(V.22, Series no. 1)
For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus –
(1 Tim 2:5 NIV)
I live in the United States of America, but my ancestral origin is the Yoruba Kingdom of South-West Nigeria. I am also a Christian by Faith. My Yoruba Land has three significant faiths: Christianity, Islam, and the Traditional Religion (ATR). There is a cross-pollution of faith in Yoruba land, and there is widespread spiritual mix-up. Some Christians find it easy to worship in Orisa shrines or consult Ifa at any temptation or trial rather than believe in the word of God in the Scripture. St. Augustine once said, “All truth is God’s truth.”
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The principles that cause the radio and television to function that bring computers, International Networking (Internet), and cellular phones are not man’s inventions but are simply man’s discovery of God’s already existing truths and scientific principles. But what happens when secular concepts and methods call into question or seek to redefine the truths revealed in Christian Scripture? At this point, Augustine’s dictum must be adjusted to state, “All error is the devil’s error.” And honestly, the devil is at work sending scripts into human minds and shaking the foundation of the Christian Faith.
The Church presently finds itself battling some of the intrusions into the biblical doctrines. Some theories and practices are being imported into Christianity that dangerously distorts critical biblical doctrines and potentially pervert the mission and ministry of the Church. It poses a significant challenge for Christian Theologians. It is a fact that Ifa pre-exists Christianity in Yoruba Land like Judaism in Israel, but I believe God instituted a new covenant (New Testament testifies to this assumption).
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However, humankind is still influenced by ancient traditional worship. Many issues divide the Africans today, but there is no more inflammatory issue than the issue of the true mediator to God. Some African Christians are willing to embrace the sacrifices and practices of Ifa Mythology and integrate them with Christian/biblical truths, crucifying Jesus Christ all over. In Yoruba Lands, we have the admixture of faith and cults like Reformed Ogboni Fraternity, founded by an Anglican Priest, late Archdeacon Ogunbiyi.
Is the message of Ifa from gods or God? As a Philosophy of Religion and Theology teacher, I teach Concepts of God. In analyzing concepts of God, we can have God, Gods, god, gods, God-gods, god-gods, and so on. My research aim at the time was to set out to debunk or clarify specific salient points:
- The claim that we worship the same God but through different mediums.
- The claim that God answers all requests regarding the medium used.
- The claim that Ifa truly divines the mind of God.
- The True Mediator to God.
- The origin of the divinities/deities: their demonic powers and forms.
- What happens to the sacrifices offered to the divinities/deities?
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I set out to do my findings on the six questions. It formed the bedrock of my Master’s degree’s research at West African Theological Seminary (WATS), an affiliate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in Nigeria. I got my MA (Biblical Studies) degree in 2007. I now have a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Religion & Theology from Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, Nigeria, evaluated as the US equivalency of Doctor of Philosophy in Theological Studies. The research compelled me out of my usual space as I witnessed rituals and sacrifices in some Orisas’ shrines for eyewitness documentation. I also witnessed Ifa Oracle being used as a divination system from an elite Ifa Priest that studied the language of Ifa from the University of Ife, Nigeria. I could not see the various Odus’ in session or understand their messages directly. I was unable to meet some Babalawos‘ (Ifa Priests) as planned but had to do with the interview of the Oluwo and a top reformed traditionalist who has become a born-again Christian.
I must confess that my boldness in confronting cultists and entering Orisas’ shrines was due to my earlier ordination and anointing as an evangelist of Jesus Christ coupled with my ‘Faith’ as a redeemed believer and disciple since 1966.
V.22: Series no. 2 tomorrow