Establishing a true Belief


The just ended commemoration of the World’s women day open another can of worms in as far as what a true religious belief is.
You see, the Malawi Television got assistance from Oxfam and Galax Media to host a sequence of panel discussion programmes where a cross section of society tried to look at how they can be involved in the increasing or decreasing of gender based violence.
I think the first of such programmes took place last Monday and was about ‘the Role of Politicians in Gender Based Violence. Others that followed were the roles of Government, traditional leaders and civil society organizations on the same.
But I think it was the one on Friday, which was the role of Religious leaders that I would like us to discuss about.
You see there were two pastors and a Sheik in that panel and what came out clearly was the obvious tension that developed over what is the true belief of the two.
A very humble Islamic Clerk said Polygamy is allowed in their religion and the two pastors instantly went to a provocative verbal war which I believe had the Sheik been like them trouble would have ensued.
While I am not standing here to mete out judgment as to which of the two is the right religion, I think it is a vice on its own to be judgmental over the beliefs of the others.
I remember in that discussion there was a lady Pastor Chapomba who was very controversial. This minute she would totally disagree with gender based violence on the basis that the bible does not condone it and in the next minute she would be saying that she would turn violent if her husband marries another woman after transforming her breasts pear shaped attractive breasts into some ugly Pata-pata shaped breasts.
Mahatma Gandhi the Indian statesman a Hindu believer used to say it was not possible for him to believe if he had no respect for other people’s belief.
So, I think the panel should have tackled the problem at hand where together they should have reached a consensus on how the religious institutions could be involved to curb the malpractice because surely what came out of that was a lugubrious aftertaste as to what really the true belief is between the two. These guys just wasted resources as the dismally failed to achieve what the Programme was intending to.
Belief has its basis in what can be described as the truth.
Philosophy ascertains that the nature of truth has baffled people since ancient times, partly because people so often use the term true for ideas they find congenial and want to believe, and also because people so often disagree about which ideas are true.
The World Book observes that Philosophers have attempted to define criteria for distinguishing between truth and error. But they disagree about what truth means and how to arrive at true ideas.
The Foundation of most religions are built with ideas which in themselves desires to profess truth as it would to be difficult to attract followers if the ideas that make up that belief has no truth elements.
Religion is one Philosophical subject that has failed to create a distinctive pattern of what makes them believable apart from instilling in the mind of the people the element of existence, which comes from the creation of man by God.
Based on that at least I don’t expect Muslims and Christians to be in much conflict, as they all believe God created us all.
In Philosophy we have the correspondence theory, which holds that an idea is true if it corresponds to the facts or reality. Really when you look at some tales in both the Bible and the Koran it will only take one’s blind conviction to believe in them, as they do not relate with what is actually and possibly real.
However, Christianity and Islam are based on the pragmatic theory, which maintains that an idea is true if it works or settles the problem it deals with.
If we look at the coherence theory that states that truth is a matter of degree and that an idea is true to the extent to which it coheres (fits together) with other ideas that one holds then perhaps this is where a problem of what to believe can emerge.
No wonder Skepticism theory claims that knowledge is impossible to attain and that truth is unknowable. Throwing people to waywardness as per both Christian and Islamic teachings.
Religious belief is a subject so broad that it very wrong to think that Rastas or animists for example, are wasting time since salvation is the quid pro quo of a true belief.
It is therefore imperative that when media institutions call these respectable members of our society it is not right and proper to abandon what they have been invited for and engage in a war they cannot know how to finish off.

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Suffering from Faith Inferiority


The sprouting of more churches in the country has brought back controversial thinking on whether God listens to a particular language or not. This is so because some preachers have resorted to preaching in English albeit through an interpreter although the congregation understands Chichewa.

One would imagine that the reason for preaching through an interpreter could be that the preacher is a foreigner, therefore cannot preach in vernacular language.

It is indeed astonishing that the preacher, born and brought up in Malawi and knows the vernacular language very well insists on preaching in English to an audience born and brought up in Malawi and knows the local language very well.

The Roman Catholic Church, which is now fighting a section of some conservatives who would like to revert to Latin masses, even took a step further to ‘Africanise’ church ceremonies including the whole process of mass.

The Vatican Council II, which was convened by Pope John XXIII, but mostly presided over by Pope John Paul VI, is known for its extensive church reforms and new theological frameworks for traditional Catholic doctrines that have far-reaching effects.

In the past, Christians had to change their tradition names to Biblical names. It was indeed unacceptable to be baptised as Vinjeru because it is a Tumbuka name and ironically, in order to get the nod of the Parish’s Reverend Father one needed to change the name to a Biblical English name, for example Wisdom. This was absurd because the name Vinjeru means Wisdom.

In other words, the meaning was that there was no African name in the list of both the saints and the sinners in God’s Kingdom and when other people noticed this; they argued that it was not true that we have no African Saints within the Deity’s Realm, which only meant Christianity was not for Africans.

Although some individuals in the Catholic Church are so firm that they still cannot allow you to baptise your kindred because s/he has a vernacular name and until it has been changed, the fact remains that these few individuals do this without the knowledge of the church.

The mere fact that it is now acceptable I think to me reveals more of the true understanding of the meaning of the fact that God created man in his own image, therefore the skin colour or language has a better image of God than the other.

Image in a larger sense encompasses language as well as professed by God Himself when He says ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word is God.’

Although theologians have tried to give this verse different ‘sensus plenior’ one thing is certain; ‘there is no speech without language’. Moreover, there is no language without words, therefore God Himself is language.

Therefore there is no need to talk to Him in a language that is not one’s tongue, and in which one’s command is in laughable tatters.

‘The African Bible’ states in its introductory page that the Word of God is at the beginning, the end and the heart of creation and the history of the world; it was pronounced at the moment of creation and was completed by the Word made flesh.

The Word of God is the centre of everything. It impregnates and gives life to faith of God’s people. It inspires, directs and guides the existence and history of humanity. The scriptures and the tradition contain this Word; church teaching transmits it; the liturgy celebrates and actualises it.

The question one would ask is whether the manner in which our churches are teaching this word of God is achieving the desired transmission of it to God’s people.

Perhaps this comes from the general perception that makes most black African visualise God in the image of a white man considering all the drawings of God and all the biblical people who are always illustrated in the form of white people.

This perception is even evident in research efforts by some black scholars who wanted to prove that there is more presence of black people in the Bible.

What was always there, Dr. Felder and other religious experts say, is incontrovertible evidence that noted biblical figures, such as the Queen of Sheba, Moses’ Cushite wife Zipporah, Prophet Jeremiah’s right-hand man Ebedemelech, and Sarah’s Egyptian handmaiden Hagar are among royal Black personalities in the bible.

“Black people have been duped into running from the Bible, thinking it was the white man’s book,” says Rev Walter A. McCray author of the two Volumes of The Black Presence in the Bible. “Many notable biblical personalities were black.”

It is therefore demeaning that in this day and age, notwithstanding the low levels of our English competence, our preachers want to preach to us in Queen’s lingua franca.
I think we need not to accept this, or am I being devilish?