Dear Akufo-Addo: God Might Not Be Interested In Your National Cathedral
Let me begin by expressing my profound fondness of the president of the Republic, Nana Akufo-Addo, for at least, demonstrating the conduct of a devout Christian of impeccable eschatological conviction, philosophy of life and unflinching piety. The Psalmist wrote that “I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord” [ Psalm 122: 1]. Nonetheless, every enigmatic and paradoxical Pentecostal and Charismatic preacher man who disregarded the imperative need for theological training and podium discipline but ended up setting up for-profit universities with the theology departments must be ashamed of the state of some Christian churches in Africa now. Many staunch Christians in Ghana and Africa have become nightmarish over the congenital greed and buffoonery cocooning some Churches today, as they helplessly observe some unsuspecting believers oscillating between inanity, idiosyncratic teachings and salvation.
The church [some] which is expected to be a cornucopia of men of integrity surprisingly has become a theatre of unthinkable oafs! Just as Jehu initiated a prophetic revolution to purge the fear of God among Israelites rather than Jezebel’s baal in the book of 2 kings, God might be happy for the president to sanitize the church if permitted by the 1992 constitution. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has started something of that sort. History and antiquity do not favor the state meddling with religion. It is also unconstitutional for the government to assume that because Christians are in the majority, the state must provide a national cathedral.
Without further ado, let me humbly and nonchalantly cutting to the chase: the Washington National Cathedral was built by the Episcopal Church not the federal government of the United States. Apart from the protracted conflicts in the Middle East which almost invariably not bereft of religious undertone, the recent pogrom meted out to the Rohingya Muslim minorities in the Buddhist majority in the Rakhine State in Myanmar [ Burma] evidentially classified as a genocide by the United Nation [UN] must have goad every leader to disentangle politics from religion. In accordance with Ghana’s somewhat Americophile standard 4th Republican constitution shrouded in a perfect egalitarian ideal; all men are created equal, it will be politically preposterous for the state to think of a national cathedral, let alone building it. For example, the article 21 (1[c]) of the afore-referenced constitution guarantee freedom of religion to every citizen. What is equally lugubrious is the fact that some buildings in the proposed site in Accra for Judges must be pulled down for the needless cathedral as if Accra is the only city in Ghana, albeit, the housing deficit facing the citizenry. The capital of the Republic of South Africa is in Pretoria, but their parliament is located in Cape Town. Anyhow, Mr. President, history and antiquity bear no favorable testimony for the marriage between politics and religion.
Jesus probably did select none of his disciples from the Jewish temple comprising “holy of holies”; the innermost sanctuary of the tabernacle where God was perceived to dwell because he did not only detest hypocrisy but was also interested in our heart. "You are the ones who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is prized among men is detestable before God” [Luke 16:15]. This partly explains why St. Augustine of Hippo intimated that salvation in the body of Christ must involve faithfully walking in love for humanity rather than holding separatist ascetic legalism. When a church turned out to be excessively and exclusively separatist, is there a difference between them and the Pharisees that Jesus described as hypocrites [Matthew 23: 1-5]? American Pastor and Theologian Greg Boyd traced the history of the relationship between politics and the church in his book “The Myth of a Christian Nation” pp. 75-82.
The history of the church has depended on Christians refusing to trust the way of the crucified Jesus and rather kowtowing to the very temptation that Christ himself resisted. It is also a history of the group that has forsaken the slow, humble, nonviolent, even so, sacrificial way of changing the world as portrayed by Christ. Jesus himself was homeless: "Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head" (Luke 9:58). Prophet Amos preached against the injustices of the society. “Hear this word, you cows of Bashan on Mount Samaria, you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy and say to your husbands, Bring us some drinks" [Amos 4:1]! Prophet Amos used a metaphor. Women represented people who were supposed to show a tender love to the needy. Church leaders in Africa today prefer areas like, USA, England, Canada, Ridge, East Legon, Airport residential area, Sakumono all in Accra. Mr. President, if the absence of hospitals, good roads, balanced diet, claim the lives of the needy in the society God of justice will not dwell in your needless cathedral located in the proposed privilege area in Accra. Does your intention to build a needless cathedral in a poverty-stricken frightened society like ours amount to the identification of the Kingdom of God with the Kingdom of the world?
