How Christians Can Deliver the Ideals of Democracy 2

June 1, 2017

The Day Abacha Died!

If Christians don't Bless  the People, then who will?

Posted by Ambassador T .Brikins

Africans and indeed Nigerians don’t rejoice or  speak evil of  dead persons. But the day Abacha died…exactly nineteen years ago  by June 8, 2017! 
I was forced by the roar outside to dash to the balcony of my office overlooking the historic Queens Street in Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria. The  people shouted. The people leaped and jumped   hysterically in diverse directions. They embraced and carried one another. They raised beer bottles to the open  skies. They sang. They danced.The vehicles blared and hooted their horns in mad frenzy. My radical professor friends from the University of Lagos which is near  came with green branches of trees in their hands, waving and dancing to the rhythmic  chorus, ’Abacha is dead, Abacha is dead, Abacha is dead. Abacha don die’’.
This hysterical expression of happiness marked the end of military rule and the commencement of Nigeria’s march to democracy amid bumps on a road yet to be scientifically defined after 18 years of democratic rule.

Christianity is often viewed from the Spiritual perspective. This notwithstanding, Christians through the authority and power which Christianity offers have set the pace for development in the course of human history. Democracy which according the Kim Ann Zimmermann, when compared to other forms of governments like,’’ dictatorships, oligarchies, monarchies and aristocracies, in which the people have little or no say in who is elected and how the government is run, a democracy is often said to be the most challenging form of government, as input from those representing citizens determines the direction of the country. The basic definition of democracy in its purest form comes from the Greek language: The term means “rule by the people.” But democracy is defined in many ways — a fact that has caused much disagreement among those leading various democracies as to how best to run one’’. Democracy created the platform for Christians to deliver the ideals of Democracy in the West and many other countries.

However the definition  or application controversies may be, the people either by representation, civil non-governmental, a people of faith as has been seen in the history of civilization have played prominently in the development of democracy. Following the in-depth work on this subject by Faith Facts, we adopted their categorisation in this section. They have categorized the contribution of Christian beliefs and principles as Value of human life,   Compassion and Mercy, Marriage and Family, Education, Government of the People, Science, Free Enterprise and the Work Ethic. The others are Art, Music, Literature and Contrary Evidence

The world is mainly   organized along Christian ethics and principles. This is seen in law, economics, politics, arts, calendar, holidays, and moral and culture. In the words of  historian J. M. Robers writes in The Triumph of the West, 'We could none of us today be what we are if a handful of Jews nearly two thousand years ago had not believed that they had known a great teacher, seen him crucified, dead, and buried, and then rise again.' “(From the book what’s So Great about Christianity by Dinesh D'Souza.) The disciples took the bold step to do what they did because after Jesus gave them authority and power, He said, as the Father has sent me, so send I you. This sending forth to transform the world applies to every Christian and in every sphere of life. This is the essence of the gifts and calling given to every believer. Unfortunately, these have been interpreted within the context of the pulpit ministry by many people of faith.

The Value of Human Life
Human Rights. Then God said,’’ Let Us make man in Our Image, according to our likeness…’’. Genesis 1:26. ‘’For there is no distinction between the  Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.’’ Romans 10:12   ‘’the concept of universal human rights and equality comes exclusively from the biblical idea that all people are created in the image of God’’. Fundamental Human Rights are mostly pursued by NGOs  run by unbelievers. The Church and Christians need to stand up for this biblical course

