Question: "Is the Rastafarian / Rasta god ‘Jah’ the same as the Christian God?"
Answer: Rastafarianism, Rastafari, or Rasta is a religious movement originating in Jamaica in the 1930s. Rastafarianism takes elements of the Bible and combines them with the ideology of Marcus Garvey and the belief that Haile Selassie I, emperor of Ethiopia (1930—1975) was the second advent of the Messiah. Thus, Rastafarians believe that Emperor Selassie was God.
Rasta takes its term for “god,” “Jah,” from the King James Version’s translation of Psalm 68:4, which reads, in part, “Extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him.” The name for God in this verse is a shortened version of the tetragrammaton YHWH. The tetragrammaton is usually transliterated as “Yahweh” or “Jehovah” or translated “LORD” in Bibles. In Psalm 68:4, the KJV translators chose to transliterate the word as “JAH” instead. So, the name is certainly a biblical name for God. However, a group’s use of a biblical name for God does not guarantee that the group is biblical. Just because Rastas apply a biblical name to their god does not mean that they are worshipping the God of the Bible. Different individuals may be named “George,” but that doesn’t mean they are all the same person.
The god Rastas refer to as “Jah” is not triune, and he does not provide eternal salvation. Neither did the man they claim to have been the returned Messiah rule the whole earth or bring perfect peace to the world (cp. Isaiah 9:7). The religious practices of Rastafari, while drawn from Jewish and Christian origins, are not what God commands or desires for His people. The Jah of Rastafarianism is most certainly not the God of the Bible in whom Christians put their trust for salvation.
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