaspora).In Lagos former manufacturing and storage properties are now churches.
This is under attack…and NO….its not by the devil or the “enemy”.
Among educated Africans especially in the diaspora, there is a call to question everything the church stands for, a call to revert back to pre-slavery / pre-colonial spiritual relationship with God. This call is made in response to the atrocities and evil visited on their ancestors and the world in the name of God.
The typical African church response to this is, blasphemy, abomination, idol worship. When presented with questions on inconsistencies in the bible, the response is “just believe” “have faith” “come as a little child” .
As a little child i was full of questions. I wanted to know who or what made all the people that Adam and Eve met when they came out of the garden of Eden.
Religion survived on just faith, mainly due to a lack of information, some might say ignorance.This is understandable. The bible we have access to so freely today was once for only kings and Bishops, who would occasionally read it to their audience. As the bible became more accessible, so did new denominations of Christianity form. In this information age, mankind has unprecedented access to information which previous generations simply did not have.
In the information age it is no longer acceptable to say just “have faith”
It is this, that i fear will bring what is currently facing the rest of the world to Africa.
We have well read critical thinkers that know all about history dismiss the bible without studying it and we have pastors who know only the bible but dismiss everything historically without reading it.
The effect of inhibiting peoples minds from questioning is that we create a population of sheep. This congregation would lack the ability to think critically and accept everything we are told.
This is a major problem of Africa and both parties hold the solution.
Spirituality Vs Religion
Spirituality is not Religion neither does being Religious equate to being spiritual. Spirituality is a direct personal relationship with God/your maker /your source.
Religion is a human construct that attempts to package a divinity/ person or peoples spirituality with an aim to pass that knowledge to future generations. This includes rituals/rites/activities observed that lead to this spirituality.
If religion is a human construct, It is futile to deny the human aspect of it. A lack of understanding of its history, good and bad as well as its context in the world, leaves a very hollow foundation which eventually cracks especially in the information age we currently live in .One must understand organized religion for what it is to truly understand what spirituality is and how they are different,this understanding would stem the backlash and extremism the world is facing today.
Religion Separates – Spirituality Unites
Many religions all preach that their story is the right story. Spirituality sees the truth in all of them and unites them because the truth is same for all of us despite our differences and uniqueness. It focuses on the quality of the divine message they share and not on the differences in details of the story they speak.
Lets start with the Historical Perspective
WHOSE GOD ?
Inside that circle, the story of the HEBREW PEOPLE /ISREALITES starts it in Egypt (Africa). Church tells us the evil Pharaohs held the Isrealites and then Moses came and saved them, after which they crossed the red sea. It is in this part of the story the break happens (ill come back to this). Thing is till today, there has been no record found of a sojourn by Isrealites in Egypt, and they recorded everything.
Does this mean it never happened ? No, and the answer is actually in the Bible.
Joseph was sold to slavery in Egypt, then rose to be powerful, based on that his brothers settled in Goshen and so began the Isrealites or the”people of God” according to the bible. ( Genesis 40-48)
Exodus 1:8 Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.
So in Exodus the bible talks about the harsh treatment/enslavement of God’s people by the egyptians because of a new King That did not know Joseph ( as you can imagine royal families know their history and would generally know/remember the person that becomes second in command in their Kingdom). Fortunately this confusion is slightly clarified in Isaiah.
Isaiah 52:4 For thus saith the Lord God, My people went down aforetime into Egypt to sojourn there; and the Assyrian oppressed them without cause.
History explains the differing accounts– Around 1720 B.C., a group of foreigners referred to as Hyksos, invaded the land of the Nile and erected their capital at Avaris, Soon after 1560 B.C., however, the Hyksos were expelled from Egypt by native princes,starting the New Kingdom period of Egyptian history. The other side of the Exodus story is extremely fascinating
It is worth noting that as yet evidence of the “exodus” is yet to be found, to read the egyptian version of events click here. Neither did Pharaoh drown at sea he ruled for 22 more years . While we are in Egypt, lets look at some other things.
