A Response to Glodel Mezilas’ Article on Christianity in Haiti

My good friend and brilliant Haitian thinker Dr. Glodel Mezilas wrote a terrific critique of Protestant Christianity in Haiti.He asked me to respond to it. Glodel: you already know that I am not a good public debator; in fact, I don’t like to engage in debates via social media. I would rather call you and express my perspective 🙂

Nonetheless, allow me to say the following succinctly:

 For Glodel,  Evangelical Christianity ( in Haiti, the phrase is not commonly used in public opinions or intellectual debates. When Haitian thinkers discuss Christianity, they differentiate the two major branches of Christianity in the West: Catholic Christianity and Protestant Christianity.) is a major contributor of cultural and existential alienation in Haiti; somewhat, Haitian Protestants or Evangelicals have urged the new Christian convert to abandon or even renounce the cultural traditions and practices he or she once practiced before embracing Christianity as the new faith. Glodel construes the practices and ideologies  of Protestant Christianity in Haiti as dangerous, unhealthy, and ineffective to the progress of the Haitian people and the advancement  of democracy in Haiti.

Second,  Glodel contends that Protestant Christianity not only leads to more cultural alienation in the Haitian society, it fosters national strife or division among the Haitian people. In essence, any religious tradition has the potential to unite and divide people. By the virtue of specific teachings or doctrines of a particular religion, the division is somewhat inevitable. While many religious traditions have many points of parallel and connection,  all religions do not share the same teachings; they’re different over their particularities and distinctives.

Third, Glodel also argues that Protestant Christianity has not contributed to the alleviation of poverty and suffering in Haiti; somewhat, it supports by the theology and way of life it confesses and promotes. By contrary, there are other equally important factors that have contributed to poverty and suffering in the Haitian society such as the problems and effects of globalization in a small country like Haiti. The bourgeoisie class in Haiti has used different means to oppress and exploit those in the lower stratum in the Haitian society. In addition, in the past 50 yrs or so, Haiti’s political system has not contributed much to positive social change and human flourishing in Haiti. Haiti’s infrastructure deficits and low employment rate are other impactual factors leading to the depressing human condition in Haiti. While Protestant Christianity is among the leading factors of Haitian alienation, it is not the only one.

***

Below is the link to Mezilas’ Article:

http://lenouvelliste.com/article/178081/eglises-protestantes-misere-et-alienation-en-haiti

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“In Praise of Vertieres, and  In Praise of Freedom and the Haitian Revolution”

“In Praise of Vertieres, and  In Praise of Freedom and the Haitian Revolution”

O Vertieres, how could we forget Thee!

You remind us that God created  men and women to be free and not to be enchained and enslaved by men.

O Glorious Vertieres, where we wrought our freedom and independence through our shed blood, You will always be a scar on our hearts and the path of freedom and inspiration for today’s troubles.

Today, the Haitian people are celebrating the Battle of Vertieres (November 18, 1803) which gave birth to two significant events in world history: the end of slavery and the founding of the first postcolonial state  and the first slave-free Republic of Haiti in the Western world. It was in Vertieres African revolutionarries and men and women who dared to die free and independent conquered the greatest military and imperial power in the world: France

To remember Vertieres  is to never forget the danger and threat of the unholy trinity of institutional slavery, colonization, and White supremacy in the world.

 To remember Vertieres also means to continue the fight against the vestiges of slavery (modern day slavery), colonization (neocolonization), imperialism, and any form of human oppression that engenders human suffering, dehumanizes people, defers human dignity, and challenges the image of God in humanity.

“Preaching for Exaltation and Change: Starting the New Year 2018 in Ephesians”

“Preaching for Exaltation and Change: Starting the New Year 2018 in Ephesians”

As God continues to lead and shape my preaching and teaching ministry at Jesus Center Community Church, beginning in January 2018, I will begin a new series on Paul’s beloved letter to the Ephesians. Ephesians is a fascinating book full of deep theological insights and practical lessons for the Christian life and biblical discipleship.

The content of Ephesians is rich as  it addresses the important issues of God’s mediating grace in salvation and the practical consequences of the Christian life, the imperative of (Christian) unity and reconciliation, the relationship between Christ’s followers and the social order, instructions on how to live together in love and understanding, instructions concerning the Christian family  and about the relationships between the Christian husband and the Christian wife, etc.

We will walk through this Pauline book verse by verse and chapter by chapter. My estimation is that it will take me three to four months to preach through this book, exegetically and expositorily. 

As a result, I have acquired some additional texts and commentaries on  Ephesians to help me get a better understanding of the Book. 

I covet your prayers before the Lord.

#PREACHINGCHRISTINEPHESIANS

#PREACHINGEPHESIANSFORCHANGE

Grace and Peace, 

Pastor  Joseph

How to Save American Christianity!

American Evangelicalism is not the guardian of Christianity and Christian Orthodoxy, and being an Evangelical does not necessarily mean one is a follower of Christ. Christendom transcends the politics and practices of American tribal Christianity.

I distinguish two branches of American Evangelicalism: one is cultural, the other is theological. For example, cultural evangelicalism is an ideological group that interprets the Christian faith through the lens of American patriotism and politics, American exceptionalism and American supremacy, and American  hegemony in the world. Cultural Evangelicalism is quite a political phenomenon which sustains American  Christianity and the American way of life and through the American dream ideology.

 On the other, for many critics, American Evangelicalism is race-oriented and conscious; generally, it is linked to whiteness or White Christianity—whether it is cultural evangelicalism or theological evangelicalism–, which is very problematic for American Christianity and the public witness of Christianity in the American society. A possible solution to the crisis of American  Evangelicalism is to deculturalize, depoliticize, and deracialize the Christian faith in the American culture.

