Sounds like something you might want to baste your roast with. Would that it were that innocuous. Rather, it is one African approach to reconciling Christianity, Islam, and pagan traditions. Perhaps I don’t know enough about Islam, but I look to Scripture for what is required of one who would call himself “Christian.” This is perhaps my problem, but I don’t think so.

Consider this extract from a news story that seems to be extolling a sort of Christian-Islamic-herbalist fusion:

…worshipers at “The True Message of God Mission” say it’s entirely natural for Christianity and Islam to c[o]exist, even overlap. They begin their worship by praying at the Jesus alcove and then “running their deliverance” – sprinting laps around the mosque’s mosaic-tiled courtyard, praying to the one God for forgiveness and help. They say it’s akin to Israelites circling the walls of Jericho – and Muslims swirling around the Ka’ba shrine in Mecca.

This group – originally called “Chris-lam-herb” for its mix-and-match approach to Christianity, Islam, and traditional medicine – is a window on an ongoing religious ferment in Africa. It’s still up for debate whether this group, and others like it, could become models for Muslim-Christian unity worldwide or whether they’re uniquely African. But either way, they are “part of a trend,” says Dana Robert, a Boston University religion professor.

The bottom line appears to be Africans looking for anything that will relieve their worldly problems. And this is at the heart of the confusion.

To be a Christian, any sort of Christian, at the very least must mean that one accepts Jesus Christ as his or her Lord and savior. And know that there is salvation only through Christ. None other.

There are thousands of denominations of Christianity, and we can leave it to each’s proponents to argue the fine points of full baptism of infants, of believers, by full immersion or by sprinkling. Of daily, weekly, monthly, or annual communion, of incense, of unmarried or married priests, of bishops and elders and councils and what-alls, and of all the other trappings that we love to establish to isolate our particular faith communities from one another.

But to engage in Islamic rituals and think that some hybrid is just peachy keen with God is to turn one’s back on what it means to be Christian. Islam, along with nativist herbalism, is wrong. It may sell among those who want the warring sects in Nigera to just get along. It would also appeal to Christians who deny Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior. But, by definition, those who deny Christ can not be Christians.

People may believe as they see fit. But people may not logically call something it patently is not; calling a mixture of elements of Christianity, Islam, and paganism a form of Christianity does not make it so. Such weak-minded religious practice will lead to final separation from God. Or, in the classical term, to hell.

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