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The politics of True Christianity (Amos Mwesigwa Kasule)

Abstract:
Christianity has never been a religion per se. I do not think that it will ever be
unless it is of course adulterated the way it has always been adulterated. This has
been the case right from the time Jesus Christ ascended to our Father who art in
Heaven. In this paper I argue that Christianity is a religious lifestyle that cannot be
defined merely by the etymology of the word religion and neither can it be defined
by the anthropological approach of lifestyles. It is more of an interdisciplinary and
therefore needs to be defined or approached as such. I argue that Jesus Christ from
whom the word Christianity is derived actually lived his own definition of the very
word Christianity. The people who were first referred to as Christians in the city of
Antioch in the book of Acts of the Apostles, lived out Christianity in its entirety
(Acts 11:26). Christianity is not the speaking of tongues or the casting out of
demons or the giving of tithe or the extra-ordinary performance of miracles and
wonders in order to be feared and to be exalted by man. It is more simplistically
complex. Simple to live because Jesus Christ defined and lived Christianity and we
follow in his footsteps but complex to live because we are simply human and
therefore fallible by nature.

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True Christianity
The summary of the Law which is the famous ten commandments in addition to
the 613 Levitical laws was defined by Jesus Christ as follows: 1) Love the Lord
your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 2) Love
your neighbor as you love yourself.1 Christianity is about love for our God and
love for our fellow man or woman and not performing miracles or speaking in
tongues or giving any amount of tithe. Right from the time Christianity was
introduced in Uganda in the 1860s, people have been evolving their own
understanding of what Christianity means to them. Christianity is not what it
means to you as an individual on its own accord, it is what it actually is. Our walk
as Christians has to do with the two fundamentals: loving ones God, and loving
ones neighbor. I must note that the emphasis is on loving ones neighbor. If I do
not love the human being who lives with me in the physical state, how can I claim
to love the invisible God? A loved human being would most likely feel the love of
God, especially if the love he is shown is genuine. What kind of God are we
talking about?
1. We are talking about a Creator (ex-nihilo): created out of nothing, that is
nothing existed except tie which has always been there.
2. God is the first mover who is not movable, therefore he is self-existing
3. God is an infinite God, that is he is not limited by time or space
4. Since the above are very hard to understand about God, we would say that
God is incomprehensible. St Augustine the Bishop of Hipo tried to
comprehend the Trinity of God.
5. God is immutable, that is he does not change. God is God. When Moses
tried questioning God about his identity especially in response to the
assignment God had given him, Gods reply to Moses was, I am who I
am.2
6. He is immortal3, he is invisible.4
7. God is ineffable, that is to say that human language cannot fully express
things to do with God. Mundane language cannot explain the reality of God
hence the use of picture language to explain the inscribable.

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2
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Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27. New International Version. 2011. Biblica Inc.
Exodus 3:14. New International Version. 2011. Biblica Inc.
Romans 1:23; 1 Timothy 1:17; 1 Timothy 6:16. New International Version. 2011. Biblica Inc.
Colossians 1:15. New International Version. 2011. Biblica Inc.

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8. God is transcendent but immanent, that is he is so holy (incomparable) and


yet so down on earth (very real on earth). For example, God is concerned
about his creation.
9. God is omnipotent, that is he is God (El- Shaddai). He is Almighty.
10. God is omniscient and omnipresent.
11. God is all merciful, all gracious, all loving
12. God is Emmanuel.
13. Finally God who is all the above is a God of wrath5 and judgment.
I am afraid to boldly state that Baptists, Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Pentecostals,
Calvinists, Methodists, Orthodox Catholics and many others in that category are
not Christians but Catholics. They can only be Christians if they live the lifestyle
of the very person they profess to believe in and walk by, that is, Jesus Christ.
Defining Christianity is not as easy as the ordinary dictionaries do it. It is more
personal and emotional and hermeneutically community based. Christianity is not
just a mere religion. It is a religious lifestyle. Religion has been defined by many in
many different ways but I shall stick to the following definitions: 1) it is a class of
metaphorical statements and actions obliquely denoting social relationships and
claims to social status. Or 2) the belief in spirits or as the belief in the supernatural.
(Robin Horton). In my contemporary dictionary in particular the Oxford Learners
Dictionary, religion is a noun and is defined as the belief in or worship of a
superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods. Religion is also
a plural noun that could be defined as a particular system of faith and worship. It
could also be defined as a pursuit or interest followed with great devotion. The
origin of the word religion lies in Middle English which in a sense meant life under
monastic vows or from Latin religio- obligation, bond, reverence or even
perhaps based on the Latin word religare to bind.
Christianity does not fall in any of the above definitions of religion, and therefore
Christianity is definitely not a religion. Believing in Christ that he was born
incarnate, he died and he rose from the dead and that he is the Son of the Most
High God, Almighty God, and that God is omnipotent, He is omniscient, He is
omnipresent is not enough to make anyone a Christian. The demons as well believe
that God Almighty bears all the above attributes. In fact when Jesus encountered
many demon possessed people, the demons begged him to spare them of their
5

