Background and Content for Hebrews 12:1-2

The two verses in the beginning of chapter twelve of Hebrews are a favorite to many Bible readers and scholars. Sometimes when things become a favorite, they are twisted and often misunderstood. This paper examines what was happening at the time the letter was wrote and interacts with the background and context. It also looks at the grammar and the content within this certain passage of scripture. As with all things that become familiar, there is a need to re-examine certain ideas that become engrained in the mind.

Much ignorance surrounds the background information regarding the recipients of this letter as well as the author of this letter. What is known about this Letter, and especially Hebrews 12:1-2, is that it has been an encouragement to many Christians and is full of deep doctrine and theology. Below, in the first section, an attempt is made to show what is known about the background and context of this letter. Since little is known church leaders should not be overly dogmatic over their views and hold to them too tightly.

The writer of this letter is a mystery. Historically, many people have been credited for writing it: Paul, Barnabas, Luke, Clement of Rome, Philip, Priscilla, and Jude.(Hubbard) No name is assigned to the author in this paper. The historical audience of this letter is also mysterious. It is likely that the audience was near Rome or familiar with the happenings of Rome. From the letter it can be deduced that, “Wherever the readers are located, they resonate with the intensely Greek rhetoric and interpretation of Judaism that come naturally to this author.(Keener)” The recipients had to have been familiar with the Old Testament to understand the content of the letter. The Letter to the Hebrews was most likely written in between 60 and 70 A.D.(Keener) Lastly, is can be understood that the audience of this letter was probably familiar with persecution because of their open faith in Christ, especially the theft of their property.(Heb. 10:4)

Hebrews 12:1-2 encourages the recipients of the letter to lay aside sin and endure the race while keeping their eyes upon Jesus. The two verses read, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Chapter 12 begins with the word “therefore.” As the old and popular saying goes, “If you see the word therefore, look and see what it’s there for.” The Author’s implementation of the word “therefore” intentionally ties what is about to be said in with what was said in the previous verses, and in this case, section. Chapter Eleven, commonly called the “Faith Hall of Fame,” spends a fair amount of space dealing with people in the Old Testament who had great faith. More specifically, the people of great faith mentioned endured various adversities. It is at the beginning of chapter twelve that the writer shifts his focus from “historical recital to pastoral exhortation.” With the shift from recital to exhortation, the author also changes his word usage and begins to use the word “we” and “us.” The “we” and “us” that the writer is referring to is a Christian believer. A non-Christian would not be in the race. (MacArthur)

By using the words, “Therefore we also,” the author is bridging the gap between the historical people of great faith and the audience of faith filled believers to whom he was writing. The writer also “Challenges this community to recognize themselves as part of the great host called to live by faith.(Guthrie)” It is only after reading the previous section that the reader can understand who the witnesses are that the author mentions.

The author of Hebrews uses the metaphor of a race to help the recipients better understand the Christian life. The race metaphor would have been familiar for the audience of the letter.(Keener) The race in question is also to be understood as a long distance race, not a short sprint, since there is a repeated call for endurance in this race. Not only is there a race but there are runners in the race. Runners, it is assumed, are to be trained and prepared for a long distance race. An untrained and out of shape runner could in by no means complete a long distance race, let alone win one in a competition. As with most races, there are also various types of witnesses.
The cloud of witnesses is a direct reference back to the people mentioned in chapter eleven as well as all who have gone before and lived by faith. George Guthrie gives a good explanation as to of what nature these witnesses are and were:

“Some, in light of the race imagery, have understood this confession to mean that the countless thousands of God’s faithful throughout the ages now sit in the ‘stands’ of eternity, observing Christians as they seek to live for Christ in the world. The words ‘witness’ (martys) certainly can carry the meaning ‘spectators,’ as in 1 Timothy 6:12, and ‘surrounded’ (perikeimenom) brings to mind the ancient amphitheater with its tiered rows of seats. However, the author intends more from this image than to conjure the faithful of the ages as passive spectators. Rather, they are witnesses in the sense that they bear witness to the Christian community of God’s faithfulness and to the effectiveness of faith.”(Guthrie)

With the focus being on God’s faithfulness and effectiveness of the faith, shown in the examples given in chapter eleven, the writer seeks to motivate the recipients of the letter.

