There is no question the Kenyan society is very religious. The mention of God is always on the lips of every kind of Kenyan. A person saw someone’s wallet fall off without their noticing it. The individual who was following behind the victim picked the wallet. He looked inside and saw a pack of notes. It was exactly the amount of money he needed to pay his daughter’s school fees. He rejoiced that ‘god’ has been provided for him. Even a thief in Kenya goes home and says a prayer of thanks giving to ‘god’ for the protection during their days work of stealing, robing, or mugging. Many of those who are involved in corruption go to Church on Sunday to thank ‘god’ for their loot!
The religious heart of the Kenyan people has become expressed in ways that defeats any logical theory. Those who support Raila Odinga pray that he will become president. And those who support Uhuru Kenyatta pray the same prayer for him. When individuals lose the election, they do not however go back to prayer and offer thanks giving for the defeat, thus acknowledging their prayer for the will of ‘god’ in their original prayer. The idea of God and his activity within Kenya is merged into all things, GOOD or EVIL. This is what is meant by syncretism: The merging of the spiritual order within all things without discrimination.
What is telling is that this merging is not just found in the behavior of the common man, rather, it is practiced by those who hold the oversight of truth: The bishops, the priests, the apostles and elders who within the Church of Christ should know better. The Bible is not inclusive, rather, the Bible is absolutely exclusive. In fact we can say that the Biblical narrative from Genesis to Revelation is discriminative! It is an established order of what the Divine I AM intends and expects from what He has created. It pre-dates existence, written at the throne of God and communicated to man, through man, in what we call Divine Inspiration. 2 Timothy 3:16-17. In other words, that which is written in the Bible represents what is true within the Kingdom of God. In fact, When Jesus, the incarnated God stood in the synagogue, He quoted the Old Testament (Torah) without blemish! It was to Him His father’s words and the intention of Divine Majesty in Heaven.
The Biblical Narrative assumes that there is only one God. That He is the creator of heaven and earth as is told in Genesis 1 and 2. That outside of this fact, nothing exists. It also, in its presentation of this Divine order assumes that this God with and through Yesu Kristo is not only the creator, but the sustainer and the consummator of all things. “The son is the image of the invisible God . . . for in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him.” ST. Paul. Colosians1:15-20. This assumes that any and all claims of God outside of the Bible is false. And that any one proclaiming other divinities is a heretic!
It is here then that I am surprised by the syncretistic nature of our culture and religious tradition. Nowhere is this more evident than in our presentation of prayers during public events. It is true that God is not coercive; God does not force any one to believe in Christ or to follow the precepts of the Bible. What is shown in the Bible is that an individual has the right to worship whoever they think is God. In fact in many instances there are cases where the prophets allowed Baal worshipers to scream and shout to their god only to demonstrate through fire the Authority of the one true God. Also, John 3:16 presents the best case for freedom of the individual to chose to or not to believe: “. . . Whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” The individual choses to believe or not to believe, without coercion.
When there is a public rally to pray for the country, should there be discriminative approach to this event? Should all manner of faiths and spiritual orientation be allowed? The question relevant in this argument is, should believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, those born out of the world into the Kingdom of the father, those whose faith is founded on the inspired and exclusive divine biblical order participate? Should a priest within the Church of Christ stand at the stadium on stage with all other faiths bowing down to pray? The answer to this question goes back to the original question whether the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, God the father of the Lord Jesus Christ is jealous or not! The Bible declares that He is Jealous.
“Thou shall not have any other gods before me!” This is absolute within the divine mandate of belief. The biblical I AM requires that those who believe in Him be separate from others. Not that they deny the others the right to pray and worship as they please, but that their belief and its practice thereof be segregated so that there is no possibility of syncretism. Within this argument then, a priest within the church of Yesu Kristo should only be involved in public prayer when and only when he stands alone on the podium not as part of a larger religious order. For standing among others is denying the exclusive nature of the Biblical God, and acknowledging the authority of other gods. To do this is syncretistic paganism just like being thankful for stolen goods!
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So it is written, so it is.
Teddy Njoroge Kamau (PhD)
Diaspora Messenger Senior Columnist