House of Prayer for All Nations
Every centre everywhere we establish shall be known as the House of Prayer for all Nations. Jesus makes reference to two passages of scripture in the bible. The first is Isaiah 56:7. I will bring them to my holy mountain of Jerusalem and will fill them with joy in my house of prayer. I will accept their burnt offerings and sacrifices, because my House/Temple shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.
The second is Mark 11:17, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’?”
God’s house is the house of prayer for all nations and God is the God of all Nations. Revelation 7:9 “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.”
“African spirituality simply acknowledges that religious beliefs and practices touch on and inform every facet of human life, and therefore religion cannot be separated from the everyday or mundane.”
For starters, the word “religion” is problematic for many Africans, because European missionary teaching suggested that religion is separate from the other aspects of one’s culture, society, or environment. But for many Africans, religion can never be separated from all these. It is a way of life, and it can never be separated from the public sphere. Religion informs everything in traditional African society, including political, art, marriage, health, diet, dress, economics, and death.
This is not to say that indigenous African spirituality represents a form of theocracy or religious totalitarianism, not at all. African spirituality simply acknowledges that beliefs and practices touch on and inform every facet of human life, and therefore African religion cannot be separated from the mundane.
African spirituality is truly holistic. For example, sickness in the indigenous African worldview is not only an imbalance of the body, but also an imbalance in one’s social life, which can be linked to a breakdown in one’s kinship and family relations or even to one’s relationship with ancestors. African spirituality considers ones ancestors as spiritual beings or angels who are living among the multitudes of angels with God in heaven.
We define the African traditional religious system as the basis of understanding Christian spiritual aspects within an African context. This background is essential to any application of Christian spirituality in Africa.
Relationship between Christianity and Culture
There is a variety of perspectives on the relationship between Christianity and culture. According to Dr. Bruce Riley Ashford, the conversation boils down to these three main views:
- Christianity against culture as portrayed by the European Missionary teachings
This first perspective sees Christianity and culture as two opposing forces of influence. The church stands on one side of the line, and culture on the other. “This is especially a temptation for Americans who realize that their country is becoming increasingly post-Christian and in some ways, even anti-Christian. They realize that their beliefs on certain theological and moral issues will increasingly be rejected and mocked by the political and cultural elite and by many of their fellow citizens.”
- Christianity of culture
The second view embraces culture and brings it into the church. “Those with a ‘Christianity of culture’ perspective tend to build churches that are mirrors of the culture.”
Cultural shifts that happen independently of the church aren’t always bad. “God has enabled all people, Christian or not, to make good and valuable contributions in the cultural realm.” The human rights movement and the abolition of slavery brought about monumental positive changes. Looking back now, we can recognize that there were Christians on both sides of these movements—some advocating them, and others resisting them. We can agree that the Christians resisting these cultural shifts were in the wrong. Not all culture isn’t always right, and the church can’t mirror every move culture makes. Without God, culture raises up idols in his place, celebrities, politicians, sex, wealth and power.
- Christianity in and for culture
It’s no secret that we believe this is the best way to view the relationship between church and culture: “A better mindset is one that views human beings as representatives of Christ who live their lives in the midst of and for the good of their cultural context, and whose cultural lives are characterized by obedience and witness.”
We don’t need to use a metaphor to describe this perspective, but here’s a common example you might find helpful:
As Christians, we are Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20), we represent another world, while we live in the midst of this one.
God created the structure that allows culture to exist, shift, and progress. As humans, we formulate and shape that culture within God’s structure. “Every cultural context is structurally good, but sometimes directionally corrupt,” “For this reason, we must live firmly in the midst of our cultural contexts (structurally), all the while seeking to steer our cultural realities toward Christ rather than toward idols (directionally).”
As ambassadors of Christ, we are fully immersed in the culture, but everything about us points back to the one we serve. This doesn’t mean we agree with everything culture does, but we learn to understand it and speak its language, identify its true desires; all with the intention of showing how Christ is the only one who can correctly fulfil those well-meaning desires.
Every aspect of human life and culture is ripe for Christian witness. Every dimension of culture, whether it is art, science, or politics, is an arena in which we can speak about Christ with our lips and reflect him with our lives. We thank God for the existence of culture and recognize whatever is good in it, while at the same time seeking to redirect whatever is not good toward Christ.
