Monday, December 29, 2003

Web Clips and Comments: Dec 29, 2003

SYNOPSIS: The capture of Mr Saddam Hussein has seemed to spark both
the "premptive surrender"
of Libya
, which declared that it was abandoning its WMD programmes (including
nuclear programmes), and an upsurge in terrorism as the Islamists and Baathists
across the ME and world desperately try to still be in the fight. Sharon in
Israel has announced a disengagement option, where if talks show no progress,
he will pull back behind the now controversial West Bank wall/fence -- note
that a fence around Gaza has sufficed to prevent suicide bombings from the heartland
of Hamas and Islamic Jihad support!

Of course our local pundits continue their disconnect from and massive denial
of reality, both relative to the ongoing resurgence of the 1,000 year Jihad
that lasted from the 600s to the late 1600s, but also over local issues. For
instance, the Jamaica Theological Seminary-Caribbean Graduate School of Theology
[JTS-CGST] recently announced
the intent to become a regional Christian University
, only to be pounced
on by Mr Mark Wignall
, a former evangelical turned hedonist and secularist.
His major claim: that it is highly dubious that Christians can create a credible
university that addresses science and clinical psychology -- despite the existence
of the well-recognised Northern Caribbean University [a Seventh-Day Adventist
Institution] and the equally well respected JTS-CGST programmes in Counselling
Psychology and Guidance, at masters and bachelors levels. This I pointed out
in a rebuttal
that was published -- in a badly edited form. [I append the original.]

Perhaps the most significant item over the past two weeks or so is the David
Aikman National Review interview
, in which he highlighted trends in the
church in China, which he numbers at approximately 92 Millions. [BTW, if the
usual claim that circa 1950 there were 5 million Christians in China, then about
80 Millions by the early 90s are correct, then this means four doublings over
forty years, or a compound growth rate of some 7%. That would mean that if the
rate continued, the current numbers should be about 150 - 160 millions. Of course,
such trends are seldom very smooth.] He observes that the trends are parallel
to the Roman Empire in the 200's which had the educated classes increasingly
becoming Christian, even in the face of waves of persecution. Such a trend portends
a tipping point in which the Christian community attains critical mass that
affects the national character, culture and policy -- pointing out that South
Korea, with Christians as 1/3 the population and a similar pattern of conversions,
has "tipped." [If that is a good indicator, it suggests China may
be as little as 20 - 50 years away from tipping, if the growth continues at
rates similar to those over the past half-century.]

Of course, that would be globally decisive, as it would mean that the two greatest
powers in the world at that time would be strongly even decisively influenced
by the Christian World- and Life- view. On that basis, though we see regional
and global turbulence over the next generation, the underlying trend is in favour
of the Southern Christian Reformation, not the Islamists or the Secularists
and Neopagans.

Something to think and pray about, especially as we consider that the Caribbean's
Christian community are in large part the people from the 10/40 Window, brought
under the influence of the gospel, and now able and empowered to carry that
message to the world.


  • The current Advent Season brings to mind the perennial question of when
    Jesus was actually born
    ( Farah gives a minority view; the Shepherds in
    the Fields is usually held to indicate September-October) -- but, of course,
    Christmas is actually simply an Official Birthday, similar to the Queen's
    Birthday. I found a review
    on Saint Nicholas
    very interesting, given the beginnings of an attack
    on Santa Claus as being a religious figure too!

  • The reflections of Rabbi Lapin on the significance
    of Hanukkah and the miracle of provision and sustenance by God
    are well
    worth a thought or two in a world where economic and environmental crises
    are the cry -- sometimes, the hysteria -- of the day. But also, we should
    not forget that the Season is a peak time for persecution by those who would
    drive Christ from the public square, and the
    . Let us continue to pray for the suffereingf church under dhimmitude
    and jihad, as well as the church under seige by the secularists and neopagans
    in the West.

  • The US upgrading of terror level to Orange, has had quite an impact on International
    Travel, and will probably not do our Winter Tourist Season any good. It is
    claimed that the underlying
    is from Mr bin Laden's current plans. However, be that as it may,
    we dare not forget that the 9/11 losses were approximately equal to the number
    of babies aborted on any given day in trhe USA, and the blood of these innocents
    also cries out to God for justice, against the US establishment that refuses
    to hear their cry.

  • On this score, I was intrigued to see Jill
    Stanek point out a biblical fact
    I had long observed: that when Mary went
    to the Hil Country to see her cousin Elizabeth, who was in her sixth month,
    John the Baptist, by the Spirit, even in the womb responded to the weeks-old
    embryonic Christ in utero, with joy! (There is no way that perceptive, consistent
    and informed Bible-based Christians should view the embryo as less than fully
    human and fully deserving of protection of life! BTW, this should make us
    think again about the use of contraceptive devices such as IUDs and Morning
    After Pills (and some "standard" pills) that do not block conception,
    but prevent implantation.)

  • Neil Boortz raises a worrying question about how we perceive economic reality,
    and how
    our Profs and Teachers may in part be responsible for it
    , through manipulation
    of the classroom process. This is particularly in my mind because of a recent
    conversations with Christian brothers who seems to be fiormly of the opinion
    that the basis of the free enterprise economic system is greed and oppression
    of the working classes, not liberty and opportunity to pursue one's dreams,
    in ways that as Jeremiah 29 points out, can be compatible with the general
    benefit and advancement of the community. perhaps the online version of my
    CC article on Enterprise under God as a part of the work of the church should
    be of help. Cf. Table
    of Contents, Why Not Now

  • Dr Hamza, Saddam's bombmaker who fled to the West in 1995 and has spent
    years warning against the danger of the Iraqi programme, was seriously wounded
    in an assassination attempt in Iraq. The
    is worrying, and lends support to the credibility of his testimony.
    Don't expect to read this anytime soon in the writings of our local pundits!

  • In a similar vein, it is sobering to read the
    assessment of the Clinton Administration in 1998 on Iraq
    , and contrast
    the public pillorying of the Bush Administration's similar claims over the
    past year and a half. Let us hear Senator Lieberman, from a recent hardball
    interview with Chris Matthews: "I want to be real clear about the connection
    with terrorists. I've seen a lot of evidence on this. There are extensive
    contacts between Saddam Hussein's government and al Qaeda and other terrorist
    groups. I never could reach the conclusion that [Saddam] was part of September
    11. Don't get me wrong about that. But there was so much smoke there that
    it made me worry. And you know, some people say with a great facility, al
    Qaeda and Saddam could never get together. He is secular and they're theological.
    But there's something that tied them together. It's their hatred of us." Developing
    . . .


Global tipping point

The Aikman story raises several interesting themes as we reflect on the three-way
contest for the hearts and minds of a global world:

  1. The Secularists, neopagans and Apostates of the West

  2. The Islamists and Jihadists of the Middle East

  3. The rising Southern Christian Reformation

If the church in China can maintain an annual compound growth rate similar
to that over the past half century, within a Generation, China will become a
Christian culture. This alone would have great implications for the world, but
China is actually a striking example of a global phenomenon: the rising tide
of reformation that even now is transforming the South of the planet. For, Africa
has seen a truly spectacular explosion in Christian Faith over trhe past century
(which will make it and its extensions in the Caribbean ands the Americas a
focal point for the clash between militant islam and the Christian Faith), and
Latin America is shifting to a more evangelical form of the Christian Faith.
South Korea, as noted, has already tipped.

This highlights the responsibilityt of the Christians of the Caribbean. For
we are in the main the people of the 10/40 window, brought into the Caribbean,
and under the power of the gospel to liberate and transform, for instance leading
to relatively harmonious racial relationships, never mind the lingering but
thankfully fading stench of colour-class-race barriers.

Never have we been so well off economically, nor so well educated, nor so accessible
to travel. Does not this imply that it is a time for us to look back on the
heritage of the ex-slaves such as Fuller and Merrick, who in the 1840s pioneered
missions in Africa? Similarly, we cannot be dismissed in the North as right-wing
redneck ill-educated yahoos shouting out bigotry and fundamentalism.

Thatr is, we are well-positioned to play a leading roile in the work of the
church in bringing the gospel to the 10/40 window and the secularised and paganised

So, itr comes down to a familiar question:

If not NOW, when? If not HERE, where? If not US, who?



Monday, December 15, 2003

Web Clips and Comments: Dec 15, 2003


The current news is dominated by the capture of Mr Saddam Hussaein over the
weekend, which opens up a break in current trends in the Middle East. NB: (It
is quite telling to contrast the developing news with the tone and substance
of the local commentary by the punditocracy!) However, in light of a broader
perspective, several other recent developments are worthy of highlighting. Also,
we should remember that on December 17, this week Wednesday, the world will
mark its first century of heavier than air flight.


  • The current news on the fate of Saddam is telling: why is it that the Palestinian
    Arabs and Arab Street are dejected and/or in denial at the capture of a mass
    murderer with 400,000 victims lying in mass graves in Iraq? Why is there a
    silence on the part of the leaders of the Arab countries? Could there be implications
    to the prospects that througfh thorough interrogation, the
    links between Arab Governments, their Intelligence Agencies and Terrorist
    groups will be further exposed
    ? Developing . . .

  • Here in Jamaica, on Tuesday last, the Jamaica Theological Seminary- Caribbean
    Graduate School of theology dual school announced
    its intent to become a full university
    . it was immediately attacked
    by controversial columnist -- and secularist-hedonist former evangelical --Mark
    Wignall, on the assumed grounds that such an institution could not measure
    up to the true (That is, secularist) standards of scholarship! Not mentioned
    was the fact that currently the degree programmes in the institutions are
    accredited by the UCJ, nor that JTS-CGST graduates have a track record of
    academic as well as career excellence in the region and internationally, nor
    that Christian Universities in fact have a centuries deep tradition of academic
    excellence. Of course, the secularist worldview agenda is simply assumed,
    rather than critically assessed in light of its demonsytrated fatal flaws
    in modernist
    and postmodernist
    forms. [These links are of course drawn from a course
    web page
    for a JTS course.]

  • Over the past several months, the neopagan agendas in the West have made
    major advances in the court system and the wider culture, especially through
    the use of the concept of fairness to advance the idea of so-called
    same-sex marriage
    . (In fact, by attempted
    redefining of marriage
    , the secularists and gay movement inadvertently
    reveal the destructive
    of pulling manhood away from the primary social institution
    that channels male energy into productive directions through marriage and
    the family.)

