I visited Ghana towards the end of 2013, and stayed with my niece who is a christian and a leading barrister. She strongly urged me to attend a women’s meeting which was in close proximity to her apartment. I was absolutely flabbergasted , horrified and numbed with disbelief with the ‘performance’ of the ‘preacher’ who represented himself as ‘a man of God’ at this meeting.
One of his diabolical and demented actions was to place his hand on the stomach of a dignified and respectable lady and declare, ostensibly with dubious and spurious spiritual discernment, that the woman’s umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck and that if the ‘preacher’ did not initiate a deliverance ritual and a concomitant incantation, then the fate of the woman and her unborn child were hanging on a very thin thread.
He proceeded to pour a bottle of olive oil on the head of this woman and proudly announced to the wild jubilation of the assembled audience that the lady was completely delivered and the impending and imminent danger to the unborn child and mother had been miraculously averted by the ‘supernatural intervention’ of the spiritual magician.
I wondered whether this was real or whether I was having a horrible nightmare. The women who had attended this meeting, from my fleeting observation of and encounter with them, seemed to be intelligent, rational, successful career and business women. The agonising and soul searching question to ask is, why had these women allowed this agent of the devil to brainwash them to accept his obvious deluded pronouncements and psychological manipulative actions?
The answer is not difficult to surmise. The fact of the matter is that the spiritual atmosphere and stratosphere of the Ghanaian society is infused with irrational fear in the power of the demonic world, unfounded and impractical expectations of divine favour, groundless suspicions of individuals who allegedly practise sorcery, witchcraft, necromancy and a plethora of other devious and satanic practices.
These imaginary, real or perceived demonic spiritual apprehensions provide a fertile ground for false prophets, pastors, teachers, fetish priests and a whole host of ‘spiritual’ pranksters and tricksters to thrive. The practitioners of false religion make it the most vibrant growth industry in Ghana today.
Even though I had not been invited to speak at the ladies meeting, I took the liberty as a servant of God to enjoin and exhort the ladies to exercise personal faith in God and not to succumb to the wiles of the devil and the deceit of men. The truth is that the peddling of false doctrine which is dressed in the garb of the prosperity gospel is pervasive and widely prevalent in our society.
The purveyors of this false doctrine are held in demi-god status . They receive absolute deference and incomprehensible reverence from the high and low. Every statement and utterance made by these people is received with total adulation and unbridled acceptance
The distinguishing characteristic of these ‘men of God’ is their opulent, extravagant and vain lifestyles. They rule and control’ their flock or congregations’ as feudal lords and oligarchs. One of these so-called prophets of God is purported to have asserted without equivocation, that if Jesus was alive today, He would be driving the most up market car. What a gross distortion of the true gospel!
Jesus is in fact and in truth alive today because He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is the second Person of the Godhead and, together with the Father and the blessed Holy Spirit, is God. The 1AM that 1AM. For true believers accepting Jesus Christ as personal Saviour is the most transforming and liberating experience that any human being can experience.
The practice of religion- my definition (which is man’s attempt to find God) is severely deplored by God. The Holy scriptures condemns the form of godliness and the denial of the transformative power of the Holy Spirit to reflect the values of Christ.
The existence of false prophets, teachers, pastors etc., is a moral opprobrium and an affront to basic common sense and respect to human dignity. The subservience of ordinary folk and the vulnerability of decent individuals to the diabolic ploys of these spiritual cowboys befudlles the mind.
Their irrational pronouncements and insane actions are a total contradiction to the basic message of the true gospel. The mandate Jesus gave to His disciples was for them to preach the message of repentance for the remission of sin – that clarion call is still relevant and applicable today.
The heretic doctrine of the prosperity gospel is purely hedonistic and materialistic. One of the primary fulcrums of this misrepresentation of true salvation gospel is that anyone professing an encounter with God must not experience any dire circumstances in their lives.
The acquisition of mammon or worldly goods, according to this false teaching, is the only evidence or measure of God’s favour and blessings upon the individual Christian and the corporate church.
The concept of Jesus Christ as the Suffering Servant who died on calvary’s cross for the total redemption of the world is anathema to those who espouse the false theology of the prosperity gospel.
It is clear that the irresistible pull and the attraction of the vulnerable and gullible seekers of God’s favour from these ‘men of God’ is attributable to the individual’s desire to have their holistic needs met by hook or crook.
Often these religious charlatans use trickery and deceit to mislead people into the erroneous belief that there are spiritually detectible and diagnostic causes for their present predicament i.e infertility, unemployment, lack of promotion at work and a whole range of basic unmet natural and common human desires.
The tragedy, however, is that mainstream Christian churches have also to a large extent failed the practitioners of faith. The prophetic voice has ceased to be proclaimed. The gospel message which a heritage of our Lord and Saviour Jesus is being adulterated and compromised.
In most of these orthodox churches positions of prominence and authority are reserved for the men and women of substance and letters- a far cry from the necessity of being filled with the Holy Spirit- as a prerequisite for Christian vocation.
Historically the Christian faith which was brought to Ghana by the missionaries had widespread positive benefits to our society. The prestigious High schools and teacher training colleges, the excellent clinics and hospitals dotted around the country are all a sterling tribute and legacy to the selfless Christian missionaries who undoubtedly had a true call from God to manifest His glory and presence in our nation.
A critical evaluation and analysis of the present impact of indigenous churches and missionaries in Ghana would reveal a lack of real genuine impact on the people in several significant areas of life. It is dubtless to state that Ghana is filled with individuals who are extremely committed to God.
The financial resources which is channelled through the church through offerings, tithes and other donations make the organised church or mainstream othordox churches a financial powerhouse. Infact, properly managed, the church in Ghana could be an engine for economic growth, social transformation etc.
Unfortunately the hierachical structure of the church and the ‘theocratic’ claims of her leaders has made the organised church and the modern spiritual churches a virtual tool of exploitation, oppression and deceit of ordinary folk. The Bible emphatically affirms that where there is no vision the people perish.
Karl Marx who was an inordinate scientific materialist described the organised religion of his day as opium of the people. This description in my view is apposite of the religious establishment in Ghana today.
There are a multiplicity of extremely affluent churches in Ghana today. One of the cardinal hallmarks of these churches is the creation of white elephant universities which is accessible only to the sons and daughters of the mega rich. Of course the leaders of these churches use the Bible as a means of motivating the people in satisfying their ingrained human greed of acquiring material goods.
In my careful and well-thought consideration, this state of affairs is a flagrant violation of the pure gospel of hope and salvation for mankind. Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’s message was encapsulated in enjoining His disciples and followers to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousnees. In the ‘christian’ world in Ghana today individual followers are exhorted to seek first the hedonistic and material kingdom.
The Apostle Paul, an astounding and uncompromising messenger of God, begged the adherents and followers of God not to conform to the mundane world system. Christian values are diametrically opposed to the ethic of the world.
The Lord Jesus Himself warned His disciples and His followers about the grave danger of obsession with worldly values and said it was futile and profitless to be completely driven by wordly success at the loss of one’s eternal soul.
There is clearly a wake-up call for the church in Ghana to uphold the ageold virtues of the Christian faith which has to be the means of bringing a dynamic and vibrant hope to the people as they encounter Jesus Christ our Saviour.
It is my ardent belief that Ghana as a nation could be radically transformed when the true prophetic voice is heard and when the followers of Jesus Christ become one another’s keeper.
By Alex Kwasi Kufuor