Jesus in Africa
Jesus in Africa needs to be understood to refer to how black and white Christians in the light of past discrimination, racism and artificial separation, can come together as participants in a largely homogeneous culture perceive and proclaim Christ.
On the Christological debate, we affirm that Christ is the healer, liberator, ancestor, mediator, elder brother, the crucified one, head and master of initiation and the black messiah.’ Therefore, the role of Christ in the African worship of God needs to be clear. We need to explain further how Jesus is ‘the healer, liberator, ancestor, mediator, elder brother and the crucified one. Within African cultural and religious arena there is big room for Jesus to transform African life.
When the question of the relation between Jesus and Africans is raised, it is often in terms of what Jesus has done for Africa and Africans – or at most what He has done with them.
Jesus as an ancestor
There are several expressions that are often used by African people when they speak of dying, namely: ‘going to one’s Fathers’, ‘going home’, ‘being taken away or being received’, ‘departed’. ‘Going away’ in an African worldview implies going to the spiritual world, because the spiritual world is as real as the physical one.
God is the Originator and Sustainer of all things’, and this includes the living dead and the spirits. At the point of death a person becomes part of the ‘living dead’ and joins other members of his or her household who have preceded him or her in the spirit world.
This person would from time to time visit the family; some people may see the person and some may not. Those who are lucky enough to see the person are the elderly. However, the revelation of God is not based on luck but on grace and is for all generations and age groups. Luck suggests that only a few can ‘see’, depending on how lucky they may be, but the grace of God is for all.
The understanding of African Christianity is that since Jesus died and was seen by some walking the streets of Jerusalem, he is regarded as living dead at that moment. When Jesus died on the cross He went to meet others.
Those who accept Jesus and partake in the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist are to be joined with the spiritual world. Water baptism is symbolized as death – ‘the sacramental death when baptizing a person is regarded as the doorway into the New Testament world of the spirit’ (Mbiti 1971:153). It is believed that the saints commune with God and the whole of heaven. The Christian practice of sharing the Eucharist, eating the body of Christ and drinking his blood, is regarded to be the same as Africans sharing their meal with the living dead (ancestors). In Christianity the two worlds of the living and the living dead overlap in Jesus Christ, and the goal is to transform and emulate the numerous African traditions that are associated with Jesus.
Contextualizing salvation in Africa and African worldview to salvation
The theological approach to the teaching of salvation in Africa is similar to that of the teaching of the Trinity in Africa. After the identification of the mistakes and the attitudes of the missionaries from European and other Western cultures, an attempt is made in order to introduce an approach that is not influenced by Western culture, but by being African in approach and content.
Although soteriology (the doctrine of salvation) has always occupied a central place in Christian theology, the shape of soteriology has changed many times as Christianity’s centre of gravity shifted to a new cultural context.
A lot has been said about the holistic approach from an African perspective. An African is made fully aware that the individual’s life and the pursuit of life are not attainable in isolation and apart from one’s fellows because life is communal and is possible only in a network of mutual interdependencies between an individual and his or her community; life in Africa and for an African is viewed as a pursuit of the maintenance of relationships. As stated in many ways and forms, these relationships include extended family, clan or tribe, ancestors, God and nature.
An African is introduced to these relationships through a process that is called ‘rites of passage’. These rites and rituals are subdivided, as illustrated by Cox (1998:x), ‘according to the functions they perform for the faith community.’ Here are the subdivisions:
- Life cycle rituals
- Crisis rituals
- Calenderer rituals.
As a person goes through the process of development, they pass through certain phases of life and relationships. The development begins from the moment of conception and continues after death. According to African tradition ‘a ritual must be performed as soon as a woman is pregnant; the elders in some communities go to the kraal and perform the rituals;‘ There at the kraal the elders communicate with the ancestors to ask them to safeguard the foetus. Then the event proceeds through the introduction of a traditional healer, giving of African herbs, birth and child naming, ritual washing, introducing a child to family members, relatives and community, and through growth and development a child goes through different ritual activities. African Christians need to realize the impact of these relationships and accept being part of them.