  • In so doing, however, they have side-stepped the documented findings and
    issues that homosexuality
    cuts decades off one's life expectancy due to the unhealthy sexual practices
    and high incidence of violence within this sub-culture

  • Indeed, the very concept of "same-sex marriage" has the effect
    of destroying
    a keystone institution in human culture
    , mariage: the institution that,
    together with the family, channel the destructive potential of men into virtuous
    manhood. (In fact as well, homosexual partnershoips seem to be inherently
    quite unstable

  • Similarly, the recent appointment of an openly homosexual man as bishop
    in New Hampshire threatens
    to split the Anglican Communion
    and bring great discredit to the church
    at large. Maybe most telling of all is the thought that no heterosexual adulterer
    who left wife and young daughter to take up with another woman would have
    even been considered for the post of Bishop. For shame!

  • Similarly, Justice Roy Moore of Alabama's recent adventures betray the ongoing
    forgetting of the roots of liberty and self-government by a free people
    Ambassador Allan Keyes' response to the issues deserves to be studied carefully.
    So do the actual
    historic inscriptions

  • A recent
    commentary on the AIDS projections in Africa
    raises questions about the
    validity of the compiuter models used to estimate the current and projected
    numbers of victims. Of particular note is the use of South Africa data as
    a cross-check and the note that even in the areas that have notoriously been
    most affected, population growth trends have been at the 3 percent level,
    in some cases actually accelerating. This raises serious questions regarding
    the validity of the computer projections, and regarding the hype and hysteria
    that surrounds certain issues and agendas.

  • In Milan, COP 9 to
    the Kyoto protocol has been held, with the backdrop that Russia may refuse
    to sign on to the Kyoto pact on economic damage grounds, and in a context
    where the models seem to be being tuned to track the lower trends being mreasured
    by satellite soundings of the atmosphere. As a result, the projected global
    temperature incrtease over this century is now 0.74 - 1.5 degrees Crelsius,
    which takes the projected trend out of the catastrophic range. Again, the
    issue of the validity of computer models is in question, and the potential
    damage of basing policy on hypoe and hysteria is to be duly noted.


1. Can an Evangelical Institution be of solid academic standard?

Addressing the issue, Dr Noelliste the President of JTS-CGST is summarised:

As a university, the students would be exposed to a range of disciplines
with the proviso that courses would be taught from a distinctly evangelical
worldview. "There is no discipline that cannot be approached from a Christian
perspective and that would be our unique contribution to the Jamaican educational
system," Dr. Noelliste said.

Mr Wignall's revealingly cynical response was:

The point I am making is that while I recognise that religious institutions
have done wonders in education (I went to an Anglican school), the teaching
of religion by itself, especially the strictures inherent in Christianity,
should be seen as a personal attainment/belief and not something that can
be certified by a university. If a man or woman wants to study theology, then
by all means do so. But in my view, that person is then best suited for the
pulpit and not in some business organisation where his or her brainwashing
will be used (unwittingly) to fortify or condemn others.

This should serve as a red flag, revealing the penetration of secularist patterns
of thought in our governance classes and the opinion leaders who influence them.
It is amazing that no consideration of the evident collapse of the secularist
worldview was entertained, nor that worldview-level issues exist in the context
of alternatives that all bristle with difficulties, so the issue is to
develop a coherent understanding of these alternatives in light of the comparative

is time for us to wake up and act

If not NOW, when? If not HERE, where? If not US, who?


Friday, December 05, 2003

A Spiritual Geostrategic Assessment

GEM 03:12:04

Over the past several months, the three-way clash for the future has again been underscored: the secularist-neopagan-apostare West, the islamists, and the Southern Christian Reformation.

So, as I wind down the course I have been working on over the past little while [cf ], it is appropriate to do a quick review and examine our outlook. From this point on, I intend, from time to time, to develop similar reflection pieces, and to resume regular news clippings and comments: for, we must discern the times if we are to know what we should do.

This piece is a sort of catch up.

1. Review:

Headlines have been dominated by the continuing clashes associated with the renewal of the 1,000 year Jihad war; not only due to the campaigns and terrorism events, but also because the leader of the USA, an Evangelical Christian, has been the subject of not just criticisms of to this policy or that but an evident campaign to remove evangelicals from serious consideration for high office. Similarly, over the past several months, in the USA the 10 commandments were put in the closet as a threat to liberty; while so-called ¡§same sex marriage¡¨ is being imposed on society through the courts system in several leading western countries. Thus, we see how rapidly the three-way clash for the future is developing.

The Israel-Palestine clash continues ¡V with truth being the principal (but far from only) casualty of the ongoing war of terror, but has now taken on menacing global overtones. For, it reveals the rot in the international institutions, not only the UNH and its extensions, but also the media and pundits.

For instance, at a recent meeting of the 57-member international Islamic Conference Organisation; the retiring Prime Minister of the ¡§moderate¡¨ Islamic country, Malaysia, went on record that the Jews rule the world by proxy, and have others do their fighting and dying for them. This, to loud applause by an organization whose members include Guyana and Suriname in the Caribbean. There were some brief remarks in the media, then the world simply moved on.

Contrast: in the UN, when Israel recently offered a resolution regarding concern for the safety of its children ¡V as a parallel to a similar resolution offered earlier regarding Palestinian Arab children, it was reversed in intent through amendments, and was withdrawn. And that, against a backdrop where dozens (maybe hundreds) of Israeli children have become actual intended targets for ¡V and/or victims of ¡V murderous suicide terrorism attacks.

The latest development is of course a ¡§peace plan¡¨ in Geneva, where unofficial persons representing the Israelis and Palestinian Arabs have ¡§negotiated¡¨ a settlement to the conflict. However, reports are, that the Palestinian strategy in this was not serious: it was intended to sow discord within Israel, and logically, to further isolate Israel. More to the point, negotiations can only serve propaganda purposes when they are not between those who can undertake binding agreements ¡V and the warning that we are prone to say ¡§peace, peace¡¨ when sudden destruction stalks, should give us pause.

Sick. And, ever so sad.

Here in the Caribbean, we seem to be asleep at the wheel. On the agenda is business/sin as usual, and especially in Jamaica, desperation as usual. However, it is increasingly clear that none of our would-be political messiahs has a sound set of answers.

2. Key Trends and Challenges

The Israel situation is highlighted above because it reveals the underlying cynical hypocrisy and corruption in the world at international levels. [cf ]

This underlying issue is vital, as globalist institutional initiatives are the ¡§standard solution¡¨ to problems advanced by the secularist, internationalist policy-makers and pundits who dominate the thinking in our media culture and educational institutions. In turn, these institutions clearly show their alignment with the secularist, neo-pagan and apostate Christian agendas that are the first of the three major players in the global battle for the future.

In this context, the campaign to desensitize us to the destructive nature of sexual perversions is being boosted by the same forces. Suddenly, ¡§same-sex marriage¡¨ is on us, with evident intent to destroy marriage as a stable foundation for society ¡V if something comes to include everything, it has no meaning. Those who object are, as usual, being characterized as intolerant bigots; and the high incidence of divorce is being cited to hint that maybe there isn¡¦t anything there worth saving.

Of course, in fact, we see in this the very strongest proof that this agenda is extremely destructive to society. For, here we have an evident intent to exploit postmodern confusion about morality to remove the protective fences that for millennia society has rightly seen as vital in controlling the aggressive, lustful and violent passions of men in particular. From the days of Plato¡¦s Republic, this has been recognised as perhaps THE challenge to those who manage societies!

Running a close parallel are some worrying developments in the ongoing renewal of the 1000 year Jihad. For, serious reports by Mansoor Ijaz, a news analyst on the war, place bin Laden in Iran, currently near the border with Iraq. Other reports seem to back this up. Thus, the Sunni and Shiite branches of radical Islamism have come together, and in a context where the nuclear ambitions of Iran have been put on the international agenda under very worrisome circumstances that suggest collaboration with the Pakistani and possibly the North Korean programmes.

Given these links and the availability of weapons of mass destruction, I now project a dangerous but all too plausible possibility. Since a major goal of the islamists would be to unseat the current president of the USA in the next US election, it is likely that a plan is afoot to attack the US with such weapons during the next 11 months, most probably next summer or fall. For, that would ¡§demonstrate¡¨ the failure to protect the public and would greatly push the ¡§peace in our time at any price¡¨ policy. But, of course, false peace is no peace.

I hardly need to underscore the global panic that would be created by such an event, especially if it is a nuclear attack. (Of course, there have long been missing so-called ¡§suitcase nukes¡¨ ¡V i.e. demolition devices comparable to the Hiroshima Bomb but small enough to fit in a suitcase -- from the ex-Soviet arsenal.).

In summary, the two tidal waves that were envisioned as threatening the Caribbean are now in full flood. We see the secularists, neopagans and Apostates from the North, and the Islamists from the East.

3. What, then, should we do?

Jesus once rebuked the Pharisees, that they were able to read the signs of the weather quite well, but could not read the signs of the times. The contrast to the famous wise men of Issachar, who understood the times to know what Israel should do, is absolutely telling.

Unfortunately, this observation is equally telling against the governance ¡V that is, decision-maker ¡V levels in the church, institutions and wider community across the Caribbean. For, on the one hand, the region is ill-equipped to respond to the above global threats that now batter our region; on the other, we do not seem to be even aware of our mortal danger!

The first response is along the lines of the ANC¡¦s motto: UNDERTAND THE PAST, ACT IN THE PRESENT, BUILD THE FUTURE. For, as the Russians warn: ¡§Dwell on the past, lose an eye; forget the past, lose both your eyes.¡¨ That is, those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

So, it should be no surprise to see that the first battle is for history and the heritage we have derived therefrom:

1] The modern experiment in liberty and self-government by free people was a reformation legacy to the world. But, that was predicated on the judaeo-christian, biblical world view: men, governed from within by the words and spirit of the scriptures, can be trusted to be free. We see all around us the consequences of forgetting this lesson as Western culture has decisively shifted to radical skepticism, secularism, neopaganism and associated apostasies of the Christian Faith.

