At its best, folk religion, as in Europe, comes in the form of secular humanism, which tends to charm its followers with social concerns by appealing to the compunctions of our common humanity. In this way, since there is no God who is the ultimate Judge, what really matters is to ensure that one’s neighbour’s personal wishes are not offended – in so far as that neighbour is willing to respect the personal wishes of others, especially yours.
d) It is “a – moral:” Folk religion’s morality is at best Epicurean, and Hedonistic at worst. Since there is no need to change any thing – or since there is no moral basis for determining rights and wrongs – one simply looks on with an attitude of resignation, that all might be well someday. No one is really in control. All we have is a capricious Hegelian fate, which maintains the evolutionary momentum by an endless dialectical cycle of thesis, antithesis and synthesis! And so goes the endless roller coaster called life!
3.2. Theological Eclecticism
Folk religion is the mother of social amnesia! Theologically, it is eclectic. Folk religion is also the root of ethical and moral hedonism and the source of the shameless new, ‘haute culture’ – high culture formerly known as epicurianism. Since it has no clear source, no Apostle or Messiah and no Torah or Holy Book, Folk religion is a motley collection of religious figments existing haphazardly in people’s minds and ready to make their presence felt as the need arises. In Europe, it manifests itself as ethical relativism, which is rooted in secular humanism. It is Folk Religion that has redefined ‘Ecumenism’ to include people of other religions – beg your pardon – other faiths “There is room for everyone”, the exponents argue. It is Folk Religion that has metamorphosed into post- modernism and neo-paganism. There are no clear values, no ultimate Judge to whom we shall give account. Therefore, life is do as you please, so long as you don’t hurt the general economy. Bill Clinton, could be a good President entrusted with the world’s largest economy and with the world’s largest army entrusted to his command and yet, neither his wife not his pimps prostitute could trust him. A governor could rig his way to power and no body complains especially if he is clever enough to buy up the religious leaders whom the people could preach to rescue them from his/her tyranny!
In consequence, on any issue of the day, its “prophets” cannot speak with any degree of certainty or a sense of awe: “Thus says the Lord” or “the Scripture”. Rather, there is a subtle appeal to inner sentiments of secular humanist ideals, which have little or no room for God, and certainly none for a God of Truth, Integrity and Justice who alone is Almighty! These modern false prophets establish churches, and like Bah’aism, extol justice, and yet the true god they worship is money. The good politician, the one who gives them enough money to do god’s work, no matter how that politician got into power, how he/she treats the people. The sordid romance between the National Church of Germany and Adolf Hitler in the 1920 and 1940’s and more recently, a more subtle one between Pope John Paul II and Les Valenso of Poland’s of Solidarity Movement are cases in point. We must not fail to point to the situation in Zimbabwe where Mugabe bought over Church leaders by pitching one group against the other to keep himself in perpetual power! Our children are watching! They are here!
The aim is to convince everyone that nothing really matters in that final sense. And since there is no heaven to seek beyond here, there is neither a hell to shun. In the end, we hope (not we know), all will be well. So we grit our teeth and hope for the best – that by some series of Hegelian dialectical processes set in motion by “fortune” – or as the folk religionists put it – “with a bit of luck” – all will be well. Even when their best efforts come to nothing, they want to keep on trying. Unable to swallow their pride and admit failure, these new Messiahs get increasingly despotic, ‘self assertive’ and boldfaced! Those who disagree with them are denounced and denied their rights at best and even kidnapped at worst. Ironically, they claim to be the chief exponents of tolerance and moderation and the messiahs of the people! Both Kwame Nkrumah, Mobutu Sesesoke, Idi Amin and Sanni Abacha all came into power as rescuers. But theirs was different!
But we know that God (not chance!) causes all things to work together for good – (note that it is not for everybody and anybody!), for those who love God: Those who are called according to his purpose! Rom. 8:28.
In other words, there is a Mind that rules the universe and an Almighty Hand that shapes the affairs of his people to the designed goal. So we are not here by chance. In consequence, for Paul, as for all who truly believe in the one who through his vicarious death and resurrection, “has abolished death and brought life and immorality to light through his Gospel”, Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, “to die is gain” (II Tim. 1:10; Phil. 2:21). So, advised the same Apostle, ‘Whenever you have the opportunity, do good in line with God’s will . . . so that having worked to rescue others, you do not become a outcast! (Gal. 6:9,10; I Cor. 9:27). Politicians, Professors, Priests and Preachers, our children are here. They are watching what we do and the next generation is being made now:
“And he has shown you o man what is good; And what does the Lord require of you; But to do justice and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your Maker, God Almighty and the final Judge – Micah 6:8
To walk humbly with God is that we seek to become like Jesus, the One in whom the God of Judaeo-Christian Theism, has made the best and final revelation of himself (Heb. 1:1-3). And so, to be like Jesus is to be like God. Only God can do this. After he has first cleansed us from the effect of our fallen-ness (Gen. 3;) Rom 6), he puts his Holy Spirit in us by an experience of “rebirth” and begins the process of changing us from one degree of glory (II Cor. 3:17,18) into another until we attain the fullness of life in Christ in his paradise (this is the gain, Paul refers to in Phil. 2:21. But it begins here and now. Eph. 4:16.
But in contrast, our politicians and social manipulators start well and then suddenly, the god of this world gets hold of them and they begin to dance more furiously the dance of their predecessors whom they had denounced and removed! But now alas! Indeed power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely!
3.3 A Religion Without Atonement For Sin
a) No sin no need for atonement: Folk religion does not see people as having failed their Maker and in need of pardon and redemption. Instead, there is this sense of false optimism, an arrogant belief in “our common humanity and the best in all of us”. There is no call to repentance and holiness is a fallacy. The result is the increasing spread of secular humanism which thrives on the worship of socio economic globalisation; bizarre form of New Ageism and Oriental cults even though wearing new and sophisticated names. But Africa, Asia and the nations of the Two Thirds World wallow increasingly in superstition and nativistic religion and all forms of cultism, which sometimes assert themselves as cultural revival and even nationalism: FESTAC 77 is a case in point.