Spiritual liberation can be adopted when aware of the differences between cultural traditions and Christianity. When opting to become a Christian, it is advisable to avoid entertaining traditions that one would have become accustomed to. While customs and traditions appear as granting comfort, enabling one to identify with a particular section of humanity, trappings exist.
“For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)—then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that” (Mark 7:10-13 NIV).
Jesus was showing an example of how tradition can cause a person to be unreasonable. Logic is only applicable to freedom and not under bondage. Tradition does not always agree with Biblical teachings, yet purports to be Biblical. Some people even suggest that God’s teachings are strange, and impossible to practice, traditionally. Logic is opposed to irrationality.
Cowardice causes people to stick to traditions, rather than venture into new and workable ideas. Traditional authoritarians question logic, rather than question irrationality. Jesus’ healing of a man born blind caused an unnecessary debate. Even after clear evidence, the Teachers of the Law continued to disbelieve, until the healed man was thrown out.
They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?”
“We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”
He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”
He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?”
Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from” (John 9:18-29 NIV).
This was a standoff between logic and cultural tradition. Of essence is that tradition carries authority, as demonstrated: “We are disciples of Moses!”The Jews were committed to one authority, Moses. In other words, their traditional commitment to Moses took away their intellectual and reasoning capacity.
Their rant had been factored on Sabbath-keeping. Any person who did not keep the Sabbath could not be a prophet from God. Their reasoning capacity was below the Sabbath-keeping principle. They were committed to Sabbath-keeping, but without appreciating the significance of Sabbath-keeping.
This brings us to the vital aspect of faith; defined as: “the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV). One cannot have faith in something, without confidence and assurance of its existence. The Jews could not have had faith in Sabbath-keeping. They did not have confidence and assurance in Sabbath-keeping, hence they quoted Moses.
This, basically, describes our educational system. One may be conferred with a professorial degree, when able to quote other renowned Scholars. There has to be an “authority” for any information to be regarded as authentic, according to authoritarians. By whose authority had Jesus performed the miracle? This is the question that lingered in Jewish minds.
Their faith had been based on Moses. But they did not have confidence and assurance in Moses’ teachings. Without Moses, everything they assumed to believe in, crumbled. This is the only reason that caused them to be angry at the man healed of blindness, rather than celebrate God’s miracle.
They were stuck on Moses, rather than being stuck on God’s truth. This is notwithstanding that Moses could not exist without God. The formerly blind man incident introduced the metamorphosis of the Jewish religion. Without logic, authoritarians use emotion, to forcefully discard truthful information.
The Jews angrily ejected the man, healed of blindness. Unfortunately, their behaviour was recorded for everyone to read, approximately two thousand years later. Tradition insists that information cannot be understood without authority. Logic insists that information requires understanding.
We can factor this into distinguishing between true and false Christianity. False Christianity insists that faith means blindly believing without assurance and confidence. True Christianity insists that faith means believing with assurance and confidence.
False Christianity cannot stand without authority. The authority for the Jews was Moses. The authority of traditional Christians is always the founder of the denomination in question. For instance, the SDAs cannot believe that anything good can come from outside their traditional denomination.
Anything true is assumed to trace its roots in Ellen G. White. Regardless of how accurate any other information might be; it is false, as long as it does not emanate from SDA authority. The SDA denomination is used here, only for illustration. Otherwise, this is the traditional behaviour of various other Christian denominations.
Authenticity is based on authority, rather than logic. The aspect of tradition is not limited to Christianity. It goes across the entire religions of the world. It is also what sustains the educational systems. One’s thesis cannot be readily accepted, as long as not quoting some “authority.”
This is observable in our political landscape. Most blacks have a tendency to reject workable democratic practices, as long as linking with former colonizers. Any form of ideology is based on authority, rather than reason. The ideological concept prevails, even after the discovery of ICT.
The discoverers of modern technology are mostly without traditional authoritarian origins. Nevertheless, although benefitting from IT, the educational system does not recognize IT in its authoritarian culture.
The saga of the formerly blind man shows how stubborn the authoritarian culture can be. The formally blind man had to be ejected; not for anything, but for being healed without authority. Was healing a good thing? Yes, it was. Why then did they seek to invalidate what was good?
The healing miracle invalidated authority. Yet there had yet to be another better manifestation of Godly feat. Their synagogues had been meant for worshipping the miraculous God. But they were caught invalidating a Godly miracle. Their blinding factor was cultural tradition. Indeed, those Jews did not know what they were doing.
Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
“Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”
Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”
Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshipped him.
Jesus said, “For judgment, I have come into this world so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”
Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”
Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains” (John 9:35-41 NIV).
Believing in the Son of Man cannot be dissociated from logic. The blindness of the Pharisees came from assuming that knowledge is based on authority, rather than logic. This suggests a drastic shift in reasoning. The grand metamorphosis destabilizes the entire behavioural pattern. Logic asserts being above traditional customs.
Truth comes from within those believing in the author of truth. To believe in the author of truth, you start by recognizing your origin. Who are you; and how did you come to be? That question is answered in Jesus’ identity, rather than by any other authority.
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you lose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah(Matthew 16:13-20 NIV).
The last portion reveals the hidden mystery. If Jesus was the Messiah, Son of the living God, His followers adopt the right to become God’s children. There is no other foundation of the Church of God, which is a spiritual organism. This removes traditional Churches from the Christian equation. God’s Church is based on the above Scripture.
“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him, the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:19-21 NIV).
Those not identifying with the above structure should not waste time pretending to be Christians. One cannot be crafted into that household when stuck on traditions of this world. Jesus clarified this impossibility when talking about those who rejected God’s miracle, regarding the healing of the blind man.
The authoritarian culture does not buy into the idea of humans, being equal before God. Authoritarians believe that other people have to be superior to others. The Jews, who rejected the healing miracle of the blind man, assumed that Moses was better than them. Accordingly, they designated themselves as the custodians of Moses’ authority.
However, when having established one’s identity, one does not need any authority, except the authority of Jesus. The authority of Jesus cannot be appreciated by any person without understanding. This requires a willingness to learn. It is impossible to provide knowledge to those under someone’s authority.
“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Matthew 23:8-12 NIV).
In the above passage of Scripture, Jesus gave a telling blow to cultural traditions and authoritarianism. However, this is a Scripture that the authoritarians of today would have preferred it never existed. Jesus lamented those preventing people from accessing God’s Kingdom, as a result of authoritarian culture.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the Kingdom of Heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. “Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are” (Matthew 23:13-15).
Jesus rarely contended with blatant sinners, during His time. He contended with those who assumed to know, yet were blinded by cultural traditions. The same applies, even in our time. Intellectual discernment requires logic, more than cultural traditions. Christianity is a simplified version of philosophy. Jesus’ teachings require common sense, more than factoring in, the opinions of authoritarians.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the 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 relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. Most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope, in a simple conversational tone.
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