Why do we think everything is A-OK? Ghanaian Christians seem to think their version of Christianity is by and large sound. In previous posts I have argued that scripture never guarantees the faith will continue in a particular part of the world, much less the syncretic, culturally adulterated version we have in Ghana. It says clearly the world is ultimately at odds with the Church and wants to get rid of it. It teaches that we should be under no illusion, comfort with the world means you are in danger of compromising the faith. The spiritual warfare is real. Just looking at it from a sociological angle, the Church being a counter culture will always be antagonised by the mainstream culture. We have more than enough historical and contemporary examples from other places to illustrate the future of the faith here is not assured. Yet in spite of the multipronged historical, theological and sociological case for concern, why were my sincere Christian friends sceptical and even dismissive of my claim that Christianity in the country might not last?
The first reason is sociological. Christianity has become a cultural institution so we simply assume that it will always be there like everything around us. We breath the culture, it is all around us and we can’t escape it. Culture in itself is not a bad thing because it is God given but even barring the Christian worldview, not everything about living in an ambiguous world is great as most societies acknowledge. I am not just saying the church has imbibed the bad bits of the culture, I think our Christian identity has almost entirely been compromised by something systemically corrupt. Of course there are many lovely things about Ghana and being Ghanaian but I stand by my no holds barred analysis of my people. The Ghanaian church has sold out. Politicians without any qualms campaign in and with the church. As I and a long line of wiser people than myself before me have pointed out, it never ends well when church is in bed with the state in any capacity.
As we have seen in the last century, a culture can rapidly change within a generation. Living in an age of information technology, it is much easier to appreciate how swift these things can be, where staple institutions can suddenly become suspect and quickly overthrown. Right now, American brothers and sisters are squaring with the possibility of a culture that will no longer legally tolerate them among other things, something that was thought impossible a generation ago. I seriously doubt given the present cultural undercurrents, when the young nation of Ghana undergoes its next major cultural revolution, the informal institutional church will survive it.
Perhaps I am wrong. Christianity in our part of the world is relatively recent but has been very successful. We do not have a Christian heritage we can draw on to predict how it will all shake out. We are truly in uncharted territory in Christianity’s missional expedition to the world. But I can be certain soon or later as the Americans say, something’s gotta give. History has shown us however, that humans are prisoners of the present. That is why we hardly learn (assuming we can at all) from our mistakes. We presume current certainties will always abide forgetting that in days gone by they were once peculiar and uncertain. There is nothing like the comfort of the now to lull us into thinking things will proceed on schedule.
Beyond the cultural and temporal, there is a third reason to be blissfully nonchalant about it all. Ironically, it is the most dangerous and insidious reason of them all. This is precisely what the enemy wants you to think. As Screwtape revealed, subtlety is usually the best tactic in spiritual warfare. It is better for people to think they are Christian when they really are not. Self-delusion is such a convenient thing for the father of lies. He has very little to do other than to nudge and gently prod. Being in church but having nothing Christian in your heart is a very ideal situation. You are in the Matrix. I understand that saying it is devilish propaganda, which you might have bought into, is a very serious claim. But then ask yourself, if you take scripture seriously is there any other way to put it? Either you are for the Messiah or against him, the way of the dragon or the way of the Lamb. The question is whose report will you believe?