Soteriology: A Comparative Study of Yoruba Ifa Mythology and Christianity (Series no. 3)

The Yoruba traditionalists believe that anybody who lives a good life will be saved. God wants men to be good to others, live good lives, and avoid evil. Biblically, Salvation is not based on high or good moral or ethical character. Some worship other gods as an end to that God, while others worship these gods as mediators to God. The Yorubas worship God through their various divinities in consultation with Ifa – the interpreter of God’s message. God in Africa is a relational being that relates through various levels with creation. Therefore, God is portrayed more in a parent all over Africa than as Sovereign. About humanity, God is the great ancestor of the human race. Concerning the earth, God is a husband who stands behind the creative fecundity of the earth that sustains human life. God is the creator of life, flows, and is sustained with creation. The main aim of the series is to critically analyze the salvation perspective of the two religions to understand the proper link to God. Many people infer that it is the same universal God addressed and worshiped in different religions. Therefore, I aim to show that all religions are not the same and do not serve the same God.

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The Narrative, or Mythic, Dimension of Ifa and Christianity


Ifa is a significant influence in West Africa, chiefly in Nigeria. Several new world religions have originated, such as Santeria in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Candomblé in Brazil. Ifa, in the perspective of the adherents, is received and transmitted from Olodumare (Supreme Being) as theogony, communication, and religious praxis. The concept of Ifaism seems adequate to describe “the traditional religion of the Yoruba people,” which is essentially monotheistic. Like other religions, it recognizes the presence of its priests, who transmit to humankind the original knowledge and laws given by the Supreme Being. Ifa and Orunmila refer to the same deity. Still, while the name Orunmila refers exclusively to the deity himself, the name Ifa refers to both the deity and his divination system[1].

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Here, Ifa is restricted to the Ifa divination system and its literary corpus, as it exists among the Yoruba people of Nigeria. The place of Ifa in the Yoruba Pantheon places it as one of the most important deities. From the various findings and oral dispositions, the belief is that Olodumare (the Almighty God) sent Ifa to use his profound wisdom to put the earth in order. Ifa is the active mouthpiece of other gods and the public relations officer of the other Yoruba gods[2]. As a mouthpiece, Ifa serves to popularize the other Yoruba gods; he serves to immortalize them[3]Ifa is said to coordinate the work of all divinities in the Yoruba Pantheon with his great wisdom, knowledge, and understanding bestowed on him by the Supreme Being.

Ifa is the medium with which individual strengths are expounded and expresses different attitudes in harmony. Ifa is also a means of exposing the weaknesses that block paths to success, happiness, and longevity. The relationship of Ifa to another god called Elegbara (Esu) is vital in addressing the Salvation theory. Consulting Ifa gives the Yorubas’ meaning and purpose for the past, the present, and the future. The Ifa priests maintained that except for the day you are born and the day you are supposed to die, there is not a single event in one’s life that Ifa cannot forecast and, if necessary, change. It is believed that you are born with a specific path, and divination serves as a road map to your path. Ifa guarantees success, which is why the Yorubas are involved in many sacrifices. Sacrifices are synonymous with Salvation in the mindset of a Yoruba traditionalist.

***Series No.4  tomorrow…….

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