OPINION| Issues and Challenges Faced by Christians in Politics

Rev. Dr. Frederick Lanshima Ikyaan, a former governorship aspirant on the platform of People’s Redemption Party and currently the Director General, Alia Campaign Organization, has this to say concerning christians’ participation in politics.

Rev. FL Ikyaan is an ordained pastor with the Universal Reformed Christian Church(URCC), popularly known as the NKST. He contested the 2019 Benue State Governorship election but lost to the incumbent, Samuel Ortom.

Rev. Dr. Frederick Lanshima Ikyaan.

Excerpts

ISSUES AND CHALLENGES IN POLITICS AND GOVERNANCE THAT CHRISTIANS FACE BEING A PAPER READ AT PLENARY DURING THE SOUTH EAST CHRISTIAN POLITICAL PRACTITIONERS SUMMIT HELD AT THE CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF AWKA, RETREAT, PASTORAL AND CONFERENCE CENTER OKPUNA-AWKA ON 29TH JULY, 2022 BY REV FREDERICK LANSHIMA IKYAAN.

Introduction
There has been a raging debate regarding Christian participation in politics; it appears to be unending. It derives from the view that politics is a dirty game and hence unfit for Christian participation.

I however, assert that there can be nothing farther from the truth. Rather, dirty men have rubbished the entire enterprise of politics that Christians see nothing good in it. As a consequence, Christians who have been bold enough to venture into it find themselves to be strangers and aliens struggling to find space to assert their relevance.
The question of Christian participation in politics is in the main a hermeneutical one further reinforced by the puritanical Christianity of the 17th century.

Hermeneutics is the science of interpretation. It affords votaries and non-votaries alike to seek an objective understanding of a concept based on principles that are time honored and hence The puritans fragmented life into the sacred and the secular. This eventually led to the delineation between the spiritual and the physical with a total denial of the holistic and composite whole of the human person.
This opinion has been sustained by the modern Church and as a result remained oblivious of the realities of political power and influence which are forceful in all ramifications.
This has remained the bane of Christian participation in politics.

Furthermore, popularly speaking the word ‘issue’ and ‘challenge’ could be taken as one and the same. I recall that the mutation involving the two words has evolved over time. Formerly, the word ‘problem’ was used to denote a difficult situation. Overtime, it mutated to ‘challenge’. It again moved to ‘issues’. So, when we talk about problem, challenge or issues we mean about the same thing hence, my assumption of the meaning and use of the terms in this discourse.

It is against this significant backdrop therefore that we approach the concept of ‘issues and challenges that Christians face’ in their political experience. This too, we do knowing that since Christians have come late to the political scene they are bound to be confronted with the issues and challenges in question. A few of them though not exhaustive include the following:

i. Escapism – the notion that politics is a dirty game hence, Christians should have nothing to do with it and avoid it altogether. We argue however, that missionaries do not quit their mission field because hearts are hardened but they persevere until such hearts are overtaken by grace and bow in repentance and surrender to the master.

ii. Conformism – this opinion allows some level of participation but for the purpose of becoming like the others. This is a defeatist position and should not be our attitude.
iii. Opportunism – this is the tendency to depend or promote factions and fractions, as the basis for participation. The primary objective here being ‘it’s the turn of our group – denomination, tribe, clan, LGA, state, region, social group, classmates, professional group etc.

iv. Naivety/ignorance – this is about simplicity, simplemindedness, ingenuousness, carelessness, thoughtlessness, gullibility, childishness, etc.

v. Lack of previous proper training or preparation (Ecc. 10:16).

vi. Faulty perception of Christian participation in politics.

vii. Fear of defilement and desire to maintain spiritual purity.

viii. Delayed expectations and gratification.

ix. Operating in an already developed system founded on deceit, lies, occult, gossip, large scale immorality, thuggery and killing.

x. Lack of institutional support by the Church. Femi Emmanuel asserts forcefully that if the Church plays no role in the emergence of candidates, then, it has no influence over them.

xi. Lack of financial support. The bible asserts that money answers all things. Simply put, money is a solution to all things. (Ecc. 10:19). The relevance of the value of money in politics and political activities cannot be overemphasized. The church must wake up to this reality.
xii. Making of new friends and associates in the political arena who are ungodly. 1Cor. 15:33.

xiii. Constant loss of fine Christian men and women to a dirty culture of politics. This in itself is a challenge to the mien with which Christians are made. In other words, why are some Christians overwhelmed by the boisterous and turbulent waters of politics? Why do they give in to the practice of derogatory and abusive language, deceit, occult and such other corruptions instead of asserting their Christian values in the political sphere?

xiv. Compartmentalizing of faith – secular and divine. This is the tendency to partition, divide or segregate life into distinct areas or categories such as secular and spiritual. The natural consequence here is that we have been led to putting limits on certain areas of life and thus making them taboos for certain people and or vocations. The clerical office is worst hit here. Both society and the church seemingly frown at the clergy’s involvement in politics in the mistaken guise that the priest’s role is that of prayer and counsel to any given leadership and not that of participation.

xv. Faulty theology of exclusion rather than participation. James Zasha has opined that we have shut ourselves out of the arena of purposeful influence; Christians have seemingly agreed to remain in ‘exile’. The consequences are monumental and nearly incalculable.

xvi. Increasing loss of the Reformation memory in a post Christian generation – the Reformation led by Martin Luther among many things emphasized a Christian worldview that stressed a God consciousness. A situation where God has been relegated to the background in nearly all matters especially politics is dangerous to the wellbeing of society as a whole. It should be the pious responsibility of Christians to lead the way in bringing and thus subjecting all things to Him for whom all things were made.

xvii. Increasing loss of truth – truth has become relative and situational. This undermines objectivity in every facet of societal life including politics and religion.

xviii. The Demise of Aristocracy – waning leadership models. In its place, a new culture where celebrities of nudity have become role models. This portends the total loss of morals and the breed for further rot and moral depravity of society. It has the potentials to vex those who still strive to live their lives with clear conscience.

xix. Sociological breakdown – loss of a sense of humanity and a declining sense of collective responsibility. People choose to keep silence when fellow human beings are being brutalized. Sadly, this is becoming a culture and the defining feature of modern day living.

xx. Culture of impunity – the liberty to do what is wrong with the feeling of superiority and boastfulness. Our political culture is one of deceit, lies, occult, immorality, man-slaughter, abusive and derogatory language. This is gradually breeding the ground for the ‘survival of the fittest’.

Conclusion
The only logical reaction to such a critical situation of the array of issues and challenges enumerated above is a response of submission and availability. May God find us available because ‘this matter belongs to you’. (Ez. 10:4) It is actually foolhardy for us to continue to lament, complain, agonize, pray, prophesy, without a corresponding effort of participation in the political process in Nigeria. Like Obadiah Mailafia once remarked, ‘we have agonized enough it is time to organize. We have prayed enough, it is time to rise up and act accordingly.

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