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Third World Christianity





nickfyoung
I met my wife in the Philippines and after visa conditions had been met, I brought her to Australia. We were married in her local church in the Philippines which was called All Nations Christian Church and was started by a missionary from the US and catered for locals and expats alike with a service in English.
The Christianity in the Philippines I found refreshingly open and practiced unashamedly everywhere.
When my wife came to Australia and we joined a local church and got to know the people, my wife couldn't help noticing a different type of Christianity. It seemed less intense somehow and not quite so fervent as she had been used to.
We concluded that a people living in poverty conditions such as the Philippines did have to rely totally on God to supply all their needs whereas in an affluent country such as Australia that becomes less necessary and so a Christianity less focused and less dependent on God.
It that a fair observation and is it an accurate one.
Ankhanu
I think it's a fairly accurate observation that people in less developed nations tend to be more religiously focused... but I wouldn't say it's because they "have to rely totally on God to supply all their needs"... as I'd say they rely on hard work and effort more than God Razz Without the hard work/effort, relying on God to supply, they'd surely stop living.

I'd be more inclined to chalk it up to education than God supplying the needy... I mean, if God truly supplied the needy, they wouldn't be needy, right? Higher education leaves less room for God to play a role; as you understand more of how the world works, you have fewer reasons to say "Oh! That's God!" As you understand actual correlation and regression, you don't need to look to outside agency.
Outside of the education aspect of developed nations, there is the simple complacency you refer to; we're comfortable, we don't have to seek answers to as many "injustices" and such, so, we don't. People in developing nations don't take comfort as granted, and comfort often is not granted through hard work alone, there are many outside factors at play that we can't control... that which can't be controlled becomes the whim of God... again, in developed regions, there are fewer completely uncontrolled factors, fewer whims of God, if you will; our lives are pretty static in terms of influences and factors.

Missionaries tend to be a fervent lot too. If your primary religious context was supplied by Missionaries, I'm sure that you'd also be more likely to be enthusiastic/fervent too. I'd wager that a higher proportion of preistly types that only operate in affluent regions are somewhat more comfortable/complacent with the fact that they are well established, and, often, the only game in town. Missionaries tend to be more zealous in their approach, and it takes a certain level of devotion to take that path. It's pretty similar to differences between denominations, but, ya know, within denominations Razz
nickfyoung
It is an adage in all aspects of Christianity for 'God to supply all our needs', whether it be in a developed or undeveloped country. There could well be more of those needs in an undeveloped country than a developed country but it doesn't matter how developed we are, there are still needs we have as humans, whether they be material or otherwise.
Country Australia has one of the highest suicide rates in the world so there are some people with some needs in those situations.
My third world experience is with the Philippines, the highest Christianized country in the world with 80% of their people Christian and predominately Catholic because of their Spanish heritage. Although the Filipino people live in a very low standard compared to some of the affluent lifestyles of the west, they are incredibly happy doing so. There are only some 25% living in poverty but they seem to have accepted their lot and live in contentment in it making them an incredibly happy and agreeable people.
One could arguably say they have less needs than a developed people as they are content while many in the west are focused on maintaining an affluence which can take a lot out of you.
So we seem to have come full circle and maybe the people of an undeveloped country have less psychological needs while having more material needs. Why does that make their Christianity a higher priority in their life.
watersoul
Personally I'm drawn to the higher levels of education reason for the differences in strength of openly shown faith between various countries.
I wouldn't be surprised to see further drastic reductions in the numbers of people believing in gods as our different societies continue to increase available knowledge to the masses.
ghanster
"Totally" is what matters here! If they solely and "totally" rely on God for survival, I dont think it would be right or good, because God needs us to also be hardworking in other to achieve what we ask from Him. In other words, He wants us to work.
nickfyoung
Interestingly, the Philippines is very well educated with most Filipino's going on to a university degree. One can't find work in the Philippines without a degree and even places such as McDonalds require one to employ you.
nickfyoung
ghanster wrote:
"Totally" is what matters here! If they solely and "totally" rely on God for survival, I dont think it would be right or good, because God needs us to also be hardworking in other to achieve what we ask from Him. In other words, He wants us to work.