Within these highly charged and dynamic communal interrelationships, for better or worse, an African cannot avoid experiencing and being influenced by the activities of the individual existence of his or her fellows who shape, mould and channels his or her life’s fortunes in certain directions as much as he or she in turn also shapes and influences others’ lives.
An African continues living life as part of a community, not in isolation as an individual. Life is lived in connection with those that are alive in the here and now, but also with an awareness of those who have died, yet who are also present in the here and now in a more spiritual form.
When an African suffers disappointment or frustration, success or failure, when a beloved one falls ill or loses children in succession, he or she is apt to look for the cause, in a context outside that of physical cause and effect.
The reality of life for an African is that there is never a separation of physical from spiritual. To the traditional African there is no coincidence or accident. Nothing happens by chance. This is the reason Maimela (1991) mentions that the traditional African lives his or her life through the manipulation of certain supernatural forces or spirits. The forces and spirits are also manipulated by the witches and sorcerers with evil intent or by medicine men and women to arrest and cure illness.
When an African lives life outside his or her community and becomes an individual, he or she becomes exposed to forces and spirits that can bring misfortune upon his or her life, ‘The traditional African is a victim of anxieties that are born out of the foal of evil spirits and malicious persons, especially witches and sorceress.’
Salvation is to be understood as wholeness. Evil is constituted by whatever detracts from such wholeness of black people, or the powerlessness of black people in a social order designed to deprive them of the full humanity that God intends for them.
Imperialism and apartheid were perceived as systems that were designed to deprive Africans of the full humanity that God intended for them. Salvation needs to meet the concerns of the African people. The primary concern of African Tradition Religion (ATR) is to realize an ideal life, for in ATR healing and cleansing was meant to restore all kinds of broken relationships whether between the individual and the community or with the world of the spirits of which God is supreme.
One needs to realise from Liberation Theology or Black Theology that the evil of systems were meant to oppress and to deny blacks their full humanity by avoiding emphasis on relationships. Salvation is understood in terms of relief or help in a time of trouble in this life. Salvation is expressed in acts such as healing, driving away evil spirits, empowerment of the individual self, the promotion of fertility and success in life’s ventures.
African Traditional Religion has a space to exist within the Christian faith; it’s only the approach to worship that differs. African Tradition Religion as a religion existed before Christianity, before the arrival of the missionaries and it cannot be ignored at all. Both can continue to exist together today.
The Living God
“The fool says in his heart ‘There is no God.’ “In traditional Africa there are no such “fools.” In traditional Africa, God is experienced as an all-pervading reality. God is a constant participant in the affairs of human beings. A Muslim never projects into the future or talks about the past without the qualifying phrase insha Allah, “by the will of Allah.” Christians will say “God willing”, and the Akan of Ghana will convince you that all is “by the grace of God.” Nothing and no situation is without God. The Akan of Ghana say Nsem nyina ne Onyame (“all things/affairs pertain to God”). That Africans maintain an integrated view of the world has been expressed by many.
We experience the total dependence on God in African Religion in the prayers. God is the ultimate receiver of all prayers, so all libations begin with calling upon God. This God has been with Africans from the beginning and features in prayers and greetings, blessings and curses: “God will pay you back” is feared as a most potent curse. People are discouraged from using it as it may rebound on then when they deserve what they have received at the hands of those they curse.
In African Religion it is not God who suffers from the evil we do to each other. God does not suffer at the hands of the exploiter and the oppressor; it is the individual who suffers. However, when individuals suffer through evil not of their doing, God who is the Creator of all humans demonstrates concern. Behind the unpronounceable curse is the expectation that God judges impartially, that God sees when we cheat and exploit the weak. Most important is the experience that God guards the weak. Often, when children and others deemed weak in society escape calamity, all agree that it is God’s doing.
The immediacy of God in African affairs is also demonstrated through the God-related names we bear. Names like Byaruhanga (everything belongs to God), Kwarikunda (if God wishes), Akampurira (God heard me) are examples from the Kinyankole names in Western Uganda. Elsewhere in Africa, Nyamekye (gift of God) and Dardom (depend on God) are examples from Akan names in Ghana. Yoruba names beginning with Olu or Oluwa speak of human experience of God. In names we encounter the African ontology that is centered on God who is the source of life and cohesion, whose sovereignty over all cannot be questioned. We experience blessings when ideals like unity, community, caring, faithfulness, excellence, steadfastness, etc., abound among human beings, for in these we experience God.