Let me add one more note. Some genuine Christians do not identify themeselves as evangelicals; being outside of the Evangelical spectrum does not make one less a Christian. (It’s like a Christian who embraces Calvinism versus another who subscribes to the tenets of Arminianism. Maybe, that’s not the best example to give.) Honestly, I don’t do well with theological and political labels.

A Nation in Profound Crisis….but, there’s hope…

A Nation in Profound Crisis….but, there’s hope…

In the midst of today’s tragedy and mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, resulting in the death of 26 people, I refuse to believe that we are a hopeless nation and a people without a promising future. Although we continue to experience major crisis at a frequent rate, which has both divided and united us as a people, and that which could potentially lead to a life of pessimism about our future, the Savior-God can still heal this land and restore us if we turn to him in repentance and practice justice.

Nonetheless, before we can pray for national healing and hope for spiritual restoration from the God of all Comfort and Peace, we have to first acknowledge the peck in our own eyes and that we have inflicted suffering and pain upon one another. We are not an innocent people. Collectively, we have turned away from justice and compassion. We refuse to believe we are in crisis, and live in a time of tremendous human insanity and national turmoil. Also, we refuse to believe that we need help from God. We have said to ourselves everything will be okay, and that there’s ongoing human flourishing in our society.

The problem is that we are a sick people who need emergency rescue and divine intervention. We have defiled God’s name and glorious fame in our society whenever we fail to love one another and treat one another with justice, dignity, and love as those who are also created in the Image of God. We have a broken system. We attain success through oppression and exploitation of one another. We must acknowledge our collective sins and wrongdoings, and that indeed, we are a broken people who are in desperate need of the Savior-GOD.

The brutal world we have created could be transformed. The broken society we have made and maintained could be renewed. The broken lives we have crafted and sustained could be redeemed.

We all could be artisans of hope in the midst of despair, and candles of light in the labyinth of human darkness and death. You followers of Christ are the light of the world and must shine in the spheres of darkness and hopelessness. That is what followers of Christ do and the goal of the Christian life.

Finally, the American people were never and are not God’s chosen people, but God is raising up a distinctive people in America and a new race for Himself who will be the Hope and Healing of this nation.

Lamentations 3:22-24:

“22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

his mercies never come to an end;

23 they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,

“therefore I will hope in him.”

​Brief Writing Updates on Price-Mars:

Brief Writing Updates on Price-Mars:

I have decided to reframe the structure and content of my forthcoming book on Jean Price-Mars as an intellectual biography (Tentatively, I will title it: “Jean Price-Mars: An Intellectual Biography”). My desire is to make it the definite study on Price-Mars in the English language. (The reader should know that this is a different text than the forthcoming book Jean Eddy Saint Paul, Glodel Mezilas, and I edited on Price-Mars, which we have entitled “Between Two Worlds: Price-Mars, Haiti, and Africa”) The implications of this intellectual shift and project are many:

1) I would have to add two new chapters to the book:

a) On the intellectual circles and transnational circuits that influenced the ideas and writings of Price-Mars, following a similar strategy and methodology as I have done for Jacques Roumain in my recently-published book, “Thinking in Public,” and my forthcoming book on Jean-Bertrand Aristide: “Aristide: A Theological and Political Introduction to His Life and Thought.”

b) A new chapter on Price-Mars as a public intellectual in the Haitian public sphere and as a transnational cultural critic of the Black Atlantic culture and thought, which may involve my interactions with his commentaries and critiques (1) on the intellectual life (i.e. politics, literature, Haitian intellectual history, i.e.) of his native land, (2) the role and education of women in the Haitian society, (3) public education system in Haiti, and 4) Key figures (i.e. W. E.B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglass, George Washington Carver, William Wadé Harris (affectionately called “The ‘Black Elijah’ of West Africa”), and James Emman Kwegyir Aggrey) in Black Thought. I will synthesize his ideas in this particular chapter.

2) It will take me another year to complete the book. Sorry folks if you have been patiently waiting for this work to come out. I will ask the publisher to give me another year so that I could produce this ambitious project. 

*** So far, I have completed five chapters: two chapters on the Pan-Africanist vision of Price-Mars, one chapter on Price-Mars’ philosophy of religion, one chapter on Price-Mars’ interpretation of the concept of God in African traditional religion, and another chapter on Price-Mars’ perspectives on African traditional religion, Islam, and Christianity. This one takes the comparative method to examine the subject matter. I’m half way completing two more drafts on Price-Mars’ writings on race, and the Haitian Revolution as a humanistic and global event. 

Say a word of prayer for me to the great Lord to give me both physical and intellectual strength, as well as to confer upon me greater clarity of thought and precision in expression. 

Happy Day!!!

You are my Rest and dwelling Place, O Lord!

Jesus, You’re my Rest!

 You are the reason I have my being, Oh Lord. You are the air that I breathe. You are my Rest and my dwelling Place, my God and my Redeemer. 

On the cross, you paid the price for my sins so you can give me rest. You gave me rest, and your rest is mine. In the midst of the storm, you gave me rest, abundant joy and unspeakable peace.

On the cross, you made me whole. You made me your own, and gave me your own. Now, I rest.

I’ve been meditating on the words of this song (see below) every day because of the significant meaning of Jesus in my life and for all He has done for me.  When I die, please sing this song to King Jesus as a testimony of his life in me and my life in His.

Have you found your rest? Is Christ Your Resting Place?

Matthew 11:28-30:

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”— Jesus