On Christianity, Mzbel speaks for many

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Mzbel speaks for many, and it is not as a result of her fame or money.  The thoughts she’s expressed in recent times about Christianity are thoughts many have but often find difficult to express publicly. Or even if they do express such thoughts, it is often done in private circles.

Though Ghana may, officially, be considered a secular state, the reality is different. Ghana is a de facto religious nation. Fortunately, there is great harmony among religious groups in Ghana.

However, there is often little tolerance for people who espouse non-religious or anti-religious, atheistic, and even agnostic views. Those who express such views brazenly are often guaranteed blunt responses and barbs. Especially, when those views are perceived to be attacks on a major religion(in Ghana), i.e. Christianity or Islam.

Further, to question the religious tenets of any group is something few dare to do openly. That is not to say that people do not have questions. That is not to say that people do not find many religious practices puzzling.However, it appears we do not have safe or convenient avenues for such questions and views to be asked orexpressed.

Speaking more specifically about Christianity, Mzbel’s recent comments on “Celebrity Ride with Zionfelix”are not “strange”. Comments about a white Jesus or white God are not uncommon (But there are churches and places with black Jesus murals and stained glass windows too).Similarly, comments about Jesus Christ not being the son of God, and she [Mzbel] not believing that prayer to God has to be through Jesus Christ are not uncommon.

In fact, there are some “Christian” denominations that hold similar views. Also, the thought that Christianity is a form of idol worship, and insinuating that Jesus’ death on the cross was an act of murder by God may seem radical and extreme. However, those are also not “strange”. Variations of such comments and questions about Christianity have been posed by adherents of other faiths, atheists, and agnosticsthroughout history. They predate Mzbel’s recent comments.

Again, the historical and present exploitation of Christianity for political, economic, social, and cultural purposes provide a basis for questions about the authenticity of Christianity. It is common knowledge that Christianity was used to prop up apartheid in South Africa, and justify slavery in the Americas. It remains a fact that many horrors and atrocities have been perpetuated in the name of Christianity and religion in general.

In Ghana, almost daily, we are swamped with news of homes being pillaged, and men and women being violated in imaginable and unimaginable ways (sexually, financially, emotionally, etc.) all in the name of Christ or by professing Christians.

For anyone who is examining or interrogating Christianity, whether as a personal-spiritual or academic exercise, there are many questions and thoughts that may naturally come up about the authenticity of Christianity. But, is the church prepared, and ready to engage? Is the church able to put up a defense for belief/faith in Christ? Is the church anti-intellectual? Is the Ghanaian church anti-intellectual? In that same line of thought, I ask, are faith and reason compatible?

Tim Keller, in his book Reason for God, writes that “as a child, the plausibility of a faith can rest on the authority of others, but when we reach adulthood there is a need for personal, firsthand experience as well.”As children, religiosity usually forms one of the cornerstones of our socialization. There are lots of practices we partake in without any real understanding.

The practices may seem routine and mundane. As we grow, making that transition from routine and mundane observance to meaningful and invested practice of faith is sometimes fraught with challenges. Existential crisis tend to emerge.There are intellectual barriers people need to work through. For some people, such issues are easily resolved. For others, such issues are even inconsequential.  But there are also people for whom the intellectual barriers represent a tough journey.

Being a Christian calls for sincere introspection and reflection.And there should be room for doubts to be expressed and questions to be asked.

But, can the church embrace those who come with questions - “tough”, “difficult” and unnerving questions about Christianity?

I think it is fair to question the type of Christianity churches promote. We cannot continue to forever ride on the psychedelic wings and high tides of sensational and sensual Christianity. Christianity is much more than the pulsating rhythms of congas, the cascading tones of guitars, and the mellow tunes of pianos. Christianity is much more than the matrix of programs church leaders often use in growing their church numbers instead of growing the members.

The failure to respond to today’s questions becomes the basis of tomorrow’s apostasy.