“Let My People Think and Reclaim Their Heritage: On Dr. Umar Johnson’s False Christian Historiography”

“Let My People Think and Reclaim Their Heritage: On Dr. Umar Johnson’s False Christian Historiography”

For many contemporary African and black people, the Christian religion has betrayed them. I understand their discomfort, frustration, and refusal not to embrace a religion that was used to enslave their ancestors and colonize their people. Logically, the issue lies in African religious historiography and (Western) Christianity’s historiography, respectively. My goal in this brief post is not to proselytize anyone to Christianity; rather, I’m concerned primarily with the urgent matter of the historiography of the Christian religion and its intimate connection to Continental Africa. It is a matter of historiographical truth and Christianity’s historical African antecedents.

Through my writings, I’ve been attempting to inform and educate my black and Haitian brothers & sisters that our African ancestors did not encounter Christianity when they first came to the Americas and Saint-Domingue (modern day Haiti) as slaves. Christianity blossomed in Africa in its first 600 years, and that Africa has the most sustaining Christian tradition in the world–beyond its Jewish origin. African Christianity gave birth to Western Christianity, and it is the seedbed of Christian thought, as well as scholasticism and philosophy in the West. Christianity is not a foreign religion in Africa nor should it be considered a foreign faith to the people of African descent in the Diaspora.

The African continent is the most diverse continent in the world. Considering Africa is the birth place of humanity and first human civilization, it is reasonable to affirm that Africa is the root of all the languages spoken in the world, the genesis of our multicultural world, and the ground of our ethnic and racial diversity. Africa is also the home of many religious traditions such as African traditional religion (i.e. Yoruba, Vodou), Christianity, Islam, etc.–these three are some of the most ancient religious traditions in the Continent.

Let me say this again that White Europeans did not invent Christianity. Christianity is not a White Man’s religion. Yes, white slave masters, slave traffickers, and colonizers (some were even christians) have (mis)used Christianity and misappropriated Christian teachings to enslave, colonize, and oppress the Africans and their descendants outside of continental Africa. Nonetheless, there’s a big difference between African Christianity before slavery and colonization and Christianity after and during slavery and colonization. The Christianity of the European colonizers and slavers should not be understood as biblical Christianity. The Christianity of the Empire contradicts the ethical virtues and moral teachings of biblical Christianity. Christianity, as it was practiced both by the slave master and colonialist, falls short of ancient African Christianity. The difference between the two includes theological, moral, ideological, political, cultural, pedagogical, and philosophical aspects.

It is good to underscore that the earliest Christian theologians who have framed the fundamental Christian doctrines and the most lofty theological categories, such as the deity and pre-existence of Christ, were Africans. In fact, it was a theologian from Africa who articulated the most theoretical concept in Christian theology: the doctrine of the Trinity. The greatest theologian in Christian history was born in Africa. His name was St. Augustine of Hippo.

Further, Ethiopia has the oldest Christian church and monastery in the world. Coptic Christianity is one of the earliest expressions of ancient Christianity. Guess what? It is still practiced in Ethiopia. Christianity has endured a long tradition of ritualistic alistic practice, liturgical exercise, and theological reflection before it made its way in the West.

Finally, it is historically implausible and false that Christianity was europeanized/westernized at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD. The most influential Christian thinkers who debated on and legitimized the key doctrines (i.e. divinity and pre-existence of Christ, the trinity) of Christianity were African theologians; they were not Western and white theologians.

Christianity is an African heritage that Africans in the continent of Africa and the people of African descent must reclaim. Yet they must decolonize, deconstruct, and de-westernize its current form and expression. To make it their own again, they must indigenize and contextualize the Christian faith so it could make sense in their culture, traditions, identity, and their way of life. Christianity, in fact, is an African faith when considering its rich historical tradition (and trajectories) and cultural experience in the Continent, as well as the African DNA on both ancient and modern Christianity in the world.

***One of the central reasons thinkers like Dr. Umar Johnson is so misinformed about the African historical antecedents of Christianity lies in the exclusion of ancient African Christianity in the theological curriculum and the invisibility of Africa in Christian historical narratives in the West; correspondingly, there lies two other inseparable problems: the construction of an exclusively European/Western-centered Christian epistemology, and the lack of engagement with the intellectual works produced by black and brown scholars, biblical scholars, and theological thinkers in contemporary scholarship.

“A Reading List on Western Philosophy and Christian Philosophy and Apologetics”

“A Reading List on Western Philosophy and Christian Philosophy and Apologetics”

In this post, I recommend some of the most influential works in the history of Western philosophy, American philosophy, as well as Christian philosophy and apologetics. The list below is not meant to be exhaustive. For example, it does not deal with classical philosophy (with the exception of three to four titles on the list ); rather, the emphasis is on modern thought or history of ideas. I do not, for example, include works by African and Caribbean philosophers. I hope you will find the selected works helpful and meaningful to your own personal philosophical and spiritual growth and intellectual progress.

*** I wrote this post as a response to various inquiries I received from individuals and students who are passionate about the life of the mind and also from those who would like to be well-versed in both Western Philosophy and Christian philosophy.

Click on the link below to access the list of recommended books on the subject matter!

Happy Reading!

A Reading List on Western Philosophy and Christian Philosophy and Apologetics

Nine Unethical Practices and Questionable Intellectual Habits in the Academia!

Nine Unethical Practices and Questionable Intellectual Habits in the Academia!

