Knowing the differences between Christianity and Rastafari is beneficial for understanding the historical and cultural contexts that shaped these religions. It provides insight into the beliefs and practices that have influenced societies and cultures.
In summary, Christianity and Rastafari both believe in one God, but differ in their views of divinity. Christians see Jesus as the Son of God, while Rastas view Emperor Haile Selassie I as a divine figure.
Additionally, Christianity emphasizes salvation through faith in Jesus, while Rastafari focuses on African heritage and rejects Western values. Christians believe in Heaven and Hell, while Rastafari’s views vary.
The comparison charts and concise summaries below shed more light and provide more depth on the differences between Christianity and Rastafari.
Comparing Christian and Rastafari: An Overview
“Christianity” comes from the Greek word “Christos,” meaning “anointed one,” referring to Jesus Christ. The suffix “-ianity” denotes a belief system.
“Rastafari” combines “Ras,” an Ethiopian title meaning “head” or “chief,” and “Tafari,” the pre-coronation name of Emperor Haile Selassie I, who is central to the religion.
|Approximately 2.3 billion adherents
|Approximately 1 million adherents
|Around 1st century AD
|Jesus Christ (central figure), Apostles
|Marcus Garvey (precursor), Leonard Howell (founder)
|Belief in one God (Trinity), Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Savior, salvation through faith in Christ, Christ’s resurrection
|Belief in one God (Jah), Emperor Haile Selassie I as a divine figure, African heritage and identity, rejection of Western society and values
|Prayer, worship services, reading the Bible, baptism, communion (Eucharist)
|Prayer and meditation, use of cannabis in religious rituals, Ital diet (vegetarian), dreadlocks as a symbol of faith
|Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Protestantism
|Bobo Shanti, Nyabinghi, 12 Tribes of Israel
|Vatican City (Catholicism), various locations for other denominations
|Jamaica (origin), Ethiopia (spiritual homeland)
|The Bible (Old and New Testaments)
|The Bible (especially the Old Testament)
Other texts such as the “Kebra Nagast” and “The Holy Piby”
Why is Marcus Garvey important to Rastafari?
Marcus Garvey was a Jamaican political activist and leader who advocated for black nationalism and Pan-Africanism. He inspired the Rastafarian movement with his vision of African redemption. Rastafarians view Garvey as a prophet who foretold the coronation of Emperor Haile Selassie I, a key figure in their faith.
Why is Emperor Haile Selassie I important to Rastafari?
Emperor Haile Selassie I was the ruler of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974. Rastafarians regard him as a divine figure and the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. They believe he is a direct descendant of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, and see him as a symbol of African redemption.
Why is Leonard Howell important to Rastafari?
Leonard Howell was a Jamaican religious leader who founded the Rastafarian movement in the 1930s. He preached that Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia was the Messiah and that black people should reject Western society. Howell’s teachings laid the foundation for developing Rastafarian beliefs and practices.
Why are the 12 Apostles important to Christianity?
The Apostles were among the earliest followers of Jesus, chosen by him to spread his teachings. They played a crucial role in establishing the Christian Church and spreading Christianity throughout the Roman Empire. Their writings and teachings form the foundation of Christian theology and practice.
Differences Between Christian and Rastafari Beliefs
Christians view Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Savior of humanity, who died for the sins of the world and was resurrected. Rastafarians see Jesus as a divine figure, but they also believe that Emperor Haile Selassie I is a manifestation of God on Earth.