The author seeks to elicit in the readers the type of motivation that would cause them to lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares, and to endure the race. Building off the race imagery, the removing of weights would bring to the mind of these readers the thoughts of removing excess clothing so that they could run uninhibited.(Keener) Some of these weights may not even be inherently sinful, but rather something that can distract or become a hindrance.(Bruce) The author also does not interrupt his discourse to mention specific sins that need to be laid aside, but rather he includes all sin by using the word sin. All sin is to be understood as hindering a person from running a race with endurance.

Endurance is a key word and topic throughout this section in the Letter to the Hebrews. The writer mentions endurance in three consecutive verses and once more. (vv. 1-3,7) The purpose of laying aside the weights and sin is so that the runner can run with endurance. When running a long distance race, even runners today do not wear bulky boots or a sweater. Runners today, as with the runners in this historical context, wear only what is necessary. Without endurance, the race a Christian is on will never be completed.

After establishing the Old Testament witnesses and other witnesses, the writer of Hebrews brings up the ultimate witness; Jesus. Jesus fits both uses of the word witness; He is both watching the Christian run the race and a witness to God’s faithfulness. In the context of the race, the runner is to keep his or her eyes upon Jesus. The runner is not to be looking at the pathway or looking behind him, but looking solely at Jesus. Jesus is the only person or thing deserving the attention of the eyes. The Christian is not to look at themselves or other people running but to Jesus.

It is by Jesus’ example that the Christian is to run the race. Jesus ran the race perfectly. By using the words “author and finisher of our faith,” the writer is stating that Jesus completely accomplished everything necessary for the new covenant faith to become real.(Guthrie) The full accomplishment took place when Jesus died on the cross as a sacrifice. Jesus did not die the atoning sacrifice kicking and screaming, but rather, saw the results that it would bring and did it out of joy. The death was not a pleasant experience. The writer records that Jesus endured the cross and despised the shame. In both Roman and Jewish culture, a death on a cross was considered shameful.(Keener) The Romans used the cross as an execution instrument, especially for criminals and slaves. The Jews pointed back to the Scriptures where it was written, “His body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God.” (Deut. 21:23)

The writer of Hebrews wants to draw upon Jesus’ endurance as to why the Christian can have endurance. The author, by using “The simple personal name ‘Jesus’ shows that the accent is upon his humanity, and especially his endurance of pain, humiliation, and disgrace of the cross.” Since Jesus endured, so can any Christian in his own race. Jesus was the finisher of the faith by overcoming the death on the cross and rising again, hence why the author included that Jesus sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Jesus endured the momentary shame but that was nothing compared to His exaltation to the right hand of God. Note that the author regularly makes slight references and parallels back to Psalm 110 within the Book of Hebrews; the same is done here. The writer is once again calling his audience to look past the momentary trials and circumstances and look to the rewards, just as Jesus did.

The application of these two verses in Hebrews to the church today is great. As the last days draw nearer and many throughout the world are beginning to experience increased persecution, this verse can be a challenge and a comfort. Like the recipients of the letter to the Hebrews, Christians today can also recognize and see that witnesses abound and surround. Like the people receiving the letter, Christians today can look at God’s faithfulness to the believers who have gone before. Christians today can look at the examples set in the Scriptures but also look at the believers who have endured similar persecution after the canon of Scripture closed. There is a need for endurance today as much as there was at the time of the letter. All Christians throughout time have a race to run. There is also a need for all believers to strip themselves of unnecessary hindrances to finishing the race. Ultimately, the Christian should keep his or her eyes upon Jesus, who set the perfect example and enabled everyone to complete the race.

Pastors and preachers today can call with conviction upon listeners to prepare to run and to run the race every Christian is set to run. This would be a great passage for teachers, preachers, and church leaders to connect the local church to the universal church while at the same time connecting it with the historical church. Christians must remember there are examples to look toward in the Bible. This is also an opportunity to get Christians interested in reading God’s Word. It is stories like these than captivate the mind of the believer. The church can learn from the examples set and receive motivation.