Be that as it may, the early period up to about the 3rd Century AD saw Christians regarding themselves as the resident foreigners in this materialistic world. They became the persecuted minority and, there were no plans for the church corporate authority to suppress, the unwanted political power. The church grew by Martyrdom but not Christians fighting for their fundamental human rights and as a corollary, a term “martyr” which originally meant a witness became synonymous for those who died for their faith. The stoning of Stephen chronicled in the Acts 7:54-60 was an example of martyrdom. Martyrdom was a way of witnessing the Christian faith.
The conversion of Emperor Constantine in AD 312, was destined to change the heretofore trajectory of the Christian history. The Byzantine emperor Constantine credited for the construction of the Constantinople [Modern Istanbul] infiltrated Christianity with his narcissistic metaphysical nonsense. His so-called vision, which was a product of the burst of schizophrenic induced hallucination, he claimed to have received introduced violence into the propagation of the Gospel. Constantine was told in a vision that the first two words for the Greek version of Christ “Chi-Rho” must be drawn on the shields of his soldiers. He was alleged to have heard a voice telling him in a vision that by this symbol “you shall conquer” Constantine, therefore, killed a lot of innocent people to adhere to the voice of God he was supposed to have heard. By AD313, Constantine declared the Christianity as an official faith of the Roman Empire. His cross-centered administration was not devoid of belligerence and, embraced sword to make sure the sacrificial life of Christ was misinterpreted to suit his religious-centric convenience.
Just as many of the modern egotistical church founders believe that Christ would have ridden in Rolls Royce, if he had an alternative to dupe their gullible followers, Constantine and his people had a conviction that Jesus was harmless and humble because he had no appropriate alternative. People had a choice of either becoming a Christian or die. A sizeable portion of what was known as the Constantine’s Byzantine Empire after the fall of the Roman Empire had grappled with religious tension till the end of World War I, in November 1918. The influence of the Muslim Jihadist, when the Arabs conquered many parts of North Africa and the Asia Minor, Islamized and Arabized, many inhabitants. The Ottoman Empire later rose in the same region to suppress the Christian subjects.
In Indonesia, Christian minorities are burnt alive every now and then. In Pakistan, the Ahmadiyya Moslem minorities are killed because of inter-faith tension. The horrifying tales of the Boko Haram carnage in the northern part of Nigeria must discourage the state to create a needless tension. Cases of inter-faith conflict across Africa and Asia could be mentioned ad infinitum. In presenting a well-supported argument for his theory of positivism and to pervasively demonstrate the extent of the relationship between science and society, the philosopher and sociologist, Auguste Comte, claimed that trans-cultural societies go through three main stages. These are a theological stage, the metaphysical stage, and scientific stage. The world is now in the scientific stage and the state must not meddle in religion. The argument that Christians are in the majority and thus need a national cathedral is very lily-livered.
“For God is not a God of disorder but of peace--as in all the congregations of the Lord's people” [1 Corinthians 14:33]. Indeed, God of peace does not need a cathedral if it becomes a citadel of conflict. "Every human being desires communion and peace. Everyone needs a peaceful co-existence. But this can grow only when we also build inner peace in our heart. Many people live in a constant hurry. In this way, all that they have inside them tend to be overwhelmed…And gradually we will discover that the heavenly Father wants what is good for us. He wants to see us happy, full of joy and serenity. It is this familiarity with God that also inspires our mercy. Just as the Father loves, so does His children. As He is merciful, we too are called upon to be merciful towards each other. Let us allow ourselves to be touched by God's mercy, also through a good confession, to become increasingly merciful like the Father" [Pope Francis]. Mr. President channel the resources for the Cathedral to contribute to the development of humanity by emancipating your people from mental slavery and religious hocus pocus!
By Nana Yaw Osei, Minnesota, USA, [email protected]
Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Nana Yaw Osei and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana.