Opinions Mon, 25 Dec 2017

Letter to Virgin Mary on Jesus’ Birthday!

Dear Virgin Mary,

I am writing to congratulate you on your glorious birth for humanity! May the will of your son and the father be done on earth as it in heaven. I am without a modicum of fondness for crass misogynists and those who relegate your role to the background when discussing the concept of salvation.

Through the Virgin Mary, we are endowed with grace in place of grace already given through the fullness of Christ (John1:16). Perhaps it is very nauseating and hypocritical for some believers to criticize the Catholic Church because of the prominence and respect given to the Virgin Mary while at the same time they [Catholic Church] are being condemned for not giving enough prominence and respect to women.

The Virgin Mary must be appreciated for her virtuous life to the extent of luring the love of God. Could you [Virgin Mary] be happy with the state of Christianity on the continent of Africa in the name of your son? For me, it is a posteriori proposition to conclude that misunderstanding of scriptures and the lust for material things by some pastors are making it increasingly difficult for many to realize the birth significance of Jesus, the Christ.

I am convinced, you might not be happy about the egomaniacal conducts being demonstrated in the podium these days under the alleged behest of your infallible son and the Holy spirit. I have no intention to construct or deconstruct the niches of Christian faith in Africa. Who are mine?

Nevertheless, some of the weird behaviors in the chapel attributed to the name and direction of your son must be grounds of consternation for all well-meaning believers. The waggish Nigerian-born Sahara TV broadcast journalist, Adeola Fayehun reports from South Africa; how a Ghanaian pastor in that country delivers women by either kissing them or touching their breast. We are told that sexual sin is against our own body which is the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:18-19).

God is not man that he should lie (Numbers 23:19). How can the above directions come from your son? Dear Mary, kindly plead with your son to save innocent souls from such unmitigated self-seekers mushrooming everywhere on African continent as we celebrate the accepted birthday of Jesus (December 25,).

Although I must admit that the introduction of Christianity into Africa was not at all a blessing, one of the gifts of colonialism is the message of the cross or the Good News that came with it. The fact is the early Christian missionaries introduced the faith into Africa with selflessness, critical thinking, hard work, perseverance and discipline.

Gold Coast nationalist struggle was spear-headed by early local Christians like Joseph Peter Brown, Jacob Sey, John Mensah Sabah, J. E Casely Hayford and Rev. Ato Ahoma. These nationalists were also products of mission schools, notably Mfantsipim School.

Cocoa one of the mainstays of Ghana’s economy was first introduced by the Basel Mission (Presbyterian Church of Ghana) before Tetteh Quarshie, [who himself was a mission trained goldsmith] brought his Amelondo pods from Island of Fernando Po in what is now, Equatorial Guinea. Thank you, Virgin Mary! The message of your son in Ghana was accompanied by unmitigated blessing; cocoa.

Deep understanding of Christian theology, apologetics and philosophy became the trump card of the early Christian Missionaries in Ghana. For example, God created man in his own image (Genesis 1:27), to the early theologians meant that man must be creative to reflect the image of God.

If God is a creator, then his image must be creators. Europe was glutted with technological advancement partly because of heart-warming messages from the pulpit. Early theologians promoted active research, innovation and knowledge-seeking.

Max Weber’s famous book, “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” explored the correlation between ascetic Protestantism and the rise of spirit of modern capitalism. Weber recognized the role of Calvinists in the upsurge of industrial revolution in Europe. The early Christian capitalists perceived profit from work not only as an end in itself but also a virtuous life. Weber published this book in 1905 to link capitalism and industrial development in Europe to the life-changing message through Jesus.

This was in a response to Karl Marx’s conclusion that religion is the opium of the masses. In his 1844, “Critique of Hegel’s philosophy of rights, Marx posited that Capitalists adopted religion to encourage embourgeoisement [capitalism] and to curb the labor rebellion of the proletariat (working class).

Opium is herb similar to Marijuana which alters the mood and reasoning of its users. Thus, Marx had a conviction that out of greed and on the icy waters of capitalist egoistic calculations, workers were always entreated to build their treasuries in heaven for eternal blissfulness and eschew the deception of this materialistic world controlled by the devil.

To Marx, religious men are bereft of rational thinking and enjoyment on earth, while capitalists maximize their profits on earth through critical thinking. Weber corrected that impression and proposed that the message of the podium was inseparable from industrial revolution in Europe.

I was in Church last Sunday and I strongly agreed with the Preacher man. “Don't let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ” (Colossian 2:8). To the pastor, out of greed and selfishness, human thinking, high sounding nonsense and spiritual powers are filling the Church these days.

I think most of us go through life without knowing that our perceptions have profoundly been influenced by negative bible teachings. If believers really do not have faith in God and live with him, then their witness could be misleading. Although I admire Ghanaian Charismatic church leaders like Pastor Mensah Otabil, Rev. Eastwood Anaba and the rests, I cannot hide my feelings that Charismatic Christian faith was introduced into Africa and Ghana without charismatic church discipline. This partly explains why everybody is planting a church.

If laziness, honesty, trustworthiness, poverty and marriage are perceived to be spirits, then we have a long way to in Africa. Christian faith when well-factored into national development plan could enhance the development fortunes of Africa. Dear Virgin Mary, it is my prayer that you plead with your son to save innocent souls from all false prophets.

May your son continue to grant our prayer request as we observe his birthday. May this prayer fall before him like incense and the lifting of our hands be his evening sacrifice (Psalm 141:2). “Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it”

(Ephesians 2:9). May you and your son grant us more grace to be steadfast.

Once again congratulation and May heaven bless the day you gave birth to the Messiah.

Columnist: Nana Yaw Osei