If one is reliant on God to supply all ones needs then one relies on God to supply that job so one can work.
ghanster
nickfyoung wrote:
ghanster wrote:
"Totally" is what matters here! If they solely and "totally" rely on God for survival, I dont think it would be right or good, because God needs us to also be hardworking in other to achieve what we ask from Him. In other words, He wants us to work.


If one is reliant on God to supply all ones needs then one relies on God to supply that job so one can work.


With your view, I dont think the job will come at your doorstep waiting for you?! I think you must be able to go looking for one then probably the Lord will let you meet the one He answered in your prayers.
Dialogist
Ankhanu wrote:
Without the hard work/effort, relying on God to supply, they'd surely stop living.


Not always:

"From the years of 1922 until her death in 1962, Therese Neumann apparently consumed no food other than The Holy Eucharist, and claimed to have drunk no water from 1926 until her death.

In July 1927 a medical doctor and four Franciscan nurses kept a watch on her 24 hours a day for a two-week period. They confirmed that she had consumed nothing except for one consecrated sacred Host a day, and had suffered no ill effects, loss of weight, or dehydration.

Montague Summers in the "Physical Phenomenon of Mysticism" speaks of her supernatural ability to survive for long periods without food or water. He supported this claim by citing an article about Therese Neumann in the 5 January 1940 "The Universe", which said the peasant woman refused German ration cards saying she had no need of food and drink."

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Therese_Neumann

Also, Prahlad Jani, a "breatharian" claims to have survived for 70 years with no food or water. It's also been monitored by professionals:

Source: http://www.news.com.au/weird-true-freaky/man-claims-no-food-or-drink-for-70-years/story-e6frflri-122585994680

Ankhanu wrote:

I'd be more inclined to chalk it up to education than God supplying the needy... I mean, if God truly supplied the needy, they wouldn't be needy, right?


Depends what you mean by "needy". If they are starving, then yes. If you mean needy in that they don't have ipads, then I'm not sure they are needy. Since the starving ones are hardly likely to making it on time for Church services, then I guess he means the latter. The richest man is he who needs the least. We often judge neediness by western standards, but once upon a time, nobody had shoes. A barefoot human walking on dirt is about as "down to earth" as we can get. And "down to earth" is still considered a good thing, I believe.

Ankhanu wrote:

Higher education leaves less room for God to play a role; as you understand more of how the world works, you have fewer reasons to say "Oh! That's God!" As you understand actual correlation and regression, you don't need to look to outside agency.


While I see what you're saying, I think it works in reverse a lot more. I think education (of science and philosophy etc) creates more problems for the educated than it does for the "ignorant bliss". I mean, if you disagree, show me a child who doesn't believe in Santa Claus and I'll show you an illiterate African who didn't lose faith in God because he saw theoretical anthropomorphism cartoon diagrams in their high school textbooks. You seem to be playing to the "God of The Gaps" cliche here, and suggesting that in lesser educated countries, it's all just one big gap that God fills. But if the gap (God) is the default, which it seems to be in these countries (and in my Santa analogy) then maybe the west just spends all it's time trying to fill up gaps and never learning that only ever creates 10 more, umm, every single time.

Ankhanu wrote:

again, in developed regions, there are fewer completely uncontrolled factors, fewer whims of God, if you will; our lives are pretty static in terms of influences and factors.


What, like apartheid, poverty, class and autocratic despot governments? A good argument would be how they maintain faith in God and goodness in the face of such adversity, as opposed to blessed, comfortable, lavish and furnished lifestyle of the secular and often iconoclastic west.

nickfyoung wrote:

We concluded that a people living in poverty conditions such as the Philippines did have to rely totally on God to supply all their needs whereas in an affluent country such as Australia that becomes less necessary and so a Christianity less focused and less dependent on God.
It that a fair observation and is it an accurate one.