Mrs. Awosika, Chairman, First Bank Nigeria Plc

Women.’’ In ancient cultures, a wife was the property of her husband. Aristotle said that a woman was somewhere between a free man and a slave. According to the book Reasons for God by Tim Keller (page 249), "It was extremely common in the Greco-Roman world to throw out new female infants to die from exposure, because of the low status of women in society. The church forbade its members to do so. Greco-Roman society saw no value in an unmarried woman, and therefore it was illegal for a widow to go more than two years without remarrying. But Christianity was the first religion to not force widows to marry. They were supported financially and honoured within the community so that they were not under great pressure to remarry if they didn't want to. Pagan widows lost all control of their husband's estate when they remarried, but the church allowed widows to maintain their husband's estate. Finally, Christians did not believe in cohabitation. If a Christian man wanted to live with a woman he had to marry her, and this gave women far greater security. Also, the pagan double standard of allowing married men to have extramarital sex and mistresses was forbidden. In all these ways Christian women enjoyed far greater security and equality than did women in the surrounding culture. See Rodney Stark, The Rise of Christianity." In India, widows were voluntarily or involuntarily burned on their husbands' funeral pyres. Christian missionaries were a major influence in stopping these century-old practices and ideas’’

In Nigeria and many parts of the world especially in Africa many of these practices still exist. Mary Slessor did much to stop the killing of infant twins in Calabar, South- South of Nigeria. She is a model for the young ladies in that part of Nigeria today.

It is however, gratifying to know that gender issues especially the girl child education has taken the front burner in Nigeria. Again this like other issues have   become business driven by people without spiritual commitment to supposedly a Biblical cause.
Michael Jackson was a Famous Child

Children. ‘’In the ancient world, for example in classical Rome or Greece, infanticide was not only legal, it was applauded. Killing a Roman was murder, but it was commonly held in Rome that killing one's own children could be an act of beauty. Through a higher view of life, it was the early Christian church that ultimately brought an end to infantile. The modern pro-life movement is largely Christian. This pro-life view has been true from the very beginning of Christianity. A Christian document called the Didache, dated from the late first century or early second century, contained instructions against abortion’’.

We have heard of ritual infant killings by politicians to acquire political power. Since such a practice can only be motivated by the dark world, do we wonder why governance is going through very low quality in Nigeria and many parts of the world?  Infact I make bold   to speculate that God did not want this type of practice to continue by stopping Isaac being used as a sacrifice to Him. Christians in all the services especially forces should as a matter of commitment to God use their gifts and calling to expose this evil. By so doing in their professional space, they will be developing the ideals of democracy.

Samuel Ajayi Crowther, the Slave boy @ 13 years old, later became the Bishop on the Niger;first African Anglican  Bishop in Nigeria

Slavery. ‘’While it is true that Christians have owned slaves in history, it is clear that this was a distortion of biblical teaching. (See Misconceptions, item #12.) Early Christianity elevated the roles of those oppressed in society, by for example, accepting women and slaves as full members. Slaves participated equally in worship and the community and were afforded contract and property rights. According to historian Glenn Sunshine in his book Why You Think the Way You do, "Christians were the first people in history to oppose slavery systematically. Early Christians purchased slaves in the markets simply to set them free." It is also true that slavery was ended in great measure by Christian activists. For example, historians credit the British evangelical William Wilberforce as the primary force behind the ending of the international slave trade (which happened prior to the American Civil War). Two-thirds of the members of the American abolition society in 1835 were Christian ministers.’’
Slavery still exists in modified forms in Nigeria and some parts of the world. Child Trafficking, Prostitution etc are some forms of slavery today. It is big business with syndicates across the globe.

Cannibalism.’’ Missionary followers of Jesus are credited with stopping cannibalism in many primitive societies.’’

 The Roman Catholic Church Pope

 Compassion and Mercy
‘’Kennedy and Newcombe in their book detail the rise of charity in the name of Jesus over the centuries. This is in stark contrast to history before Jesus. Historians record that prior to Jesus, the ancient world left little trace of any organized charitable effort’’.

Christians should   support genuine Charitable Organizations especially in current circumstances when even the Local Governments are far from the people.

‘’An important aspect of Jesus' ministry was his emphasis on helping the neediest and lowliest in society. For example, his Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37) is a classic illustration that is still part of our language today. While there are good charitable efforts outside of the name of Jesus, Kennedy and Newcombe argue that Christian charities stand out. They point to Mother Theresa, the Salvation Army, religious hospitals, and church supported soup kitchens and thrift shops in every community. Jesus has had such an enormous impact on charity that one wonders how different things would be if he had never been born.

