Could Rastas and Christians Really Unite?

"There's more in common than you might think, but some factors keep adherents wary of one another"

Hundreds of Rastafarians came together last month in Jamaica, the birthplace of the movement, for the weeklong Rastafari Global Reasoning 2003. The official motto for the worldwide meeting, which centered on planning for the future and calling for greater respect, was "Rastafari Family United for Progress and Development."

While Rastafari certainly maintains a sense of family, it is not a unified bloc. Several subgroups and varying beliefs vie for the soul of Rastafari. These differences in theology, lifestyle, and behaviors all fit within the broad umbrella of Rastafari because, at its heart, it is an Afro-Caribbean identity movement—not primarily a religion with clearly defined, universally accepted dogma and doctrines. However, a growing movement within Rastafari is calling Rastas away from their New Age beliefs and idolization of Haile Selassie I—and to a Trinitarian, orthodox Christian faith.

As Caribbean churches have recently become more welcoming of Rastafarians, reggae music, and Afrocentrism, a greater rapprochement between Rastas and Christians has developed. Growing numbers of Rastas have entered Christian churches and taken Jesus as their Savior while continuing a dreadlocked Rasta lifestyle. But if more Rastas are going to follow this path, their significant belief changes will have to be met with attitude changes in the Christian churches.

Rastas and Christians have much in common


Like Christians, Rastafarians honor Yeshua, the Christ, as worthy of worship. In fact, most Rastas consider themselves uncorrupted Christian people. A large percentage of Rastafarians follow the lead of seminal preacher, Leonard Howell, who referred to Yeshua as "Our Lord" in his foundational book, The Promised Key.

Both movements are ...

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