Numbers 1:53; Deuteronomy 9:8; Joshua 9:20; Job 21:20. New International Version. 2011.
Biblica Inc.

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destruction because their time had not yet come. Jesus would send them into the
unclean animals like swine.6 The demons knew who he was.7 The demons knew
that Jesus Christ was the Son of God.8
Christianity is not liberation theology. Liberation theology stops trying to replace a
bad religious system with a slightly less worse one. The goal of liberation theology
is to reveal how oppression depends on religious beliefs which should be dispersed
with. Christianity does not do away with an oppressive belief system to introduce a
less worse one.
Christian faith is dynamic and not just a depository of prepositional truths. The
contingencies of human life do challenge the Christian faith, which can be
deepened or weakened.9 The contingencies of human life are the building blocks
for a true Christian lifestyle. As we shall note later on, a Christian Biblical
worldview is also dynamic and subject to these contingencies, and the source of
this Christian lifestyle as well as Christian worldview is the Holy Scriptures (the
Bible). It is from this source that the backbones of other world systems are broken.
However Hiebert warned that there is a danger of returning to a Christianized
form of animism10. Many converts have failed to cope with the required standard
of walking the talk of true Christianity and have slackened into a Christianized
form of animism. Many Christians will attend church service and be involved in all
activities of their local church, but still keep to their convenient ideologies, that do
not necessarily agree with the Holy Scriptures. Those ideologies may be traditional
culture, educational philosophy, sociological inclination, or even economical
standing. Just as I have mentioned earlier, interpretation and application of
Scripture in everyday life is not just a personal matter. The church as a whole acts
as a hermeneutical community. Believers need others to help them detect their
personal biases, of which they themselves are often unaware, just as they need
others to help them see the sins they do not want to admit to themselves.11 I believe
that to live a Christian or Christ-like lifestyle, requires one to be a disciple of Jesus
Christ rather than a church member of the church of Jesus Christ. One can only be
a disciple of Jesus Christ when he or she abides by the guidelines of the
6

Matthew 8:31. New International Version. 2011. Biblica Inc.


Mark 1:34. New International Version. 2011. Biblica Inc.
8
Luke 4:41. New International Version. 2011. Biblica Inc.
9
Turaki Y. 2001. The Unique Christ for Salvation. IBS Nigeria.
10
Hiebert, P. 1994. Anthropological Reflections on Missiological Issues. Grand Rapids: Baker
Books.
11
Ibid.
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hermeneutical community, the Church. Those guidelines are based on the Holy
Scriptures. If you make disciples, you always get the church. But if you make a
church, you rarely get disciples.12 Many think that to build the church is to convert
to Christianity. Conversion is only the beginning. Church is the effect of
discipleship and not the cause. And because many Christians have not been
discipled, they are comfortable to be nominal Christians with little or no
accountability to the hermeneutical community. In addition to the above, since the
nominal Christians would prefer to have the church as a social entity and therefore
qualify it to act as a club, Hieberts thoughts would never apply to them. In fact
they would vehemently fight such a thought; their preferred definition of
Christianity would be in danger of being adulterated. Hieberts thoughts would be a
spoiler. This has consequently led to a crisis of Christian identity.
The crisis of Christian identity has led to Christian dualism. Many are torn between
the true Christian lifestyle and the nominal Christian lifestyle that is majorly moral
Christianity. On the one side the moral Christian cleaves to his culture, religious
beliefs and assumptions while the other side of the same moral Christian wants to
be seen in the church as a devoted, demon chasing, tithe-giving and pro-active
member of the congregation. Christian dualism is like patching new garments to
old ones or putting new wine in old wine skins. Many Christians live in two
worlds. It is ok for some Christians to be involved in worldly orgies, traditional
rituals and at the same time profess to be true Christians. I would then ask, from
what were you delivered as a true Christian that is supposed to live a Christ-like
lifestyle? At conversion from the typical World View to Christianity, the convert
would have dealt with demonism, spiritism, witchcraft, occultism, astrology and
the supernatural and spiritual powers. But in exchange new powers begin creeping
into the converts lifestyle and the following set foot at his door namely:
scienticism, technicism, economism and humanism.13 The Christian practices
Christian dualism in that respect. Scienticism, technicism, economism and
humanism were referred to as the secular gods of the West. But now they are the
secular gods of every professing Christian all over the world, that are at war with
the Almighty God. The Almighty is not at war with them because He was, He is
and He will forever be. He is the I AM14. It is these secular gods or ideologies that
keep mutating to re-strategize on how to fight Him. Unfortunately they have never
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14