I personally believe people in less democratic and liberal continents have a greater understanding of life, death, good and evil. I think when you pass dead bodies in the street every day, you become more exposed to the fragility and fallibility of human existence and the power of absolute rule. Also these countries have long traditions in superstitions and ritual and I think the tendency towards some standing of spirituality and mysticism is lot stronger and inherited. Cultural makeup may be genetic or it may just be social conditioning, but you get it with Latinos, Africans and some Asians too. You seem to be saying it is a survival thing, but in most arguments, everything can be made to be Smile I think it's a lot simpler than that. It's just another cultural stereotype that won 'stereotype' status, by mostly being true.

Also, it's fair to acknowledge that there's still a lot of highly educated people in the Third World and fervent Christians in Australia, and passively religious Pinos. In not acknowledging this, we are stereotyping, because it's mostly true too. When stereotypes are working for us, cultural differences tend to have a truth which applies to a large majority of a population, and I would fence that they are just more openly religious in the Philippines because that's how they are.
nickfyoung
I remember when Reinhardt Bonke had a ministry in Africa he would attract several million to his out door services.

I remember too the African pastor who was killed in a car accident. His wife had his body delivered to a church where Bonke was preaching three days later. At the end of the service when Bonke was praying for the sick this dead guy sat up and came back to life.
Dialogist
Didn't William Branham die in a car accident too? There was a lot of fervency surrounding this guy in Baptist circles due to his supposed healing abilities and of course the nimbus that double-exposed itself in this infamous pic:



I'm a bit of sceptic about these things. Upon closer scrutiny, it's obviously not a halo. It's a UFO in the background arriving to administer to instructions to him, as he's the second coming of Christ.
nickfyoung
Never heard of the guy, but then there have been many over the years who have received the scorn of skeptics. There has been a lot of fakes too of course as is always the case when there is a good thing going.
Mainland Christianity have always believed that the gifts of the Spirit died out with the apostles and have been skeptical of all such stuff. Deliverance ministry is a bit scary if you come across it. Can make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.
The Catholics were into that a bit weren't they. I remember the movie, "The Exorcist" which was supposed to be based on Catholic teachings.
The short of it all is I suppose, we can be as skeptical as we want but it is hard to deny that there is something beyond our narrow limitations of perception. I know science explains it all away but they would wouldn't they.
Once you have been involved in such stuff and seen it and experienced it skepticism is not an option any more.
It is an interesting field to be involved in and is common place in the Philippines in some circles.
Dialogist
nickfyoung wrote:
Never heard of the guy, but then there have been many over the years who have received the scorn of skeptics. There has been a lot of fakes too of course as is always the case when there is a good thing going.


I wouldn't call him a fake if people came away from his sermons or healings healed, which hundreds did, in their droves. I mean, I believe that he thought he was divinely inspired and gifted with the ability of healing, and I believe that his patrons believed this too. It really matters not to me if he was genuine or not as the overall effect was clearly genuine and beneficial and had positive results, both spiritually and physically upon those he 'healed'. He's only a fraud when he uses his skills of auto-suggestion and hypnotism for ill intentions or if he then holds out his hand asking for money or indulgences (My Church has been guilty of the latter in struggling times). The sin of simony is my only concern. If he sends away his believers cured by whatever means, which aren't detrimental to their health, psyche or pockets, more power to him. A false prophet is only a false prophet when he engages in falsehoods. I'm not opposed, as you'll determine from my other debate with you, with God entering unworthy souls, whether they have claimed to harness his intervention or not. There's a simple distinction: doing Good and doing Bad. The good is God. It can't come from anywhere else, so me saying he didn't have God in him performing healings, if people were in fact healed (or exorcised) is the same as saying they weren't healed. They say they were, so for whatever reason, they were and God was at play. Vice versa for bad. I've got nothing against William M. Braham as he seemed like a decent bloke. A much better man than Pope John XII any day of the week.
nickfyoung
"A much better man than Pope John XII any day of the week."

