FROM APRIL 27th/2020- MAY 17th /2020
1st Week April /27/2020
TAKEAWAY FROM AG BARR’S SPEECH AT THE CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS BROADCASTERS CONVENTION 2020
WEEKS OF MAY 18 to JUNE 15
WHAT EVIDENCE JUSTIFIES THE CLAIM THAT AFRICA WAS THE WELLSPRING OF CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHICAL AND THEOLOGICAL FOUNDATIONS :
“African intellectual history has no need to be defensive or self-effacing. We are learning that Africa taught Europe before Europe was prepared to teach Africa. Europe has slept for many centuries without being fully aware of its vital intellectual sources in Africa.”...... Thomas Oden—How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind
Why this topic and what relevance has it ?
Afro-Centricism has even been misconstrued by many to represent anti-Christianity. To such minds being anti Christian is a criterion for authenticity. In revenge for slavery they will even write novels to promote such narratives.
They would bend over backwards to embrace Egyptological myths, Traditional African idol worship, and reverence of their artifacts or claim Islam as African.
I believe setting the historical record straight will help liberate many minds and warn the inquiring and adventurous young minds to stay away from such pitfalls.
DISAMBUGATION OF ORIGIN OF CHRISTIANITY AND ORIGIN OF DEVELOPMENT OF CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY AND SCHOLARSHIP.
These two concepts need not be confused. Here I would not expect one to mistake one for the other. So I find it important to distinguish between the two.
ORIGIN AND EARLY BEGINNINGS OF CHRISTIANITY:
Some say Christianity branched from Judaism to imply that it strayed away from the biblical truth.
I stand with pastor Derek to disagree with such claim.
Christianity is veiled in the Old Testament and was hinted in the early stages of Genesis; Gen 3:15
It was the Omniscient God’s plan from the beginning: 1Pe 1:18-21
If any one strayed, it is Judaism. It is Judaism that stumbled. Isaiah 8:13-15
Isaiah 8:13-15 (KJV)
13 Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and [let] him [be] your dread. 14 And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15 And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.
1 Peter 1:18-21 (KJV) 18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.
The seed of the woman in Genesis 3:15 refers to Jesus the Messiah - the Christ.
The followers of Christ are called the Christians, hence Christianity.
From Genesis to Matthew is the outworks of THE LORD unfolding His plan in preparation of the world for the first coming of the Christ. In that divine economy, world history or secular history is subservient to sacred history and is controlled by it and not the other way around .
Israel is the nation God used to bring the Messiah - Jesus the Christ.
Jesus began His ministry in Israel (Judah). There He chose His 12 disciples and gained many followers who were latter to be called for the first time Christians in Antioch .
Acts 11:26 (KJV)
And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
DEVELOPMENT OF CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY
The dispersion of the Gospel by the apostles and other Christians into the world created a body of Christians not united with a well defined doctrine. The Apostles struggled to address some of the Heresies in their time . Example is such as ‘Docetism’ ( A Gnostics doctrine which denies that Christ came in the flesh) was addressed by John in 1Jn 4:1-3.
1 John 4:1-3 (KJV) 1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that [spirit] of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
The Gospel did not land in a vacuum nor in the cultural mind of a ‘tabula rasa’ but rather a hostility of philosophies, doctrines and beliefs. It also faced the danger of negative syncretism.
Some philosophies were so close to Christianity that one of such could superficially pass as a Christian. According to P Manly Hall, Hermetic philosophy, Gnostic Philosophy and Neoplatonism were very close to Christianity. It was necessary for the Christians to distinguish their doctrine from the rest with a clearly defined doctrine. This task was done mostly in Africa. Africa was the birthplace of Christian scholarship that supplied the theological doctrinal definitions of Christian orthodoxy and its adjacent philosophical, ecclesiological, academic and monastic patterns that have not only been the buttress of Christianity but also a light for the Western Civilization.
EVIDENCE THAT JUSTIFIES THE CLAIM THAT AFRICA WAS THE MOTHER OF CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY AND THEOLOGY
(Recommendations. Most of the material here is from the book “HOW AFRICA SHAPED THE CHRISTIAN MIND” by Thomas C Oden, and The Complete Works of the Church Fathers by Phillip Schaff .)
THE CHRISTIAN CANON WAS DEVELOPED IN AFRICA
Africa possesses the quintessential relevance to Christianity, the syncretism of Jerusalem and Athens. The city of Alexandria Of Egypt was the Capital Of the Greek Empire. The Jewish population there was large and many spoke Greek more than Hebrew. Because of its status as a metropolis for commerce and administration in the Hellenistic world Alexandria became also the center of western intellectual learning where philosophy guarded the wisdom and belief of many .