God is experienced as the good parent, the grandparent, a source of loving-kindness and protection. Human beings experience closeness to God which they describe in terms of motherhood and fatherhood. There was never any need to debate the existence of God. The challenge was always to discern God at work. Does God take sides? If so, whose side is God on, and why? The African experience of God is that ultimately God is on the side of the weak and the side of justice. No one can explain God. No single hand can cover the eye of God, and so Africans grant a plurality of approaches to God and experiences of God. Experiences of God vary according to the circumstances surrounding people’s daily life.
Building Up Christ’s Body
How do these experiences of God in Africa relate to the building up of the Body of Christ in Africa? How do the churches respond to peoples’ experiences of God? There is a revival of traditional African images of God, in the African Indigenous Churches (AICs) and, to a lesser extent, in the “Prosperity Christianity” that has taken Africa by storm for nearly two decades. The AICs have a profile of being prophetic-healing-praying churches. Africans move to these churches to hear God through prophets, as they used to do through the divination of African Religion (AR). They seek and experience healing of body and soul and the efficacy of communing with God in prayer. Religion comes alive; it ceases to be a formal gathering with an ambience that is devoid of African culture.
To build up Christ’s body we need to demonstrate the liberating presence of God. When we are able to empower Uganda, Zaire and Rwanda, Sudan and Nigeria to learn to live creatively and justly with difference, we shall be helping to unveil God. African idea of separation attribute the felt absence of God to human acts of greed and callousness. To build up the Body of Christ everywhere requires building up human relations, seeing humanity as one family under God who is the source of the life of the human family. We cannot continue the rhetoric of loving, caring words about God if people are not experiencing loving, caring acts from one another.
We cannot tell people that creation is a “pure gift from God, unsolicited” when some enjoy more of these gifts than others and the Church does little to alleviate poverty. African affirmations about God and creation have to come alive in the projects, program and attitudes of the Church.
Faith in a God of love lives on in Africa in spite of the apparent absence. For Africans like the Masai for whom there is no life after death, and even for the Akan who are gathered to God and to the ancestors when they die, it is important to see the goodness of God here in the land of the living, for that is what establishes the presence of God among human beings. Many of the women I know are like Buchie Emecheta: they know that God has more important things to do than to punish them for having “ambitions” of fulfilling their potential. Like her they pray for miracles. God is a miracle-working God. Emecheta says, “When I saw a miracle flying by I would grab it.” Winning a scholarship for secondary school education was for her one such miracle. African women expect God to “deliver.” In lyrics, traditional and modern, they sing about the God who says and does and they invite all to come and see what God has actually done. They declare that words are not up to the task of expressing thanks to God.
When Africans can testify to sight for the blind, that becomes evidence that God is being experienced. To respond to these expectations and experiences of God in Africa is to build up the Body of Christ, not only in Africa, but worldwide. For God cannot treat Africa and Africans differently from other places and people and still remain the sole source of human being. The Church will build up the Body of Christ if it acts to heal, strengthen, nourish, and treat with dignity all of its members, and that means acting as God-in-Christ expects of the Church,
Therefore, at the Prayer House of all Nations;
- Our purpose is to make it easy for Africans to glorify God their creator within their cultural and traditional life as Africans without feeling offended. We want to see the traditional Ugandans come to the temple and partake in the Christian sacraments as true and confident children of God. We want to see Christians glorifying God within their families, clans and tribes. A tribe is a collection of families descending from one ancestor. The “twelve tribes” of the Hebrews were the twelve collections of families which sprang from the sons of Jacob. In Matthew 24:30 the word has a wider significance. The tribes of Israel are referred to as types of the spiritual family of God (Revelation 7). Matt 24:30: Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man arriving on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Matthew 19:28: Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Gen 49:28: These are the twelve tribes of Israel. This is what their father said to them when he blessed them. He gave each of them an appropriate blessing. We also find this in Deut 33: 6-25 where we find that through Moses God gave different blessings to different tribes of Israel. Therefore, since we know that we are all descendants of Abraham we so belong to the 12 tribes or ancestral families. It is important to ask God to unite us with the angels of our ancestral families and be able to share on the same blessings that God gave them.