2] The biggest single social challenge is ¡V and has always been -- men, especially young men. For, such men in the ¡§natural¡¨ state have the physical power, hormone-driven aggressiveness and lack of empathy that leads them to spin out of control once they forget God and the restraining influences that flow from a godly order for life, family and community. As Paul pointed out in Romans 1 ¡V 3, once this dynamic is let loose in a society, it disintegrates in an orgy of false wisdom, ungovernable and perverted passions and violence. This is clearly happening ¡V again ¡V in western culture in our time!

3] In the Caribbean, especially Jamaica, we have forgotten the key element in our heritage of liberty. It is no accident that the first black missionaries arrived in Jamaica in 1783, i.e. Gerorge Liele from Georgia, leading to parallel processes of evangelization, education, emergence of leadership, empowerment and liberation, culminating in the end of slavery as of 1834. Thereafter, Baptist missionaries and other evangelicals took the lead in the creation of the free villages that empowered the ex-slaves as citizens with stable economic foundations and families living on their own land. But of course, while heavily sexualized ancestral spirit statues are much in evidence, not one word about the history and heritage of emancipation can be found in the Emancipation Park in Jamaica!

4] Indeed, we see instead, that Dr Sultana Afroz, of UWI Mona Campus History Department, has spent the past decade imagining an Islamic past for Jamaica, one heavily weighted towards: jihad as the model for overthrowing oppression. It can easily be shown that the evidential basis for her claims is quite sketchy and over-extrapolated [ cf. ]; but in the absence of concern for truth in our history in a post-modern era of skepticism about truth, the historian has become a mythmaker, not a detective trying to find out the truth about the past so we may have understanding of our own times that will guide us as to what to do.

The obvious solution is to fix the past deficit. But, the governance levels in church and community alike are so influenced by the times, that this is now a very hard row to hoe. This is a long-term project.

That brings us to the way forward: a remnant-renewal and reformation strategies driven by faith-based covenant communities of trust and common vision. Once we get this going in our region, we can exploit the fact that the Caribbean is the region that was the first project of globalization, to carry such solutions to the wider world. Of course, that implies a renewal of our missionary heritage, which started in 1843 wit the first missionaries who went out from Jamaica to West Africa with the gospel and with ideas and techniques that helped pioneer development there.

4. The Example of Jeremiah:

Jeremiah¡¦s prophetic letter to the exiles from Judah, circa 600 BC, brings out some of the subtleties of how the remnant-renewal and reformation pattern can work in a diverse, potentially hostile community:

¡§Build houses and settle down, plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage . . . increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper. . . . . For I know the plans I have for you . . . plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.¡¨ [Jer. 29:5 ¡V 11.]

These are of course general remarks; they are consistent with individual cases where disappointment or worse happens. But, the community of the exiles as a whole is counseled to seek the peace and prosperity even of the land of their enemies and oppressors, who have carried them off into exile. And God promises to bless them and eventually to restore their fortunes:

„X Instead of the very natural focus on resentment over harm done in the past or even currently, the letter¡¦s focus shifts attention to undertaking projects that create progress, peace and prosperity in one¡¦s family, the people of covenant at large, and the wider (and often potentially or actually hostile or even oppressive) community. [This has much to say to our tendency to focus on our own unfinished history of slavery and oppression, rather than on opportunities for progress provided by the rich resources of our region!]

„X This shift of focus also illustrates the power of the GR/CI to break the cycle of mistrust, resentment and violence by setting out to build a future that reaches out across barriers and hatreds to promote community-wide peace and prosperity by building on opportunities that are within one¡¦s reach.

„X Further, Jeremiah reverses the usual view of the SD principle, that it is the powerful who must make the first move to promote sustainable development. Instead, he counselled a grass-roots up, start-small-and-grow, self-help based approach that moves out from building on opportunities to produce for oneself and to build a family, to seeking and praying for the prosperity of the wider community, as a covenant community of faith within the wider culture.

„X Thus, we see a shift from the typical development approach that emphasises the central role of the state ¡V statism ¡V to one that emphasizes individual, family and community-based strategies: moving from the margins to the centre, in short. (This exploits the so-called iron law of oligarchy: power circulates among elites, so until one has become a credible alternative leadership, one¡¦s needs, complaints or proposals will simply not be seriously entertained by those who hold power and so dominate the state.)

„X Similarly, there is an emphasis on nurturing the environment so that the way in which its resources and associated opportunities are exploited promotes meeting of basic needs across time and across generations: food, clothing and shelter. (Integrating Prov. 31:10 ¡V 31, such initial efforts can be turned into quite thriving business initiatives that build up the wealth of families and communities.)

„X Further, implicit in the focus on the family within the wider covenant community of faith, is the concept that a godly culture must be nurtured even in a hostile environment, and that the covenant community of faith should reach out to the wider community in concern and prayer, backed up by appropriate action that promotes the good order and prosperity of that wider community. (This is underscored by the point that this is in the mutual interest of all members of the wider community, including that of the community of the faithful.)

The long-term sustainability and benefits that flow from this path can be seen from the fact that this has been the consistent, and often successful, approach of the Jewish Diaspora ever since those dark and painful days of the Babylonian exile.

Across time, communities that work in the above way tend to become prosperous, well-educated and influential; as the stories of Daniel, Nehemiah, Ezra and Esther illustrate. However, this progress may also provoke resentment and persecution, especially if there is an unwillingness to compromise core moral commitments and/or to assimilate to the wider community. (This has been one root of the many persecutions the Jews ¡V and Christians -- have suffered. Cf. 1 Peter 3:3 ¡V 6.)

But also, when communities are open to the importance of justice and broad-based participation and fairness in the community, the approach opens up to include possibilities for involvement in the sort of democratic participative governance approaches described above. (It should be noted that such approaches can be manipulated by clever interest groups who are able to distort perceptions or suppress key facts, so that the community¡¦s actions become disconnected from reality. In our time, this is unfortunately a commonly used tactic.)

CONCLUSIONS: Why not now? Why not here? Why not us?

Monday, October 13, 2003

Course on Intro to Philosophy

This course introduces students to key approaches, ideas, inquiries and issues of Philosophy in the context of their significance for/challenge to the project of thinking, living and serving Christ and community as informed, educated Christians. Through structured participative approaches, it will emphasise: (1) primary questions/foci/issues; (2) terms, tools and techniques used to address such issues with due regard for precision, clarity and cogency; and, (3) the use of the principle of comparative difficulties to critically reflect on pivotal elements, issues and impacts of the systems put forward by select ancient, medieval and modern/postmodern philosophers, in response to these questions. Through these explorations, the interaction of philosophy and Christian faith across time will also be explored, to discover whether biblically rooted, philosophically informed, prophetic intellectual and cultural leadership (e.g. as sketched in Acts 17:16 – 33) is possible and/or desirable. The participants will then use their findings to discuss the relevance and applicability of philosophical questions and approaches to current challenges faced by the Caribbean.


JTS: Intro to Phil
Session 1: Briefing Note
GEM 03:10:08

OVERVIEW: What is Philosophy?

INTRODUCTION: First, we need to clarify: what, why and how philosophy? Is it important and relevant to us in our situations? What are possible challenges to the project of living as Christian disciples, and how should we respond?

1. What? Why? How?

The Colliers Encyclopedia 1998 Dictionary provides a helpful summary, with which we can begin – but note that in philosophy, EVERYTHING, including the below, is open to debate:

phi•los•o•phy phi•los•o•phies [abbr.: ]phil.philos.
a.Love and pursuit of wisdom by intellectual
means and moral self-discipline.
b.The investigation of causes and laws
underlying reality.
c.A system of philosophical inquiry or
2.Inquiry into the nature of things based on logical
reasoning rather than empirical methods.
3.The critique and analysis of fundamental beliefs as
they come to be conceptualized and formulated . . .

Unpacking: philosophy = philo + sophia, loving wisdom (by looking beneath the surface of things).

Thus, one would ask, investigate through reasoned inquiry -- and try to live by “sensible” answers to -- hard but important questions about us, our world and “ultimate reality.” Since there are usually competing answers to such questions, and none of them will be without difficulties, then we would compare the difficulties and decide which alternative is “best.”

Over time, those who have investigated in this way in the Western Tradition have found it helpful to view philosophy as comprising several sub-disciplines:

 Metaphysics: critical analysis of worldviews, the pictures/models of the world that we all (but especially philosophers, theologians and scientists) build up.

 Epistemology: Is knowledge possible? How can we tell knowledge from belief, opinion or imagination? What are our rights and duties concerning knowledge?

 Logic: How to distinguish good reasoning from bad. This is the key analytical tool of philosophy.

 Ethics: critical analysis of right/wrong, duty, rights, decisions and expectations. This is the part of our personal worldviews we are most aware of.

 Aesthetics: Critical analysis of beauty. Is there more than just “the eye of the beholder” at work? Why did early philosophers come to view the highest good as comprising justice, truth and beauty?

 Philosophy of “X”: Extensions to specific areas of interest, such as Science, Education, Religion, Politics or Mathematics.
2. Worldview Analysis

The rest of philosophy unfolds from critical analysis of worldviews, so we need to clarify:

“In its simplest terms, a worldview is a set of beliefs about the important issues in life.” [Nash, 1992. NB: Authorities are used as “expert witnesses” that allow us to avoid going back to first principles every time we discuss philosophically. They are no better than their underlying facts, assumptions and reasoning!]

Worldview analysis therefore asks:

 What is ultimately real? [Metaphysics]
 How do/can we know and test/justify this? [Logic & Epistemology]
 How, then, should we live? [Ethics & Aesthetics]
 Often: what’s right/wrong and what should we do?

3. Philosophy, Science & Religion

Plainly, these have overlapping concerns; and so there has often been much contention due to divergent ways of approaching the major worldview analysis questions.

Indeed, it is a common perspective that philosophy arose as a challenge to religion and its ghostly superstitions, and has long since discredited it. In turn, Science emerged from philosophy as the natural world was studied, and in some minds, has completed the process, having discredited philosophy, especially metaphysics! However, these are now minority opinions, given the re-emergence of the worldview concept as central to understanding diversity in a pluralistic, relativistic, largely secularized age.

A brief comparison of the methods & issues could start with:

 Philosophy: asks and tries to answer key questions, through dialogue constrained by logic. Often, its practitioners challenge the validity of inferences from experiment and observation, as well as the concept that there is a “God’ who is there and is not silent.

