No one here is claiming Honorable Kennedy Ohene Agyapong the MP for Assin Central Constituency is Martin Luther, William Tyndale, John Wycliffe, or any of the classical thinkers/reformers, whose persistent efforts set in motion one of the most consequential reforms in the Christian and Biblical history, starting from the Middle Ages and beyond. Admittedly, Luther, Tyndale, Wycliffe, Huss, and many other Middle Ages religious philosophers or societal critics, were no doubt in a different league and as such their impact, especially on Christianity, still echoes today.
Notwithstanding the seemingly larger-than-life ambience of their existence, the aforementioned classical reformers appear to have one interesting thing/goal in common with Kennedy Agyepong: All of them passionately seek to ensure that the masses fully come to terms with the religious texts/teachings in their time in order that the true understanding of the Holy Scriptures is not twisted to suit the self-serving desires of some “religious apostates” who called themselves prophets or “men of God.”
Like Martin Luther, William Tyndale, and other change agents of antiquity, Hon. Ken Agyepong has a mortal dislike for widespread Biblical illiteracy. It is because Biblical illiteracy breeds sheer ignorance of the Word, and allows the latter-days “prophets” to exploit the gullible citizens in so many ways that have nothing to do with the true teachings of the Bible. Biblical illiteracy is a phenomenon whereby people can’t read, comprehend, or may read and hear the teachings of the Biblical scriptures but do not have a corresponding understanding of the text. This stems from the practice of some group of people who have developed uncanny ability to persuade others (Biblical illiterates) that without the “anointed men of God” or the self-styled prophets’ exclusive interpretations of the Bible, any believers’ salvation of God would be an illusionary ideal.
For the most part in the middle ages, among some of the prevalent cultures was the presentation of the Biblical texts in Hebrew and Greek, where the “religious elites” ensured that a sizable number of the ordinary people did not get easy access to the scriptures in a deliberate attempt at controlling the believers’ comprehension level. This calculated attempt at “gate-keeping” the scriptures almost solely by the church establishment, left many people at the mercy of the “exploiters” of the gospel congruent to what we are witnessing in Ghana and in many other parts of Africa today.
Indeed, the parallels are staggering here, if one really knows the full import of Biblical illiteracy, including some of the reform-minded individuals in history who pushed vigorously for a radical transformation in such a way that the Bible, for example, was made easily accessible and more understandable for the people. Similar to Kennedy Agyepong’s selfless campaign against the present-day “fake pastors/prophets” who have arrogated to themselves the power of God’s anointment, the beginning of the church reformation was in part the result of many of the religious leaders at the time who were selfishly exploiting God’s scriptures/teachings to prey on the spiritually-vulnerable citizens.
Thus, until the efforts of individuals such as Tyndale, Wycliffe, Luther, Huss, and some other transformative figures, almost everyone knew in that era that the Bible and other religious practices had not been truly put at the doorsteps “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” It was the German monk Martin Luther who translated the Bible into his native language so a large mass of Germans could read and understand the Holy Scriptures so as to come to grips with the gospel and applied to their lives.
William Tyndale’s effort, for instance, was so far-reaching in that he was credited to be the first person to translate it into and mass-produce the Bible in English, and thereby enabled many people to understand the Holy Book aside from Hebrew, Greek, Latin, or German. For the part he played, therefore, Tyndale was executed or martyred for translating and mass-producing the Bible against the approval of ecclesiastical class. The religious powers-that-be wanted as many people as possible to wallow in ignorance regarding the comprehension of the Bible to make it relatively easy to play on the ordinary people’s intelligence.
As St. Jerome rightly underscored: “If the man who does not know Scripture does not know the power and wisdom of God, then ignorance of Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” In other words, there are millions of Ghanaians today ignorant of the Bible and its true meanings because the so-called “men of God” or the self-imposed prophets predominantly found in the “spiritual churches” dotted across the nation are not interested in the salvation sermons except the teachings of “prosperity and prophesy.”
They say history has a strange way(s) of repeating itself. Thus, in this 21st century as opposed to 16th century, perhaps the MP from Assin Central Kennedy Agyepong—in his own way—is Ghana’s answer to the classical religious reformers who lit the perpetual fire of not only religious but also socio-cultural change that sought to end the entrenched abuses widespread throughout the ancient religious establishment at the time.
Much the same as the fierce resistance ushered in the 16th-century religious reformation and its critics, there is some groundswell of reactionary forces formed against Mr. Ken Agyepong for taking on some of the “religious abusers” or the fake pastors in the history of our beloved nation. No doubt, the majority of Ghanaians pretend as if they’re progressive-minded, but it is also obvious this nation—for the greater part—sits on or embraces reactionary culture.
Hon. Kennedy Agyepong has taken a noble and altruistically religious mission for the good of the nation’s non-secular development and socioeconomic progress but the reactionary elements in this society will throw everything in the way to slow or stop the train of change from reaching its destination. The irony or saddest part of its all is that the very people whose interests and spiritual foundation are being abused are the ones still glorifying the fake prophets/pastors in Ghana.
Columnist: Bernard Asubonteng