Denominations, Sects and Religions
Identities and Attitudes in Culture and Religion
Dr. Orville Boyd Jenkins
In 2006 I received an email message from a reader in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia, with some good, coherent comments. This reader provided a thoughtful response to the information on my website. I also appreciated the encouragement about the value of the material.
He had some encouraging comments complimenting the site:
As an ethnologist you present to the public very informative and useful information about many ethnic groups there in Africa.
He also expressed a concern:
I have only one suggestion. I think that you should more concentrate on people who follow traditional beliefs and Muslims and not already Cristian nations like Roman Catholics and Oriental orthodox. You have to decide what is your main objective: to fight with other Christian groups in a competitive way or to evangelize people who never heard about Jesus Christ.
It is always good to hear from readers. And for me as a believer in Jesus Christ, I like to hear from other believers in Christ from whatever country, ethnic nation or faith tradition. I answered this correpondent personally thanking him and answering his comments.
But I have no idea what this reader is talking about. Somehow he got the wrong impression about my intentions. I write on various topics related to language and ethnicity. I have also found that my writings are often reposted on various Internet sites, without my permission. So I do not know all the ways in which my material might be used.
This reader did not state where specifically he saw the material or what specifically he was referring to. The confusing thing about this is that I have nothing like that on this website http://orvillejenkins.com.
Religions Not the Point
I do not target Christians to change to another Christian denomination, though I will discuss differences between different churches or traditions where that is pertinent to the topic under discussion. I have not written anything that could be characterized as "fighting other denominations." I write on various cultural information, including religions, since this is an integral part of human culture and of our ethnic identities. But you won't find anything in my writings advocating people changing from one Christian denomination to another.
For that matter, I do not advocate changing one religion for another. Jesus, whom I try to follow, did not deal much with religions. My understanding of faith in Christ does not focus on organized religion, or on institutional structures. I especially do not consider faith as Jesus taught it in regard to what he called the "kingdom of God" to be a cultural institution or social organization!
There is information you can check out on this in the first four books of the collection called the New Testament. These books, dealing with the life and ministry of Jesus the Messiah (Christ) are called "Gospels," from the old English word for Good News.
I research and write about all kinds of cultures, history, religions and ethnic characteristics. I do not advocate proselytizing believers in Jesus Christ to change to another Christian organization. A particular organizational structure or form of worship does not save us, anyway.
I work with researchers all over the world and receive correspondence almost every day from all kinds of people, without enquiring or knowing about their religious affiliation. Their particular religious affiliation does not affect the content or quality of the information I learn or write.
I have had many friends, associates and colleagues of many Christian communities in Africa and North America, and ongoing contacts with people of various Christian faith traditions worldwide. Not only that, I likewise have various relationships and friendships with people of various world religions. My professional colleagues and research contacts are of all different races, nations, ethnicities, languages and religions.
I have also had friends and acquaintances of various levels of personal relationships from among many world religions. I was privileged to live in the very diverse city of Nairobi for decades. My children went to school with Christians (of various kinds and from many countries), Hindus, Muslims and various nationalities and persuasions of people.
One of my goals is to help broaden any individual's perspective on other cultures; and to assist members of one ethnic heritage or followers of one religion to learn more about each other so they can really communicate on the same basic human level, rather than through our traditional stereotypes and cultural prejudices against each other.
Additionally, personal, social and international justice is a strong, basic principle of my belief in God and to the expression of God in Jesus Christ. Most of the time, no Christian church or denomination lives up to that calling, which I think is a basic part of the Kingdom of God as Jesus taught it.
There is no contradiction between a strongly held and well-articulated faith of one tradition maintaining an appreciative relationship with people of other faiths with whom we might disagree on very important fundamental matters.
My primary reference point for "True Religion" is Jesus Christ as portrayed in the Good News books of the New Testament. In that regard, True Religion is apparently not an ethnic or cultural matter, but a matter of the heart and spirit, for all humans.
Surely there is a basis in our common humanity for a relationship just because we are humans. I do not feel an obligation to disparage the faith of any other person, whether I can understand or agree with it or not. But I likewise feel I have a right to express my own faith in appropriate and understandable ways to others who are interested. And I will thus expect to see a similar desire in others to express their personal faith also.
Religion not a State Matter
One factor that will affect a concept of faith or religious practice, also, is that a country, or what we commonly call a "nation-state," is not in focus in my own personal perspective of faith. But we do find that religion is a component of ethnicity.
I hope readers find value of various kinds in the information I have discovered and make available on my website.
Based on an email response to a website reader 25 August 2006
Finalized as an article 23 November 2007
Last edited 28 February 2018
Orville Boyd Jenkins, Ed.D., Ph.D.
Copyright © 2007, 2018 Orville Boyd Jenkins
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use. Please give credit and link back. Other rights reserved.