 Science: Focuses on the natural (and human) world & advances testable/falsifiable models/theories as provisional knowledge that seeks to describe, explain, predict and control/influence. Often, practitioners are only vaguely aware of the inherently provisional nature of scientific knowledge claims, and are prone to dismiss as “worthless” anything that is not open to experimental tests or at least physical observation.

 Religion: Traditions and associated worldviews and lifestyles/cultures that centre on God (or a God-substitute), often in light of claimed “revelations” from God (or the substitute). Adherents as a rule seek to shape how they – and the wider community – live, in light of what they think God (or the substitute) wants.

Unfortunately, the resulting tensions are too often shaped more by heat than by light.

4. Testing Worldviews

Hasker, 1983, outlines that critical analysis of worldviews clusters around several key themes:

1. Factual adequacy: does a worldview account for and agree with the relevant “known facts”? Are there gaps, and/or contradictions to “facts”? Are “facts” so?

2. Logical Coherence: do the claims within a worldview (and their implications) support or deny one another? If two such claims/implications contradict, at most one can be true. (Both may be false, or may refer to empty sets and so are vacuous.) Sometimes, minor surgery is enough to correct this problem. Sometimes, major work is required. In some cases, the case is hopeless.

3. Explanatory Power: Worldviews should UNIFY the facts/entities of reality, showing how they relate, interact and/or work together. This allows us to understand, predict and influence/shape the world. (NB: In most cases, such world models are under-determined by the evidence.)

5. Presuppositions and Bias

It is especially important in such testing to focus on core assumptions (“presuppositions”), as they control other aspects of the worldview. Also, such assumptions are most powerful when they are implicit, so it is important to express them in words. They will always be present, as finite humans cannot prove everything, so we inevitably start with some things that are assumed, and relative to which we try to prove other things.

Such core assumptions typically focus on beliefs about God, man, the world, methods of inquiry, and virtues, duties and rights.

But equally, as Vox Day [?] an Internet columnist has observed, a psychology is a worldview’s characteristic way of dealing with reality. So, world-VIEWS strongly shape how we see the world, i.e. the core assumptions of a worldview can potentially warp our thinking and living. (In the extreme cases, deceptions and delusional fantasies or even outright madness lie down that road. It is a hallmark of such, that they are disintegrative and destructive in their effects on individuals and communities.)

Similarly, as Nash observes “A number of Christian writers have attempted to raw attention to the fact that the kinds of . . . thinking we find in science, philosophy and even theology are often strongly affected by nontheoretical considerations . . . it would be foolish to pretend that human beings always handle such matters impersonally and objectively, without reference to considerations rooted in their psychological makeup.” [1992, pp. 23 – 24.]

CONCLUSIONS: We have briefly seen how Philosophy is about asking hard questions about important issues, then trying to coherently answer and live by the answers. Consequently, the heart of philosophy is worldview analysis, in turn requiring epistemological and logical tools shaped by ethical concerns. Characteristic applications of such analysis lie in justice, truth and beauty in our lives, communities and world.

References & Readings
Hasker, William. Metaphysics. IVP 1983. Ch. 1

Nash, Ronald. Worldviews in Conflict. Zondervan, 1992. Ch. 1

Plato. The Cave. In The Republic. Try:

Stanford online Enc. of Phil:

An online Intro to Phil:

Suber’s guide to Phil on the Internet:

Friday, September 19, 2003

Remarks on Mel Gibson's The passion:

Could this movie be an opportunity for the world to pull back from the brink?

Just now (Sept 19) I saw on MSNBC's news ticker tape where Jewish leaders are publicly accusing the Gibson film, the Passion, as anti semitic.

I thought some observations are in order[cf. Elizabeth Farah and a second piece at ], and quite relevant to the purposes of this group:

1] The gap between perceptions and expectations and truth and right:

The former are subjective, the latter objective. I find that there is a pattern in Western Culture to turn away from objectivity, opening the door to manipulation of emotions so we do not even listen to those who may well be telling us truth that we do not wish to hear. The end of this is that men will choose darkness instead of light.

2] Is the film actually antisemitic?

By several undisputed accounts what it does is it is strongly based on the Gospel texts, and actually does its dialogue in latin and Aramaic, with English sub-titles. Further, I gather that the points where the Gospel message specifically highlights the corruption of the Judaean leadership have actually been softened to avoid offense. (But also, it is easily the most realistic depiction of the brutality of the tortures meted out to our Lord, so much so it is targetted for an R rating when it is released next Ash Wednesday.)

However, given the basic message that a corrupt leadership (Judaean, Herodian and Roman alike) abused the power of the courts to try to get rid of a gadfly, if current jewish leadership are unwilling to accept that as so, then they will raise accusations.

Frankly, that says more about these leaders -- then and now -- than it does about the movie and the Gospels; which have in them an unmistakeable ring of authenticity.

By sharp contrast, the Athenians came to revere Socrates, regretting the horible judicial murder of the Athenian intellectual gadfly; and Plato's Apology became a foundation text of the movement for intellectual freedom in Western Culture.

Could we all, Jew and Gentile alike, recognise that one message in the Gospel Narrative, is that power tends to corrupt, and that courts can often become instruments of abuse and usurpation thus horrible injustice? That, fundamentally, the Jewish/Chriatian debate over Jesus hinges on whether he was/is the messiah -- that is the context is a debate within the Jewish tradition? That, Jesus and his Apostles were and remained Jews?

And, not least, that especially in our time when jihad-crazed suicidal terrorists stalk both Christians and Jews, can we not see that we have more in common than the concerns that divide us theologically?

3] The spiritual dimension

In Acts 16, Luke describes Paul's misadventures in Philippi. There, he was derided as a Jewish interloper who was destroying businesses -- by setting a poor girl free from her demons. He was seized and whipped with Silas, then thrown in gaol. But at midnight, an earthquake intervened.

Soon, the gaoler and family became Christians, on seeing how the apostles responded to the chance of escape and prevented the keeper from killing himself. Then, when the authorities wanted to get rid of the apostles quietly, so that they could get away with injustice and hang over their heads a cloud of suspicion, they suddently had a challenge: let them fetch us publicly, as they have beaten Roman Citizens without even having a trial first!

So, shocked, the authorities had to recognise and apologise for their injustice; vindicating the missionaries. (For, Rome had in the past gone to war over such an incident!)

But then, is that not exactly what the resurrection is: God's vindication of Jesus?

So, Judaism today needs to reassess at several levels:

* Accepting the point that religious and secular leaders - even in a nation with a godly culture -- can become so corrupt that they abuse their power/influence over the instruments of the state. Is this not exactly what the Tanakh's Prophets so often complain of, as in Amos 5:7 - 17?

* Listening to the gospel story within this prophetic tradition, appreciating that in a colonial situation as described, corrupt local leadership and Roman overlords would be all but inevitable. If this were not so, why were there so many revolts and protest movements at this time?

* Hearing the ring of authenticity in the passion narratives: the clash between the galileans and the judaeans coming to a head; the popular galilean leader being seen as a threat rather than a corrective. That corrupt leaders would twist the law and facts to advance their agenda of jealousy is all too familiar.

* Equally, recognise that even in the leadership, there were those who were men of conscience, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, who courageously challenged what was going on; including burying the martyred prophet in a tomb right outside the main city gates as a mark of permanent silent but eloquent protest at Jerusalem that kills its prophets.

* Being willing to really listen to the core Christian message -- first proclaimed by JEWS who saw in Jesus the fulfillment of Israel's hopes -- that this Jesus was vindicated by God through the resurrection from the dead. Five hundred eyewitnesses, almost all of them clearly Jews, stood on this point at risk to life and limb.

Likewise, a secularised, apostate and neopagan Gentile world needs to hear again that message: this same Jesus God has raised up and vindicated. he is the One who shall judge us all at the Last Day. In token of this, for two thousand years, we have had a church that has borne witness, worked miracles in his name and even now calls all men to repent.

And so does the Islamic world.

In short, we can all see ourselves and our institutions and leadership cultures on trial in the Passion narratives. If we will but acknowledge this, there can be hope to avoid catastrophe in our time!

So, perhaps, Mel Gibson has brought the whole world face to face with the grim and yet relevant warning of Lord Acton: power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.

But, there is good news: with such a state of tyranny, corruption and injustice, God is not pleased. However, he in love has submitted himself to just such tyranny that he might save us from our sins and through his church and the Scriptures even now calls all men everywhere to repentance and reformation.

Jew, Gentile, ands Muslim alike.

Brothers and Sisters, let us all repent!

Grace be with you all


Saturday, September 13, 2003

A SERIES: On the biblical heritage of liberation in Jamaica

NOTE: I will shortly return to my regular posting of clips and comments.


Caribbean Core Cultural Concerns & Challenges Series


Gordon Mullings, MSc Physics, MBA


Series Overview/Rationale: In the C21, an ever more global age faces a choice between three competing
world-systems: (1) Western Secularism, neopaganism and apostasy, (2) Islam and
associated Jihadism, (3) the southern Christian Reformation.  In that context,
the Caribbean is a geostrategic hinge, and so will face a turbulent time in
the days ahead.  Accordingly, drawing on the rich heritage of the biblical,
Abrahamic tradition and our own experience of liberation through the power of
the gospel, this series of articles will speak to the Caribbean peoples and
the church, calling us to the transforming blessing of Abraham through the seed
of Abraham.  A particular focus will be made on Jamaica, in response to the
implications of the recently opened Emancipation park and the Redemption Song
Nude Statue group it displays, coupled with the astonishing absence of any reference
to the history, heritage and heroes of the liberation struggle in Jamaica; an
absence that must be deliberate and which strongly suggests an antipathy for
the biblically rooted heritage of Jamaica and the Caribbean on the part of the
nation’s (and therefore also – given the institutional connections and networks
-- the region’s) cultural elites.  That is, the series serves as a call to action
for the church in the renewed liberation struggle for the Caribbean.

Part I:  The Gospel, Emancipation and Empowerment.

GEM 03:08:05, rev. 09:13

A half a millennium ago, the Christian Faith
came to the Caribbean with the first European Discoverers, Conquistadores and
settlers; at best an ambivalent situation.

At that time, the region was largely populated
by Amerindians, though some islands were uninhabited.  Especially in the larger
islands, these inhabitants were reduced under the Encomienda system of
 forced labour, and suffered many abuses, so that they were partly destroyed,
and partly absorbed into the general mass of the population.

