Prior to the advent of Christianity and the Bible, black Zimbabweans were religiously sustained by ancestral spirit worship. The ancestral spirit worship represents appreciating God’s existence through one’s genealogical parents. Parents, or those before—are considered as superior to the descendants. Those elders are vested with the responsibility of religious authority.
In other words, in ancestral spirit worship, goodness is assumed as only possible when maintaining ancestral traditions, adopted from one’s immediate parents. The genealogical parents, themselves, sought to maintain what would have come from their deceased parents, through ancestral spirit worship.
The ancestral spirit worship, as structurally designed, seeks advice and guidance from hierarchical elders, leading to the ultimate Supreme authority—the Creator God. In Zimbabwean Ndebele language, the Creator God bears names like Mlimu, Nkulunkulu, Mdhali, or Somandla. These names signify the office of the Creator God, regarded as one—without any other.
Some families continue to maintain the ancestral spirit worship traditions, even today. Those families uphold the belief that our social problems are a result of discarding ancestral spirit worship traditions. The ancestral spirit worship traditions can be viewed as not different from the Israelites ways of worship. Except that the Israelites documented everything, as written in the Scrolls.
Nevertheless, the ancestral spirit worshippers view those failing to maintain the ancestral spirit worship as deranged or accursed families. African traditions in ancestral spirit worship are maintained through the spirit mediums—regarded similarly to the way prophets were regarded in Israel.
The downside of ancestral spirit worship is similar to Jewish worship. The adored ancestors could not escape from the corruption that entered humanity through the sin of Adam. Regardless of how accurate one aims to be—in maintaining family traditions—imperfection remains. Humanity aims at being perfect and the author of perfection is God. But that perfection cannot be achievable without Jesus.
Ancestors, including the prophets, or spirit mediums, could not be models of the required perfection, due to Adam’s sin. The shortcomings of ancestral worshiping, therefore, necessitated the Messianic provision. Humanity had been caught up in need of a model of perfection, before reverting to God’s glory.
The same applied to the Israelites—though credited with having documented their interaction with the Creator God. The Messianic provision pointed at an ideal Man, who would not be tainted with the corruption that entered humanity, since Adam.
When referring to the creation of humanity, we are guided by the datum that is recorded through the Jewish scrolls. Humanity had been created in God’s image and given dominion over everything that God had created (Genesis 1:26-27).
Symbolically, Adam’s sin represented the mass deception, as affecting the entire humanity, even today. Fallible humanity, having been derailed from the original source, was left at the mercy of the arch-deceiver, Satan. After the Garden of Eden incident, the relationship with the original source of humanity, being God, was terminated.
As alluded to, earlier on, the original source of humanity is God, who is the author of perfection. The imperfection, of humanity implies disconnection from the original source. One cannot survive long, having been uprooted from the original source. This is a simple truism—just as it is well-known that a plant cannot survive long, after having been uprooted from its original source—the ground.
At the beginning, the life of humanity had been grounded on God. The deception came about, through Satan, the devil. It became impossible for humanity to be extricated from the sinful prison-hood, without God’s intervention. This is what necessitated the Messianic provision.
God instituted a plan of salvation, right at the beginning—even before all of us were existent. The idea of creating humanity had been instituted after the restoration of the creation of other species. This was after the entire creation had been corrupted by the author of confusion, Satan the devil (Genesis 1:2).
God had initially designed and created everything on the planet earth in perfect order, but excluding humanity (Genesis 1:1). There are only two principles that sustain what currently exists in this world. Such principles are characterized in order and confusion. At that creation, what later became created in God’s image did not exist. See [When did creation take place].
Order is represented in goodness and confusion is represented in what is bad. Having restored some order in the entire creation, it was at that time that the idea of creating humanity came to be. While God, in His goodness, created humanity in His own image, He allowed humanity to also slip into imperfection, as characterized in confusion.
In other words, God allowed the intrusion of imperfection among humanity, in order to develop the necessary Godly character in humanity. Character is not sustained by law-keeping, but by free-will determinism. It would have been dictatorial for God to enforce perfection in humanity, yet created in God’s image.
To appreciate what God created in His own image, one has to look at the characteristics of God. But this cannot be possible without a model at which humanity could focus. This is why Jesus came, as representing that necessary model. God’s nature is sustained in goodness, which does not come about through law-keeping, necessarily.
Goodness is determined by God’s character, as evil cannot be found in God. If created in God’s image, humanity ought to behave similarly. Among humanity, only Jesus was born with the attributes of God’s image. This is why Jesus declared that anyone who saw Him had seen the Father (John 14:9).
