Religion, Politics and Nigeria
I have been having discussions or interview if you will―since I was mostly asking the questions while he gave me his views—with Tunde on Religion, politics, and Nigeria; which I intend to share. The challenge, however, has been how to summarize the conversation without flattening salient points raised during discussion. But I will try my best.
By the way, Tunde is an old friend and we go way back. 10years or more. You can check out his posts here where he talks about Christianity and our everyday life as humans.
Olusegun: I would like to start by asking you how you started writing and what inspires your type of writing. I follow your posts on Medium and I think you have carved a niche for yourself; which relates to Christianity and contemporary life in general (I hope I am right).
My intention is to make this about “Religion/Christianity and politics in Nigeria” but I crave your indulgence to start with some twists and turns before we set for the intended path.
For me, coming to a “Black and white” country like America, from a racially homogeneous country like Nigeria where we are all blacks has been quite an experience. In fact, it can be exhausting sometimes. Everything in America is black and white. Everything! I’ve heard some phrases that threw me off my balance, like: “Why do we (black people) pray to the God of the white man?” “Jesus was white”. I found out this questions exist in the mind of people like me who also did not understand what it meant to be black until they got to America. I had never thought about these things but we must talk about these things. What do you have to say about this?
Tunde: Firstly, we must understand that all forms of ideology emanate from the mind. These conceived ideas are indoctrinated into the thought patterns of vulnerable minds, via the psychology of persuasion.
The subject matters being considered politics, racism and Christianity are inherently related. They all have influencing powers over each other. Politics is definite and structured control over human community, commonly narrowed to governance. Politics birthed all forms of malignant segregation which includes racism and it is gradually defining events of the church. It is the cornerstone of all forms of prejudice, which is rousing bias and stereotypical views.
Racism to me is a word, this is because I exist in a single race country. I have not been faced with the unfairness of being a person of color by the supposed superior white man. I can only assume the fears and worries of Afro-Americans and black sojourners in a white land, but it doesn’t define their experiences to me.
Christianity as I see it should be a way of Life, it is Integrating the thoughts and acts of Christ into our daily lives (Rom13:14)(Matt5:48). It is not a life of tongue speaking, scripture quoting or miracle working. The aforementioned are signs to bear witness to the unbelievers and encourage other Christians. It’s a life of total dependency on God’s love for man, it is this love that David constantly searched out.
The political system of the church is what has encouraged denominationalism, ethno Christian idealism, we now have Igbo and Yoruba churches in Nigeria. My final take as a Christian is that to create a relationship between Christianity and politics, we must understand the events that played out as Daniel soared to a position of eminence in Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar’s confederacy. I think I have a few posts on that on medium.
In conclusion, we do not serve the God of the white man as Christ has through his flesh reconciled Jews and Gentiles, and we have obviously seen black men wrought miracles of the supposed white God.
I would say you were right on my interest of writing; I am much imbued to tenets of Christianity and a morally viable society.
Olusegun: You raised an important point on how “ideas are indoctrinated into the thought patterns of vulnerable minds, via the psychology of persuasion”
This takes me to my next question, and please bear in mind that my context is confined within the walls of Nigeria.
I have often (correct me if I’m wrong) thought that there seems to be a disconnect between the kind of Christianity practiced by the older generation and that of the younger generation. Could it be because Christianity or even religion, if you will―at large continues to undergo innovation? Or could it be that the younger generation were not taught spiritual independence, which then leaves their vulnerable minds at the mercy of agnosticism? I know quite a number of youths who ditched Christianity once they became old enough to make their own choices.
Also, as some or most of the pastors continue to soar in wealth and status, and the body of the church and Nigeria itself continue to languish in abject poverty, how do we convince the coming generation that Christianity is not about mundanity?
A lot of youths believe that our religious leaders have not done enough to affect the collective prosperity of Nigeria. What really should be the role of the church in politics?
Tunde: He is God and he never changes, Christ the same yesterday, today and forever. The law of old is still very applicable to us today. We only enjoy the Grace that Christ came to fulfill the law which was strangulating man. God is the author of Christianity through the events of Christ. God will never change, so Christianity cannot evolve without his consent. There is no difference between the Christianity of old and now, there is only difference in our approach to Faith and the people who claim to be Christians. We have blended the Faith with morality, and becoming on the ground that God’s mercy never ceaseth forgetting that he who crowned the king Saul also rejected him. The innovations we see are just blends of western culture with Christianity, trying to make God in congruence with contemporary times. We must not forget that God has always been futuristic, he is the one who declares things to come from ages past.