Bartoleme de las Casas, the first man ordained
a priest in the New World, became a champion of these oppressed people, along
with many other church leaders. He spoke prophetically against Spain’s oppression,
but in so doing he suggested the importation of black Africans to carry out
the work. (He probably did not anticipate the consequences over the next several
hundred years.)

Soon, there was a trans-Atlantic Slave trade,
a complement to the long extant trans-Sahara trade carried out by the Arabs
and Berbers (who preferred female slaves). So, over the next three centuries,
an estimated 12 millions were brought across the Atlantic, under crowded and
inhumane conditions, and auctioned off like cattle in the various slave markets
of the Americas.

This trade, however, did not reach full stride
until in the mid 1600s, the Caribbean underwent the so-called sugar revolution,
when Dutch merchants from Brazil taught and afforded credit to go into the sugar
industry.  Consequently, slave populations exploded as field hands were now
required in vast numbers for the plantations.

Spiritual Needs & the Gospel of Liberation

The spiritual needs of these slaves were
responded to in different ways in the Catholic and English colonies.  In the
former, it was required that the slaves be christianised under Roman Catholic
teaching, but in the latter, the settlers typically – but all too tellingly
-- took a dim view of evangelizing the slaves because of the liberating implications
of the Bible, such as in Galatians 3:13 – 14, 26 – 29, and 5:1, 13 - 15:

‘Christ redeemed us from the curse of the
law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is
hung on a tree.”  He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham
might come to the [peoples] through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might
receive the promise of the Spirit . . . . You are all sons of God through faith
in Christ Jesus . . .  There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male
nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then
you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise . . . . It is for
freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves
be burdened again by a yoke of slavery . . . . You, my brothers, were called
to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather,
serve one another in love.  The entire law is summed up in a single command:
“Love your neighbour as yourself.”  If you keep biting and devouring each other,
watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.’ [Cf. Acts 17:24 – 31.]

While these texts speak primarily to spiritual
bondage, the implications for any species of enslavement are all too plain.
If that were not enough, we can read in 1 Cor 7:21 – 23: “Were you a slave when
you were called? Don’t let it trouble you – although if you can gain your freedom,
do so. For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord’s freedman;
similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ’s slave. You were
bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” 

This unmistakable attitude carries through
in Philemon, written to accompany Onesimus, an escaped slave, now returning
to his master who was also a convert of Paul:

‘I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who
became my son while I was in chains . . . I would have liked to keep him so
that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel.
But I did not want to do anything without your consent . . . Perhaps the reason
he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back
for good – no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother
. . . . So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.
If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. I, Paul,
am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back . . . I do wish, brother,
that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.’
[Philemon 10 – 20.]

With language like that in the commonly available
Protestant English Bible, it was no wonder that there was a considerable (and
all too evidently self-interested and hypocritical) ambivalence among the English
regarding slavery; and, no wonder the most torturous misinterpretations and
manipulations were made over the Centuries to justify slavery by claiming, for
example, that blacks were not fully human.  For shame!

Moreover, the Bible also has choice words
on the subject of the slave trade, which was the foundation for the plantation
chattel slave system our ancestors suffered under:

The law is good if one uses it properly .
. . [it] is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly
and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or
mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders
[KJV: menstealers] and liars and perjurers – and for whatever else is contrary
to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God.
[1 Tim 1:8 – 11, emphasis added]

If a man is caught kidnapping one of his
brother Israelites and treats him as a slave or sells him, the kidnapper must
die. You must purge the evil from among you.  [Deut. 24:7.  Cf. Lev. 24:22:
“You are to have the same law for the alien and the native born. I am the L
ORD your God.”]

In short, there is no biblical defense for
the “Old pirates, yes, they rob I. Sold I to the merchant ships . . .” – based
slave system that was imposed on our ancestors by Europeans (who had the merchant
ships) and the African, Berber and Arab traders who carried out the kidnapping
and selling in Africa.  But, plainly, the prospects of super-profits blinded
the traders to the moral and theological issues at stake. So, instead of an
indentured labour system, we ended up with plantation chattel slavery, with
racism, and with torturous misreadings of the scriptures that were used to salve

In the case of the English, it had long been
a common law principle that a brother Christian should not be held as a slave.
Thus, the spiritual needs of the slaves in British colonies were as a rule neglected.
 (Later, jurists were to change this law, so powerful were the inducements of
the profits to be made.)

In large part as a result of such inattention
to the spiritual needs of the slaves, in Jamaica Myal and Obeah had emerged
by the time of the 1760 Tacky pan-tribal slave rebellion; out of a synthesis
of the various African animistic faiths brought to Jamaica by the survivors
of the notoriously murderous Middle Passage.  As the Baptist Faith would later
serve, these belief systems formed a focus for cultural survival and resistance
to the cruel bondage of plantation slavery in the Caribbean.

The Non-Conformist Missionaries & Liberation Struggles

Some two hundred and fifty years after Columbus’
voyages, the first serious attempts were made to evangelise slaves in the Anglophone
territories; many of whom enthusiastically converted to the Christian Faith.

Even more of the slaves adapted to that faith
through syncretism with their own Animist beliefs – reflecting the common theme
of a High God, but retaining the typical Animist scheme of intermediary sky-
and earth- bound spirit beings.  (This manifests a typical pattern of conversion,
adaptation and syncretism that is instantly recognizable to any culturally informed
Missiologist. Chevannes [1998] and Newman & Wade I & II [2002] are the
major sources for the survey that now follows.)

For instance, in the mission and native Baptist
churches that emerged through a major facet of this process, there was a spectrum
of beliefs from orthodox Christian faith to a syncretistic, Christianized Myal.
Remnants of this blend remain to this day – more than one church has had a chicken
or a goat sacrificed at the laying of its foundation!

In particular, in 1783, George Liele, a black
American preacher and ex-slave who had been a leader in the African Baptist
Church in Savannah, Georgia [reportedly the first black American independent
church] arrived in Jamaica, to serve here until his death in 1828.  He boldly
preached the gospel, and planted many churches, sparking off a church planting
movement across the island that resulted in the rise of Jamaica’s native Baptist
church. As he got along in years, in the 1810’s, he invited the British Baptists
to join him and the other native and American leaders in the work, so that Jamaica
soon had Burchell, Knibb, and Phillipo labouring here as well.

But also, this process led to a trans-Atlantic
alliance among evangelical believers that gave a powerful boost to the anti-slave
trade and abolitionist movements in Britain.  For, now, there was a network
of credible leadership that could testify to the truth about that wicked trade
and its associated system of chattel slavery.  Thus, most critically, the voice
of Wilberforce in Parliament, initially a lone evangelical parliamentary voice
against slavery, had considerable reinforcement.

Over the period to the 1830s, increasingly,
the Christian Faith and its native and missionary leaders would therefore become
the protagonists of a long liberation struggle with the plantocracy and its
allies in the West India Interest in Britain. Gradually the Abolitionists won
over a reluctant Parliament to their cause, especially as the economic power
of sugar began to wane. So at the turn of the 1830’s, Emancipation was in the

However, the struggle would come to a violent
head through the Christmas 1831 slave strike demanding pay for work. The strike
was led by Baptist Deacon Sam Sharpe; it turned into the “Baptist War” uprising
because of the usual overly harsh repression by the local militia, issuing in
the hanging of over three hundred slaves and the further terrorization of the
over three hundred thousand slaves across the island. Among the executed was
Sharpe, Jamaica’s first political martyr and national hero: he had acquired
arms in advance of the strike, showing that he anticipated such a military struggle
as a likely outcome.

But, their sacrifice accelerated the British
decision to abolish slavery in the Empire, so within a few years of the strike-cum-uprising,
emancipation occurred in 1834 – 38. 

Thus, the gospel played a vital role in the
liberation of the Caribbean, especially in Jamaica.

Beyond Emancipation

 The dawning of full freedom was celebrated
in the non-conformist churches, and these churches went on to foster the development
of a free, independent peasantry through the free villages movement, Sligoville
in the hills above Linstead being the first. (The  free villages initiative
was based on endowments used by the missionary leaders to purchase blocks of
land that were parceled out into family-sized lots, with a church and school.
Ex-slaves bought the land at a discount, under covenantal terms that every seventh
year there should be a land Sabbath, and that there should be an annual harvest
thanksgiving festival. Some of these practices survive to the present day in
congregations all over the region.)

The transforming effect of these freedom
villages has been aptly summed up:

These new settlements were created on abandoned
or run-down estates which had been acquired by the Baptists and other members
of the Anti-slavery Societies who in turn sold them in plots to groups of ex-slaves
at inexpensive prices. As land of a certain size entitled the owner to a vote
in the House of Assembly, the Baptist made sure to sell individual plots at
or above regulation size . . . . There was also a conscious attempt in
setting up these villages to ensure that each recipient of a plot was a church
member in good standing. Thus there was a rash of baptisms and marriages in
the period. Furthermore each village had a church and school, and so a greater
number of moral, spiritual and educational opportunities were provided to complement
the new found economic independence of these farming folk. [

In short, by breaking out of the plantation
system through creating empowerment-oriented, Bible-based covenant communities,
the church of the 1830’s and 40’s helped to transform the dynamics of post-Emancipation
Jamaican society -- creating the basis for modern Jamaica.

By 1843, the ex-slaves began going as Christian
Missionaries to West and Central Africa. As a result, perhaps a hundred Caribbean
missionaries played a critical catalytic role in the founding of the Evangelical
Christian Faith in this part of Africa. So much is this the case, that in a
recent issue of the Journal of African Christian Thought, George Liele,
the American Baptist missionary pioneer and former slave who came  to Jamaica
from Georgia to preach the gospel in the 1780’s is described as a black prophet
and father of the church in the Americas and Africa.

However, in the 1860’s, the global awakening
led not only to a new wave of converts in the churches, but to a revitalization
of Myal through a synthesis with the less theologically sound elements of the
native Baptists. Also, in 1865, when a protest broke out over harsh repression
of suffering peasants in St Thomas, the Militia fired on the protesters, triggering
the so-called Morant bay Rebellion, which led to extreme repression: 1,000 peasant
houses razed; 600 flogged, 400 shot or hanged, including deacon Bogle who led
the protest and riots, and Gordon, a native Baptist leader/church overseer and
merchant who had been an activist pleading the cause of the over-burdened peasantry.

