October 17, 2022




This is Harry Agina again with “Afro-Scope,” the telescope that beams on Africa, the Africans, and the African Culture. The scope continues today to beam on African Traditional Religions, with my miniseries, “On The Legitimacy of The African Traditional Religions.”

This is edition 5 of the series. I have always implored you to task yourself to keep an open mind and be objective, no matter what your religion is. This is because religion is a very sensitive subject. Many religious persons tend to be intolerant of views that are contrary to those that have been passed down to us from ancient generations. Indeed, we tend to believe that it is blasphemous even to listen to or consider anything new. I am a Christian myself, and I daresay that my Christian brethren are among the worst in this ignorant closeminded position. Some of us insist that everything that was handed down to us from the beginning of Christianity is sacrosanct and must never be questioned. As an uncensored freethinker that I am, I totally disagree with this position. There are errors in tradition beliefs, which must be changed.

In fact, I maintain that even the Christian Holy Bible is not as perfect as some of us have been made to believe all those years. I insist that the contents of the bible and some doctrines thereof, are not sacrosanct. Some people consider this view to be too radical and blasphemous. But I always quickly explain my position, which is based on knowledge and objectivity, and devoid of ignorant sentiments. The key words in my argument are sincere human errors and human mischief. The point is that, yes. God Himself inspired the witting of the Books that make up the Bible. However, the fact remains that ordinary men eventually influenced the contents in several ways, and that tainted the original contents. Indeed, it is common knowledge that “anything that is touched by man is not perfect. It gets corrupted in one way or the other.” This fact has not changed just because we are now talking about the Christian Bible. My interest here is human errors that affected the bible because it is easier for me to explain in passing. I leave the more complex human mischief for another day when I allot more time to this topic.

I don’t ever make frivolous statements, especially not on a serious subject such as this. I always substantiate my positions with facts that are based on research. In this case, I have a historical fact that I always quote whenever I discuss this topic. It is a 4th Century AD fact, during the reign of Emperor Constantine—331AD, to be exact. Emperor Constantine The First commissioned Eusebius of Caesarea to translate to English and compile the books of the bible that were in Greek and Aramaic languages, for the use of the Bishop of Constantinople. The emperor wrote thus: “I have thought it expedient to instruct your Prudence to order fifty copies of the sacred scriptures, the provision and use of which you know to be most needful for the instruction of the Church. It is to be written on prepared parchment in a legible manner, and in a convenient, portable form. This is to be done by professional transcribers who are thoroughly practiced in their art.The emperor’s command was immediately executed.

When the emperor’s assignment was completed, it was tagged the “Fifty Bibles of Constantine,” and submitted to the emperor with a very instructive footnote. The footnote said: “This is the usual way in which Eusebius’ text is translated, but there are more possibilities, because the (Greek) phrase ‘ἐν πολυτελῶς ἠσκημένοις τεύχεσιν τρισσὰ καὶ τετρασσὰ διαπεμψάντων ἡμῶν’ has many meanings.” So, yes, the Bible is fraught with human  errors, which were originally caused by crosslinguistic (or trans-linguistic) errors and ambiguities. This means that it is impossible to translate a substantial piece of document from one language to another without errors or ambiguities in meaning.

In other words, the transcribers themselves confessed or admitted that the “Fifty Bibles of Constantine” were fraught with crosslinguistic errors or ambiguities. They confessed that the original codices or manuscripts of the books of the bible were not perfectly transcribed to carry the exact meanings that were intended by the authors. So, before you hurry to accuse me of blasphemy, please think again. The gist of my argument is that the Christian Bible does contain the word of God, but it is not completelyThe Word of God” as Christians put it. The foregoing is just one of the reasons why the bible is not as perfect as some of us believe.

Anyway, I did promise in the previous edition of this series that I will give you food for thought with a melodramatic scenario in this edition. I will ask you a thought-provoking question. And if you’re sincere to yourself, with an open mind, you may have a re-think on your intolerance in religion, that’s if you are intolerant. Here is my thematic question: Is it possible that the smaller gods of some of the non-Christian religions around the world are legitimate, but subservient to Jesus Christ?

I have toyed with this theory for quite a while, and it seems to make more sense each time I set my mind on it. In this theory, I have our Almighty God on one hand, and Satan on the other hand. Then, there are all the smaller spirits out there somewhere in our universe. Some of them are good spirits, and others are bad spirits. The good spirits include Jesus Christ, the angels, the saints, and the rest of all the good spirits. And then, there are all the bad spirits, too, as we know. They include the witches and wizards, and all the other bad spirits out there that torment mankind in various ways. Naturally, I categorize the good smaller gods under God Almighty. And the bad spirits are in Satan’s legion.

In this theory, Jesus Christ is seated on the right side of God Almighty. And he is in charge or in command of the good spirits on behalf of God Almighty. They include all the good smaller gods of all the religions that anybody can think of, including the angels and the saints, and even the gnomes. Also in this category are the good ones out of whatever “spirits of our forefathers” and gods that the African traditionalists always call upon for mediation between God and man. It goes without saying, therefore, that those gods go to Jesus to intercede between them and God, on behalf of man. After all, the spirits of Mary, the earthly mother of Jesus, does the same for Roman Catholics.