- We want to restore the connection between God and His people through the linkage with their ancestral connections. In Africa when a person dies we say that ‘’he has gone to live with the creator’’. We add that the heavenly angels have received him and he is living among the multitude of angels for the rest of his life. They too become angels and the role of angels is a messenger role between God and his people on earth. Angels are powerful spiritual beings who serve God and human beings in a wide variety of ways. The faithful from the world’s major religions believe that angels are messengers. The English word “angel” comes via ecclesiastical Latin, from the Greek word “angelos” or the Hebrew word malakh, both meaning “messenger.” Angels are pure spirits, in other words, they have no physical bodies. Angels do, however, take on human form sometimes, as clarified by St. Thomas Aquinas. Angels are beings who have greater power and ability than humans. (2 Peter 2:11) They exist in heaven, or the spirit realm, which is a level of existence higher than the physical universe. (1 Kings 8:27; John 6:38) Thus, they are also referred to as spirits. 1 Kings 22:21; Psalm 18:10.We challenge the Christian missionary idea that when a person dies he becomes a devil or Satan, and thus when you pray to God through the spirits of your ancestors you are worshipping the devil. Our ancestors who died in Christ are not devils; they are angels in heaven living among the multitudes of angels.
- We want to restore home prayer points as it was among the African tradition; also in the early church, the church fathers prayed from their homes. Home prayer points can be in the house (in bedroom or in seating room), can be established in the compound or anywhere near home. The idea is that families don’t have to wait to go to church in order to speak to their God.
- We want to restore the prophetic ministry in African societies. Prophetic ministry existed in African tradition and in the early church of the Old Testament. In Old Testament God spoke to the people, to the kings and to the nations through prophets. In African tradition for example in Uganda, prophets were called ‘’Abarangi’’ among Banyankole and ‘’Ba Nabbi’’ among the Baganda. Like in the early church of the Old Testament the work of Ba Nabbi or Abarangi is to foretell, to interpret dreams, to interpret the occurrences and define the course of action for remedy. Among the mainstream Christians today they refer to the current prophetic ministries as the devil worshipers. This is wrong; we want the prophetic ministry in our societies to be at the forefront. We understand prophesy as a discourse (speech) emanating from divine inspiration and declaring the purposes of God, whether by reproving and admonishing the wicked, or comforting the afflicted, or revealing things hidden; especially by revealing the past events and foretelling future events. A prophet is one who, moved by the Spirit of God and hence his organ or spokesman, solemnly declares to men what he has received by inspiration, especially concerning future events, and in particular such as relate to the cause and kingdom of God. A Prophet is called by God and filled with God’s Spirit, a prophet speaks God’s word to people who had in one way or another distanced themselves from God. In one sense, a prophet is a preacher. But in marketplace terms, a prophet is often a whistle-blower, particularly when an entire family, tribe or nation has turned away from God.
- We want to correct the misguiding ideas and attacks by the European missionaries onto our culture and society. For instance the attack on our family and marriage customs; that a man who marries more than one wife has committed sin before God and that a man who marries one wife is more holly before God. God did not have any intention to limit man in the number of wives to marry. In fact, God has blessed the world with more women than men; then you wonder whether its God’s plan that there are women He has put in the world to never get married. This was a serious attack on our society and culture, something that has resulted into high prostitution rates hence diseases such as AIDS in Africa.