Like the people in the faith hall of fame, and especially Jesus, Christians today need to look to the faithfulness and the promises of God. F.F. Bruce stated it well,

“’The joy set before him’ is not something for himself alone, but something to be shared with those for whom he died as sacrifice and lives as high priest. The throne of God, to which he has been exalted, is the place to which he has gone as his people’s forerunner. That is the goal of the pathway of faith; the pioneer has reached it first, but others who triumph in the same contest will share it with him.”(Bruce)

Every person apart of the church of God has the hope of sitting on the throne with Christ.(Rev. 3:21) Preachers much preach that there is a promise of God and that Christians too can run this race with joy, knowing that there are better things to come.

In conclusion, the background, context, content, and application of this passage were examined. These factors should always be looked at when interpreting a biblical passage. There is throughout this passage of scripture a call to endure. The main idea presented in this paper is that these two verses call for people to endure the race before them by laying aside sin and most of looking unto Jesus.

Bruce, F F. The Epistle to the Hebrews. Rev. ed. The New International Commentary On             the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, ©1990.

Guthrie, George H. Hebrews. The Niv Application Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI:                         Zondervan, ©1998.

Hubbard, David Allan, and Glenn W. Barker. Word Biblical Commentary. Vol. 13, Word                 Biblical Commentary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. 2011-, n.d.

Keener, Craig S. The Ivp Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. Downers                     Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, ©1993.

Lane, William L. Word Biblical Commentary. Vol. 47b, Hebrews 9-13. Nashville, TN:                     Thomas Nelson, 1991.

MacArthur, John. Hebrews. The Macarthur New Testament Commentary. Chicago: Moody            Press, ©1983.

Music Monday: “I Wouldn’t Take Nothing for my Journey Now”

The song this week is a fun one and an old one. If you can get over the double negatives in the lyrics, you might just enjoy the song. This song elicits fond memories for me. I heard the song for the first time a while back at the church I attend, sung beautifully by three people. Enjoy this short old song. Watch and listen below.

 I Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now by The Happy Goodmans

Kingdom of God: Rescuing Children from Satan’s Power

Children are not exempt from the casualties in war. The war I am talking about is the war that Satan started in his revolt against God’s and His authority. This post will examine treatment of children in the two opposing kingdoms; the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan.

Contrary to what we like to think, children are not exempt from the oppression and possession of evil spirits. To get a perfect look at how Satan treats children, we can take a look at a passage of Scripture in the Gospel of Mark.

“When He (Jesus) came to the disciples, He saw a great multitude around them, and scribes disputing with them. Immediately, when they saw Him, all the people were greatly amazed, and running to Him greeted Him. And He asked the scribes, ‘What are you discussing with them?’ Then one of the crowd answered and said, ‘Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.’ He answered him and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.” Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth. So He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him.” (Mark 9:14-22) NKJV

Satan does not exempt children from the lives he seeks to devour and destroy. (1 Peter 5:8) Under the stronghold of Satan’s kingdom the very life of this child was being attacked. This boy was driven to attempted suicide, sickness, muteness, and torment. Satan wanted this child dead. Satan is a thief and a liar, we know that he comes to steal, kill, and to destroy. (John 10:10) He intended for all three of these things to happen to the young boy. It should also be noted that the unclean spirit tormented the boy even from the time of childhood.

What was Jesus’ response to this situation? Jesus did not question the father of the boy to find out if the father or the boy had sinned. Jesus did not even condemn the boy. What did He do? Jesus commanded the spirit to leave and not return. (Mark 9:25) We can see from this story and historical event that the kingdom of Satan and the kingdom of God are in stark opposition. There is no room in the kingdom of God for possessed or oppressed children. Jesus came to set all children free who are the casualty of Satan’s revolt. Jesus shows His power and authority over the kingdom of Satan.

Jesus welcomes children into His kingdom. When some of Jesus’ disciples attempted to stop people from bringing kids to Him, Jesus became indignant. Rather than seeking to destroy children, Jesus uses children as an example of who will inherit the kingdom of God; “When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:13-15)

This post gave us a glance at how children are treated differently in each of the two kingdoms. A forthcoming post will explain how Christians should fight to protect children from Satan’s kingdom and how to bring about healing.

