Theology and Independence

Saturday, August 18, 2012    

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The following is an edited version of a sermon,“The effect of Caribbean Theology and Creation Theology in reflecting the concept of Independence in the Caribbean/Jamaica”, delivered by the Rev Canon Ernle Gordon at the St Andrew Parish Church on August 5, 2012.

It is important for us to know that Caribbean theologians (Anglican) were responsible for preparing the various Collects for Independence and Emancipation. The Genesis account of the Creation is very interesting because in Chapter 1 we are reminded that “God created humankind in His image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them. God blessed them and God said to them, be fruitful and multiply. God saw everything that He had made and it was very good.”

Leviticus reflects the essence of the Jubilee, which tends to manifest a type of Independence in Jamaica. The writer explains: “The 50th year shall be the Jubilee for you. You shall not sow, or reap the after growth of harvest or the unpruned vines. For it is a Jubilee. It shall be holy to you, you shall eat only what the field itself produces. In this year of Jubilee you shall return everyone of you to your property. Throughout the land that you hold you shall provide for the redemption of the land.”

Therefore, to be Independent means that Jamaicans are free from external control or influence, and have inculcated the essence of selfgoverning. Independence is a state of being, which portrays the ability to manage one's environment and seeks to provide the spirit of justice, love, equity and to reflect a clarity of thought and a fixity of purpose.

Examples of Independence

It was obvious that because there is a national perception for Independence, we have noticed the following which has enhanced the concept of Independence:

(a) There is a healthy democratic culture.

(b) There is a vibrant and eloquent Parliament.

(c) There is an excellent judiciary.

(d) There are many secondary and elementary schools which were built by various denominations. Anglicans ought to realise that we have the largest number of secondary schools –13. We are also responsible for 116 schools, which include preparatory – 8, primary – 43, all-age – 52, etc.

Church’s impact

The church in the Province of the West Indies created its own Caribbean Theology, which was expressed brilliantly by the Rev Ashley Smith, who wrote Emerging from Innocence and Real Roots and Potted Plants. He is one of the most articulate theologians we have ever produced in the Caribbean.

(1) Caribbean theology aims at producing a New Caribbean person who imbibes a healthy concept.

(2) The Caribbean person will have a more healthy approach to self-development.

(3) The objective of a Caribbean theology is to transform the people's consciousness of self, word, others and history rather than to stimulate a debate. It is to get Caribbean people to act positively and responsibly towards themselves, their region and the rest of mankind.

(4) Caribbean theology helps Caribbean people to have a more positive approach to self-development and community development.

(5) Caribbean theology is an attempt by Caribbean Christians to interpret the revelations of God within their peculiar ethnic, political and cultural context.

Creation theology

Having understood Caribbean theology, Anglican theologians in the Province of the West Indies sought to reflect what is meant by Creation theology, which was expressed in the Catechism. It was revealed that English theologians – from the Church of England – were amazed at the theological depth which was attained by Caribbean Anglican scholars.

Human nature

(1) We are part of God's creation, made in the image of God.

(2) What does it mean to be created in the image of God? It means that we are free to make choices to love, to create, to reason, and to live in harmony with creation and with God.

(3) Why then do we live apart from God and out of harmony with creation? From the beginning, human beings have misused their freedom and made wrong choices.

4) Why do we not use our freedom as we should?

We rebel against God, and we put ourselves in the place of God. Many Jamaicans believe that they sin because of the devil, but the teachings of the Anglican Church (Catechism) tell us that we sin because we make wrong choices. The objective of creation theology is what transforms the people's consciousness of being truly human, and helps Caribbean people to act positively and responsibly to the rest of mankind. We ought to inculcate a healthy selfconsciousness, a positive approach to life and a creative self-development.

New approach to worship

We ought to capture the mood of the people as expressed in our poetry, dance, music, drama and architecture. Our church music must reflect constantly what is indigenous to the Caribbean people. We have a new CPWI Hymnal which has hymns by Peter Tosh, Noel Dexter, Richard Ho Lung, Barry Chevannes and many others. We have a new Caribbean musical setting which was requested by Bishop Alfred Reid.



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