I am not up with Catholic happenings. What was wrong with Pope John XII.
Dialogist
Pope John XII is like the poster-child for how not to run a papacy. It's pretty well documented. There's several others who were duffers too, but this guy takes the biscuit. It's all there on google but if you're not a reader, the popularist sites usually give a quick round up: http://www.somethingawful.com/d/most-awful/popes-cadaver-synod.php?page=2 The reason I don't mind mentioning these guys, Formosus and Stephen VII, etc is that they are not only examples of how divinity can be polluted by human hands, they are also relatively isolated and comparatively few. They are indicative of the church because she has been historically consistent (10th and 16 Century notwithstanding) and characteristic of a institution of such a passionate human interaction that, when it gets it wrong, it gets it really, really wrong. Over the course of 2k years, though, these guys are fun anecdotes that every relevant progression needs.
Hello_World
Australia is less fervent than some other developed countries, like it is certainly less fervent than USA. Most of the Christians that I know don't bother going to church or even like church, although I have met a number of Christians who not only go to church but do things like wave their hands about and call out 'amen' and say grace and stuff.

I'm sure if you keep looking you can find a church to suit your own brand of crazy. Hillsong maybe. Or try a migrant church like Samoan.

Dialogist wrote:
I would fence that they are just more openly religious in the Philippines because that's how they are.


And being Australian, Nick, you would realise that Australians do not like a big to-do about things like religious beliefs.


Nick wrote:
Country Australia has one of the highest suicide rates in the world so there are some people with some needs in those situations.


I'd hazard a guess that country Australians are more religious than the average urban Aussie, although... purely a guess...

Young gay men have the highest suicide rate in the world, but far from turning to the church, the church is a major contributor to that... just sayin'.


As for your hypothesis, I think theoretically, it makes sense that developing/under-developed countries are more fervent. They have less in their lives, life is more of a struggle, they want to believe things are like that for a reason, that they aren't oppressed out of a random reason, and they hope things will get better but they can't see that happening in their lifetimes. So they turn to religion.

Nick wrote:

So we seem to have come full circle and maybe the people of an undeveloped country have less psychological needs while having more material needs. Why does that make their Christianity a higher priority in their life.


Perhaps religion has been successful in the sense that their leaning on belief has made them happier and more able to put up with their lot in life.
nickfyoung
Interesting read. He certainly had a 'fun' life and not really consistent with Papal behavior.
As a Protestant one doesn't normally get into such history as we probably regard all popes as not quite up to it.
That is probably a bit unfair as no doubt most popes are very sincere but one can be sincerely misplaced in one's belief as many people are. I am afraid we generally see Catholicism like that. While you guys look at us as having some truth and regard yourselves as having all truth, we tend to believe you guys have very little truth, ****** of the beast and all that stuff.
There has always been moves to re-unite Christianity and there will always be those who refuse on those grounds and I guess that's how it will always be.
Your expose of your faith has been enlightening and I thank you for that.
nickfyoung
Hello_World wrote:
Australia is less fervent than some other developed countries, like it is certainly less fervent than USA. Most of the Christians that I know don't bother going to church or even like church, although I have met a number of Christians who not only go to church but do things like wave their hands about and call out 'amen' and say grace and stuff.

I'm sure if you keep looking you can find a church to suit your own brand of crazy. Hillsong maybe. Or try a migrant church like Samoan.

Dialogist wrote:
I would fence that they are just more openly religious in the Philippines because that's how they are.


And being Australian, Nick, you would realise that Australians do not like a big to-do about things like religious beliefs.


Nick wrote:
Country Australia has one of the highest suicide rates in the world so there are some people with some needs in those situations.