Breen M.2011. Building a Discipling Culture. Pawleys Island, SC: 3DM Publishing.
Turaki Y. 2001. The Unique Christ for Salvation. IBS Nigeria.
Exodus 3:14. New International Version. 2011. Biblica Inc.

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and will never overcome Him. He is God and the I AM. These secular gods are no
longer a problem for the West alone. We shall later on discuss Jesus lifestyle in
light of those ideologies or systems or gods. The Bible clearly says that, And God
spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out
of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make
for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth
beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship
them.15 The Bible states that, No one can serve two masters: for either he will
hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the
other. You cannot serve God and mammon.16
It is also through such ideologies or secular gods that some Christians have found
it ok to develop all forms of oppressive systems against other people to suit their
ambitions, so longer as they themselves are safe and secure. There are very many
examples that we could relate the above to. For instance, when the church in NAZI
Germany refused to stand out overtly and publicly resist the regime, but actually
made serious arguments for the idea that Christianity and the NAZI ideology were
compatible, to me that was not Christianity at all. The Christians in the NAZI
Germany chose to worship their ideology or secular gods instead of worshipping
the Almighty God, the I AM.
The church in Apartheid South Africa publicly okayed the oppression of fellow
humans by ideologically equating those humans to apes only fit to be caged
intellectually, financially, socially, politically and in any other way they could find.
The church in South Africa referred to themselves as Christian and they evidently
used the Holy Scriptures (the Holy Bible), to quote and suppress their fellow
countrymen. When Christianity was first introduced in South Africa, its influence
grew into a powerful force. It often united large numbers of people in a common
faith. In the twentieth century however, the Christian church actively promoted
racial divisions through the political philosophy of Apartheid, derivatively based
on the exogesis of the Holy Scriptures of the Holy Bible. This church later
disintegrated into denominations and the largest of these denominations was the
Dutch Reformed Church (Nederduiste Gereformeerde Kerk-NGK), which came to
be known as the official church of the National Party during the apartheid era. I
believe that Christianity in South Africa ceased to be lived out by the Christians
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16

Exodus 20:1-5a. New International Version. 2011. Biblica Inc.


Matthew 6:24. New International Version. 2011. Biblica Inc.