|One God, existing in three persons (Trinity): Father, Son (Jesus Christ), and Holy Spirit
|One God, referred to as Jah; Emperor Haile Selassie I is considered a divine figure
|Created by God; a temporary existence that will be transformed in the end times
|Created by Jah; the Earth is seen as a place of exile, with Africa (especially Ethiopia) as the true homeland
|God is the ultimate reality; eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent
|Jah is the ultimate reality; eternal and all-powerful; Haile Selassie I is seen as a manifestation of Jah
|Created in the image of God; inherently sinful due to the Fall of Adam and Eve
|Created by Jah; African heritage is emphasized; Rastas see themselves as the chosen people of Jah
|The problem with the world
|Sin, resulting from the Fall of Adam and Eve; leads to suffering, injustice, and separation from God
|Babylon (Western society and values); oppression of African people; loss of African identity and heritage
|The solution to the problem
|Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ; repentance and forgiveness of sins
|Repatriation to Africa; embracing African heritage; rejection of Babylon; following Rastafarian beliefs and practices
|Heaven (eternal life with God) for the righteous; Hell (eternal separation from God) for the unrighteous
|Varied beliefs; some Rastafarians believe in reincarnation, while others focus on living a righteous life on Earth
The Role of the Old Testament in Christianity and Rastafari
|Part of the Christian Bible, alongside the New Testament; provides historical and theological context for the coming of Jesus Christ
|Central to Rastafarian beliefs; seen as a source of prophecy and guidance, especially regarding African heritage and identity
|Interpreted in light of the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus Christ; some laws and practices are seen as fulfilled or superseded by the New Covenant
|Interpreted as a source of spiritual and moral guidance; emphasis on the teachings of the prophets and the connection to African history and culture
|Use in Worship
|Used in worship services, sermons, and Bible studies; seen as a foundation for Christian theology and ethics
|Used in worship, meditation, and reasoning sessions; seen as a source of wisdom and insight into the will of Jah
|Significance of Prophets
|Prophets are seen as messengers of God who foretold the coming of the Messiah (Jesus Christ)
|Prophets are seen as messengers of Jah who spoke of the redemption of Africa and the importance of African heritage
Important Practices in Christianity and Rastafari Compared
|Central to worship; personal communication with God
|Central to worship; communication with Jah; often accompanied by drumming and chanting
|Regular gatherings for communal worship, prayer, and Bible readings
|Reasoning sessions for communal worship, discussion, and meditation; often accompanied by music
|Reading Sacred Texts
|Reading and studying the Bible (Old and New Testaments)
|Reading and studying the Bible (especially the Old Testament); other texts like the “Kebra Nagast” and “The Holy Piby”
|Varies by denomination; some observe fasting or abstain from certain foods
|Ital diet (vegetarian or vegan); avoidance of processed foods; some Rastafarians observe fasting
|Baptism, Communion (Eucharist), Confirmation, Marriage, Anointing of the Sick
|Use of cannabis in religious rituals; Nyabinghi gatherings with drumming, chanting, and dancing
|Cross, fish, dove, bread and wine, lamb
|Lion of Judah, Ethiopian flag, dreadlocks, cannabis
|Moral and Ethical Conduct
|Following the teachings of Jesus Christ; emphasis on love, forgiveness, and charity
|Following the teachings of the Bible and Rastafarian leaders; emphasis on African heritage, rejection of Babylon, and living a natural lifestyle
10 Key Events in Christian and Rastafari History
|1. Birth of Jesus Christ (circa 4-6 BC)
|1. Birth of Marcus Garvey (1887)
|2. Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ (circa 30-33 AD)
|2. Coronation of Emperor Haile Selassie I (1930)
|3. Conversion of Paul the Apostle (circa 33-36 AD)
|3. Founding of the Rastafarian movement by Leonard Howell (1930s)
|4. Council of Nicaea (325 AD)
|4. Establishment of the Ethiopian World Federation (1937)
|5. Conversion of Emperor Constantine (312 AD)
|5. Visit of Haile Selassie I to Jamaica (1966)
|6. Great Schism (1054 AD)
|6. Founding of the Twelve Tribes of Israel sect (1968)
|7. Crusades (1096-1291 AD)
|7. Founding of the Bobo Shanti sect (1970s)
|8. Protestant Reformation (1517 AD)
|8. Assassination attempt on Bob Marley (1976)
|9. Council of Trent (1545-1563 AD)
|9. Death of Emperor Haile Selassie I (1975)
|10. Second Vatican Council (1962-1965 AD)
|10. Recognition of Rastafarianism as a religion in Jamaica (2003)
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