- The second major attack on African culture and society is the attack some Christian groups put on beer or wine. Beer is simply a form of starch foods prepared in some form of drink, the same starch we get from foods we serve on our tables such as cassava and banana. Traditionally, Africans used beer as a uniting factor among societies. Families came together to share beer for unity; societies used beer on parties for merry making and bonding. Likewise, Christians use alcohol at the altar in communion with Christ. The altar wine used in Holy Communion in the church has twice the alcohol content (18%) of ordinary banana wine. In the new testament Jesus made wine at a party; the English bible calls it wine, the Runyankole bible calls it Vinyo, the Rutooro bible puts it better as ‘’Amaarwa’’. So, the issue is not about taking alcohol, it’s about remaining in the realm of Christ, and that’s what we teach. Many people have taken alcohol their entire life and they have resisted sin, while many Christians have committed grave sins in their sober states. Beer in Africa has been an important staple food since the first pharaohs more than 5,000 years ago; archaeologist Jeremy Geller discovered a large brewery at the site of Hierakonpolis. Early Egyptians were similar to contemporary cultures in drinking a variety of beers, from a sweet beer to “beer of eternity” to “beer that does not sour.” In Africa beer is an essential staple for many communities, often considered a food rather than a beverage. Importantly, the consumption of beer adds considerably to daily caloric intake. It has more protein, vitamins and minerals than unleavened bread, and the low alcohol content kills bacteria that may be present in the untreated water. Beer binds people together and serves to reinforce social hospitality and communality during ceremonial and everyday activities. It is a common cultural marker of wealth and status; it may represent a payment of tribute to chiefs, and it is essential in the redistribution of wealth. Beer has fed the living and the dead in societies around the world, both past and present. Some contemporary indigenous societies produce and consume beer as a medium that bridges the ancestors and the living. Ritual, economics and status all come together through feasting, with beer acting as the social lubricant. Beer is also an indicator of status and wealth in other societies around the world. The payment of tribute with beer indicates its economic and political importance. Beer also plays an essential role in the establishment of social obligations. The importance of communal consumption is one of the reasons people process their grains into beer rather than bread. Beer is more than just a beverage to many African indigenous societies; it is a critical component of their social, religious, economic and political wellbeing.
We are non-denominational
We are a non denominational fellowship, our places of warship are religious congregations with relevant, God focused Bible teaching, modern and powerful worship and gospel, and a friendly, comfortable atmosphere. Our worship places are known for the love of God and people, service to the community, and passion for sharing God’s word with emerging generations. “Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.” Psalm 90:1
In order to have a foundation for unity with others, it is necessary to define the essential beliefs of our faith. To this end, as a non denominational fellowship we have chosen the Apostle’s Creed as that definition. It is one of the earliest and simplest statements of Christian belief and has remained a document of agreement and unity among Christian individuals and churches for nearly two millennia. Non denominational fellowships are willing to partner and fellowship with any individual or organization who confesses these same beliefs. However, this should not offend those non denominational churches that do not believe in the Apostles creed in its entirety.
Our mission is non-denominational in a sense that we are not part of a larger denomination. A denomination is a church organization that exercises some sort of authority over the local churches that comprise it. Examples of denominations are Roman Catholic, Anglican, Southern Baptist, Episcopal, Methodist, etc. Most of denominational churches have established headquarters (most in Europe) and have established beaurocratic order. Non-denominational ministries go by many different names and hold to a wide variety of beliefs.
Changing religious and cultural backgrounds are causing Christians to be increasingly interested in joining and worshiping at nondenominational churches over their old denominations. Christianity has been divided by denominations for centuries. However, a recent trend has appeared where spiritual Christians are choosing to discard those divisions in favor of non-denominational ministries.
The Christian church was always meant to be non-denominational. There are no such divisions within the Bible itself, certainly; a passage from Paul’s letters to the Romans in the New Testament claims that the Bible offers salvation to everyone who believes in it. Others argue that the church was always supposed to be united under God, rather than divided into different sects. Each sects’ history, traditions and beliefs serve to distract believers from the messages and moral principles espoused by Christianity, and thus do more harm than good. Many of the tenets of these denominations have no roots in the Bible at all, but rather in tradition and decrees by their governing bodies, or principles held by their founders.
The most literal analysis of the word “denomination” shows that it is the very definition of division. In fact, this is how Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines the word. It is easily reasoned that, by their very nature, denominations promote division among a religion that is supposed to be united, as one, under the same God. Even as far back in history as the sixteenth century, there were people like Martin Luther, the theological scholar and founder of the Protestant reformation, who believed that the existence of denominationalism went against biblical purposes.
With this in mind, it can hardly be surprising that Christians today can read the Bible and follow the same logic that Martin Luther himself did; it is possible to be a true Christian without wanting to participate in denomination rituals and politics. Jesus said, “I play that they may be one” (John 17: 21-23).