I'd hazard a guess that country Australians are more religious than the average urban Aussie, although... purely a guess...

Young gay men have the highest suicide rate in the world, but far from turning to the church, the church is a major contributor to that... just sayin'.


As for your hypothesis, I think theoretically, it makes sense that developing/under-developed countries are more fervent. They have less in their lives, life is more of a struggle, they want to believe things are like that for a reason, that they aren't oppressed out of a random reason, and they hope things will get better but they can't see that happening in their lifetimes. So they turn to religion.

Nick wrote:

So we seem to have come full circle and maybe the people of an undeveloped country have less psychological needs while having more material needs. Why does that make their Christianity a higher priority in their life.


Perhaps religion has been successful in the sense that their leaning on belief has made them happier and more able to put up with their lot in life.



"I'm sure if you keep looking you can find a church to suit your own brand of crazy"

Yes we go to a little church where people wave their hands in the air and shout out amen and fall on the floor and all sorts of crazy stuff. As long as they are having fun.
Some in the US call them 'happy clappers' and I am sure there are plenty of names for such 'crazies'.

"And being Australian, Nick, you would realise that Australians do not like a big to-do about things like religious beliefs."

Football has a more fervent following in Australia than does religion and some say that football is a religion for many.
Dialogist
nickfyoung wrote:
Interesting read. He certainly had a 'fun' life and not really consistent with Papal behavior.
As a Protestant one doesn't normally get into such history as we probably regard all popes as not quite up to it.
That is probably a bit unfair as no doubt most popes are very sincere but one can be sincerely misplaced in one's belief as many people are. I am afraid we generally see Catholicism like that. While you guys look at us as having some truth and regard yourselves as having all truth, we tend to believe you guys have very little truth, ****** of the beast and all that stuff.
There has always been moves to re-unite Christianity and there will always be those who refuse on those grounds and I guess that's how it will always be.
Your expose of your faith has been enlightening and I thank you for that.


Nobody human has the monopoly on the truth. I don't regard myself or ourselves over any faith, and there's many non-Christians I do aspire to be more like. Me talking about the problems within the institution is hardly an expose, not just because most are already aware of them, but I almost celebrate the countless inadequacies and failures we've had. I do so humanly, as I can relate to it more in a flawed character sort of a way. I think it's the most human faith, and I mean that both good and bad, because that's what being human means. While the church can be embarrassing at times, it's rarely dull. Murderers, murdered, occultists, assassins, assassinated, kgb, fbi, mafia, freemasons, nazis, impostor popes, sede vacante, paedos, you name it. The overall feeling with its following is that the good outweighs the bad. Which I inexplicably agree with. There's got to be something in that, as I am not a conformist, nor an institutionalist and I've never kowtowed to authority figures simply because I'm told to. The Church's relationship with mankind, culture, the arts, science and literature is also of historical paramount relevance to me. I feel like she has played a key part in every innovation, heresy, progression and worldview that has ever transpired. Whether she has had a good or bad influence (and it's often been both, and often at the same time), devaluing the role she played is devaluing the progression of western civilization, culture and intelligence itself. She is God's representative on Earth, and she's always been the foot up the rear or the hands around the jugular. She's never played the back rows. Even during the holocaust, when she is said to have had a reichskonkordat with the nazis, Pius XI was still raising a different kind of hell they just didn't have the boots big enough to step to. Viva la evolution.
nickfyoung
I remember watching a video of a Father Dean Brawn who spoke at a AOG conference in Brisbane a long time ago. He was invited to speak because he had had an experience of being Spirit Baptized with tongue speaking etc.
He related how he had gone to a small meeting with some Nuns and received the Baptism there when they all laid hands on him. His main thoughts while that was happening was that they shouldn't be touching a priest.
He then related some of his experiences in the church with him having had this experience. He concluded by saying how he loved his church and would not be leaving and if he had his way all of the AOG congregation would be part of his church too.
It was a very interesting talk and amusing in places too.
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