On the other side, Satan commands his own legion of bad spirits by himself. I must admit that my theory takes a mind that is completely detached from religious sentiments to pursue. Your mind must be willing to explore what you may call ‘outlandish’ possibilities. You must be willing to think contrary to the traditional beliefs of our respective religions, which have been handed down to us from generations past. A Christian, for instance, must pretend not to be a Christian just for a moment or two, and become a neutral, liberal philosopher that is only exercising the mind. Once again, I do recognize that some traditionalists do worship the bad spirits or smaller gods in Satan’s legion. But, as I have argued in past editions, so do many Christians, too! The fact that some African traditionalists worship Satan does not put all the traditionalists in Satan’s bad legion. Some do belong to the good legion under Christ.

I had an opportunity to discuss this, for a couple of hours, with the world-renowned father of Afro-centric Philosophical Movement, Molefi Kete Asante, PhD. That was back in 1982, in my Senior undergraduate year at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas, USA. Asante’s movement champions “Afro-centric Inquiry into Encounters.” In simple terms, Dr. Asante and his movement insist that the world must begin to seriously consider African points of view in every global topical issue. This argument comes with the New World Information Order, whose campaign is basically a statement against the old ways, which upheld a Euro-centric view of the world. The old way fostered the fallacy of superiority of the European culture over all the other cultures. The equality campaign draws attention to the reasonable and realistic argument that the notion of superiority of one culture over another is no longer tenable in the modern world.

“Humanism itself,” maintained Dr. Asante, “was frequently nothing more than a Euro-centric concept of what was good for the world.” Dr. Asante is in the top-five list of the most intellectual African Americans. Haven traced his ancestry to Ghana in West Africa years back, he discarded his American “slave names” and adopted the Ghanaian names, Molefi Kete Asante. He is a world acclaimed educator, and a world-renowned expert in the field of communications. It was a great delight and honor to me when I sat for nearly two hours and shared views with Molefi on this subject. Our discussion came just a couple of years after his historical presentation in August 1979, at the Bellagio International Conference On Black Communication. His presentation became instrumental in UNESCO’s campaign for the New World Information Order.

Titled “International Communication: An Afro-centric Inquiry into Encounters,” Asante’s presentation condemned the “fallacy” of the old order. A fallacy by which anything that was not European, or consistent with European ways of life, was considered to be wrong, bad or evil. For instance, Dr. Asante’s piece frowned at the categorical condemnation of traditional African religions.

 “The Zulu believe that they are the people of heaven,” he argued.

            “The Jews have contended that they are the chosen people.

            The Chinese say that they are in the middle kingdom of the earth;

            the Yoruba people of Africa believe that they were made a great people

            by the divine king, Oduduwa; and the Ashanti people of Ghana insist that a Golden

            Stool descended from the sky to firmly establish the Ashanti nation.”

I interjected that we must not forget the Muslims and their belief about Mohammed, nor the Jehovah’s Witnesses who believe that they are the only ones to go to heaven. Dr. Asante concurred. “Intercultural communication cannot effectively occur without regard to beliefs such as these,” said he. According to his argument, the major differences in belief systems between the various peoples of the world, which are based on differences in cultural experiences, can no longer be ignored or underplayed. Neither can the notion that one culture is superior to another be tolerated any longer on any global issue. It is worthwhile to state that Asante’s campaign has caught on, definitely! Ever since, Africa, as well as all the other cultures of the world have clearly witnessed increased equity in cultural exchange during encounters.

Ultimately, the object of all God-fearing people of the world is to be righteous. This takes me to what I introduced in passing in previous edition of this series. There are peoples of this world who do believe in the Almighty God, but do not subscribe to the idea of mediators between man and God. Some of such believers do have their own churches, too, and one of them is called the Goddian Religion. The Goddists that I spoke with in Lagos during my tour of Africa believe in going directly to the Almighty God, bypassing all the smaller gods. I was already sure of Christ as my own intercessor, and Christianity as my religion. Otherwise, I would simply join the Goddian Religion, and avoid the entire controversy over the smaller gods. In line with this, I have always toyed with what many people are bound to call another outlandish hypothesis, and I will leave my reader with the following hypothetical utopian story, as food for thought, thus:

Once upon a time, there lived two men, one was a Christian, and the other did not belong to any religion. The non-religious man did believe in the Almighty God, mind you. He just did not think that there was any necessity to belong to any religion. He justified his belief with a position that there was too much hypocrisy within the religious circles of the world. He did follow the Ten Commandments, right to the last letter, and never committed a sin in his entire life. His counterpart was generally a good enough Christian. He was basically righteous, but he did possess all our human flaws—some temptations here, and a little sin there occasionally. Of course, he always prayed for forgiveness whenever our human tendencies pushed him into one little sin or the other, and, the ever-forgiving God did forgive him, always. The important thing here, however, is that the Christian did err during his lifetime, even if it was just a little. On the contrary, the other guy never did anything sinful in his entire life!

The two men eventually died, and here comes the big question—who among them do you think made it to heaven? The fact remains that none of us humans in the entire world can actually say for sure if any, or both, or perhaps even none of them ever made it to heaven. Yet, a non-tolerant Christian insists that my utopian righteous ‘Goddist’ went straight to hell despite his excellent nature, because he did not “receive Christ before he died. Now that I have forced your mind to that subject that you are not supposed to think much about, what do you really think? Do you truly believe that God sent the non-Christian away from heaven’s gate?

Think about it, you Mr. or Mrs. or Mis Christians, would you!!! Does it make any atom of sense to you that God sent the righteous Goddist to hell simply because he did not know or believe in Christ? Is it possible that God’s interest is just being a Christian, and not necessarily being a good person? This was one of my questions across the world, when I pursued my TV documentary on religion. As I have all said all through this series, my focus was what happens to a righteous African traditionalist. I ask again; does it make sense to you that he or she goes to hell? Do think about it, would you!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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