Feeling a little disappointed by a statement from a Ghanaian pastor who, I’m assured, is ‘one of the better ones’, I posted a series of questions on my facebook page about one of his comments which I felt veered toward idolatry and superstition. The replies ranged from:

Don’t attack a ‘Man of God’
Don’t challenge my world
You are incapable of understanding these sorts of things
That any critique is because I maliciously want to find fault

All the replies were ways of not dealing with the issues I was raising. Of course I was not surprised and knew some people would react in this way.

Who Are You?

The whole point of an English bible was to take away the power of the priest in claiming exclusive access to knowledge. It democratised Christianity so that we are all capable of studying, reading theology and forming our own opinions.

A man of God is precisely that –  a man and nothing more. We are all men and women and if you believe in God you also believe you are ‘of God’.

emo035hSo what makes the pastor so exempt from analysis? We presume they have studied theology more than we have but that may not be the case in Ghana. People treat them as if they have been endowed with some form of supernatural abilities which is why they are pastors and that critiquing their comments is a direct form of ‘challenging God’.

The Supernatural Pastor

Many pastors wish to reinforce the idea that they possess supernatural powers, claiming the wealth they have accumulated from their congregation is proof of their power, that they are capable of miracles (often little more than cheap tricks) and that their bland statements show they are prophets channelling God. Their posters, which feature huge pictures of themselves rarely mention Jesus or God and reinforce supernaturalism, are all around town.

All these deceptions are ways of placing themselves above the God whose message they claim to preach.

Don’t Question

Behind all of this is the issue that a friend wrote – “It’s old age upbringing. We dared not question what our parents or elders told us.”

  • We need to challenge the idea that analysing and critiquing ideas is ‘attacking the person’.
  • We have to stop staying yes, even when we disagree. We need to change the idea that agreement equals respect. It is not disrespectful when we engage with someone’s ideas because it shows interest and thought in what they are saying.
  • If someone asks ‘who are you?’ we tell them we are ordinary human beings just like you, developing and exploring ideas with the same rights to express our opinions as you.

I believe we all know this to be true but fear from childhood indoctrination has a firm hold and can take over and silence even the smartest of us.

If we refuse to ask questions, if we refuse to engage in critical thinking, if we continue to default to those in authority, we have sold ourselves for the opinions of others.

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