Friday, August 27, 2010
The motivation for the sacrifice of the cow can be found at www.smms.ac.za - you will find the link to the MS Word document at the end of the 'News Update' article. I'm afraid that those looking for a comprehensive, reasoned Biblical article will find it somewhat incomplete. I'd love to hear from any black African readers of this blog - what do you have to say about this?
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Hi Jenny :) The link you provided doesn't make it sound as bad as I thought. The slaughter of a cow for celebration is a biblically endorsed tradition (the parable of the prodigal son for instance). I'm worried that carrying it out during a session of thanksgiving would make it a "sacrifice" in all but name, which of course we're not to do any longer. But as long as everything is carried out with the right attitude and the slaughter of the cow is a celebration instead of a dedication then I believe it's fine!
I hope that no element of the ancestral worship that you mentioned will be included. We serve a jealous God who demands all of our worship. It doesn't matter if something is a created thing like an idol, a natural thing (Ezekiel 8:15-16), a living thing (Acts 12:21-23) or even a heavenly thing (Revelation 19:9-10). We aren't to worship it, local "traditions" notwithstanding. God is not interested in being our "preferred" or "favourite" god, he stresses in the bible that he is the only god. As Jesus said, "no man can serve two masters." Note that some translations render Exodus 20:3 "no other gods beside me", and the NIV footnote offers "beside" as an alternative.
"You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no saviour. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed - I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "that I am God. Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?"
"This is what the LORD says - Israel's King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come - yes, let him foretell what will come. Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one."
I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me. I am the LORD, and there is no other.
Why does God stress so often in these three short chapters, and so emphatically, the fact that he is the only god? These passages are dealing with idol worship, but God's objection appears to be that they take away from the glory which is his by rights, and this surely extends to the worship of other things which aren't carved out of stone and wood. This is the God of James 4:4-5 - You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?
Adultery is a metaphor used countless times in the prophetic books, particularly in Hosea. We must remember that "faith" in God breeds "faithfulness" to him, so that we won't be inclined to cheat on him. To go back to Isaiah for a moment, Isaiah 42:8 says "I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols."
Sorry, I know I like to harp on! If this is simply about a meal then there's no problem and the above is just a response to the issues raised. But if there really is talk of ancestral spirits then this is thoroughly alarming!
Praying that this isn't the case! God bless
My comment was actually twice that length, but I had to do some severe amputation to meet Blogspot's character limit!! Hopefully it still makes sense :)
Hi Dan, yes it does make sense, thank you. Your reference to Isaiah 43:13 is very relevant. "When I act, who can reverse it?" Because the African belief is that the ancestors do have power in this world. Christian Africans have the challenge of reconciling their culture and Christianity. The truth is that for many they are simply kept side by side - a very elementary syncretism. Others - those who have embraced modernism - see these traditional beliefs as superstition and want to leave them behind. The resistance to the latter from Black Consciousness (black) and Post Colonial (often white) theologians is high. We can't 'get rid' of the ancestors by saying that they don't exist. I'll post on that later.
Thanks for your input.
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