For survival, the Baptist church retreated
from such activism as Crown Colony Government was instituted across the region.

Subsequently, the Christian faith has played
a vital role in the Caribbean, well known as one of the most thoroughly churched
regions in the world.  However, in our time, that heavily Christian focus has
begun to wane, under the impact of secularism, neopagan influences allying themselves
to the animist elements of folk culture, and to the apostasy of many of the
churches that have for decades been led by men who deride the Scriptures.  This
has been accelerated by the lack of cultural relevance of  many evangelicals
in the region.

Therefore, there is a crying need for the
fullness of the gospel to once again be heard in the region, and for Christians
to arise and lead our region in reformation.

--END --

Part 2:  On Statues, Idolatry and Public Morality:

A response to the Emancipation Park Statue
Group and related themes

GEM 03:08:05a

Sculpture has again become a focus for controversy
in Jamaica, because of a Laura Facey-Cooper nude group erected at the entrance
to Emancipation Park, the site of a public protest over nude weddings in February

On the one hand, there has been much talk
about how beautiful such statues are, and how lovely and spiritual the human
form is. On the other, there has been concern over the heavily sexual (possibly
even obscene) nature of the statues, and over whether they in fact connect to
the cultural core issue of emancipation, the theme of the taxpayer-funded Park.

But also, over the past year, a somewhat
more restrained but just as heavily sexually tinged group stood in the same
site ever since the park was opened, and now sits at the location that had been
planned for it in the 1960's: the Harbour View roundabout, at the root of the
Palisadoes peninsula on which Kingston's main airport stands. So, this second
statue would be the first monument seen by visitors to our capital city.

Further, in 1999, the National University,
U.Tech, commissioned a Caribbean Sculpture Park (partially funded by taxpayers
through statutory bodies), which contains a second Laura Facey-Cooper statue.
So, a few dozen feet from the entry to the Chapel, aligned on an East-West axis
stands a nude, Earth Mother goddess figure, arching over backwards in such a
way that her larger than life pubic region is at eye-level for one approaching
or leaving the Chapel.  (09:13 NB: The statue has recently been moved a little
further away from the entrance, and a second statue of a dancing female figure
now stands closer,  so the alignment is not so blatantly “in your face.”)

Art, Idolatry, Sensuality and Cultural
Bondage to Sin

Clearly, a pattern emerges.

To better understand the pattern, we need
to reflect briefly on sculpture, symbolism, idolatry and public morality. For,
given that the first and foremost challenge of a community is to raise up its
children to build a better future, societies have long agreed that there must
be a family-friendly public domain that preserves children from a too early
focus on matters that they are not mature enough to handle. (So, for instance,
our laws have long held that what is suitable and proper for the privacy of
one's bedroom is not necessarily suitable for display in the public.)

First, let us observe that statues -- whether
realistic or abstract, in the round or in relief -- can be beautiful, and are
powerfully symbolic. For, they evoke deep associations with the defining stories
and themes of a culture. But by that same power, they can unfortunately become
a moral and spiritual snare; pulling individuals, families and whole nations
into bondage to lies and demonic passions and even destructive sensual or violent
frenzies. Therefore, idolatry has long been associated with sculptural images
-- and with grossly immoral sensuality.

For instance, we find in the Ten Commandments,
circa 1300 - 1400 BC:

"You shall not have other gods before
me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven
or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them
or worship them . . ." [Deut. 5:7 - 9, NIV.]

This was not a prohibition on sculpture as
an art form -- in Numbers 21:4 - 9 God instructed Moses to make a bronze snake
and put it up on a pole so that those bitten by snakes could "look and
live" -- but equally, the same statue had to be destroyed centuries later
by godly king Hezekiah because it had become an object of veneration. [2 Kings
18:1 - 4. NB: The Middle Ages in Europe, sadly, provide another example of this,
and the Reformers were forced to destroy a large number of fine works of art
because of such abuse. In many of these cases, the very donors of the works
personally smashed them.]

Breaking Free

In short, there is a fundamental problem:
we are easily distracted from reality by attractive symbols, and so Paul aptly

". . . since the creation of the world
God's invisible qualities -- his eternal power and divine nature -- have been
clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without
excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave
thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were
darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged
the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds
and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires
of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one
another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served
created things rather than the Creator . . . . Because of this, God gave them
over to shameful [perverted] lusts . . . . since they did not think it worthwhile
to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do
what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness,
evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and
malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful;
they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless,
faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that
those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very
things but also approve of those who practice them." [Rom 1:19 - 32. Circa
55 AD.]

Paul later echoes and amplifies these shocking
thoughts, as he calls for the people of God to live above such a gutter level:

". . . you must no longer live as the
Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding
and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them
due to the hardening of their hearts. having lost all [moral] sensitivity, they
have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity,
with a continual lust for more.

"You, however, did not come to know
Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance
with the truth that is in Jesus. you were taught, with regard to your former
way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by deceitful
desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new
self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." [Eph.
4:17 - 24.]

From these two texts, we see opposed personal
and social dynamics at work: (1) ingratitude to God, leading to substituting
the creature for the Creator, thence moral coarsening and captivity to sensuality,
violence and evil; vs. (2) renewal of our minds, lives and communities as we
follow the holy God in Christ.

Clearly, the question now before Jamaica
is which of these divergent paths we will choose as a nation. Let us pray that
our people will choose wisely, that our Eternal Father may once again renew
his blessings in our land.


Part 3: Where is the EMANCIPATION in
the Park?

The controversial Laura Facey nude statue,
Redemption Song, is at the site of a major international protest rally held
on Feb. 13, 2000 against the first Hedonism III/Playboy Cable TV Porn Channel
mass nude wedding.

That insensitivity to community feelings
is in itself  a measure of the depth of the rift in our society.

However, there is a deeper problem with
the park as a whole: where is the EMANCIPATION in it?  For, as I confirmed by
a visit last week,  as of August 7th:

in the park do we see a display of the history of plantation slavery, the liberation
struggle that was energized when the evangelical Missionaries began preaching
to the slaves in the late C18, or of how it culminated in Emancipation and the
enduring challenge to live in a free and well ordered community.

I did
not see key National Symbols displayed, such as: Our Motto, Our Coat of Arms,
Our National Pledge, Our National Anthem - all of them high points in Jamaica’s

As Mr
Michael Morris protested in a letter to the editor published in the Gleaner
on Aug. 19, 2002, the very date of Emancipation is missing.

is no Visitors’ Centre/Museum that would help educate our children and visitors
to our Nation on our heritage, heroes, history and core national values.

style='font-family:Georgia'>Given the resonance of emancipation in our as yet
unhealed history, such a cluster of omissions is utterly astonishing.  But,
if emancipation, education and the challenge of building a free, orderly and
productive society have been left out of the Park as a whole, it is then no
surprise to see the emerging consensus that the commissioned statues are irrelevant
and offensive to a broad -- but often derided, censored and ignored -- cross
section of the community.

Perhaps the best way forward is to view
the Park as a work in progress, and in that light I wish to suggest the following:

style='font-family:Georgia;letter-spacing:-.25pt'>(1)  That the present storage
house be converted into a visitors’ centre with artifacts and a multimedia presentation.
Print and multimedia educational materials should be available for sale at a
modest cost. 

style='font-family:Georgia;letter-spacing:-.25pt'>(2)  That the jogging path be
converted into a history and heroes walk, by developing a list of “heritage
stations.”  (The utility as a jogging/walking path should not be destroyed by
this addition.)

style='font-family:Georgia;letter-spacing:-.25pt'>(3)  That these stations present
the history of slavery and emancipation accurately, fairly and tastefully, highlighting
the often unsung people, initiatives and institutions that helped us find liberation
and empowerment -- not to mention, the ongoing challenges of freedom, order
and productivity in a largely Christian community. [Cf. Ephesians 4:17 - 24,
Galatians 5:13 - 15. By the way,
style='font-family:Georgia'> why is it that George Liele, founder of the indigenous
Baptist church that has played such a foundational role in the liberation of
Jamaica, is not a recognised national hero?style='letter-spacing:-.25pt'>]

style='font-family:Georgia;letter-spacing:-.25pt'>(4)  That at the entry of the
Centre, the key national symbols be prominently displayed, as a shrine to the
values and visions that will help build our future.

style='font-family:Georgia;letter-spacing:-.25pt'>(5)  That the controversial
statues be removed to the National Gallery, and replaced by one similar to the
well-received liberation struggle monuments in Barbados, Guyana  and Haiti.

style='font-family:Georgia;letter-spacing:-.25pt'>(6)  Similarly, that the all
too similar statue group at the Harbour View Roundabout be reviewed as to its
suitability for that site, as the FIRST monument seen by visitors to our city,
and again one sited at a major intersection. 

style='font-family:Georgia'>Then, perhaps, we can begin to heal the wounds of
the past by acting with true respect for all and coming together to build a
future under the blessing of our Eternal, Thrice Holy Father.


style='font-family:Georgia'>Part 4: On the Biblical Roots of renewed Liberty
and Blessing in Jamaica

Gordon Mullings


“Freedom.”  The very sound of the word is
exhilarating to the point of being heady.  And, the dictionary definition absolutely
bursts with possibilities and opportunities: “the condition of being free or
unrestricted . . . the power of self-determination, independence of fate or
necessity.”  [OED]

No wonder then, that the idea of an Emancipation
Park as a celebration of the key moment in Jamaica’s history was greeted with
such a surge of joyous anticipation.  For, freedom is the first point of being
truly human, so much so that in Professor Orlando Patterson’s telling comment,
slavery is “social death.”

But, equally, there is the balancing truth
– freedom entails responsibility for the consequences of our actions:

It is for freedom that Christ has set us
free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke
of slavery . . . . You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use
your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. 
The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” 
If you keep biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed
by each other. [Gal. 5:1, 13 – 15, NIV. Cf. 1 Cor 7:20 – 23, Philemon vv. 10
– 21.]

Thus, there is a delicate biblical balance
between the God-given freedom of the individual and her/his responsibility as
a member of a community of people under God.  For, irresponsible abuse of liberty
can easily turn into mutual destruction of the community and those in it.

So, we must now ask: could this be the tap-root
of Jamaica’s surge in violence, deteriorating quality of life and adverse community
and economic trends? 

