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Opinions of Saturday, 23 November 2002

Columnist: Sophism, Yaw

Libation Has Served Ghana Better - A Rejoinder

A Christian’s Response/Rejoinder to Kwasi Boahene’s article “Libation Has Served Ghana Better.”

Almost all-reasonable arguments, even the simplest, require the use of certain basic tools. When one makes a controversial claim that libation has served Ghana better, and proceeds to debunk the foundations of other well established religions like Christianity, I expect him to have the necessary tools of argumentation to justify such assertions. I read Mr. Boahene’s article several times to look for the main thesis of the article but found none. Instead, the writer moved from one assertion to another without providing any evidence to link the numerous claims that he made in his article. I found the article to be internally inconsistent, incoherent, logically flawed, and his argument jejune. This is because the writer moved from one assertion to another without developing his claims, and supporting them with evidence, warrant and backings. His claims are also logically fallacious because his conclusions have nothing to do with his main premises. In the art and science of argumentation, you make a claim and provide evidence to link your claim. This is the way you engage people in such emotional and controversial subject as religion.

As a Christian, I was disappointed not only with Mr. Boahene’s diatribe against Christianity, but also his faulty portrayal of church history. His scathing, sometimes derisive, and even caustic remarks to Christianity parallel that of Friedrich Nietzsche, a nineteenth-century atheist philosopher who was one of the most antagonistic writers towards Christianity. I find Mr. Boahene’s article insensitive, and unjustifiable. The purpose of this piece/rejoinder therefore is to examine some of the claims made by the writer in his article, “Libation Has Served Ghana Better,” which appeared on Ghanaweb as a feature article on November 9Th, 2002. Furthermore, this response will seek to correct some of the erroneous and unfounded remarks made by the writer.

First, let me say that, I agree with the writer that politicians shouldn’t use their political or official platforms to espouse or propagate their own religious beliefs. Nevertheless, using this as fa?ade to castigate all Christians and put a dagger at the heart of Christianity is not tenable. I wonder why an essay meant to deal with libation ended up refuting the deity of Christ, the canonization of Scriptures, and the claim of equality of Osiris to Christ. Mr. Boahene started his article accusing others of religious intolerance, but ended his article destroying the basis of other people’s religious beliefs. This is one reason I found his article internally inconsistent.

The writer is puzzled why the politicians who call for a ban on libation do not fancy resigning from their posts to become evangelists. If one were to follow his logic, then one would ask why such a devout defender of libation is not a chief “GHANAIST” priest (to borrow his own term). Mr. Boahene writes, “ As a young boy when libation was frequently poured and GHANAISM was effectively practiced in my town, there were few thefts and violence. Armed robbery was non-existent. You could lose something on the streets but nobody will touch it. I do not need to remind you how things have changed since we tried to attack our cultural values under the pretext of Christianity. The basic necessity of life-FOOD-was never a problem in Ghana when the help of GOD was sought through libation at the beginning of the farming season, ………” I have quoted this part of his article extensively; because this is the only portion of his article where he seems to develop and support his claim that libation has served Ghana better with anecdotal stories. I am puzzled why somebody writing in this age of scientific enlightenment can use such anecdotal stories to support his claims. Where is the evidence to support the claim that more libation means civility, virtue, morals, and caring? I am a Christian, but if you can provide some good data to show the link between pouring libation and moral virtue, armed robbery, and food production, I will support you to go to Ghana and pour libation everywhere you can. There are myriad of socio-economic, financial, political and demographic factors that have contributed to the present situation. It has nothing to do with the pouring of libation.

Boahene began his tirade by saying that he would like to mention few observations about charismatic priests and their congregation. I wonder whether he knows that many of the practices going on in some of the so-called Charismatic churches have nothing to do with Evangelicalism or orthodox Christian doctrines. Take for instance the idea of SLAIN IN THE SPIRIT. This phenomenon has no place in the New Testament church. It has never been a normative practice in the history of the church. Or, take the case of the prosperity message or gospel that has been popularized in West Africa through the teachings of the late Rev. Idahosa of Nigeria. The proof texts for prosperity message are found wanting when subjected to critical exegesis. Yet many people subject themselves to these practices under the name of Christianity.

Some of these priests you referred to, use socio-psychological manipulations to control and exploit their victims. They use techniques like altered states of consciousness, peer pressure, expectations, and the suggestions of hypnotists to prey on their victims. They tell their victims that they are falling under the anointing of God, or, to use their own term ”slain in the spirit. I believe you will not find these practices in any Christian creed as you rightly pointed out in your article when you stated that they cite the bible out of context “ citing out- of context phrases from the Bible to justify it. “ Yet you used these sporadic aberrations to justify your criticism against Christians in general, instead of concentrating on these groups.

