Soteriology: A Comparative Study of Yoruba Ifa Mythology and Christianity (Series no. 11)

Comparison of Ifa and Christianity (2)

 Priesthood: These two religions maintain the office of ‘Priesthood.’ The priests in Christendom are regarded as representatives of Jesus Christ. Priest in both religions acts as an intermediary between God and the people and leads them in worship. The Ifa priests offer sacrifices on behalf of the people. In the Catholic Church, the Holy Mass is believed to be a sacrifice. Christians believe Jesus’ death was the final sacrifice and did not offer sacrificial rites except in Praises, worship, and thanksgiving to the Lord.

 Life after death: The two religions believe that the death of a man is by no means the end of his life that life continues after death. Everybody that passes through this world will resurrect. When a man resurrects, he is going to Heaven or hell; that is Christian’s perspective. Christians attest to three types of death: (1) Physical death, which comes through old age, accident, or sickness; (2) Spiritual death, which is due to sins, which separates one from God and (3) Eternal death that comes to those who are spiritually dead (those who die without knowing Christ end up in eternal fire). Christians believe that a man dies once, and after death, judgment and Salvation belong to only those who believe in Christ and do His Will while alive. The Scripture collaborates this in Hebrews 9:27 & 28. Yoruba Ifa Mythology believes in the reincarnation of souls; a person who dies reincarnates into the world and the same family as a child or grandchild. Yoruba also believes that a person repeatedly returns to life; this type is called ‘Abiku‘ (repeater). The belief in reincarnation is further fueled by names given to newborn babies like Iyabo/Yetunde (mother is back); Babatunde (father is back).

 Heaven and Hell: The two religions believe that Heaven and hell exist in the spiritual realm. Heaven is in the presence of God, a place of perfect peace and Joy where God rewards saved souls after death. Hell is with Satan, a place of suffering, eternal condemnation, and hellfire of suffering where God punishes evil people (lost souls) after death.

 Creation and Original sin: Creation stories differ in both religions. Christianity adopted that of Judaism in the book of Genesis. The Yoruba myth said God created the world through Orunmila (Orisa-nla), also known as the Son of God[19]. In both religions, unlike other beings in the world, a man has the breath (Spirit) of God within him, which makes him superior to other beings. The two religions also believe that man’s present state of suffering results from an offense committed at the very beginning of human existence.

 Sacrifice in both Religions: The concept of sacrifice is central to both Ifa and Christian Religions. Both religions attach great importance to the sacrifice of blood. The covenants on which both religions were based were ratified with blood – the blood of the sacrificial victims. Animals’ sacrifices are central to the Ifa religion, and Christians see the shedding of Jesus’ blood on the Cross as the perfect sacrifice offered on behalf of humankind.

 Morality: The two religions teach the same morality. They believe that all men should love and help one another. They both teach that God hates evil and will punish the wicked and evildoers while He rewards the kind, generous and good people. Morality is an essential teaching of both religions. None of the religions teaches violence, hatred, killing, and injustice. The two religions encourage kindness to the needy, widow, and orphan.

 Individual Salvation: Christianity’s priority is ‘belief in Jesus Christ as the Saviour of the world and believes in Christ to have eternal life. Yoruba Ifa Mythology believes that anybody who lives a good life will be saved whether you confess Christ or not. What God wants men to do is be good to other people, live good lives, and avoid evil. While Christianity agrees in this doctrine of good deeds, they are derived from the fruits of the Spirit that you imbibe after confessing your sins, repentance, and belief in the death and risen, Christ.

 Sacred Scriptures: The two Religions claim an inspired Scripture: Both religions possess definite sets of documents that are regarded as conveying unique divine truths necessary for Salvation. The 66 Canonized Books of the Bible for the Christians and the 256 Odu divination systems are acclaimed to come from God.

 Miracles: The two religions lay claim to miracles and supernatural events; in the use of prophecy, divine revelations, and supernatural solutions to complex problems, all to the credit of the Supreme Being. God is the source of Miracle, while Satan is the source of Magic.

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