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The Trail Of Waitangi

Matiu and the Priest

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In reading the extract below we may desire to fob off any mention of differences in Scriptural understanding as being just some Anglican - Roman Catholic argument, but in reality it is a lot more serious and significant than just that.

The Word of God does not fit under the umbrella of man, nor into any denominational teaching or grouping, and stands alone by Itself and yet available to those individuals who will or are able to accept It. Wars and differences worldwide are caused by man's misinterpretation of, and wrong teachings of the Truth, and in New Zealand it was no different.

The following are several examples from 1841 of encounters between several Maori, who had been quickened by the Spirit of God to an understanding of Scripture, and certain priests who have been 'educated' into man's interpretations of the Gospel, men who continually seem to try and bend the Truth to inevitably gain themselves (or their tenors) followers.

"... It was a great blessing to the natives that they had the New Testament in their possession, and the skill with which some of those who had carefully read the book, were able to meet the teachers of false doctrine was truly wonderful. Their Christianity, as yet, was only in its infancy, and it is the more remarkable that educated men, who have been brought up under all the advantages of scriptural instruction, should be ensnared by the transparent subtleties of a system which the illiterate New Zealander was proof against. The secret is that the one has the teaching of God's Holy Spirit, the other has not.

At the time when Bishop Pompallier was at Tauranga, in the year 1840, Matiu, a Christian native who was afterwards appointed a teacher, had a controversy with one of the priests, which is thus related:

The priest said, "There is one God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost." "That is true," replied Matiu. The priest then, holding his crucifix in his hand, remarked, "We do not worship this, but it is to make us remember Christ." "That," replied Matiu, "is what you say; but what says the Book? ...'thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image.' Your image is the work of man, and to make an image like that is breaking God's commandment."

Matiu then read Revelations xiv. 9, 10,11, and asked the priest the meaning of the passage. The priest replied that he did not know enough of the native language to understand him, and was walking away. "Stop," said Matiu; "you sought this conversation with me, and if you cannot understand what I say, your disciple Haki Tara can. I will tell him what these verses mean, and he can explain it to you."

"Haki," continued Matiu, "this receiving the mark of the beast means, among other things, carrying those medals of the virgin in your ears, and those crosses round your necks; and now Haki, tell me what this expression means, "If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch?" "I do not know," replied Haki. "Then," said Matiu, "I will tell you. That man (pointing to the priest) is the leader of the blind; and those who listen to his preaching, and receive his doctrines, and bow down to his images, are blind also; and the ditch means hell, into which both parties, unless they repent, will at last fall." The priest would not remain any longer, but turned angrily away, probably more firmly convinced than ever, that the Church of Rome is right in withholding from the common people that Word which God designed as a lamp to lead us into all truth.

On another occasion, a Christian native at Rotorua, who had encountered the Romish Bishop at Auckland, said that the Bishop justified their making carved images from the example of the carved cherubim and seraphim. The plain, commonsense, scriptural reply of the native to the Bishop was striking:   "God," he said, "commanded the cherubim and seraphim to be made; God forbids you to make carved images. God spake from the cherubim and seraphim; Did He ever speak from your images?" ..."

The extract quoted above is taken from pages 292-295 of "Christianity Among The New Zealanders" by The Right Rev. William Williams, DCL. Bishop of Waiapu. (1867)

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