THE IMPORTANCE OF BAPTISM IN THE ETHIOPIAN ORTHODOX FAITH
The Christian celebration of Easter is a time when the origins of RASTA as a Bible-based religion come under severe examination. Though RASTA beliefs are heavily founded in the Psalms, the Gospels and the Book of Revelation, many RASTA reject the Bible story, yet on the other hand claim Emperor Haile Selassie as a modern-day manifestation of Christ.
The contradiction is further compounded by the fact that following his visit to Jamaica 50 years ago, the Emperor made a significant gift to the RASTA nation by sending his personal priest Abba Mandefro to open the first branch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Kingston and teach the prayers and liturgy of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Faith, and to baptize RASTA in the ancient Christian faith.
While some RASTA obeyed the Emperor’s wishes, few today are baptized members of the EOTC and the program of events celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Emperor’s visit does not include a memorial of this important gift from H.I.M.
The importance of Baptism in the Orthodox faith was underscored by Bob Marley’s baptism on his deathbed by Archbishop Yesehaq who reported in a 1984 interview I did with him in the Gleaner’s Sunday Magazine titled ‘Abuna Yesehaq Looks Back on 14 Years of Ministry in Jamaica‘ the following report about Bob Marley’s baptism:
“Bob was really a good brother, a child of God, regardless of how people looked at him. He had a desire to be baptized long ago, but there were people close to him who controlled him and who were aligned to a different aspect of Rastafari. But he came to Church regularly. I remember once while I was conducting the Mass, I looked at Bob and tears were streaming down his face…When he toured Los Angeles and New York and England, he preached the Orthodox faith, and many members in those cities came to the Church because of Bob. Many people think he was baptized because he knew he was dying, but that is not so…he did it when there was no longer any pressure on him, and when he was baptized, he hugged his family and wept, they all wept together for about half an hour.” Today, 40 years after Bob’s passing, it may seem that Marley received the everlasting fame he holds around the world to the blessing of his EOTC baptism.
A book “The Power Of The Cross: Maskel of Lalibela” by Alfredo Johnson seeks to explain the importance of Baptism in the Orthodox faith. I share excerpts from it here.
” The name Haile Selassie given to Ras Tafari on his Coronation means the Power of the Trinity, and that Trinity is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Before Christ left this earth after his ministry, he gave his disciples a command to baptize the nations in the name of this Holy Trinity.
“The name Haile Selassie is not just a name written on a piece of paper meaning nothing. The name means The Power of the Holy Trinity. Haile Selassie then became the Defender of the Faith to uphold the gospel of the Cross which was preached by the same embodiment of the Holy Trinity. When one gets baptized in the Name of the Holy Trinity, one becomes one with the living embodiment of Haile Selassie 1st. For this reason the name Haile Selassie MUST be praised.
“To the many who claim to be following Haile Selassie 1st, but refuse to be re-born again (St. John 3: 3-21) through baptism in the name of the Holy Trinity, the name Haile Selassie 1st will only be blasphemed by you, because one cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven in the body of sinful flesh, nor stand in the presence of the consuming fire of Kidus Selassie because Eyesus Krystos has already destroyed that body/temple (St. John 2: 19-22) of sin/flesh and there is only but one baptism (Ephesians 4: 4-7) in the name of the Holy Trinity!
“After baptism each person is given a new name after his re-birth, this in essence means the person is changed from one level to another because the old man is done away with and the new man is born. The flesh of sin is destroyed and replaced with the new Christ.
“So one cannot have one foot inside claiming to know and serve Yahweh God, while having one foot outside, disobeying His call to perfection, because He requires righteousness and not unrighteousness. As His name means Power of the Holy Trinity, perfection is the ultimate attainment and one cannot come short of this.
“When Abba Yesehaq came to the West it was with the power and authority of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie 1st with the Maskel (Cross), sent as a Shepherd for the Rastafarians primarily to be re-born in the Orthodox faith of which Haile Selassie is the head. But to many they are still holding on to the flesh and as it was shown in the Book of Isaiah 6: 1-13, Yaweh of Host was never seen in the temple (Church) until the King Ussiah died, meaning the flesh was removed out of the way so ones and ones could see Haile Selassie 1st in spirit and in truth in His embodiment of the Holy Trinity.
“Haile Selassie 1st was the living embodiment of the Holy Trinity, Kidus Selassie. This name is Amharic as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Name which all was commanded to be baptized in to be in one with the Holy Trinity Kidus Selassie. One could enter the congregation of Holy Mount Zion, the city of the Living God, in the general assembly and Church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the judge of all, to the spirit of the just men made perfect of Kidus Selassie (Hebrew 12: 21-24). This Mystery of Yaweh God has now been revealing, and all are called to Baptism in the Holy Trinity.
“There is a book called The Liturgy of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, English Translation of the Preparatory Service, 14 Anapahoras and Covenant Prayers. Haile Selassie 1st set in order that these 14 ancient books be collected and printed at His own expense and produced from the ancient language, translated from Geez into English and printed by order of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I for use in the Church of which He is Head of: The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, and in the Anaphoras which outline the power of the Holy Trinity.
“In these 14 books are outlined the right and true order of Christ’s Church and the Divine Srvice to the people of which no man should alter or deny. The fourteen books gave a strict revelation of Holy Mary with all her symbolism, with the Holy Trinidy coming together as One embodiment with the Holy Communion for the people who are baptized with its importance.
“Therefore, to my brothers and sisters who know nothing about these fourteen Anaphoras Books of Divine Service, one should go in search and find it, because it was commanded to production by Haile Selassie I, the embodiment of the Holy Trinity, whose ways is Baptism in the Church, who also is the Defender of the Faith for all in the name of the Holy Trinity which the Books outline to all, in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit which exist before birth and man, Kidus Selassie.
“And if the uprisers were studying Yaweh’s words they would have seen that if they touch the rights of Haile Selassie 1st they would be playing with fire which they are not able to quench, and so the written words of Yaweh sayings which link the seven spirits of Yaweh came to the Church and gave His warning of He who opens and no man shut, and shut and no man open, and there is only One who holds such title and rights, Our LORD GOD and Saviour Yesus Kristos in his embodiment of Kidus Selassie Haile Selassie 1st.
“As the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, he came and stood in the Church who John also behold walking in the midst of the seven lamps which He reveals to John and the Church, and received all His titles and Honors and gave a warning:
“And to the angel of the Church in Philadelphia, write these things: He who is holy, He who is true, He who has the Key of David. He who opens and no one shuts and shuts and no one opens: I know your works. See I have set before you an open door and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength and have kept My word and have not denied My name.” (Revelation 3:7).
“It is therefore because the Holy Trinity name is denied by many and blasphemed every day by those who allow the diabolical war of Satan to poison their mind against the Holy Trinity Haile Selassie 1st. Christ is coming again to His Church with His eyes as flame of fire to judge the wicked (Revelation 19: 11-16) in which Anaphoras it is also written in a chant to the Holy Trinity.
“Therefore to all Christians who are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the name Haile Selassie 1st is present and always will be. The name Haile Selassie 1st means the Power of the Holy Trinity, therefore He was there at the Annunciation, Baptism and Ascension, so how can one deny Haile Selassie 1st, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah? Glory and Honour are meet to the Holy Trinity, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit at all times, both now and ever and world without end. Amen.”
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit.” (John 3:16-17)
(c) Barbara Makeda Blake-Hannah