Greetings in the Name of the Most High Qadamawi Haile Selassie, the Lion of Judah
I thank you for your replies, since you all demonstrated good will in discussion, displaying theological and historical arguments.
Let me say, before starting to reply to your arguments, that it was not my intention to raise a issue concerning Icons; of course we are all Icons of God, from the beginning of creation, and of course Christ reestablished this holy lost resemblance to God, through His Sacrifice.
My words concerning the “Icon”, was in relation to the post by Gebre Menfes Qedus; in fact, it often happens that some, calling themselves Rastafarians, do not worship Qadamawi Haile Selassie and do not understand His being the Son of the Father, but rather they deny His Divinity and give Him a place in their spiritual life which resemble that given to God, even though they don’t call Him God. Such movements are heretical, and mostly concern the organization called Twelve Tribes of Israel, headed by Vernon Carrington (to whom it pleases to be called “Prophet Gad” – prophet of himself, I say instead). The 12 Tribes of Israel describe their doctrine with ambiguous formulas, such as “We believe in Jesus Christ, Who revealed Himself in the Personality of Haile Selassie I”, or others. Well, such formulas are truly non orthodox in themselves, and of course non Ethiopian, since they should appear in relation also with other saints in the long course of 2000 of Christian Ethiopia history, if Haile Selassie I is just a saint, like many others; so it should be said also for Qedus Tekle Haymanot, Abba Gebre Menfes Qedus, Qedus Abreham, Ysaq, Yaqob, and so on. While they call themselves Rastafarians, in the history of Our Mother the Church, no one ever called himself “Teklehaymanotian”, or “Yesahaqian”, and so on, with the name of a man, or of a saint.
It just resemble the behaviour of arius, who called himself christian even when he did not believe in the Divinity of the Son; he denied the Divinity of the Son, and yet called himself by His Name. If Christ was not God, before arius others should have called themselves by the name of other saints; in stead: NO. Christ, to arius was a special being, but not God, neighter man: an unclear doctrine is an heretical doctrine.
These are just the results of schisms and heresy within the Faith of God, as in every other circumstance the Fathers witnessed in the time of the Great Councils that condemned the heretics, Arius, Macedonius, Nestorius and so forth.
Thus, saying Haile Selassie I is an Icon of Christ, as told by Gebre Menfes Qedus, who calls himself Rastafarian or very in line with Rastafari principles, could have ambiguous meanings, born of renouncing theories, as Carrington’s. Of course, for us, Haile Selassie I is the True Image of Christ, the perfect Icon, the Photograph with historical and actual proportions; as it was said, in fact, “All shall see H.I.M.”, in that Day.
For us He is the perfect Icon.
But it should be for others also, since which closest face to Christ’s could one find, if not that of a –true- descendant of Selomon?
Said this, many things have been uttered, and surely important facts have been pointed out.
It seems that the most important is that of Qadamawi Haile Selassie’s Divinity and the Ethiopian Church.
Let me show in simple ways. As first thing, the Doctrine of Chiliasm is officially accepted by the Church, and, just to quote one source, one might understand it reading the” Mesthafe Mestir”, the Book of Mystery, by Abba Gyorghis of Sagla, one of the most important Fathers and Theologians of Our Church.
In relation to the teaching of the Church concerning the Divinity of H.I.M., there are many facts at our disposal to get an understanding of the question.
a) The royal house of Ethiopia, of Davidic Lineage, always displayed her official motto “The Lion of Judah hath prevaileth” (Rev 5,5); it always followed the name of the emperor, and even of the empress when she ruled alone. This may be proof of the fact that it was not referring to the person in itself, but to the royal dignity, as directly descending from Judah, and thus able to be the line thru which Christ would reveal Himself in the Parousìa.
No other king received it as “title”, but only as regal “motto” of the House of David. Now, only Qadamawi Haile Selassie was officially called “Conquering Lion of Judah”, or simply “Anbessa” (Lion). This mean that the Motto becomes Attribute, because Christ hath prevaileth, and became “Conquering”. This Attribute is acknowledged by the Whole Church , and, since it is not scriptural, it is the fruit of the active and contextualizing interpretation of the Church given to Revelation 5,5 which only announces that the Lion will conquer, but does not call Him “Conquering Lion”.
b) Another title of the King is “Light of the World”. No kings on earth, in the Orthodox context, has ever been called this way, and I let you understand its evangelical meaning.
c) Ethiopians are very strict in their behavior, and nothing would they accept if not fully confirmed by Holy Scripture and Tradition (many may prove this fact here); therefore these acknowledgments are worthy of consideration. Let me add, in Ethiopian history a debate was raised on the legitimacy of bowing to a human king, and many resolved it was very close to idolatry. Well, there is no Ethiopian, layman or clergyman, who didn’t kiss the ground before Haile Selassie I, in this time.
d) Before Q.H.S. the Ethiopian Church was under the rule of the Coptic Church of Alexandria, because of many reasons I will not recall now. Until that time, the Head of the Church was an egyptian Metropolitan, appointed by the Patriarch of Alexandria, and no ethiopian bishop could be appointed -only priests and deacons. When Q.H.S. came, He liberated the Church, after 1600 years of bondage and dependence from Alexandria, and the Church achieved full Autocephaly.