The part called mind is the seat of decision for the human. It is the place where battles are decided. Paul speaking in 2Cor4:4 “who has blinded the MIND of those who believe not’. Peter quoted in 1peter1:13 “prepare for action in your mind”. We have fed our minds more with the corruptible things of this age, the distractions we created has taken the place of God. It’s not bad to learn of the profitable things of this age, but Paul said to Timothy, “physical Knowledge is good, but godliness has value for all things” (1Times4:8). Agnosticism is a response to Christianity, it is thriving because the church is void of generals. Darkness can never subdue light. It might seem Anti-Christianity is thriving over Christians, but I dare to say we were never Christians. We only had seats in the sanctuary.
There are dimensions to pastors prospering, either at the expense of their members or God is showering blessings upon them. He takes pleasure in the prosperity of his servants (Psalm35:27). Nigeria and the church languish in poverty not because men of God are rich. It is because there is no investment either socially or spiritually in capital infrastructure (Human Mind). Most Christians spend more time praying than seeking how to activate the prayers through the work of our hands. God’s blessing comes upon a diligent man, opportunity must meet preparation. Joseph was interpreting dreams in the prison. Time and chance happen to us all. What about those who worked hard and died in poverty? Mercy, favor, Grace. Favor picked Joseph and David, and the bible recorded God being with them both? For you to prosper as an individual, God must be with you. It is not everyone who speaks in tongues or exhibits the works of the spirit that God’s with.
Nigeria won’t prosper as long as we have the non-capital investment mindset. We have one of the lowest educational attendance globally. The few of us lucky enough to acquire education up to tertiary level are still being recycled with mundane knowledge. Lautech still uses 1994 notes to lecture her students. How do we compete on the global scene, to produce economically viable personnel who will develop a nation? This poignant story is peculiar to sub-Sahara Africa. On the political arena, we voted a government who is a perfect representation of our selves. Take a survey from the smallest unit within our society, social, religious or enterprise. Members are increasingly unfaithful to purpose, searching out ways for selfish gain. I as a person rarely complain, because I see the persona of unfaithful elected in the capitalist next street, the family next door and the church across the road. Permit me to state that the state Council desires to prosper the populace, but it’s the gods of Babylon that resides in them that constrains. The powers they have pledged allegiance.
We must have an encounter with Jesus, to understand the true call of Christianity. It might be almost difficult to prove to this young generation that Christianity is not about mundanity. God is omnipresent to appear to us all at once, the goal of our faith is not prosperity, miracle working or prophecy. It is the salvation of your soul. (1peter1:9). Jesus told the Rich young Prince to give all he had, not because he wanted him poor. He wants a heart that is fixated more on Christ than on wealth. So what do we do? Teach the gospel…. What is the gospel? Matt6:33, John3:16.
My question is what do we want Christian leaders to do? Pray for the economy, doll out money, begin capital investment or take up position in government. If we feel, they are not doing enough, then let’s do something. Samuel was in Israel when Goliath attacked, it took young David. Isaiah was around when Sennecherib was threatening. Their portfolio is ministry and would not meddle into government unless God permits.
On a final note, the church is already in politics. The church isn’t the edifice, it’s you and I. The way we conduct our everyday lives in the society. (1peter2:12,15) Every day we hear of devastating atrocities perpetrated by pastors from murder, sexual abuse, sorcery etc. How do we then convince the society at large to give us a role? Until the church eliminates classism, ethnicity and spiritualism and most importantly return to Christ as her husband. The church will never be able to mentor the society and does not have a role in politics.
Olusegun: who is a real Christian?
And what should we (Christians) do to fend off agnosticism and Nihilism?
Lastly, Religion has been used as both a weapon and a shield by Nigerian politicians to whitewash the public. What can we do about this? You can also round it up with any words you have for all the struggling “Christians” out there. Thank you for your contributions
Tunde: A Christian is the person who believes in Christ; crucified and resurrected for his victory. (1John2:3,6)…. He obeys the commandments and walks in the way of Jesus. There is nothing as real Christian.
We were designed to love and not fight. God will fight for his Name. We should just live as Christians. (1Pet2:12,15)… Let the light of God shine in our hearts. A fragrance of the knowledge of him.
Religion is Sacred, so we don’t want to be guilty of profanity, that’s why our leaders use it as a tool against us. We can only continue to evaluate leadership and pray for all in government (1Tim2:1–5) Nehemiah, David, Esther, Daniel, Joseph and Co must arise, while we pray they don’t corrupt their souls with meals offered to idols. Christians whom are called to public service, must serve in truth and spirit.
Finally, I am also a struggling Christian, but I discovered this truth yesterday. John14: 26…. A relationship with the Holy Spirit. He is our comforter, designated to teach us ALL THINGS!