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Opinions of Tuesday, 30 November 1999

Columnist: Kwarteng, Francis

Otabil Is The Only True Man Of God 3


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BOB MARLEY

“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.”

THE DAY OF RECKONING

We shall not be overtly judgmental here. We derive this moral sentiment from Mathew 7: 21 (King James Version):

“Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”

Archbishop Duncan Williams also reminds us of this fact:

“We prophesied in your name, we cast out demons in your name, we healed the sick in your name’, and Jesus will say: ‘I don’t know you, workers of iniquity, get out!’ They’ll say: ‘Ah, but we got all these results in your name!,’ and he’ll say: ‘I don’t know you.’”

And we certainly recall a friend telling this author about Duncan-Williams’ near-death experience, which brought him into direct contact with God who then asked him to return to this life and to make it known to Ghanaians, that none of the pastors in Ghana had his or her name logged in the Book of Life. In fact, Duncan-Williams’ own name was not in the Book of Life.

What is the morale of anecdote? At least One thing for sure: That is to say, whether or not Otabil and his clerical colleagues and friends are doing the will of Jesus’ Father, God, is not the kind of determination that falls within our discretionary censure. It also says no one is perfect. This is what Bob Marley may have exactly meant when he, without mincing words, made the following remarks:

“Who are you to judge the life I live? I know I'm not perfect—and I don't live to be. But before you start pointing fingers…Make sure your hands are clean.”

That moral determination lies squarely within the discretionary prerogatives and privileges of Jesus’ Father, God. It is said, after all, that a frog’s real length comes into sharp focus upon its mortal passage from this life.

All of these scenarios question why some clerics bother to bid, pitch, and sell personalized and specialized commodities, such as holy water and oil, prayers, candles, incenses, and the like to their gullible followers, just like the popes and the Catholic Church of old sold indulgences to its members until the day that the maverick Martin Luther burst onto the scene and changed the dynamics of Catholic autocracy forever. This controversial history is still with us here today!

As a matter of fact, some nondenominational Christian institutions even practice subtle variants of indulgences, as it were repackaged as part of the political theology of homiletic homeopathy.

This is nothing more than the secular application of the concept of “divine mercy” in another sense of political spirituality, or ethereality.

THE ELEMENT OF SURPRISE: RELIGION, NATIONALISM AND PATRIOTISM

Intrinsic to all that we have discussed thus far, is the alienation of the deeply religious and spiritual from pragmatic considerations and questions of nationalism and patriotism. We are directly referring to the core idea of split allegiance(s) as it relates to immanent detachment from the moral center of the political geocentricism of the national enterprise, and a painstaking deferring of that split allegiance(s) to a supposed existential construct directly derived from, or partly based upon a transcendental deistic framology. Evidently this detachment generally leads to a de-emphasized quantum in the totalized popular output generated for nation-building exercises and purposes.

Some members of Ghana’s Pentecostal and Charismatic clergy, including Otabil, have succeeded somewhat in fomenting this split allegiance(s) in the body politic. The real motive behind this strategic trajectory of power dynamics in the volcanic crater of sectarianism—undertaken by some theological theologians—is diverting the civic attention and responsibilities of Christianized (and Islamized) citizens from pragmatic questions of nationalism and patriotism to themselves, the clerical class.

This way these self-seeking political theologians are able to usurp part of the mandate of the public state, as well as of the essence and nature of God, thus becoming God-like in the eyes and minds of the infinite gullibility of many Christians, Moslems…

Man thereby leaves the corporeal state of mortality behind to become a redoubtable assumption of anthropomorphism instead, in the manipulated consciousness of the gullible. Man and God become fierce competitors in Max Romeo’s “father’s house of worship, has become a den of thieves.” This screwed-up consciousness becomes morally and spiritually cancerous. Call it cancerous consciousness if you will.

This sort of cancerous consciousness is what the likes of Bishop Obinim, Kweku Bonsam, Okomfo Yaw Appiah and others represent in the body politic. It does not necessarily only affect the gullible followings of these self-styled Men of God. That is the irony of it, if we may add!