The Tap-root of Chaos

Perhaps, the idea of a “right” is the best
place to begin: for, if you have a right to your life, your property,
or your reputation; that is only because I have a duty to respect
your life, property and reputation.  That is, liberty rests on a moral foundation
and is ultimately rooted in our Creator who made us in His Image and placed
us in a moral world in which our choices have real consequences.

Thus, freedom requires justice, and justice
is based on our mutual duties, duties that have been aptly summed up by the
biblical law of neighbour-love:

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the
continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves has fulfilled the law. 
The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,”
“Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be are summed up in
this one rule: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”  Love does no harm to its
neighbour.  Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”  [Rom 13:8 – 10,
cf. Exodus 20:1 – 17, i.e. the Ten Commandments.]

It is not hard to see, then, that in a community
where one cannot live free from fear of imminent threats to one’s life, family,
property or reputation,  there will be little incentive to take the risk of
investment in the economic and social activities that build a prosperous, orderly,
just, free community. So, it is to the advantage of the community as a whole
that Jamaicans should live by the principles of the Ten Commandments: loving
respect for God and man (made in the image of God), leading to behaviour that
cherishes, builds up and protects life, reputation, property, family.

But equally, an individual in a given situation
may think that it is to her/his advantage to abuse the trust and work of others:
lying, cheating, stealing, even murder.  Therefore, we can see how a trend of
lawlessness can spread across a community with astonishing rapidity as more
and more people in it begin to act in lawless ways that undermine the community
as a whole.

The resulting chaos and destruction of hopes
for progress are all too familiar: we can see them all around us.

Is there a way out?

It is easy enough to see where we have gone
wrong as a nation: currently epitomized by an Emancipation Park that is empty
of the rich, Bible-rooted heritage and history that have brought us through
liberation struggle into the blessings and responsibilities of liberty.  (In
the park we may easily find plaques to the ornamental plants, and a controversial
nude Ancestral Spirits monument with the proud claim that “None but ourselves
can free our mind” [sic]; but there is not even so much as a plaque to
the date of emancipation, much less a heritage museum or a statement on the
responsibilities, values and challenges of sustainable liberty!)

We could easily belabour such issues and
point accusing fingers, but the real challenge is to find a road to reformation
and to renewal of the blessings of godly nation-building in Jamaica in our time.

The Apostle to the Nations points the way:

“The God who made the world . . . From one
man . . . made every nation of men . . . and he determined the times set for
them and the exact places where they should live.  God did this so that men
might grope for him . . . for in him we live and move and have our being . .
. now he commands all men everywhere to repent. For he has set a day in which
he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given
proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.” [Acts 17:24 – 31.]

[God] redeemed us in order that the blessing
given to Abraham might come to the [Nations] through Christ Jesus, so that by
faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.”  [Gal 3:14. Cf. Col 2:3:
“in [Christ] are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” and 1 Cor 2:
9 – 12: “The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God . . . We
have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that
we may understand what God has freely given us.”]

That is, the key to restoring the prospects
of Jamaica lies in the blessings and wisdom of God, that we may access through
repentance and trusting Christ as our Saviour, Lord and All-Wise Guide. Then,
we may find through his discipleship a way out of the chaos triggered by our
irresponsible, sinful abuse of our freedom that was hard-bought by the blood
of Daddy Deacon Sharpe and the other martyrs of the Emancipation struggle. 

In short, godly reformation is the key to
moral renewal and wisdom, the keys to any prospects for the restoration of a
blessed, orderly, just and prosperous nation.

But, are we willing to pay the price: repentance
and national reformation?

--END --

style='font-family:Georgia'>Part 5:  Jamaican Church Challenges I: Liberation
Struggles, Past and Present

GEM 03:08:22b

The history of the liberation struggle that
ended slavery in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean records that, from church planters
such as George Liele and Moses Baker, to activists such as Deacon Daddy Sharpe,
to the British Missionaries such as Knibb and to politicians such as Wilberforce,
evangelical Christians were in the forefront of gospel-driven  liberation and
reformation,  thus of God-blessed  cultural transformation.  

So much is this so, that the slaves celebrated
their glorious triumph by attending the dissenting chapels on the night of July
31, 1834:

As congregations gathered in every chapel
across the island, the Negroes arriving for worship at Falmouth at 11p.m. on
31 st July found a huge banner bearing the word Freedom
across the entrance to the chapel. Knibb [who had in 1833 gone from Jamaica
to England on an anti-slavery tour and so had addressed public meetings and
testified before parliamentary committees] counted every last second till midnight
and, as the final stroke died away, cried with all the fervour and relief of
the bitter struggle finally won: “The monster is dead! The Negro is free!” [Cited:, cf. Sherlock & Bennett,
The Story of the Jamaican People, (Kingston: Ian Randle, 1998) pp. 224
- 228. ]

Why, then, are the spiritual heirs of such
stalwart gospel champions now so often derided and demonised by many local pundits,
church leaders and cultural elites as socially irrelevant and/or as potentially
dangerous – or even possibly violent -- extremists?

Is Biblical Faith a Threat or a Blessing ?

Perhaps, the best answer is that true biblical
faith is both: (1) a threat to those who (perhaps unwittingly) are serving
the cause of bondage and oppression, and (2)  a blessing to those who
seek to build true liberty:

It is for freedom that Christ has set us
free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke
of slavery . . . . You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use
your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. 
The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” 
If you keep biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed
by each other. [Gal. 5:1, 13 – 15, NIV. Cf.  1 Cor 7:20 – 23  on slavery and
emancipation, also: 1 Tim 1:8 – 10 and Deut. 24:7 (NB: Lev. 24:22) on the slave

Nearly two hundred years ago, these liberating
implications of the gospel and the Bible were so threatening to the Jamaican
Assembly  that it passed bills forbidding all except those licensed by the Bishop
of London from preaching; thereby silencing black American church planters such
as George Liele and Moses Baker -- men who had laboured among the slaves since
1783.  These men then had to bring in white British Baptist Missionaries, such
as Phillippo, Burchell and Knibb, to further the work of the gospel.  The new
Missionaries continued the preaching of the biblical message to Jamaica’s enslaved
masses and then called for their liberation from the chains of slavery when
it soon became all too bloodily clear that plantation chattel slavery and the
gospel were irreconcilable enemies.

 The historic pattern -- the biblical gospel
as both  threat AND blessing --  continues today.  To illustrate this,  we may
examine what the Rev. Dr Roderick Hewitt, now United Church Moderator,  has
recently written:

The [9/11] human tragedy in USA has also served
to bring into sharp focus the use of terror by religious fanatics/fundamentalists
. . . . During the twentieth century in particular we have seen . . .  extreme
conservatives who have sought to . . .  roll back the impact of the theories
of evolution, rationalism and textual criticism . . .  They opt for a belligerent,
militant and separatist posture in their public discourse that can easily employ
violence to achieve their goals.  [ Gleaner, Sept. 26, 2001, italics
added. URL:
. ]

The USA and its local allies . . . sought to
empower the younger churches [in Jamaica] . . . to counter the influence of
liberation theology with a traditional fundamentalist theology . . . .  many
of the younger churches saw their fight/struggle with the older churches as
saving the true church from 'a serious heresy/error' in which leaders were making
too many concessions to the secular world and its godless ideology of socialism
and the rationalising influences . . .  They unleashed the religious version
of capitalism . . .   [ Gleaner, Jan 1, 2003.  URL:
;  cf. Papal Encyclical on Liberation Theology: 

Here, we must first note how the ugly smear-word
“fundamentalism” allows Rev. Hewitt to easily glide over the vast and obvious
differences between jihad-crazed suicidal terrorists (or even anti-progress
American sects) and Bible-believing Christians in Jamaica.  Similarly, even
in the few remaining Marxist countries such as Cuba and China, the importance
of free enterprise in an era of rapid change is now acknowledged.  But most
importantly, does not the apostle warn: “If you keep biting and devouring each
other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other”?  What are these words,
if not a grim reminder of the fruits of violent extremism?

But equally, we  see that Jamaica’s  “younger”
churches are identified by Mr Hewitt as those that view the Bible as the Word
of God, which would thus reflect His unlimited, liberating and transforming
love, power, purity, knowledge and truth. In short, Jamaica’s “younger” churches
are in fact direct heirs to the Baptists and other dissenters of two hundred
years ago. It is thus no surprise to see that today’s Bible-believing churches
– just as the dissenters of the nineteenth century -- are growing rapidly among
the masses and even the educated classes, while they are being accused of blocking
(or even betraying) nation-building; through allegations that:

 (1) they emphasize the salvation and transformation
of the individual (rather than the attempted “salvation” of the [soul-less!]
community) as the church’s CENTRAL – but obviously not its sole
-- message, and

 (2) they point out  that some of the leaders
of our churches have drifted into Bible- and gospel- denying rationalistic
(tellingly similar to those of the infamous Jesus Seminar)
and tyranny-prone Marxism-derived socialist ideologies and/or theologies
(which collapsed in ignominy after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989). 

Similarly, one could pointedly ask why evangelical
churches and movements that are full of accredited seminary graduates, scientists,
teachers, nurses, doctors, engineers, economists and other professionals could
reasonably be accused of ignorance of the facts relating to the basic credibility
of the Bible and its relevance to Jamaica’s challenges – charges made by pundits
who then all too often manifest appalling ignorance of the true facts about
the Bible, current global trends and even basic Logic.  [Cf.
]  That is, once the “anti-fundamentalism” rhetoric being promoted in our local
media is put in context, it falls of its own weight and so exposes the fallacies
embraced by those who view the traditional view of the Bible as a threat.

Is it then any surprise to see that the new
Emancipation Park has in it an embarrassingly controversial naked Ancestral
Spirits monument; but is all too tellingly empty of the actual history of our
liberation struggle, much less the underlying biblical vision and values of
a free and God-blessed community that drove it?

The Liberating Gospel

It would be easy to belabour such points, but
it is better to focus on how the unfettered gospel may yet restore Jamaica’s
fortunes.  For, the core evangelical message and our own emancipation history
jointly point out that souls are saved, minds are renewed and lives are transformed
through the gospel; then -- as revival spreads -- communities and institutions 
are reformed and transformed through liberation struggles, bringing blessings
to the people as a whole. 