In recent times the Ebola pandemic in Liberia was given a boast by the Samaritan Purse, a Christian medical charity whose doctor went down with the virus but survived it.

D'Souza points out: "This is our culture's powerful emphasis on compassion, on helping the needy, and on alleviating distress even in distant places. If there is a huge famine or reports of genocide in Africa, most people in other cultures are unconcerned. As the Chinese proverb has it, 'the tears of strangers are only water.' But here in the West we rush to help....Part of the reason why we do this is because of our Christian assumptions....The ancient Greeks and Romans did not believe this. They held a view quite commonly held in other cultures today: yes, that is a problem, but it is not our problem....However paradoxical it seems, people who believed most strongly in the next world did the most to improve the situation of people living in this one."

A Joyful Marriage and Family is an Atmosphere Cultivated

Marriage and Family
‘’ As explained by D'Souza, before the Christian era, pederasty and homosexuality were not considered wrong: "Christianity exalted heterosexual monogamous love, which would provide the basis for a lasting and exclusive relationship between husband and wife, oriented toward the rearing of children. We take the family so much for granted—it remains such a powerful ideal in our society, even when actual family life falls short— that we forget the central premises on which it is based. Those premises were introduced by Christianity into a society to which they were completely foreign."

‘’For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.
‘’Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust  for one another, men with men, committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due’ ’Romans 1:26,27.

The current wave of same sex and other related vices are being presented as advance of modernity while in real fact, these are retrogressive practices that Christians fought in the past.
Covenant University, Ota, Nigeria

‘’From the beginning of Judaism, from which Christianity is derived, there was an emphasis on the written word. But the phenomenon of education for the masses has its roots in the Protestant Reformation.

‘’ In order to promote Bible literacy, Christians have been leaders in education. This trend was accelerated with the advent of the printing press at about the same time as the Protestant Reformation. Many of the world's languages were first set to writing by Christian missionaries in order for people to read the Bible.

‘’ In America, the first law to require education of the masses was passed by the Puritans. The law was called "THE OLD DELUDER SATAN ACT." This name was a reference to the devil, who Christians believe gets his foothold into people's lives because of their ignorance of Scripture.

‘’ For the first 200 years in America, children's reading texts emphasized biblical literacy. The emphasis on literacy was so intense in colonial America, that John Quincy Adams said in the early 1800's that the illiteracy rate was only 4/10th of 1 percent. By comparison, it has been estimated that in America today, 40 million people are functionally illiterate.

‘’All but one of the first 123 colleges in colonial America were Christian institutions. While these universities have lost their Christian identities, it is interesting to read the founding statements of these schools. Harvard, for example, was founded on this statement: Let every student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life, John 17:3?’’
This education  program was pursued in Nigeria by the Missionaries but was later discontinued by the Military governments in Nigeria. This ugly development has since been overturned by subsequent Civilian government in the new Democratic dispensation that commenced in 1999. It has also ushered in an era of the establishment of faith based Universities like Covenant University, Ota,   Babcock University, Ilishan- Remo, Benson Idahosa University, Benin City and many more in Nigeria.
''The Nobel Prize is an annual, international prize first awarded in 1901 for achievements in PhysicsChemistryPhysiology or MedicineLiterature, and Peace. An associated prize in Economics has been awarded since 1969.[3] Nobel Prizes have been awarded to 881 individuals.[4] According to 100 Years of Nobel Prize (2005), a review of Nobel prizes awarded between 1901 and 2000, 65.4% of Nobel Prize Laureates, have identified Christianity in its various forms as their religious preference (427 prizes).[5] Overall, Christians have won a total of 78.3% of all the Nobel Prizes in Peace, 72.5% in Chemistry, 65.3% in Physics, 62% in Medicine, 54% in Economics and 49.5% of all Literature awards.[6]''

Donald Trump, President of the United States of America

Government of the People
‘’ While America's constitutional government is not specifically Christian, it can be argued that its roots are taken from biblical doctrines. Here are just a few possible arguments in this regard:

‘’ America's first constitution was the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut. The Puritan framers of this document required that each aspect of it be grounded in Scripture. Other constitutions to follow contained many similarities to this one.
‘’ At least 50 of the 55 signers of the U.S. Constitution were orthodox Christians.
‘’There is no doubt that the concept of our Constitutional checks and balances system is a direct result of the biblical doctrine of the sinfulness of mankind. All of our founders understood the importance of this doctrine to the social order.