  1. The sin of tribalism and group exceptionalism and preference
  2. The politics of (or the process of) job interviewing and candidate selection
  3. Jealousy and envy among academics in regard to salary, publication, promotion, and public recognition.
  4. The politics of intentional silence and lack of recognition
  5. The deliberate undermining of the scholarship and intellectual contribution of someone in the same discipline and/or cognate areas
  6. The sin of academic plagiarism and mischaracterization of somebody’s scholarship
  7. The unethical practice of colorism, shadism, and the problem of ethnic exclusion in reference to academic recognition, rewards, employment, and job promotion
  8. The sin of academic bullying and gossiping
  9. The moral dilemma of academic structures and systems, as well as intellectual infrastructures

“‘Let My People Think’: Remembering Ravi Zacharias (1946-2020) and the Importance of the Life of Faith and the Life of the Mind”

“‘Let My People Think’: Remembering Ravi Zacharias (1946-2020) and the Importance of the Life of Faith and the Life of the Mind”

Influential Indian-born Christian thinker and apologist Ravi Zacharias died this morning!

May your family and friends find God’s peace and comfort in this time of transition! You have touched many lives for good and nurtured millions of individuals to think critically about the relationship between the life of faith and the life of the mind!

On May 13, 2020, I wrote an essay to honor Ravi Zacharias: “Dr. Ravi Zacharias: My Tribute to a Distant Intellectual Mentor and Teacher.” You can read my tribute to Mr. Zacharias by clicking on the link below:

“Dr. Ravi Zacharias: My Tribute to a Distant Intellectual Mentor and Teacher”

The famed Christian philosopher and apologist Dr. Ravi Zacharias has recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. We do not know how long he’s going to be with us. As a result, I would like to share a brief testimony with you about how Dr. Zacharias has transformed my life. This is also a way for me to pay a tribute to him.

When I was in College, I began to listen to Ravi Zacharias regularly through his international radio program called “Let My People Think.” Literally, I listened to his philosophical talks every day, both before and after class. He would captivate my mind through his vast knowledge, critical reasoning, and intellectuality. In the process, Dr. Zacharias has become instantly my distant intellectual teacher and mentor. It was through his philosophical and religious writings and lectures that I have learned about the most important philosophers, both from the East and the West. He was through him that I encountered the most leading ideas in the world of philosophy and religious studies (i.e. Hinduism). For example, he introduced me to the central ideas of Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Nietzsche, Bertrand Russell, C.S. Lewis, Rousseau, Voltaire, Hume, Sartre, Dewey, Plantinga, Lennox, Craig, Foucault, Derrida, Rorty, James, etc. Although I took four philosophy classes in College, Ravi was my best philosophy teacher.

After I graduated from College, I applied to the University of South Florida to pursue an M.A. in (analytical) philosophy. (Unfortunately, I did not enroll in the philosophy program there.) His impact was so strong on me that I wanted to study philosophy professionally and at the academic level.

I must admit that Dr. Zacharias has become the most influential Christian thinker in my life. Language is not adequate to describe his impact on my intellectual development and analytical thinking. In the time of tape recording, I purchased literally every series he produced such as his famous philosophical lecture series at Ohio State University: “Jesus Among Other Gods,” as well as his thought-provoking lecture “Why I am a Christian,” in which he used analytical method and reasoning to argue for theism by deconstructing atheistic ideas in Western Philosophical tradition.

It was Mr. Zacharias who had fueled in me a passion to study in great detail the historicity of the New Testament Gospels, to test the validity of the texts of the New Testament, and to critically evaluate the claims of the resurrection of Jesus. As an Indian philosopher, he had also introduced me to another philosophical tradition beyond the West: Indian Philosophy. He has helped me to explore another worldview and to see the world intellectually from different epistemological lenses. Not only have I learned from him some of the greatest thinkers and philosophers India has produced; he had sparked the fire in me to learn more about Hinduism and Indian poetry and literature. It was also through Zacharias’s rich interdisciplinary knowledge and his impressive expertise on various religious traditions that I became interested in other religious traditions closer to home such as the Haitian Vodou.

Today, my heart is in pain because my teacher and mentor Ravi Zacharias, who had taught me many viable lessons about the life of the mind and the life of the soul (as he himself a devoted follower of Jesus Christ), is in critical medical condition. I pray for his recovery and also wish that his wife Margie and children and friends will find peace and comfort in these difficult times. I also invite you to pray urgently and fervently for Mr. Ravi Zacharias.




“Yon Ti Istwa sou Drapo Ayisyen an” (18 Me, 1803-18 Me, 2020)

“Yon Ti Istwa sou Drapo Ayisyen an” (18 Me, 1803-18 Me, 2020)

Nan pwezentasyon sa a istoryen Doktè Célucien L. Joseph fè yon ti pakou istorik sou Drapo Ayisyen an. Li adrese 8 gran koze sou drapo nasyonal la:

1. Peryòd revolisyonè avan drapo a te kreye
2. Peryòd kreyasyon drapo asyisyen an
3. Catherine Fon: Fanm  kite koud drapo a
4.Signifikasyon senbòl nan drapo a
5.Rapò drapo a ak plizyè drapo nou trouve nan Vodou
6. Evolisyon oubyen chanjman nan drapo a pandan diferan administwasyon politik
7. Diferan pwopozisyon oubyen ide sou istwa drapo a
8. Rapò Drapo Ayisyen an ak im nasyonal dayiti (la desalinyèn) a