From this time on, all the Bishops of the Church (from Bishop to Patriarch) had to be accepted by the King to be ordained. Therefore, Haile Selassie I is the Head of the Church: none before Him had been, and surely none after Him will be, since He’s the last King of kings of the line of David (see Genesis 49 “The scepter shall not depart…”).
e) When Rastafarians went to Ethiopia in the 60s, they were warmly received by the then reigning Abuna (Patriarch), who gave them Ethiopian national dresses bearing the titles of “Dejasmatch” which is a high rank in the Ethiopian Traditional system (think that they were Jamaicans, just landed in Ethiopia, and at the airport they were suddenly taken and brought by the clergy in Abuna’s palace).
When they met with Abuna and exposed their Faith, Abuna said “The Bible can be interpreted this way”. We have written testimony of thist, by the Elder Ras Douglas Mack, in his “From Babylon to Rastafari”.
f) I will conclude in short, quoting Abba Yesehaq, sent to Jamaica by Q.H.S. to bring the Holy Tradition to Rastafarians, who did not know of the Ethiopian Church, because of white catholic and protestant spiritual enslavement. He did this just to give them the Basis upon which to found the Faith, and not to make them loose faith in H.I.M. Even though Abba Yesehaq denied His Majesty, it was only after the rise of the Derg and the deposition of the King.
He said: “Well, Yes, I am the Rasta Bishop”. “From my own experiences with Rastafarians since my first visit to the island last year, I know them to be an honest, peace loving, God-fearing and very creative people and by their membership in an ancient Christian Church obviously do not oppose Christianity."
(All this you may find at www.abbayesehaq.com
Some people claim His Majesty denied His Divinity, but this never happened, or, at most, there is no official Speech or Declaration, nor is it confirmed by the Imperial Government. Rather, it is well known that some governments asked Q.H.S. to publicly rebuke Rastafarians, in order for them to be weakened in their requests of Social Justice and Repatriation to Africa. But Q.H.S. refused to do so.
Now, if He never did it, would the Church, as it does, consider HIM a Holy Man yet? Would not the Church have told and imposed on HIM to explain Rastafarians He is not what they think He is?
In Ethiopia such silence would have been considered as heresy, or sin. But it was not.
The Church Canon forbids pagans to go near the Altar or to be called Christians, or even to be talked to. Why did Rasta enter the clergy, got baptized, and were fully accepted by the Church? It is because it is apparent that we don’t claim no superiority on the Church, and that we accept fully the orthodox doctrine, and our way is righteous, and there is no point of the faith we might oppose.
Last thing on the subject of Ethiopian Church and HIM: Rastafari is wide spread in Ethiopia, and if the Church had in mind to declare Rastafari as “heresy”, She could have done it already, in a very simple way, with a Holy Synod resolution. But: nothing at all. Should I add, Abuna Pawlos even released an interview where he says Rastafarians may do their things in peace and with no problem at all.
Let us now look on what the other Oriental Churches have to say about H.I.M.
At the Conference of the Oriental Orthodox Churches, convened in in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1965, by Haile Selassie I, the Patriarchs so spoke in very inspired and prophetic ways, in regard to the Ministry of His Majesty:
“Your Imperial Majesty, Holy Fathers, Eminent Brothers, Clergy and People.
It is with a heart full of joy and thankfulness that I stand here today. I am reminded of the words of the old Simon when he saw the child Jesus. Simon had been waiting to see the consolation of Israel. When he saw the child Jesus, he knew that salvation had come to his people. His heart was filled with joy and he sang to the glory of God.” (H.M MORAN MAR BASELIOS AUGEN I CATHOLICOS OF THE EAST )
“In this blessed city, we have gained a new vision of the glorious vocation of the Church. The Bride of Christ is arrayed in the glory of her Bridegroom, and we rejoice. We sing with the Prophet Isaiah “Enlarge the place of the tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy slakes; for thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited:. (Isa. 54: 2-3)” (H.M MORAN MAR BASELIOS AUGEN I CATHOLICOS OF THE EAST )
I would also like to remember to one and all, that the fact that the Davidic Monarchy and the Ark of the Covenant are found in Ethiopia is not a “claim” of Ethiopians, as some said, but it is acknowledged by the other Oriental Orthodox Churches. Proof of this, are, amongst many, the words pronounced by the Patriarch of Alexandria and the Metropolitan at the time of the Coronation of His Majesty, where a reference is made to the Davidic Lineage of Haile Selassie I.
And with this, I remind you of the fact that Q.H.S. Is the only King of the Five Oriental Orthodox Churches, as declared by H.H. MORAN MAR IGNATIUS YACUB III :
“We have always prayed for Him as our one and only Orthodox King”
I have reported all this facts and testimonies to show how the Church,silently,knows Who Q.H.S. is.
But it is clear that, even if the Church officially denied the Divinity of Qadamawi Haile Selassie, as some times She tries to do, it would not be a surprise for anyone, since in the Times of the first Coming, the Synagogue strongly opposed Christianity, even though many knew the truth, but did not confess it due to fear of men.