America's foundational idea of The Rule of Law rather than the authority of man traces back to the Old Testament, beginning with the Ten Commandments.

The idea that all men are created equal as enshrined in the Declaration of Independence is a biblical doctrine.
The notion of the sovereign authority of God (as mentioned in the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, all 50 state constitutions, our currency, etc.)--Rather than the sovereignty of the state--is certainly biblical.

The existence of moral absolutes (a biblical concept) is an important idea in our Declaration of Independence--specifically, self-evident truths and unalienable rights from the Creator.
Many other aspects of our laws come directly from the Bible--for example the judicial, legislative and executive branches trace to Isaiah 33:22. Fair trials with witnesses have numerous Old and New Testament support.
Regarding civil liberty, founding father John Adams (and others) emphasized 2 Corinthians 3:17 as the basis for American civil liberty. The slogan on the Liberty Bell is "Proclaim Liberty throughout the land unto all the Inhabitants Thereof" is from Leviticus 15:10. Kennedy and Newcombe argue that Jesus himself was the greatest civil libertarian of all time.
"Here we see, in its embryo, the idea of limited government. This idea derives from the Christian notion that the ruler's realm is circumscribed and there are limits beyond which he simply must not go....Our modern idea of limited government takes the Christian notion of space that is off-limits to state control and extends it to the whole private sphere....The separation of the realms should not be a weapon against Christianity; rather, it is a device supplied by Christianity to promote social peace, religious freedom, and a moral community. If we recovered the concept in its true sense, our society would be better off." (Dinesh D’Souza)’’.

‘’ Kennedy and Newcombe also argue that science has its roots in Christianity. They point out that other world religions may express a worldview of fatalism (everything is fatalistically determined) or of illusion (that the physical world is an illusion). Science could not have arisen from these worldviews.

Christianity on the other hand, is based on the notion that there exists a rational God who is the source of rational truth. This, they argue, gave rise to the possibility of scientific laws.

Evidence for this view is that nearly all the founders of modern science were Christians. These include men such as Keppler, Boyle, Pascal, Pasteur, Newton, etc’’.The awards from the Nobel Prize shown below  shows the continuation of this trend.

'The Nobel Prize is an annual, international prize first awarded in 1901 for achievements in PhysicsChemistryPhysiology or MedicineLiterature, and Peace. An associated prize in Economics has been awarded since 1969.[3] Nobel Prizes have been awarded to 881 individuals.[4] According to 100 Years of Nobel Prize (2005), a review of Nobel prizes awarded between 1901 and 2000, 65.4% of Nobel Prize Laureates, have identified Christianity in its various forms as their religious preference (427 prizes).[5] Overall, Christians have won a total of 78.3% of all the Nobel Prizes in Peace, 72.5% in Chemistry, 65.3% in Physics, 62% in Medicine, 54% in Economics and 49.5% of all Literature awards.[6]''


 Mike Zuckerberg, Founder of Facebook, the Spirit of Free Enterprise

Free Enterprise and the Work Ethic
‘’ Private property rights can be traced to the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:15, 17 (Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not covet.")--as well as to other passages from the Old and New Testaments. Interestingly, there are over 700 references to money in the Bible!

It is noteworthy that Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations was written in 1776, the same year as the birth of America. But many historians credit theologian John Calvin from 200 years earlier as the person who is most responsible for putting together the principles that were always in the Bible into a system adapted by the American founders. For example, the biblical doctrines of self-reliance and self-denial are the foundation of the famous "Protestant work ethic." These doctrines are at the heart of our economic (and political) way of life.

