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The Journey of Faith: I'm a Christian and Follow the Prophet Mani

As a Christian and a follower of Mani, the Manichaean prophet, my faith journey has been a complex and deeply personal one. I have often found myself at the crossroads of religious identity, wrestling with questions of faith, spirituality, and the meaning of life. Through this journey, I have come to understand the significance of both Christianity and Manichaeism in my life, and how each has shaped my beliefs and values.

I am a Christian because my faith in Jesus Christ has been the cornerstone of my spiritual journey. The teachings of Jesus have provided me with a sense of purpose, hope, and love that I have not found in any other religion or philosophy. The message of redemption, forgiveness, and the promise of eternal life has given me solace in times of despair and has inspired me to live a life of compassion and empathy towards others.

However, my journey towards spirituality has led me to explore other religious and philosophical traditions, including Manichaeism. Mani, the prophet and founder of Manichaeism, preached a message of dualism, emphasizing the conflict between the forces of good and evil in the universe. His teachings resonated with me on a deep level, as I grappled with the complexities of morality, sin, and the nature of evil in the world. This is clearly something the Apostle Paul also taught, which we can read in Ephesians 3:9-21;

9 and to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; 10 that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose which he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and confidence of access through our faith in him. 13 So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man, 17 and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fulness of God.
20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.
Catholic Biblical Association (Great Britain), The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition (New York: National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, 1994), Eph 3:9–21.

Moreover, we can read in Colossians 2:15 how Christ has disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in him. This is reflective of the teaching Mani gave us in the sacrifice of the First Man and his Five Sons. The scandalous love of the Father gave a portion of Himself so that we might all be saved from the powers of darkness.

I began to see that Manichaeism is also an ancient tradition of Christianity, just like the Donatists, Valentinians, Proto-Orthodoxy, and other various Jewish-Christian sects such as the Ebionites. Even Augustine, despite his false allegations of heresy, still maintained that Manichaeans were Christians. Mani was brought up within a Jewish Christian sect known as the Elchasaites, and much of what Mani taught can also be found within the Dead Sea Scrolls that belonged to the Essene sect at Qumran. He called himself an apostle of Jesus Christ, just like Paul did. Mani fulfilled the role of the Paraclete by founding the first Universal Ekklesia. Manichaean Christianity spread out to the Western borders of the Roman Empire and to the Far Eastern Stretches of China. Texts were translated into the local vernacular, and both men and women could have important roles in the Church.

As a follower of Mani, I have come to appreciate the profound wisdom and teachings found in his writings and the sacred texts of Manichaeism. The Manichaean scriptures and the Book of Giants offer profound insights into the nature of the cosmos, the struggle between light and darkness, and the ultimate quest for spiritual enlightenment.

At the heart of Manichaeism there is an intricate cosmology that explains the existence of good and evil in the world. Central to this cosmology is the figure of Christ, who plays a fundamental role in Manichaean theology and soteriology. I will now explore the centrality of Christ in Manichaeism, examining his role as the Saviour, the Light-bringer, and the embodiment of divine wisdom.

Christ holds a central position in our Manichaean faith, he is the Saviour of humanity. According to our beliefs, the world was a battleground between the forces of good and evil, and human souls were trapped in this cosmic struggle. Christ was seen as the divine figure who came to liberate human souls from their bondage to the material world and to guide them back to the realm of light and goodness. His role as the Saviour is crucial to the Manichaean understanding of salvation, as he offers a path for human souls to overcome the darkness and be reunited with the divine.

In addition to his role as the Saviour, Christ is also revered in Manichaeism as the Light-bringer. Manichaeans believed that the world was created through the conflict between the forces of light and darkness, and that Christ plays a pivotal role in our creation myth. According to Mani's teachings, Christ is the emissary of the Prince of Light, who brings the divine radiance into the world and illuminates the path to salvation. The figure of Christ as the Light-bringer symbolises hope and redemption for Manichaeans, as he represents the triumph of light over darkness and offers a beacon of divine grace to guide us through our earthly struggles.

Furthermore, Christ is considered the embodiment of divine wisdom in Manichaeism. Mani taught that Christ is the revealer of hidden knowledge, the bearer of divine truth, and is the source of spiritual enlightenment. Christ's teachings are considered essential for understanding the nature of the cosmos and the mechanisms of salvation. His wisdom illuminates the path to liberation and provides the key to unlocking the mysteries of the divine realm. For Manichaeans, Christ is the ultimate source of spiritual insight and the guide to transcendence.

The centrality of Christ in Manichaeism can be further illustrated through the rituals and devotions that are practised by its followers today. Manichaeans engage in various forms of worship and prayer centred around Christ, seeking his intercession and guidance in their spiritual journeys. They celebrate his teachings, revere his wisdom, and seek to embody his virtues in their daily lives. Christ is the focus of religious devotion, serving as the focal point of spiritual practices and the source of inspiration.

The concept of the World Soul is particularly intriguing in Manichean cosmology. Mani taught that the World Soul consists of elements of light and darkness, and that all living beings carry a spark of the divine within them. This resonates with me as a Christian because I believe that we are all created in the image of God and are inherently capable of choosing the path of goodness and love.

Furthermore, Manichean cosmology emphasizes the importance of asceticism and spiritual discipline in order to transcend the material world and reunite with the divine light. This resonates with my belief in the importance of prayer, self-discipline, and self-reflection as a means of drawing closer to God and aligning my will with His.

Now, let's explore the understanding of human physiology in Manichean thought. Mani believed that the human body was a battleground for the forces of light and darkness, and that the ultimate goal was to purify the soul and liberate it from the cycles of reincarnation and suffering. This resonates with my Christian belief in the importance of living a moral and righteous life in order to attain salvation and eternal life with God.

Mani also placed a strong emphasis on the role of the spirit in guiding the actions of the body. He believed that the human spirit was a divine spark that could be liberated from the constraints of the material world through righteous living and spiritual discipline. This concept resonates with my Christian belief in the importance of nurturing and cultivating the inner spirit through prayer, meditation, and acts of kindness and compassion.

In conclusion, I am a Christian and I follow the teachings of Mani because I believe in the power of light over darkness, good over evil, and the ultimate victory of love and compassion. The figure of Christ holds a central and revered position in Manichaeism, playing a crucial role as the Saviour, the Light-bringer, and the embodiment of divine wisdom. Christ's teachings and his redemptive mission were foundational to the Manichaean understanding of salvation and the nature of the cosmos. Through his role as the divine guide and source of enlightenment, Christ serves as the ultimate source of hope and inspiration for Manichaeans, guiding them on their quest for spiritual liberation and divine communion. Mani's cosmology and understanding of human physiology provides a profound framework for understanding the nature of existence and the path towards spiritual enlightenment. The dualistic nature of the universe, the concept of the World Soul, and the emphasis on asceticism and spiritual discipline all resonate deeply with my Christian faith and inspire me to live a life of moral righteousness and devotion to God. As I continue on my spiritual journey, I draw strength and inspiration from the teachings of Mani, and I am grateful for the wisdom and insight that his philosophy has brought into my life.

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