Soteriology: A Comparative Study of Yoruba Ifa Mythology and Christianity (Series no. 10)

Is Jesus God? The Historical Dispute:

This question is the only genuine dispute surrounding the historical Jesus. No legitimate scholar today denies that Jesus is a historic figure that walked on this earth over 2,000 years ago, that he did remarkable miracles and acts of charity, and that He died a horrible death on a Roman cross just outside Jerusalem. The emotionally charged dispute focuses specifically on whether Jesus was God incarnate who rose from the dead three days after His Crucifixion. Many people have dealt with this “spiritual” dispute by intellectually accepting Jesus as a great man, great teacher, or great prophet. However, Jesus and His inspired followers didn’t mince words when they declared Him God (John 1:1-3, John 10:30-38, Matthew 16:13-17, Mark 14:61-64, John 14:6, Hebrews 1:8, Colossians 1:16, John 12:40-41 (Isaiah 6:1-10). Therefore, any intellectual compromise calling Jesus a “good man” is logically inconsistent. Jesus himself claimed to be God when he said, “The Father and I are one”- John 10:30. Also, in John 5: 24, Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” If Jesus’ claim of deity were a myth, the early Jewish opponents of Christianity would undoubtedly have presented that these claims never happened.

Comparison of Ifa and Christianity (1)

God: In Yoruba cosmology, Olodumare or Olorun is the Supreme Being whose absolute supremacy. Yoruba Traditionalists concur with the Christian attributes of God: Creator, Unique (God has no other like Him) – this is why the Yorubas’ have no graven images or pictorial paintings of Olorun); Immortal – this is also visible in a Yoruba song that says” A ki Igbo iku Olodumare(We never hear of the death of Olodumare); Omnipotent, Omniscient – ‘Eleti gbo aroye’ (He is ever listening to the complaints of His creatures). He is also described as ‘A rinu-rode olumoran okan’ (the one who sees both the inside and the outside of a person); ‘ohun ti o pamo, oju Olorun to’ (that which is hidden to people is known and seen by God); and Transcendent – Yorubas’ say ‘Atererekaye‘ (He who spreads all over the world and makes the whole world feel His presence). All divinities acknowledge God as unique and pre-eminent.

Christians also believe that God is the Supreme Being and that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Christians believe that the “WORD” is absolute, representing God’s message and that it is unalterable, not open for interpretation, and inviolable. And the Word of God, as revealed in various passages of the Scriptures, says Jesus Christ is the only way to God.

 Son of God: The idea of God having a divine second in command referred to as the Son of God is common to both religions. Christians view Jesus Christ as the second person of the Holy Trinity, the Son of God, who is also a witness to creation – John 1: 1-3. Orunmila (Ifa) is regarded by the Ifa adherents as second in command to God and a witness to creation. The Christian doctrine that Christ shed his blood for humankind is enacted in the incantation of Orunmila (Ifa): Ela rowa, Ela rowa, Orunmila rowa; Iwo ni omo Olodumare to ofi ori fo agbada iku. The literary translation is “Please come O divine, Orunmila comes, for you are the Son of God who faced death on behalf of humanity.” It led to the request for Orunmila to return to earth. Orunmila is recognized as ‘Ibi Ikeji’ Olodumare (Second to God) and ‘Eleri ipin’ (witness to creation) that sacrificed his life for the world. Intriguingly, a similar phrase is used in connection to the persons of Jesus Christ and Orunmila.

 Angels-Divinities: Both Christianity and Yoruba Traditional Religion believe that besides God, there are other spiritual beings, subordinate to God, created by God and act as his messengers or emissaries. Christians call these beings’ angels’ while the Yoruba Traditionalists call them ‘divinities.’ These beings in the traditional setting play a more active role as intermediaries between God and men than in Christianity. The traditionalists worship divinities, but Christians do not worship angels. The two religions both teach that Esu (the devil) go about tempting men and causing havoc in the lives of men. That is why the Ifa prescribes sacrifices to this devil. Christians do not sacrifice to the devil but call on Jesus Christ, and the His shed blood for victory.

 Saints-Ancestors: Christianity (especially the ‘Catholics’) and Yoruba traditionalists revere their dead members who led exemplary lives and are believed to be in Heaven with God. Christians call them Triumphant ‘Saints’ but the Yorubas’ call them ‘Ancestors’. The Yorubas especially invoke help from their ancestors, for they are believed to be in a position to help those who pray to them. Christians do not venerate the dead.

#I am currently in Doha Airport on my way to Dubai.

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