A distinction can be made between biblical capitalism and evolutionary capitalism. The emphasis on biblical capitalism is on the importance of servanthood--a key teaching of Jesus. Evolutionary capitalism, on the other hand, relies solely on the survival of the fittest.

Anyone who doubts the relationship of biblical ideas to free enterprise need only to note the stark contrast with communism. Communism is specifically an atheistic system that relies on the non-biblical notion that all men are good (thus will work for the common good). But communism has been an abject economic failure.

As put by D’Souza, "The system of modern capitalism arose in the West. To some it is surprising that capitalism developed so easily in conjunction with a Christian ethic. But capitalism satisfied the Christian demand for an institution that channels selfish human desire toward the betterment of society. Some critics accuse capitalism of being a selfish system, but the selfishness is not in capitalism—it is in human nature....While profit remains the final goal, entrepreneurs spend the better part of each day figuring out how better to serve the needs of their actual and potential customers. They are operationally, if not intentionally, altruistic....One may say that capitalism civilizes greed in much the same way that marriage civilizes lust."
 Don Moen
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn 1974crop.jpg
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Nobel Laureate

Art, Music, Literature
‘’ The influence of Jesus on art, music, and literature is enormous. For example, the Christian faith has influenced literature in such Christian writers such as Dante, Chaucer, Donne, Dostoevsky, Shakespeare, Dickens, Milton, etc.

Had Jesus never been born, music would likely sound very different from what we're used to. There may never have developed the cantata, the concerto, or the symphony. Handel, Vivaldi, and Bach were Christians who worked to honour God with their work. Bach, for example, signed all his works with Soli Deo Gloria ("Solely to the glory of God").

Art has likewise been magnificently impacted by Jesus. While much modern art seems to debase the human spirit, classical Christian art tries to bring out the best of mankind--pointing us to a higher plane. This is certainly a tribute to Jesus.

And think of all the incredible architecture through the years. Especially noteworthy are the beautiful cathedrals in Europe.

 Contrary Evidence
‘’ Kennedy and Newcombe address the criticism of some who point to atrocities in history committed in the name of Christianity—specifically the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Salem witch hunts, and anti-Semitism. The authors acknowledge the sinful nature of these events. But they argue that those who committed them were acting contrary to the teachings of Christ, who taught to love even your enemies! The blame for committing such acts should be placed on those who perverted Jesus' teachings—not at the feet of the Prince of Peace!

However, it should also be mentioned that many historians say that Christians have gotten a bad rap from the above events. For example, it can be said that all of the Crusades were defensive in nature—in the same way that one can accurately say that America's current War on Terrorism is defensive in nature. America is responding to an unprovoked attack first made upon us. Our goal in this war is simply to protect our citizens and our property. This is the same thing that the Christian Crusaders were doing, acting in self-defence against aggressors.

And in the case of the Inquisition, Kennedy has stated that he is convinced that the people leading the Inquisition were not Christians at all. "In every case in which Christians are blamed for violence, a closer look largely exonerates Christians."

Further, they point out that when Christian restraints have been removed from a society, the atrocities are magnified many times over. For example, the regimes of Hitler, Mao, Stalin, and Pol Pot were essentially atheistic bloodbaths. These twentieth century despots alone account for well over 100 million murders. The evidence is strong that when the restraining influence of Christianity has been removed from a country or culture, unmitigated disaster will naturally follow. As admitted by existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, "[Without God] all activities are equivalent."

These laudable contributions given to the world by Christianity and Christians are the pillars that have held and still holding human civilization.  The current disregard for rule of law, corruption, deceit, lack of accountability and responsive responsibility in government etc is secularism in a subtle but focused movement to restore what Christians and Christianity have laboured for over the centuries after the ministry, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Imagine a world without value for human life, compassion and mercy, regulated marriage and family, chaotic education system, government without the input or respect for the people, conscienceless science, forced enterprise, no work ethic, depraved art, music and literature.

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1 comment:

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