Millennials and the false ‘gospel of nice’

Originally posted on CNN Belief Blog:

Opinion by Daniel Darling , special to CNN

(CNN) – Perhaps you’ve heard that there is trouble brewing among evangelicals.

Younger Christians are weary of pitched cultural battles and are longing for the “real Jesus” – a Jesus who talks more about washing feet and feeding the poor than flashpoint issues like same-sex marriage and the sanctity of life.

If key evangelical influencers don’t listen, we are told, they are about to lose the entire millennial generation. Or, maybe that generation is already gone.

This story has been told with testimonials, chronicled in best-selling books and posted on popular blogs.

Here’s the short version: If only orthodox evangelical leaders would give up their antiquated beliefs, get more in step with the real Jesus, the church and the world would be better off.

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Music Monday:”My Lighthouse”

This song is upbeat and a great song for the warmer weather. (At least that’s how I reason it out in my mind.) This song causes the listener to call to mind that Christ is a solid rock and a constant help. Not only does it involve metaphors that we could imagine being in the psalms, but the song also pushes us towards action. Since we have that constant help and light that will lead the way, let’s do something. That something, in my mind, is to live out the ramifications of the gospel and also share the gospel. Take a listen below.

My Lighthouse by Rend Collective

Moral Law: Which Laws Are Christians To Follow?

In the last few weeks I have repeatedly heard people mention that the Bible or Jesus never makes any distinction between moral and ceremonial laws. Usually this comes up in the context of discussing Christ’s fulfillment of the law. There also tends to be confusion for many church goers around this topic. I believe the Bible does teach a distinction in the type of laws. Below I will give three succinct reasons as to why I believe there is a distinction made in Scripture.

1. From the beginning of creation there were laws that everyone was to follow. God judged individuals as well as groups on certain principles or laws. (Genesis. 4:10-11, 6:11, 9:6, 18:20 Ezekiel 16:48-50) Later on God gave commands that were specific to the Jews, such as circumcision. It should be noted that not all of the commands God gave to the children of Israel at the later point applied only to the children of Israel. Some did only apply to them and some did not. For example, After going through all the laws dealing with sexual morality in Leviticus chapter eighteen, God says, “Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you. For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants.” (Leviticus 18:24) By carefully examining this text we can see that the nations before Israel were under some of these same laws. How else could they be defiled if they were not under the law?

An example of laws only applying to Israel are found in Leviticus chapter fifteen. No where in chapter fifteen does God mention that he punished or punishes other nations for that type of uncleanness. That uncleanness was specific to Israel. An example of a ceremonial law is Leviticus chapter twelve dealing with uncleanness after childbirth. Certainly within these two different laws we can see a difference. Call it what you want, but most people call them moral and ceremonial. What matters is that a distinction is made.

2.  While Jesus was giving a sermon on top of a mountain He said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17) What is interesting to note is that He said this right before delving into the intricacies of what most people would call the moral law of the Old Testament. (Matthew 5:21-32, 6:2)  When delivering His sermon on the mount Jesus strengthens what I would call the moral law of the Old Testament. He has little to say of what most people would call the ceremonial. So what did Jesus come to fulfill? See the next paragraph.

3. We see in Galatians that circumcision is fulfilled in Christ (Galatians 5:6). But in the same chapter Paul mentions the works of the flesh, which goes on to include what many would call the moral law. He mentions the works of the flesh as something that will cause someone to not enter into the kingdom of heaven (Galatians 5:19-21). I along with many others equate the works of the flesh with the moral law. In Colossians, Paul also writes that Christ “Wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:14) In the next two verses the Apostle Paul clarifies the requirements he is talking about; “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or in regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths.” (Colossians 2:16) Paul ends that section by writing, “Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations- ‘Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle.’”(Colossians 2:21-22) We see that even the Apostle Paul made a distinction in the types of laws. No where does Paul mention anything that even closely resembles what most people would call a moral law. Some people wanting to do away with Christ’s laws twist scripture by taking the Apostle Paul’s words out of context. Overall we see that Christ fulfilled all the laws that distinguished the Jews from Non-Jews. Christ fulfilled Israel’s purpose.