To reverse these negative trends in human psychology requires a seismic, paradigm shift in the political pragmatics of scientific thinking. Other options also remain. On “Talking Blues” Bob Marley sang:

“Because I feel like bombing a church; now, now that you know the preacher is lying…So who is going to stay at home when, when the freedom fighters are fighting…”

Most of these corporate political theologians are not “freedom fighters” in the technical sense of the phrase. They hate liberation theology with passion. More so, they are not even “freedom fighters” in matters of religion and spirituality. They are “freedom fighters” only in the art of making money.

Social commentator Ernest Birmeh, affectionately called Dr. Think Twice, seems to grasp the existential dynamics of our philosophical drift when he recently told hundreds of students at the Kwame University of Science and Technology the following:

“Never pay tithe and offering to them, be bold. They are never helping you; they are contributing factor to the woes of the youth in this country. If they don’t preach that children should be respected, be bold, pay no money to them.

“Use your monies for something else, for they are not helping you. That culture of silence needs to be broken. Jesus showed example on how children/youth should be respected. The Western world have adopted that, hence over trillions of jobs is coming from them…

Also Mutabaruka expresses his righteous indignation at the evils of religion on the track “People’s Court 2,” which we referenced at some narrative length in the first installment of this series. And oh, lest we forget prosperity theology makes arrant nonsense of this song “Gold Have I None” (see Acts of the Apostles,” Chapter 3). Here is a song that lyrically and rhythmically captures apostles performing miracles without demanding a cent in return. It is all free. Today the miracle industry is a multi-million—if not a billion—industry of unscientific lies. Here it goes:

“Silver and gold have I none…

“But such as I have, give I thee…

“In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth…

“Rise up and walk…

FINAL COMMENTS 1

There had been, nonetheless, a seamless overlap between religion and the state before Enlightenment thinking and the French Revolution (as well as the American Revolution) eventually destroyed that sense of unified mutuality. The pre-colonial African state, to mention but one, was such.

Then Moses, the purported author of the Pentateuch (the First Five Books of the Old Testament or the Hebrew Torah), for instance, carried this model of unified mutuality—with specific reference to the Ancient Egyptian state model, a highly sophisticated product of African psychology, call it “the African Genius” (see Kwame Nkrumah’s speech of the same title)—to the Ancient Hebrews or Israelites.

Even more, Sigmund Freud, the “Father of Psychoanalysis,” himself a Jew, could have been right to suggest that Moses was an Egyptian. The question then boils down to whether Moses was actually an Egyptian in a cultural or nationalistic sense. This question is not a focus of this essay because we also believe culture and nation can overlap in a certain sense. Regardless, Acts 7: 22 (King James Version) has this to say:

“And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.”

Moses’ Decalogue (the tablet of Ten Commandments) underlines the political philosophy of Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army.

FINAL COMMENTS 2

Certainly both religion and science do not have all the answers to the ultimate questions of life. In this Otabil cannot therefore claim he or religion for that matter has all the answers, for, if it were actually so, he would either be God or take the place of God, and as well, qualify to stake a claim to undisputed authorship of all inspired books in human existence and revealed religion, especially Christianity. Of course, he has not staked a claim to omniscience as far as we know.

And at least, science and scientists are more open to pragmatic questions dealing with liberal approaches to a discursive, rationalistic revisionism of questionable and suspicious beliefs and ideas than religion and religionists are of their dogmatic theologies. Apologetics reinforces these dogmatic theologies for better or for worse. This is generally so because apologetics calcifies human psychology and makes the latter somewhat unamenable to rational thought, progressive scientific ideas and general paradigm shifts in scientific formulations. Nevertheless, Otabil is a nebulous conundrum that is extremely difficult—if not almost impossible—to decipher or unravel.

We merely invoked that hypothetical sentiment for obvious reasons. But even so, great scientists such as Cheikh Anta Diop, Madam Curie, Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein, Ben Carson, Linus Pauling, John von Newman, Louis Pasteur, Georges Lemaître, Francis Allotey, Charles Darwin, Francis Collins…did not have or even claim all the answers to the ultimate questions of life.