Further, the uncensored message of the Bible
is historically central to that liberation process. For, in the barbarous Dark
Ages the people were systematically kept from having the Bible in their own
language.  But the sacrifices of martyrs such as Tyndale -- betrayed and burned
at the stake in 1536 for the “crime” of translating the Bible into English --
unleashed the force of the gospel by putting the Bible in the hands of ordinary
people.  This led to centuries of reformation and liberation, as brave people
boldly stood up for conscience, for freedom, and to end age-old social injustices:
tyranny and conquest; colonialism and slavery; child labour; barbaric prison
conditions; the oppression of women.  And that is exactly what we should expect,
given the redemptive, liberating,  life-transforming focus of the gospel. 

Therefore, let us take heart and move on
from  over-heated, deceptive debates to renewing the true ministry of the church
in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean: saving souls, transforming lives and reforming
and blessing communities as we re-build our nations under God and by the light
of his liberating Word:  “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not
use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in
love.  ” [Gal 5:13.]  


part 6: Jamaican Church Emancipation &
Liberation Challenge # 2

 style='font-size:14.0pt'>Emancipation and Empowerment – back to the future?

The Kairos Initiative

By Gordon Mullings, MBA


On August 2, 1838, the day after ‘full free,”
the ex-slaves were still largely based on the plantations. 

So, they were legally free but still economically
dependent on their erstwhile owners and oppressors.  This was obviously a volatile
situation.   At that time, the church’s answer was to create free villages as
an alternative to the plantation system.

The free villages

For, starting in 1834 – 35, the Baptists and
other dissenting church leaders took the lead in securing endowments to purchase
tracts of land. This land was then cut up into family-sized tracts to form covenant
communities -- the free[dom] villages.  Thus, the church  took the lead in economic
and political empowerment, and in education and moral upliftment:

These new settlements were created
on abandoned or run-down estates which had been acquired by the Baptists and
other members of the Anti-slavery Societies who in turn sold them in plots to
groups of ex-slaves at inexpensive prices. As land of a certain size entitled
the owner to a vote in the House of Assembly, the Baptist made sure to sell
individual plots at or above regulation size . . . . There was also a
conscious attempt in setting up these villages to ensure that each recipient
of a plot was a church member in good standing. Thus there was a rash of baptisms
and marriages in the period. Furthermore each village had a church and school,
and so a greater number of moral, spiritual and educational opportunities were
provided to complement the new found economic independence of these farming

In short, by breaking out of the plantation
system through creating empowerment-oriented, Bible-based covenant communities,
the church of the 1830’s and 40’s helped to transform the dynamics of post-Emancipation
Jamaican society -- creating the basis for modern Jamaica.

A hard act to follow?

However, today’s Jamaica is largely urban, and
agriculture is among the least productive sectors in the economy: it reportedly 
absorbs 30% of the workforce to create 7% of GDP.

So, while agricultural renewal is one part of
the answer to breaking out of Jamaica’s current economic and social dilemmas,
we cannot just copy the free village of circa 1840 to find a way forward for
Jamaica today.  Instead, we need to understand underlying principles and broaden
the base for action.

Proverbs 31:10 – 31 is an excellent place to
begin – virtuous entrepreneurship:

[C]onsider . . .  the virtuous woman — let's
call her "Ruby":

"She selects wool and flax and works with
eager hands . . . She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the
merchants with sashes . . ."   "She considers a field and
buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.  She sets about her
work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.  She sees that her
trading is profitable . . . She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction
is on her tongue.  She watches over the affairs of her household and does
not eat the bread of idleness."  [Prov. 31: 13 & 24; 16 - 18a,
26, 27.] 

Ruby starts small, and matches her skills and
efforts to market opportunities.  She integrates agriculture and light
manufacturing, then enters into trade. She saves, invests astutely, diversifies
and feeds growth.  She watches profitability, and manages the people and
processes under her care with wisdom.  She exemplifies virtue leading to
success, and shares the lessons she learns with others. No wonder she achieves
God-blessed success. 

But, Ruby is an individual: what about the community

Back to the future?

Enterprise-linked, church-based initiatives
can also spark community renewal and transformation under God.  For example,
ministry projects can be funded through short income-generating projects done
by the men’s or women’s or youth fellowship. 

Such projects can then serve as pilot projects
for launching businesses based on godly principles:

Idle lands and idle hands can be
brought together, producing cash crops and developing skills and business opportunities
at the same time.  For instance, what about hydroponics?

Through a construction skills project,
urban or rural housing can be refurbished or even built, and furniture can be
restored or even manufactured.

Light manufacturing, such as of
clothing, accessories and footwear, ceramics, simple construction supplies such
as tiles or blocks, or even electronics equipment and computers, can be undertaken. 

Information Technology based services,
especially web site and E-Commerce support, can be offered.

Second-chance education for school-leavers,
“extra lesson” services and even further and higher studies are possibilities. 

Young people in the church and
wider community can be mentored, or do workplace-based internships or modern
apprenticeships. (Thus, through education and business training, they would
be discipled in godly living and empowered to be productive.)

To support these initiatives, a
business development cooperative or business incubator can be
launched, if the churches in a community have people with the skills and can
attract funding.

Such initiatives empower people in the congregation,
providing opportunities for people to build their lives and make a good livelihood. 
They move our charitable outreach from “giving a man a fish,” to “teaching him
how to fish.”  They transform lives and families, giving hope for the wider
community – potentially sparking revival as people respond to the good news
of the gospel at work.  Most of all, they set Christian discipleship in real-world
contexts towards filling “all things” with Christ’s  glory. [Eph 4:9 – 24.]

Thus, a 21st Century evolution of
the historic free village movement could convincingly demonstrate the relevance
and community-renewing power of the church and the gospel, leading to community
and national reformation, blessing and transformation. 

So, let us prayerfully ask: “Why not now
Why not here?  Why not us?”

-END -

part 7: Church Core Cultural Issues Challenge # 3:

A call to National Repentance

Jamaica’s National Anthem cries out to God:
“Justice, Truth be ours forever . . .”

Thus, we implicitly accept that our  history
has been one of the painful -- and as yet unfinished -- struggle to achieve
justice based on truth.  In that long struggle, stalwart people of God, armed
with their Bibles and a Spirit-inspired burning fire of liberty within, have
again and again had to confront hostile elites that viewed liberation through
the power of God-inspired truth as a threat to their economic and power interests. 
So, our trail has been marked with the blood of martyrs unjustly put to death,
some of whom are now remembered as national heroes.

In our time, while our elites have been significantly
less oppressive than the colonial overlords, a surging tide of criminality has
led to a murder rate that sometimes climbs to in excess of a thousand per year. 
A similar carnage obtains on our roads as many drivers and pedestrians are impatient
of safety rules. Eighty-five out of a hundred children are born out of wedlock. 
Our cultural, economic and political elites indulge in an orgy of consumption
and sensuality: epitomized by an Emancipation Park that is empty of our godly
heritage but has an offensive naked Ancestral Spirits monument that cost J$
4.5 millions, even as the country and its economy spin out of control.  (It
bears noting that the statues stand at the site of a Feb 13, 2000 church-led
public protest against rising immorality in our tourism industry!) 

At the same time, Jamaica proverbially has more
churches per square mile than anywhere else in the world.

How can such be, and how can it be corrected?

The Dynamics of Judgement

In our Pledge, Motto and Anthem, we acknowledge
that we are a nation under God, that is under his judgement.  For, our founding
fathers and mothers saw the enduring truth in Paul’s prophetic proclamation
to the Athenians:

“The God who made the world and everything in
it is the Lord of heaven and earth . . . From one man he made every nation of
men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set
for them and the exact places where they should live.  God did this so that
men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is
not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being
. . . . now he commands all men everywhere to repent. For he has set a day in
which he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has
given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.” [Acts 17:24 –

Here, we see God’s sovereignty in action.  For,
God creates the world and its peoples, allots space for the nations to have
their place in the sun, and so controls our times and crises that we are brought
to the point of groping for him, however blindly. And, through Jesus and his
spokesmen, he has now called all men to repentance in the face of impending
judgement in the Day of the Lord.

However, such judgement is not just at the last
day. For even now, our sinful rebellion against the God who made the world –
which therefore has a moral order just as it has biological and physical orders
– brings us to crisis that forces us to grope for God, even blindly. Thus, God
judges the nations even now:'font:7.0pt "Times New Roman"'>       style='font-size:10.0pt'>Consequences:
We live in a moral world, so our ideas and actions have consequences.  As Scripture
warns: “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he,” and “whatsoever a man soweth,
that shall he also reap.” Thus, our sinful lifestyles lead to crises that force
us to grope for God, perhaps without understanding that it is God we grope for.'font:7.0pt "Times New Roman"'>      style='font-size:10.0pt'>Correction:
In his mercy, God sends his prophetic spokesmen to the nations, correcting our
ignorance and calling us to repentance, reformation and God-blessed national
transformation.  Thus, each person and nation is confronted with the choice
of whether or not it will heed the loving voice of God our Father.'font:7.0pt "Times New Roman"'>      style='font-size:10.0pt'>Destruction: 
In the end, God is absolutely holy, and must destroy the cancer of evil – but
as loving Father, he does not wish that any should perish.  So in love he sent
his Son, that we may have a way of rescue and redemption. However, in the end
of days, that Son will sit in judgement of men and nations, with perfect justice
– a terrifying thought, for absent the grace of God, we are unjust! And, in
the case of nations that so defiantly pursue evil that their cup of iniquity
overflows, such willful sin can cause their destruction even now.  

The obvious question is, has Jamaica reached
that terrifying threshold in our day?

Judgement, mercy and Jamaica

Few nations have been so privileged with the
Gospel as Jamaica, and few nations have been so careless of their blessings
from God as we have.  The chaotic, bloody consequences are all around us, and
threaten to doom us in an orgy of blood, anarchy and tyranny as a strong man
emerges on the promise to restore order and safety.

So, then, the issue is plainly not whether Jamaica
is ripe for destructive judgement, but whether our loving God and Father yet
extends his mercy. Thus, our challenge is plain: will we heed the voice of God
and repent, or insist on following a path that all too plainly leads to destruction?

By God’s grace, we yet have the choice – for
he has so far restrained the forces that threaten to doom us.  But, it is equally
clear that the dam is cracking and leaking even as we speak.  Therefore, “Today,
if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” [Heb 4:7b.]

For, tomorrow is promised to no man, nor nation.