FAQ - Should Christians call themselves "Rastas?"   

Frequently Asked Questions

Should Christians call themselves "Rastas?"

Question:

Is it wrong for a Christian to call him/herself a "Rasta?" Some Dreads are identifying with their African heritage, some are chanting down Babylon, or maybe other reasons as well. Can some be called by God to adopt this name for some unexplained reason? I have been studying Rastafari and am seeking God and godly wisdom for answers. Can you help me?

Answer:

Excellent question! I do believe that it is seriously misleading for a Christian to call themselves a "Rasta." For God is not the author of deception or misrepresentation. It is contradictory for a born again believer to use this appellation. Although some cultures use the term in a broader sense as a descriptive for anyone that is a dread, the real issue is in the origin of the word. If you are a Christian with dreadlockes, you may not be able to keep people from calling you a "Rasta," but this does not mean that you should use the term to identify yourself.

For "Rasta" is an abbreviation for "Rastafarian." A "Rastafarian" is a follower of "Rastafari" and an adherent to the beliefs of "Rastafarianism" (i.e., a believer in the deity or veneration of Haile Selassie, repatriation, Ethiopia as Zion and the sacramental use of marijuana).

You see there can be a grave difference between your intentions and how someone interprets them. Some Christians may try and say that "It is okay for me to hail up the name 'Rastafari,' for when I chant it out I mean the true definition in my heart. You see the true definition is 'Head Creator,' and to me the Head Creator is Christ." But while you may be thinking this, everyone else around you drawing a different conclusion. If you look like a Rasta, walk like a Rasta, talk like a Rasta, and call yourself a Rasta, then guess what? You ARE a Rasta. And you will not be thought of as a Christian. How then can you be the salt and light of the world, when each of your actions and testimonies are being interpreted for the benefit and furtherance of Rastafari and not Christendom?

Now I know that some may find this hypocritical since I am a dread that has embraced parts of the Rasta culture. But I strongly believe that the things that I have embraced are either supported in the Bible or are neutral issues. For instance, while I don't think that there is anything wrong with embracing the use of the name "Jah" (Ps 68:4), the adornment of dreadlockes (Sampson, Samuel & John the Baptist) or the colors red, gold and green (a part of God's Creation), but I do not find adequate biblical support for the use of marijuana, the worship of His Imperial Majesty (Rastafari), or the use of the name "Rasta."

You see, there are many words who's true origin and definition are separate from their present-day meaning. For example, if you believe in "baptism," it doesn't necessarily make you a "Baptist," and if you believe in the "World Church," it doesn't necessarily mean that you are a "Catholic." While I always encourage blacks to search out their African heritage and find their own identity in the Bible, if they are in the North Africa and want to call upon "God," one may not want to call him "Allah," unless they are a Muslim. Regardless of their African origin, since words like "Allah," "Muslim" and "Rasta" are not supported in the Bible, we as Christians should not use them to define ourselves or our beliefs. To do so would be misleading and a gross misrepresentation of our faith.

Yet some may still argue that they are "Rastafarians," meaning that they follow the teachings and example of "Rastafari." They don't worship him, they simply admire his faith and actions. But Selassie (Rastafari) was a Christian. He followed Christ. So don't follow Selassie, follow whom he followed--Jesus. Now I know that this statement may seem contrary to modern-day Christianity, for within the Protestant reformation there are followers of Martin Luther (Lutherans), John Wesley (Wesleyans), and John Calvin (Calvinists). But I am sure that if Selassie or any of these other men were alive today, they would strongly encourage you to follow Christ, not mere men, and to call oneself a Christian as they did.

In 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, Paul wrote: "I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, 'I follow Paul'; another, 'I follow Apollos'; another, 'I follow Cephas'; still another, 'I follow Christ.' Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?"

So I ask; Why attempt to divide Christ? Was Haile Selassie (Ras Tafari) crucified for you? Were you baptized into His name? As for me, I am a Christian, a follower of "The Way," a disciple of Christ, and bondservant for His namesake. I would never choose to represent my faith with an appellation that drew attention away from Jesus--"lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power" (1Cor 1:17).

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