According to the bible,Israel’s formative years as a cultural entity happened in Egypt, and its leading figures, Joseph and Moses, were highly educated in Egyptian customs and traditions.What they knew about the origins of the world they learned in Egypt, and what they wrote about those origins should surely have had an Egyptian/sumerian influence.
The Creation Story
In the Persian scriptures of the Zoroastrians, the Avesta tells the story of how Ormuzd created the world and the first two humans in six days and then rested on the seventh. The names of these two human beings were Adama and Evah. These texts date back as far as the 10th century B.C.
Another story that the Bible shares with The Epic of Gilgamesh is the flood narrative in Genesis. Many historians claim that the Biblical version is a rewritten version of an original Sumerian myth of the flood and the ark was probably passed along to the Jews during their Babylonian exile in the 6th century B.C. and served as the basis for the Genesis story.
“let us create man in our own image”
EGYPTIAN DEPICTION MODERN DAY DESCRIPTION
Cain and Abel –Very similar story to the brothers Seth and Horus, the first murder in the world and in both instances the killer buries the body and hides it from view, in the hope that no one will discover it.
Abraham separated himself and his people by circumcising them
Also just happens that the first documented incidence of circumcision was in Egypt as well. the earliest reference to the procedure dates back to around 2400 B.C. A bas-relief in the ancient burial ground of Saqqara .”The distribution of circumcision and initiation rites throughout Africa, and the frequent resemblance between details of ceremonial procedure in areas thousands of miles apart, indicate that the circumcision ritual has an old tradition behind it and in its present form is the result of a long process of development.” read more and more
The 10 Commandments given by Moses an EGYPTIAN PRIEST –
In the Bible, the 10 Commandments were given to Moses on Mount Sinai, and were written on stone tablets, supposedly by the hand of God himself. This is estimated to have taken place around 1490 B.C. However, chapter 125 of the Egyptian Book of the Dead (around 2600 B.C.), which would have been available to Moses during his time in Egypt, seems to have provided some inspiration. The Egyptian Book of the Dead reads like the 10 Commandments written in the Negative Confession. Some examples are:
Book of the Dead: “I have not blasphemed.”
Exodus 20:7: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that shall take the name of the Lord his God in vain.”
Book of the Dead: “I have not defiled the wife of a man.”/ “I have not committed adultery, I have not lain with men.”
Exodus 20:14: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”
Book of the Dead: “I have not stolen.”
Exodus 20:15: “Thou shalt not steal.”
Book of the Dead: “I have slandered [no man]” Exodus 20:16: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”
Another interesting case study of “whose God?” is recorded in 2nd Kings and 2nd Chronicles
Speaking about King Josiah – 2Kings 23: 25 And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.
The same Josiah was described in 2chronicles 34: Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem one and thirty years.2 And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left.
So the result of his altercation with Pharaoh Nekau/Neco will come as a surprise. Historically this scene is recorded to have taken place at the battle of Megiddo in 609BC
2nd Chronicles 35:20-24 KJV 20 After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple,Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Charchemish by Euphrates: and Josiah went out against him.
21 But he sent ambassadors to him, saying, What have I to do with thee, thou king of Judah? I come not against thee this day, but against the house wherewith I have war: for God commanded me to make haste: forbear thee from meddling with God, who is with me, that he destroy thee not.
22 Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself, that he might fight with him, and hearkened not unto the words of Necho from the mouth of God, and came to fight in the valley of Megiddo.
23 And the archers shot at king Josiah; and the king said to his servants, Have me away; for I am sore wounded.
24 His servants therefore took him out of that chariot, and put him in the second chariot that he had; and they brought him to Jerusalem, and he died, and was buried in one of the sepulchres of his fathers. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.
WHICH GOD WAS PHARAOH NEKAU (NECO) SPEAKING OFF?