Jesus was at one with His Father. Just like Jesus, humanity—as created in God’s image—is expected to be at one with God the Father. Jesus declared being the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). What this means is that Jesus was prototypical of the landmark reversion to God’s image. Like Jesus, anyone could, at last, declare the same words as declared by Jesus: “Anyone who has seen me has seen my Father in Heaven.”
Bear in mind that Jesus had, actually, told His disciples that they were no longer to call anyone on earth their Father, but their Heavenly Father (Matthew 23:9). Jesus should be viewed as our brother—serving only to show us the way to the Father. Jesus should not be viewed as a member of Trinity, as theologically regarded, presently. See [The doctrine of Trinity is not revelation].
When considering what sustains Christianity, today, one can easily observe that the ancestral spirit worshippers, though also in error, understand God better than Christians. Like Jewish worshippers, the ancestral spirit worshippers know that God is one. There is no confusion like assumption that God is three in one.
Also, while Christians are divided doctrinally, the ancestral spirit worshippers are not divided, as determined by respective genealogical ancestries. The ancestral spirit worshippers have no basis of evaluating other ancestral spirit worshippers. They simply commit themselves to being guided by their respective ancestries, without necessarily evaluating other ancestries’ ways of worship.
Of course, the ancestral spirit worshippers also grope in darkness, as long as without the only expositor of truth—Jesus Christ. But, at least, they do not behave like the modern-day Christians, with the temerity to label other worshippers as heretics, or cults. Such Christians criticize on the basis of their respective assumption of understanding. They claim to be followers of Jesus, but their behaviour can analytically be viewed as opposite Jesus’ character.
True followers of Jesus are guided by what Jesus said: “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye”(Matthew 7:1-3) (ESV).
The most important part of this passage of Scripture is in verse 2: “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” Failure to understand this, is what has caused Christianity to be totally confused. As assuming that deep theological studies comprise what is necessary to understand the things of God.
To fully understand what Jesus taught, includes checking the meaning of the word, hypocrisy. The cursory definition of this word is pretence or duplicity. The deception of all time, for humanity, is desire to obtain something, by pretending to be what impresses the one giving. That appears workable in a weird civilization, like ours. See [What’s in a title, if not to deceive?].
In Jesus there is no need to seek to impress, as there is nothing that Jesus does not know in any individual’s life. Humanity lost its dignity at the sin of Adam. There is therefore no need to pretend to be good, even though some people can deceptively declare that you are better than others. It is only Jesus who holds the credentials of righteousness. Without Him, all are lost and doomed.
The level of judgment you pronounce on other fellow human beings is measured against you—as you are expected to be your brothers’ keeper. It was only Jesus’ qualities that fulfilled the Law of being a brother’s keeper, on behalf of humanity. This is why it is only the belief in Jesus that saves humanity.
“For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, hears according to promise”(Galatians 3:26-29) (ESV).
However, there is no way a human being, under Satan’s subjugation, can ever attain the status of being better than other fellow human beings. Any achievement, whether admirable or not, serves to promote the vanity that King Solomon highlighted. As observing this to be what is disgusting (Ecclesiastes 2:18-23). See [The Seventh Day Sabbath is a sign of God’s Kingdom].
True Christianity promotes humility more than anything else. Yet humility is something that cannot be admirable to the people of this world. It may be true that Jesus is adored by many people today. But during Jesus’ time on this earth, very few people sought to follow Him—except seeking to obtain benefits from Him. The majority viewed the life of Jesus as despicably unacceptable.
Nothing has changed, as Jesus Christ continues to work through a chosen few individuals, who renounce their share of what sustains this civilization. The only advice for those who are sincere in desiring God’s Kingdom is to:
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few”(Matthew 7:13-14) (ESV).
The challenge for humanity is on how to move out of the crowd. Like sheep, people feel secure when moving with the crowd. But, as Jesus illustrated, the danger of humanity is in moving with the crowd. This is why Jesus also reiterated that, in seeking to save one’s life one loses that life. Yet by losing one’s life one saves it (Matthew 10:39).
Nevertheless, the ancestral spirit worshippers are also off the mark. But, at least they are sincere in what they do and there is no pretence in their conduct. At their own time, Jesus will show them the light. What Jesus contended with most, during His time, was hypocrisy—hiding the truth in order to obtain approval from other people.
Understanding how to obtain salvation requires first appreciating that the only mission of Jesus was to deal with the sin of humanity—pride. All other sins are attached to this solitary sin, described as the log, or beam (Matthew 7:1-4). See also [How did Jesus deal with the sin of the world].
While Christianity is quite popular in the entire world, it is in Christianity where there is more deception. This is just as, in Jesus time, it was in religious Pharisees that most deception was found. This is high time that both the religiously popular people and Theologians ought to smell the coffee. In Jesus’ time these were categorized in their ranks as Scribes and Pharisees.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99