A visitor to Samoa can easily be perplexed when choosing a church with the plethora of churches here, and the mantra that Samoa is founded upon God.
Denominational differences are strong and choices range between the Catholic and the Protestant and a wide range of Protestant options, not to mention the Baha’i Faith.
In fact most visitors (unless predisposed in this regard) are not interested much in theology and will likely elect a church that is recommended to have a shorter service, good singing and perhaps holds their service in English.
The theological question remains however . . . which church in Samoa is right, or true?
If the Catholic church was the first and only, then why has God so clearly blessed the Protestants since the reformation? If the experiential movement of happy-clappies is so real, why has it stagnated and failed to bring forth real fruit in a nation of mounting difficulties including crime, anger and ungodliness? Could I possibly, ever, be a part of the 144,000? Can I really trust a pastor or denomination that claims exclusivity yet has a decidedly chequered history? How also can I believe in an illogical system of religious syncretism that claims truth by amortising self-evidently contrary claims as I believe the Baha’i Faith does?
It’s not a frivolous question and to pass over the question with the stereotypical Samoan diplomatic response designed to avoid causing offence is intellectually bankrupt. Most responses to this question I’ve found to be mere obfuscation but they generally include the thoughts that Samoa is based upon the “Christian God” and that everyone should decide for themselves which denomination.
Avoiding selection of any one denomination is a “fat lot of use” to a genuine truth seeker and reveals the mantra that Samoa is founded upon God to be the shallow marketing gimmick that it really is. Christ never spoke to the unsaved of His day with such platitudes or political hypocrisy. He spoke the truth directly and thus caused extreme offence amongst the religious leaders of the day who all claimed to have a lien on the truth.
They all failed miserably when the Master challenged them with direct theological questions. They scurried away from Him murmuring in disgust and then plotted to do away with the cause of their extreme embarrassment.
I predict that Hell will freeze over before the religious leaders agree as to which denomination Samoa is founded upon. I will publicly apologise if it ever happens.
This is however a “trick” question. The question can never be answered.
As with most things Jesus confronted, He brought a new paradigm into the equation. They wanted a political leader to increase their security, power and control. He showed them servant leadership that loved, gave sacrificially and influenced. They sought answers to theology and He demonstrated the power of God through practical loving. They sought truth and He answered with a person. He was constantly opening new paradigms to people with closed minds.
The real answer is actually found outside of the question. Christ seeks a living relationship with us – not church attendance or denominational affiliation.
I learned this personally some years ago in New Zealand when despite decades of church attendance and commitment, against my protestations the Lord “called me out” of the mainstream church. Apart from increasing my faith levels, I’ve since found that millions around the world have had similar experiences thus spawning what is called variously the emergent, alternative, small church or house-church movement of end-times.
My intent is not to destroy, but rather to increase our sensitivity to Him. Political Correctness and Denominationalism often gets in the way.