One can allegorically say that Greek Philosophy then served as the lesser light like the moon leading men out of the dark night into the day while Jerusalem served as the larger light like the sun leading to special revelation. We can contemplate Day and Night complementing each other.
Similarly the Christian Philosophers saw philosophy as the schoolmaster that brought one to Christ.
“Clement compares it to a wild olive tree, which can
be ennobled by faith; Origen compared it to the jewels, which the Israelites took with them out of Egypt, and turned into ornaments for their sanctuary, though they also wrought them
into the golden calf. Philosophy is not necessarily an enemy to the truth, but may, and should be its handmaid, and neutralize the attacks against it. The elements of truth in the heathen philosophy they attributed partly to the secret operation of the Logos in the world of reason, partly to acquaintance with the writings of Moses and the prophets.” ....History of the Christian Church -Phillip Schaff.
The Alexandrian Philosophical School Of Theology a masterpiece of St Mark the Evangelist comes face to face with the Special Revelation the Bible. Here philosophy is used to define and to show the justification of special revelation.
Justin Martyr a once secular philosopher, when he discovered the doctrine and teachings of the prophets , remarked that their philosophy is better than the secular philosophy.
THE TWO MAJOR TRANSLATIONS ; THE SEPTUAGINT AND THE VULGATE THAT PROVIDED BASIS FOR OTHER TRANSLATIONS FOR THE DISSEMINATION OF THE GOSPEL TO THE WORLD WERE DONE OR SOURCED FROM AFRICA .
Without the Bible there would be no Christianity as we know it. The Scripture initially was only the Old Testament and was in Hebrew. To make it available to a large part of the world it would need a widely spoken language. The Lord in light of Sacred History chose a language for a larger empire
than the preceding Medo-Persian and Babylonian empires as revealed in the Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. ( A statue used to illustrate a prophetic eschatological events from the 7the Century BC to the second coming of Christ.)
The larger empires was the Greek Empire and the language is the Greek Language which was dispersed throughout the Greek Empire
( Dan 2: 39b) by means of Hellenism. The Greek Empire covered Western Europe and stretched as far into Asia as India.
The Bible then which was the Old Testament in Hebrew was first Translated into Greek in Africa under the order of King Ptolemy II Of Egypt
The city was Alexandria in Egypt. ( legend says it was in a small island on the tip of Alexandria called Pharos Island which now holds the lighthouse of Alexandria)
This translation is the Septuagint (LXX) 300-200BCE
The Latin Vulgate took its sources from Africa
The Translation into Latin was made by Jerome from the available books and texts that were from Africa.
ORTHODOXY AND HERETICAL DISPUTES
Africa was the crucible where orthodoxy was developed. It was where the dross was purged from the silver and the bread was refined from the leaven. The relentless drive for truth and its preservation took its toll even on some of the finest faithful. Some as martyrs and others as heretics. Some were excommunicated and others censored. It was here that Christianity distinguished herself from Gnosticism, Montanism, Donatism, Arianism, Pelagianism, Manicheanism , Neoplatonism, Sabellanianism, and many more. The desire for God was stronger than the panting of the deer for water.
The drive for truth was an apathetic judge. One could be a hero in defense of one doctrine and be deemed a heretic on another doctrine .
The outcome of such crucible was the Canon and the Essential Christian Doctrine as we have today.
The Christian Canon
As explained above The African Church Father Athanasius (296–373AD) Bishop Of Alexandria was chief in the development of the New Testament Canon as we have it today. He canonically defined the books that are accepted by the Church as orthodox and in use today in his 39th FESTAL letter sent to the church at large on Jan 7 /367 AD
He named all the Old Testament books and then the New Testament books distinguishing them from the apocrypha :
“There are, then, of the Old Testament, twenty-two books in number; for, as I have heard, it is handed down that this is the number of the letters among the Hebrews; their respective order and names being as follows. The first is Genesis, then Exodus, next Leviticus, after that Numbers, and then Deuteronomy. Following these there is Joshua, the son of Nun, then Judges, then Ruth. And again, after these four books of Kings, the first and second being reckoned as one book, and so likewise the third and fourth as one book. And again, the first and second of the Chronicles are reckoned as one book. Again Ezra, the first and second are similarly one book. After these there is the book of Psalms, then the Proverbs, next Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs. Job follows, then the Prophets, the twelve being reckoned as one book. Then Isaiah, one book, then Jeremiah with Baruch, Lamentations, and the epistle, one book; afterwards, Ezekiel and Daniel, each one book. Thus far constitutes the Old Testament. 5. Again it is not tedious to speak of the [books] of the New Testament. These are, the four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Afterwards, the Acts of the Apostles and Epistles (called Catholic), seven, viz. of James, one; of Peter, two; of John, three; after these, one of Jude. In addition, there are fourteen Epistles of Paul, written in this order. The first, to the Romans; then two to the Corinthians; after these, to the Galatians; next, to the Ephesians; then to the Philippians; then to the Colossians; after these, two to the Thessalonians, and that to the Hebrews; and again, two to Timothy; one to Titus; and lastly, that to Philemon. And besides, the Revelation of John.” ...