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and it became ritualistic with certain norms and values or dos and donts. In the
end Christianity socially evolved into a religion and hence the developed
ideologies became the officially accepted religion of the National Party in
apartheid South Africa. If Jesus Christ was to physically walk the land of South
Africa in the twentieth century A.D. just as he did while in the land of Palestine,
especially at a time when racial segregation was willfully engineered by the State,
the State would have prosecuted him and had him sentenced to prison or even
hanged him on the gallows. When we compare the Pharisaic System of the Roman
empire of Jesus day with the Apartheid system, there is very little difference or
none in as far as living out Christianity is concerned.
I am convinced that even before Jesus physically walked the face of the earth, the
prophets, and other God-fearing people lived as Christians or lived out Christianity.
The only difference between those pre-Jesus Christians and the post-Jesus
Christians especially those of Antioch, is the nick-naming. The pre-Jesus Christians
were bound to the Godly walk, even though they were much fewer or almost nonexistent at the time. There is therefore no wonder that Jesus Christ came to seek
and to save that which was lost.17 The pre-Jesus Christians lived in a very difficult
era that was perpetuated by one of the most corrupt world systems that were ever
established in biblical history, the Pharisaic System. There is no wonder that John
the Baptist referred to them as a brood of vipers.18 John the Baptist cautioned the
system to bear fruit in keeping with uprightness before God. He added by saying to
the system perpetrators that they should never think that they were irreplaceable or
untouchable. Do not say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father. I tell
you that out of these stones, God can raise up children for Abraham.19 Then he
added insult to injury by saying, The axe is already at the root of the trees, and
every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the
fire.20
Jesus came to deal a blow to the Pharisaic System. He starts off his business by
addressing the system in the Sermon on the Mount in the gospel according to
Matthew chapter five verse one to chapter seven verses twenty seven. He
comfortably lived with the rich, the tax collectors, the poor, the unkempt, the
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20

Luke 19:10. New International Version. 2011. Biblica Inc.


Matthew 3:7; Luke 3:7. New International Version. 2011. Biblica Inc.
Matthew 3:9; Luke 3:18. New International Version. 2011. Biblica Inc.
Matthew 3:10; Luke 3:9. New International Version. 2011. Biblica Inc.

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lepers, the soldiers, the prostitutes, the divorcees turned prostitutes21, the gay and
even the queer people. Yes he indeed socialized with the most unwanted in the
Pharisaic society, which system is not very different ideologically from the current
nominal Christian society. If parallels were to be drawn between the Pharisaic
society and todays nominal Christian society there would hardly be any difference.
Often times he was careful not to ostracize the unwanted, after all it was thought
that they were what they had become because of a generational sin or their own
sin. Jesus gave them hope.22 He said, I must proclaim the Good News of the
Kingdom of God to the towns also because that is why I was sent.23 In the gospel
of John chapter 2 he turned water into wine for the feast. He did not condemn the
drunkards at the feast. He freely interacted with them and lived out his life with
them.24 In the gospel of John chapter 2 verses 13 to the end, Jesus cleared the
temple courts of what he considered desecration of the Holy of Holies. The
Pharisaic System had okayed the buying and selling of merchandise within the
temple premises. Of course accessibility to the dividends and profits from the sale
of that merchandise was economically key to the Pharisees. (Dividends because
some of the perpetrators owned some of the businesses, and profits because they
collected usury from the traders.) I am reminded that during that exercise Jesus
was challenged by the Jews to prove the source of his authority. Jesus retorted by
saying, Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.25 The Bible
continues to say that, the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was
raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed
the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.26 I believe that Jesus was
ideologically talking about destroying the backbone of Pharisaic System, a system
that had so much entrenched the ideological framework of the Jewish society, that
the Jews themselves could not see any other alternative. Indeed when he died and
within three days he rose from the dead, that is when the backbone of the Pharisaic
System was broken. The resurrection of Jesus Christ reset the world system to what
His heavenly Father had intended it to be. In this light, his lifestyle, re-played into
history set precedence. In John chapter three verse twenty one, it is mentioned that
he was talking about his body. But we know that the day he died, the temple veil
was vertically torn from top to bottom. The centurion standing by the cross at
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John 4:1-42. New International Version. 2011. Biblica Inc.


Luke 8; 14; 18; 19. New International Version. 2011. Biblica Inc.
Luke 4:43. New International Version. 2011. Biblica Inc.
John 2:1-12. New International Version. 2011. Biblica Inc.
John 2:19. New International Version. 2011. Biblica Inc.
John 2:21-22. New International Version. 2011. Biblica Inc.

