A summary article of my MA thesis appears in the latest issue of the Journal of Pentecostal Theology. The essay addresses African Traditional Relgion and Pentecostal churches in Zambia. I welcome your thoughts, comments and critiques. PENT_021_02_06Ireland
The Didache is one of the most ancient examples of catechetical teaching in the Church, probably dating to the late first or early second century. It contains some very interesting and telling admonishments. Here are a few of the instructions I find most interesting (and quite helpful!):
If you’ve ever struggled over when and to whom you should give money, this is for you:
Let your alms sweat in your hands, until you know to whom you should give.
If you are sometimes captivated by televangelists who constantly ask for money, you might find this worth taping to your T.V. set:
If he asks for money, he is a false prophet….But whoever says in the Spirit, Give me money, or something else, you shall not listen to him. But if he tells you to give for other’s sake who are in need, let no one judge him.
That said, you should support those who are genuine prophets and teachers. If you don’t have those, then give to the poor:
But every true prophet who wants to live among you is worthy of his support. So also a true teacher is himself worthy, as the workman, of his support. Every first-fruit, therefore, of the products of wine-press and threshing-floor, of oxen and of sheep, you shall take and give to the prophets, for they are your high priests. But if you have no prophet, give it to the poor.
The Massai Creed is a great example of why the western Church needs to listen to the churches of the global south. As Pentecostals especially we tend to aspire to “creedless Christianity,” as is evident in the AG’s Statement of Fundamental Truths. But, as the AG would learn shortly after its founding, doctrinal, creedal statements serve a vital function in the Church, especially when it comes to heterodox teachings.
Beyond that though, our creedal statements also have a lot to say about our cultural setting. All theology is a matter of interpreting the content of Christianity within a cultural framework. The Massai Creed is a great way to understand this. After recently stumbling across the Massai Creed in Jaraslov Pelikan’s excellent Credo, I find myself fascinated by the differences in this creed and most doctrinal statements produced in the west. I’ve put in bold lettering those parts that I think are particularly interesting and telling regarding how other cultures see the content of Christianity. The Massai, more than the churches of the west, emphasize God’s love, the importance of community, the poverty of Christ, and the missionary nature of Christ’s redemptive work.
We believe in the one High God, who out of love created the beautiful world and everything good in it. He created Man and wanted Man to be happy in the world. God loves the world and every nation and tribe on the Earth. We have known this High God in darkness, and now we know Him in the light. God promised in the book of His word, the Bible, that He would save the world and all the nations and tribes.
We believe that God made good His promise by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, a man in the flesh, a Jew by tribe, born poor in a little village, who left His home and was always on safari doing good, curing people by the power of God, teaching about God and man, showing the meaning of religion is love. He was rejected by his people, tortured and nailed hands and feet to a cross, and died. He lay buried in the grave, but the hyenas did not touch him, and on the third day, He rose from the grave. He ascended to the skies. He is the Lord.
We believe that all our sins are forgiven through Him. All who have faith in Him must be sorry for their sins, be baptised in the Holy Spirit of God, live the rules of love and share the bread together in love, to announce the Good News to others until Jesus comes again. We are waiting for Him. He is alive. He lives. This we believe. Amen.
What else do you see in this creed that seems especially non-western?