“To contribute or not to contribute to the building of the National Cathedral” The Ghanian Christian’s dilemma

building of the National Cathedra

“To contribute or not to contribute to the building of the National Cathedral” The Ghanian Christian’s dilemma…

Making vows and fulfilling them is a subject the Bible acknowledges. “When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands? For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear.” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-7)Being a Christian and a politician, the President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency, Nana Akufo-Addo made a promise which we shall properly call a vow to God to build for Him a National Cathedral. The cathedral will have an auditorium capable of seating 5,000 as well as the requisite chapels, and a baptistery. The site will also house a music school, an art gallery, and a museum dedicated to the Bible. The project obviously will be beneficial to the Church in Ghana but the questions which arise are where will the Cathedral be situated and where will the funds be generated to build this monumental edifice?

To contribute or not to contribute to the building of the National Cathedral…

To start with, the President who made the vow did not provide land of his own where the Cathedral will be built. State land was used for the location and state buildings that had hitherto been occupied by officials of the state had been demolished for the purpose of build the Cathedral. The question that the ordinary Ghanaian will ask is that have new apartments been constructed for the state officials whose bungalows were demolished or the State is going to spend thousands of cedis to rent new apartments for the said officials? I do not have answers to the foregoing questions but should state land and properties be destroyed to make way for the president’s promise or vow to build a Cathedral for Christians? Let us remember that land and state bungalows destroyed served all Ghanaians but the Cathedral will only serve Ghanian Christians. As a believer, I draw inspiration fromPhilippians 2:1-4which says“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others.”Muslims have their Mosques and every Christian in Ghana belongs to one denomination or the other that owns their own place of worship. Why would we want to contribute to a project that only serves Ghanaian Christians but denies Ghanaians of other religions the use of the same national asset that is mutually owned? The is not a matter of spirituality and faith, it is a question of morality and good conscience. Respectfully, I dare say that the vow made by the President was a political promise made to Ghanaian Christian under the euphoria of political campaign and this is whatEcclesiastes 5:7describes as“For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear.”

God has proved to us in the Bible that He takes priority in good governance, safety, and security of his people more than monuments built to honor him, In other words, Leaders must first achieve God’s will for his people before executing what they wish to do for God. This is why God rejected David’s offer to build him a house or in our modern terminology, a Cathedral.

To contribute or not to contribute to the building of the National Cathedral…

When David had become King and had settled just like how our dear President Nana Akufo-Addo also ascended to his presidency. “David said to Nathan the prophet, “Behold, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of the covenant of the LORD is under a tent.” And Nathan said to David, “Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you.” (1 Chronicle 17:1-2).From all intent and purposes, David sincerely wanted to build a house for the Lord. His Excellency, the President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo is now our King David although we do not run a monarchical government. Now let us see God’s response to King David when he decided to build a house and in the case of our President, a Cathedral for the Lord.But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, “Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD: It is not you who will build me a house to dwell in. (1 Chronicle 17:3-4).Why did God reject David’s promise or offer to build for him a house of worship? “Now, therefore, thus shall you say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be prince over my people Israel, and I have been with you wherever you have gone and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall waste them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will subdue all your enemies. Moreover, I declare to you that the LORD will build you a house. When your days are fulfilled to walk with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. (1 Chronicles 17:7-12)In other words, God’s priority during the reign of King David was the security and safety of His people from their enemies.

Ghana may not be immediately at risk because of a terrorist attack or enemy invasion but we have already been attacked by poverty, disease, and economic hardship. There is a wide gap between the rich and the poor. Consequently, the crime rate is on the ascendency. With the greatest respect to anyone who believes that a Cathedral is our priority at this time, I am of the overwhelming conviction that God will expect our leaders to work towards the security, peace, and economic prosperity of Ghanaians before offering a Cathedral as a vow or promise. We can build the biggest Cathedral in the world but God will still not be pleased if pregnant women die because they lack basic antenatal care and delivery facilities in some rural and deprived areas in Ghana. I do not believe God will hear our prayers if we step into a Cathedral to pray when the masses are impoverished by poor economic decisions and corrupt practices that have led to children studying under trees at the mercy of the weather and eating undernourished diets in the name of the free school feeding programme. Certainly, building the biggest Cathedral in Africa will not be an incentive for our teachers to teach when we know very well that teachers are under-motivated and paid for the service they render especially in the rural areas of Ghana. Spirituality is not about doing what in our estimation and human weakness will please God. Spirituality is about studying the Word of God, faithfully doing the will of God, and pleasing Him at all times. As we please God through leadership and good governance we shall attain civil liberty and national prosperity and development.

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To contribute or not to contribute to the building of the National Cathedral…

Christians in Ghana are not in dire need of a National Cathedral worth millions of cedis. Christians in Ghana share a mutual destiny with practitioners of other religions in Ghana. Christians and Muslims in Ghana need their security and peace guaranteed, the police service needs improvement and upgrades in their security systems. A National Cathedral will not be able to solve our health needs, our district hospitals and rural clinics need modern equipment to help our doctors and nurses deliver services to the utmost satisfaction of citizens. In the 21 Century, a National Cathedral is not a priority to the poor and unemployed youth. Some sustainable jobs and others need capital for business and prospective investments. In the 21 century, a state must invest in science and technology, not in a National Catherdral which only serves the religious needs of a portion of Ghanaians to the detriment of the rest. These religious needs are already being catered for by the myriads of churches in Ghana.

building of the National Cathedra

We do not need a National Catedral when there is widespread economic injustice and inequality among citizens. The laws are applied differently and the poor offender suffers but the rich offender is celebrated and untouched.“With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:6-8)

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For our Christian brothers and sisters especially some Christian leaders who are attacking other Christians for asking questions about the Cathedral and for that matter have branded those with dissenting views as unspiritual and sinners. I need not remind you that although a chapel or a Catherdral signifies a place of worship, it is not the center of our faith. The center of our faith is Jesus, the Christ, when the early church started, they did not have chapels and Cathedrals, they met in people’s homes and worshipped. The Church building is not that which essentially gives us identity, it is the fellowship of believers, wherever two or three meets to fellowship and mention the name of Christ, the presence of the Holy Spirit makes their gathering a church. The Cathedral is only a consecrated space for religious activities but God does not reside in Cathedrals or Chapels although when we meet as believers in a Cathedral we experience the glory and presence of God.“But it was Solomon who built a house for him. Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says, “‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? Did not my hand make all these things?’(Acts 7:47-50)

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In conclusion, it is not my duty to decide for the Ghanaian Christian whether or not to support the political promise to build a National Cathedral but I owe a duty to my congregants as pastor and theologian to enlighten them so that they will not be emotionally blackmailed and ignorantly taken for granted by misapplication of the same Scriptures which has been given to us for our enlightenment and spiritual growth. God bless us all.

Source: Jean-Paul Agidi (Rev)

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