Faith with a Negative Bent
An alarming percentage of today’s Christians have this weird impression, that faith and the usual piety that accompanies it, means accepting anything said in the name of God no matter how silly or preposterous, just because a certain fellow, clinching a copy of the Sacred Book who claims to be “man of God”, said so.
The brand of Christianity we see today in Africa is a very dangerous one, and this is the case, not because there is anything wrong with Christianity itself, but basically because of the adherents’ approach to its practice.
There is no sort of crime, deception and fraud we do not see today all in the name of the Christianity. And why is it so? Because today’s Christians have refused to question acts and claims.
There is practically nothing that have not been seen and heard today in the name of Christian worship. A couple of years ago somewhere in South Africa, a certain charlatan that lays claim to the appellation, “pastor”, mounted the rostrum and instructed his teeming followers to jump out into an open field to start eating grasses for their “sanctification” and to receive “divine favours”; and like an army of robots being effectively remote-controlled, they rushed out like a herd of goats to do the bidding of that fraudster with a bible. Of course they all ended up in the hospital and some were reported to have lost their lives as a result of their sheepish acceptance of that weird recommendation. Ours is an age and time when people who profess Christianity, are just so very ready to accept any claim no matter how weird, as long as such claim or assertion is made by a certain person they have been made to believe is a “powerful man of God”. An alarming percentage of today’s Christians have this weird impression, that faith and the usual piety that accompanies it, means accepting anything said in the name of God no matter how silly or preposterous, just because a certain fellow, clinching a copy of the Sacred Book who claims to be “man of God”, said so. Faith is never against reason. It is important we reiterate this fact. The faith we profess never demands that we suppress our ratiocinative powers but rather to deploy them for a better appreciation of that faith. This is one point that the saintly pontiff, John Paul II, so elaborately enunciated in Fides et Ratio, an encyclical he issued on the 14th of September, 1998. For St Anselm of Canterbury, it should always be fides quarens intellectum, (faith seeking understanding). It is a tragedy that majority of Christians in our time, have chosen to divorce the two. Rather than think, they have chosen the pitiable part of subservient morons. Bob Marley’s time-honoured advice to “emancipate ourselves from mental slavery…”, seems to have simply fallen on deaf ears. The warning that followed is even all the more instructive: “none but we selves can free our own minds…” The lyrics of that Marley’s iconic musical piece aptly titled Redemption Song, continue to resonate in my mind each time I reflect on what has become of our practice of the Christian faith in our clime. African Christians of today need to be reminded that it is some sort of mental slavery, to accept things without questions. They need to know, that anytime one begins to accept acts and claims of anyone irrespective of whatever religious position he occupies without questions, that one has ended up making a god out of such a figure. Regrettably, many are not at home with this fact and do not even seem to be ready to accept it and “redeem” themselves, to borrow the word as deployed in this context by the reggae legend.