The other interesting point is that the finite perimeters of human psychology and intellection, mortal curiosity about inexplicable things of this life and beyond, a boding and pricking sense of eschatological insecurities, mortality, human wickedness, gripping fear about the unknown, intrinsic human yearning or drive for spiritual fulfillment, human suffering and the failure of the material world to ease human suffering…make for a belief in a paternalistic, loving super-powerful non-material existence beyond a telluric existence.

This is where belief-centric constructs of immortality, God and a heaven “flowing with milk and honey” and virgins…come in. There are, however, some intractable problems that accompany these belief-centric frameworks. Even the conceptual framology of the divine gift of “free will” to mortals presupposes an intrinsic conditionality of organic fallibility in the generalized material and non-material expressivity of human nature. Unfortunately, and perhaps regrettably also, while some religious folks see themselves as intrinsically fallible, they simply refuse or just cannot bring themselves to accord the same status to these Men of God whom they hold in awe.

This concept of “free will” makes the human being an agent of moral contradictions and internecine conflicts (self-conflicted), problems he certainly did not bring upon himself. In this sense human psychology naturally becomes an organic theatre of warlike internal antithesis which turns to undermine the sense of agency, eventually culminating in the individuating—and potentiating—of immanent hostilities and perturbations. This divinely inspired generational curse is not of mortal making, at least if we go by the account offered in the Book of Genesis.

Why human beings have “free will” but “lower animals” supposedly do not is an interesting paradox that still remains locked up in a revolving knot. And there are those who also claim the Bible provides historical precedents with divine sanction for genocide, ethnic cleansing, sexism, slavery, mass murder…as well as divine favoritism for certain groups of people and persons.

Finally, the following scenarios and questions arise: If, according to inspired revelation that the ethereal existence which God created was perfect as the Bible, for instance, claims, where then did Lucifer’s unapproved and unacceptable rebellious approach to dealing with his creator, God, come from?

In other words, what is the exact epistemic, moral, and phenomenological/ontological value of Lucifer, the Devil? Or better yet, why should man be held responsible for the primordial sins and evil intentions and deeds of Lucifer? Does the divine gift of “free will” inherently not make man an agent of evil and goodness? On what basis did Prophet Emmanuel Badu Kobi make the determination that Christ’s second coming is not to be expected now or anytime in the near future because, as he confidently believes and understands it, the work of God was not done yet?

KENNEDY AGYAPONG AND THE POLITICAL CRITERION OF DECEPTIVE CONVENIENCE

On what basis did Kennedy Agyapong declare Otabil as “the only true man of God”? It is clear that that mortal determination smacks of a politics of deceptive convenience, as he also failed to accompany his declarative choice of “Otabil as the only true man of God,” with a clear-cut definitional position on his choice of specific criterion upon which he based his selection of Otabil “as the only true man of God!

That mortal determination usurps the moral and divine authority of transcendental wisdom! Ken therefore takes the place of God and becomes God on that account. To wit, there is a sense of moral agency that he is a manifestation of God. This interpretation may partly explain why his psittacine by-heart talk gives him the impression, however false, that he exclusively embodies the collective wisdom of Ghana’s hard-earned nationalist geopolitics.

The chatterbox Ken is undoubtedly an uninformed and clueless maverick.

We shall return with the concluding part (Part 4). Stay tuned.

REFERENCES

Ghanaweb. “Stop Paying Offering, Tithe—Dr.Think Twice Tells Youth.” April 18, 2016.

Ghanaweb. “Some Pastors Wish Me Dead—Duncan-Williams.” March 28, 2016.

The Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP). “One Hundred Reasons To Be A Scientist.” Trieste, Italy: 2004.

NOTE

For the epigrammatic Bob Marley quote, go to the website http://www.bobmarley.com/charity/

For second Bob Marley quote, see https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:Bob_Marley

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