and concluded thus
“These are fountains of salvation, that they who thirst may be satisfied with the living words they contain. In these alone is proclaimed the doctrine of godliness. Let no man add to these, neither let him take ought from these. For concerning these the Lord put to shame the Sadducees, and said, 'You err, not knowing the Scriptures.' And He reproved the Jews, saying, 'Search the Scriptures, for these are they that testify of Me [ Matthew 22:29; John 5:39 ].' 7. But for greater exactness I add this also, writing of necessity; that there are other books besides these not indeed included in the Canon, but appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us, and who wish for instruction in the word of godliness. The Wisdom of Solomon, and the Wisdom of Sirach, and Esther, and Judith, and Tobit, and that which is called the Teaching of the Apostles, and the Shepherd. But the former, my brethren, are included in the Canon, the latter being [merely] read; nor is there in any place a mention of apocryphal writings. But they are an invention of heretics, who write them when they choose, bestowing upon them their approbation, and assigning to them a date, that so, using them as ancient writings, they may find occasion to lead astray the simple”
.... Festival Letter 39. Athanasius.... The Complete works of the Church Fathers
AFRICAN SCHOLARSHIP PROVIDED PHILOSOPHICAL AND EXEGESIS POWER IN THE DEFINITIONS AND DEFENSE OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE
The Alexandrian philosophical School of theology was
primarily established by the Bishop of the church of Alexandria-St Mark
The scholarship power of this school helped build the foundation of Christian Theology before it spread to Europe and Asia. A Line of intellectual minds such as Pantaenus, Clement, Origen, Didymus using the Greek Language and many more from the Latin African Fathers such as Augustine and Tertullian among whom were native Africans or resident professors provided doctrinal and theological definitions, seminal patterns of exegesis, rhetoric, education and apologetics that would sustain the church on a solid foundation against internal and external forces.
It was the battlefield against Pellagianism, Arianism, Modalism, Sabellenianism. Gnosticsm-Doscetism, Donatism, and the theological definitions of the Original Sin, Trinity, and subjects and disciplines like Exegesis, Education and Monastery
The Library Of Alexandria was the largest library in the world in its time. The libraries of future universities of Europe were built after that of Alexandria.
“ Before the Middle Ages, Greek scholars carefully collected and inventoried books and other written materials in the Library of Alexandria, which truly made it a sort of precursor to all modern libraries. In fact, the Library of Alexandria proved to be one of the greatest institutions created in the ancient world because it influenced the minds of countless people in profound ways for centuries. The Library not only inspired the imaginations of artists but gave birth to new research methods, which proved to provide the basis for many considered common-place today. The Library of Alexandria was one of the few libraries in the ancient Greek world, which helped ensure that mathematicians, scientists and other scholars from across the Mediterranean traveled to Egypt to study there, and it was so impressive in its size and influence that it left an indelible mark on the world that still reverberates today.” — Charles River Editors Author Of The Library of Alexandria: The History and Legacy of the Ancient World’s Most Famous Library , Kindle Edition
Universities such as Oxford of England, Padua of Italy Paris of France, Salamanca of Spain owe thei heritage to the Alexandrian Library.
The greatness of the Alexandria and its Library and its legacy is not by random or coincidence.
It is the dictates of divine sacred history for the purpose of the gospel and ultimately in continuum with Gods program for the salvation of man.
We see the prophetic fulfillment of the Greek Empire according to Dan.2:39b
The choice of geographical location of the city for its convenience as a seaport that serves Europe and Asia to as far as India made it a metropolis for the Greek Empire. It was a great center for trade and thus attracted people from all professions.
ALEXANDRIA ATTRACTED Sailors, Merchants, SCHOLARS, SCIENTISTS, PHILOSOPHERS, MATHEMATICIANS, ARTISTS, & HISTORIANS. Many migrated there and a lot were born there: Archimedes, Heroin, Euclid,
The concentration of many great minds enriched North Africa as an Intellectual center for the world. It is therefore not a surprise or and overstretch to state Africa was the host nation for the development and dissemination of Christian Philosophy and Theology.
Europe and Asia and even the First Council of Jerusalem around 45AD followed the archetype from Africa even .
The church at large relied on the Egyptian church for calendar and vestal dates
In view of the reputation of Alexandrian scholars who were devoted to astronomical calculations, it is not surprising that other parts of Christendom should eventually come to rely on the Egyptian Church for information concerning the date of Easter, made available to the Western Church through the bishop of Rome, and to the Syrian Church through the bishop of Antioch.