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Golgotha acknowledged that indeed Jesus was the son of God.27 When Jesus rose
from the dead, those who had long died, as pre-Jesus era Christians came to life. At
the resurrection Jesus Christ, the Pharisaic system began crumbling. When he
established a new system, he only appeared to those who had adhered to the true
Christian lifestyle, that is, those he had disciple, and not to the stubborn-stone
hearted Pharisaic systemists.28
In many Sub-Saharan African countries where modernity was introduced but
fronted as Christianity, the case is not any different from the Pharisaic System.
Many of the so-called converted Christians considered the slow-to-be converted as
primitive, sub-human and therefore less befitting for society. Many of the
convertors wore modernity but their hearts were deeply embedded into the same
Pharisaic System. They may not have called it by that name, but the ideology was
exactly thought for thought. In my view that is not true Christianity.
The word Christian was first used in the New Testament Holy Scriptures in the
book of the Acts of the Apostles chapter eleven and verses twenty six. It was at a
time when many followers of Jesus Christ had been scattered as a result of the
persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed. Many of the persecuted
travelled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, India and Antioch. When the church in
Jerusalem learnt of Jesus followers spreading the Good News about Jesus, they
specifically sent one of their own Barnabas to Antioch. When Barnabas saw the
spiritual growth of the followers in the city of Antioch, he went over to Tarsus to
invite Saul who later became Paul. Both of them discipled a number of converts for
a whole year. And because of the lifestyle of the converts in Antioch as a result of
the adequate discipleship, the non-converts nick-named them Christians. At that
time the nick-name Christian literally meant to abide or to be a slave of.
Ideologically the Christians of Antioch lived out their lives as slaves of Jesus
Christ, so causing the people around them to nick-name so. Please note that it is
only the adequately discipled converts who were referred to as Christians. These
constituted the church.
The second mention of the term Christian in the Bible is at Pauls trial before
Festus the Governor of the Province in which Judah was jurisdicted, and before
27

Matthew 27:54; Mark 15:38-39; Luke 23:44-48. New International Version. 2011. Biblica
Inc.
28
Matthew 28:16; Mark 16:9-20; Luke 24:13-53; John 20:19-21:25. New International
Version. 2011. Biblica Inc.

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King Agrippa of Judah. After Paul presented his defense so eloquently, King
Agrippa fearing that Paul was persuading him to convert to Christianity, exclaimed
that the Apostle Paul was persuading him to be a Christian. 29Just before King
Agrippa had exclaimed, Festus the Governor had interrupted Pauls defense by
considering him to be out of his mind, and that Pauls great learning was driving
him insane.30 I am more than certain that both Festus the Governor and King
Agrippa had extensively heard about the Apostle Paul and his teaching, especially
King Agrippa.31 Paul himself lived out his life as a true Christian.
When the South African Council of Churches (SACC) was formed, it became one
of the most outspoken antiapartheid umbrella movement. Under the leadership of
the renowned Retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu in the 1980s, the SACC
also attempted to withhold cooperation with the state as much as possible, in
protest against apartheid. SACC was outspoken in their political views, lodging
frequent complaints with the government officials and organizing numerous
peaceful protests. In my view that is true Christianity as a lifestyle well lived out.
We all know that apartheid collapsed and is no more as an ideology, just as the
Pharisaic System collapsed.
The ultimate authority of true Christianity as a lifestyle is the Lordship of Jesus
Christ and the authority of his Word. In true Christianity Christ does not negate our
past or background, but he redeems, transforms and fulfills it.32 That causes our
own lifestyles to be transformed into a Christ-like lifestyle, true Christianity.
In conclusion, true Christianity is indeed much more about a lifestyle than just
believing, confessing and following Jesus Christ by word of mouth. True
Christianity as a religious lifestyle denotes social relationships with people like the
rich, the poor, the well dressed, the smelly, the upright, the unsocially way-ward
like the gay, the transsexual, the drug addicts, and so on and so forth. When Jesus
Christ walked this earth he said, I have come that they may have life, and have it
to the full.33 True Christianity does not just do away with an oppressive belief
system, to create a vacuum. True Christianity gives the world freedom. True
Christianity brings freedom. True Christianity does not bring tolerance. True
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Acts 26:28. New International Version. 2011. Biblica Inc.


Acts 26:24. New International Version. 2011. Biblica Inc.
Acts 26:26. New International Version. 2011. Biblica Inc.
Turaki. Y. 2001. The Unique Christ for Salvation. IBS Nigeria.
John 10:10. New International Version. 2011. Biblica Inc.

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Christianity is lived as a lifestyle, hence causing an oppressive belief system that


may be ideological, social, political or even religious to collapse.

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