The writer claims, “ Jesus is presented as a the messiah, but all actions attributed to Jesus were also attributed to Osiris (Greek God) centuries before Jesus was born.” In the first place, I do not believe Osiris was a Greek God. I believe that Osiris was the principal god of Egypt. He was believed to be the god of death and rebirth, keeper of the dead and the eldest son of Nut and Geb. Some Egyptologists believe that the name “Osiris” is the Greek corruption of the Egyptian name “Asar” or “Usar.” The writer should also understand that if Jesus is not God, but a figment of imagination of millions of people, then all my believing in His deity couldn’t make Him God. In the same vein all your unbelief will not change His identity if He is God. Emperor Constantine could not decree him to be God, Paul could not do so, and neither you nor I can do that. You attacked Jesus’ claims, and attacked God’s character. These are serious indictments against Christ, God- the Father, and Christianity as a religion.

You attacked the deity of Christ, but have you ever considered the claims made by Him? He claimed to be none other than God in human flesh (John1: 1). These amazing claims were supported by his impeccable character, His fulfillment of predictive prophecy, His incredible influence on human history- and most importantly, the historical fact of His resurrection from the dead. C.S. Lewis, who was a professor at Cambridge University and once an agnostic, writes “ I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘ I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, I do not accept His claim to be God.’ That is one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic –on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse.”

Also the noted British Professor, Michael Green writes regarding Jesus of Nazareth “He never wrote a book, held an office, had a family, or owned a house. He didn’t go to college or visit a big city. He didn’t do any of the things we usually associate with greatness; in fact, He had no credentials but Himself. All this taken into account, it is amazing that nineteen centuries have come and gone and He remains the central figure of the human race. Nothing in the world has ever affected human life as that solitary man –Jesus Christ.” I am yet to hear something like this from Mr. Boahene regarding Osiris.

Notwithstanding, Boahene writes “Jesus was not God, until AD 325 when Bishops met at Nicaea in Bythynia (Turkey) to declare him one. The meeting was presided over by emperor Constantine who claimed that a vision of Christ helped him win the war.” What Boahene failed to inform his readers is that in the same year AD325 before the general council of the church at Nicaea in Bythynia, Ossius, the emperor’s ecclesiastical advisor presided over a council of Orient in Antioch that was attended by fifty-nine bishops, forty of whom attended the council of Nicaea. What Boahene wanted to appear to his readers as an imperial edict started as theological differences among the church fathers and Arius. He was a parish priest in Alexandria who was of the view that “ Personal distinctions were not eternally present within the nature of God .. the Godhead Himself was responsible for them…. Identifying the eternal Godhead with the father and regarding the Logos as no more than a power or quality of the father. This was basically a Trinitarian controversy. Boahene should also have mentioned that an emperor to invoke a council should not be considered unusual at that time since in Hellenistic thought he “ was given by God supreme power in things material and spiritual. He should have also been objective in mentioning that the council of Nicaea did not end the Arian controversy as he purport to tell his readers. The point is that the deity of Christ was not decreed, but was deduced from the panoply of scriptures.

The writer continues his blasphemous claims by declaring that God has limitations. This writer who claims to be an expert in theology and church history should have known that most of the statements attributed to God in the Scriptures are anthropomorphic in nature. For example, when the bible says God was sorry or angry, it does not mean a change in His attributes and actions. These descriptions are anthropopathic (God depicted in terms of human experience of knowledge and emotions).

Let me ask you these questions since you seem to know better than all the Christian intellectuals put together, including Pascal, Aquinas, Augustine, Soren Kierkegaard and many Christian intellectuals. How do you know, you know better than God? And how do you show or demonstrate you know better than God? How do you know you know better than the Church fathers and the Christian theologians? Knowing better than a transcendent God would require a perfect knowledge of all things (omniscience). To attain this knowledge you would have to have simultaneous access to all parts of the universe (omnipresence). To be certain of your claims about God besides what God has revealed to you would demand that you possess Godlike characteristics. Unfortunately mankind’s limited nature precludes these special attributes for claims

Furthermore, the world in which we live demands explanation as its origin. How do you explain the existence of the world? How do you provide the necessary precondition to account for the laws of science, the universal laws of logic—and, of course, absolute moral standards? Why is there something instead of nothing? These are questions; I will pray Mr. Boahene to ponder on and to answer them in his future articles.

In conclusion, let me say that while I understand your frustrations because of the conduct of some professed Christian leaders, I think you deviated from your main claim that libation has served Ghana better. I think you should have developed your claim and provided more data to support it, instead of the Christian bashing. You should also have made a good case why you think God has limitations, and that Jesus was like Osiris. Your narration of the council of Nicaea was a bit deceptive. You should have put the role of Constantine in the right context if your intention was not to destroy the Christian faith. In all, let me commend you for writing, and hope you will be more tolerant, sensitive, and objective in your future articles.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of Ghanaweb.

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