I hope to have shed some light on this topic for the reader. Much more could be written on this issue, but here I have laid out three main reasons as to why I hold that a distinction exists. Others may use different and various names for these type of laws, but what matters is the distinction, not the terminology.

God Loves the Good and Bad Kids

Each Wednesday night I have the opportunity to help teach a class for kids under the junior high grade level. I (Mark) along with my soon to be bride, Lorretta, get the tremendous opportunity of creating lessons for kids, sharing God’s Word, creating a safe atmosphere, and most of all demonstrating God’s love to the kids.

I believe the most important thing a person in kids ministry can do is show the love of Christ. Let’s be honest, kids are not going to remember everything we attempt to teach them. One thing a kid will remember, though, is whether or not he or she was loved. The Human race was created for relationship. Children are no different. That kid who walks into your care for one hour will remember whether he or she was loved.

The one piece of advice that I would like to give is, “Make sure the kids in your group know they are loved, even the deviant ones.” Be sure to teach the kids that God loves everyone, not only the good kids. God loves the troublemakers just as much as He loves the little angels. If you have to move away from your lesson for a little while to answer questions, or just spend time with a few kids, do it. The intricate details of your prepared lesson can wait till the next week. Make sure the kid knows and perceives that he or she is loved by you and also God.

Music Monday:”All I Once Held Dear”

The song this week touches my heart each time I hear it. This song touches my heart, I think, because it puts into works what I think about Jesus and also my life. The song is great for a worship service because of the simplicity of the words, bringing scripture to the mind of the singer, and also the catchy nature of it. Also I have a thing for songs that follow the verse, chorus, verse, chorus, etc. structure. Take a listen below.

All I Once Held Dear by Robin Mark

The Legacy of Gandhi

One does not have to roam around long, throughout the world, to see that Mahatma Gandhi has an enduring legacy even after his death. Even though many people throughout the world may differ with Gandhi’s beliefs and religion, there is still respect and honor given to him. The world has come to respect him because he was an effective contrarian, lived in simplicity, and brought about his results through the avenue of non-violence.

The main reason Gandhi’s legacy lives on is that he was an effective contrarian. Had he not been effective, the memory of him would have vanished into obscurity like the lives of most that have lived on this earth. Throughout history there has been respect given to people who accomplished something, such as Julius Caesar, Napoléon, George Washington, etc. This reason may sound pragmatic and simplistic, but there is truth to it. Humans remember those people who have accomplished something, no matter how much we may differ with his or her beliefs. Like Gandhi, everyone can find something to which we disagree. In all practicality, everyone is a contrarian to some degree. People in general gravitate towards others to whom they agree with. Gandhi opposed values much of today’s culture would oppose causing him to resonate with the average person. The values that he opposed are ones that people throughout different religions could oppose as well. Therefore, Gandhi, like any great contrarian or dissenter is remembered.

The next two reasons for Gandhi’s legacy remaining is that he lived a good simple life and also brought about his results through the avenue of non-violence. One of Gandhi’s most popular quotes that almost everyone knows is, “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” This quote fits perfectly with his attitude of non-violence. Non-violent approaches to fighting social issues began to become a new topic of conversation. One well-known American non-violent protester, Martin Luther King Jr., learned his approach to fighting civil injustice through the reading of Gandhi’s works. The world continues to adore Mahatma Gandhi because he lived out his beliefs. In a day and age when most people are not consistent by having their actions follow their words, Gandhi was an example of one who did. No matter what a person’s religion, everyone can appreciate a person devoted to something.

The devotion and drive that Gandhi had for ending the civil injustice caused him to spend time and energy. He lived in simplicity. Rather than wearing fancy clothes, he chose to wear simple clothing called khadi. This type of clothing was a plain white piece of clothing that covered up the bare minimum. Most of the time Gandhi was seen, he was wearing this garment. Another way in which he lived in simplicity was that he always looked hungry. Rather than eat impressive calorie-full meals, Gandhi ate vegetation. Gandhi was a vegetarian. One of the more impressive ways that Gandhi lived in simplicity was by residing with the poor of India and traveling to meet with the poor people, no matter what their class. In the end, his simplicity contributed to his death. Had Gandhi had a vast array of bodyguards he most likely would not have died by way of murder. Gandhi lived in simplicity until the end of his life.

Many Christians are especially attracted to Gandhi’s teachings because his teachings align with much of what Jesus taught. Gandhi actually thought highly of Jesus and some of His followers, yet ultimately he did not think highly enough of Jesus to follow Him. Christians can also see that Gandhi modeled some of the teachings that Jesus gave, such as turning the other cheek when someone strikes you. In some ways, he did a better job of following some Christian principles than many Christians do. Even though there are disagreements about the nature of God and who He is, Christians can appreciate a person who follows some of the ethical guidelines that Jesus gave.

Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy will continue to live on because of the reasons provided above. He did not back down, lived in simplicity, brought about change without resorting to violence, and most impressively lived a life that was consistent with the values that he spoke. No matter what religion a person belongs to, there is much to appreciate about the way that Gandhi lived his life.

The Paranormal in Africa and North America

In both North America and Africa there are underlying assumptions about the world that we live in. This post will take a look at the assumptions that deal with the spiritual realm and paranormal activity.

The assumptions between the North American and African cultures are largely different concerning the paranormal and supernatural powers. The average North American might be willing to concede that supernatural powers exist, but would down play the roles that they play on everyday life.  The average American would not attribute flu like symptoms to an evil spirit, or anything of that sort. They would rather look at illness from a naturalistic world view and blame bacteria or a virus for the illness. The American would typically not ask ‘why?’ they have become sick, but would assume it was because they came into contact with another sick person or something of that nature.

The average North American, instead of attributing sickness to the paranormal, would usually attribute the paranormal to ghost and evil spirits. In the charismatic circles of Christianity, the paranormal plays a huge role. The more fundamentalist sects of charismatic Christianity, in America, have a tendency to attribute sickness to the demonic forces that attack. For the most part, though, most of Christianity in North America does not take that approach. For the Christian, there is no problem believing in the paranormal or supernatural, the Bible teaches that evil forces exist, led by Satan. Even though the idea of paranormal activities fit well within a biblical worldview, many mainline and even evangelical denominations and associations do not speak much on the role of the demonic in the world. It has sort of become an idea that believers consent to, but deny in practice.

In the continent of Africa, many people focus on the paranormal much more than in America. In Africa the paranormal assumption factors into the everyday life of the average person. Rather than only going to a medical doctor, many Africans will go to shamans or will seek out someone to find out why the sickness came upon them. In Africa it is also common for people to believe that ancestors are punishing them or that some power, outside of the individual, is causing the sickness. Ancestors are not forgotten in this culture because they will haunt you if they are forgotten. Some people mistake the Africans by thinking they worship their ancestors, but that is not really what they do, they appease them. The traditional Africans would most likely not even make a distinction between the supernatural and the natural world, since the two play such an important role in their everyday life.

With both continents viewing the outworking of supernatural powers differently, it would definitely be tough to explain the views to each other. The scientists in North America would see the African idea of sickness as primitive and unscientific. Also the idea of ghosts and spirits within the North American societies is very under developed. The reason for this is because Americans focus so much attention on scientific data that they ignore the other ways of studying something. It’s common for people to hold to these supernatural powers, whatever they may be called, yet have no reason for believing in them except through experience. Kids are not taught in school anything about the spirit world, yet the belief still prevails because of experience and oral tradition. The Africans would probably wonder why Americans spend so much time on the medical cures and then wonder why the sickness keeps coming back. The common sense solution for the African would be to get the ancestors, or whatever is causing the sickness, to be appeased or leave them. After doing that, the logical step would be to then get cured through medicine.

Overall, the two society’s assumptions are very different, but are not in complete opposition with each other. Although in theory the two may seem to be in opposition to each other, in reality and in all practicality both typically believe in the paranormal activities and also supernatural events. It seems as if the Africans have developed their theory for fully than Americans have and are also more open to exploring the paranormal. The assumptions are different, but after explaining a few key terms and explaining what is meant by those terms, the two cultures could come to understand each other much more clearly. Hopefully in the future the American culture will seek to understand the spirit realm a little bit better, learning from the Africans.