REVIEW OF “REVMOVING THE VEIL OF IGNORANCE”
By Professor S. Yirenkyi-Boateng
One of the common fields of publication in the philosophical and social world lies in topics that deal with awareness and ignorance. Throughout man’s existence on planet earth, there has been this curiosity, this continuous search for understanding about the nature of what lies out there. This search for information, knowledge, and understanding is what is broadly referred to as epistemology – the theory of knowledge. This area of scholarship is very critical and it is very opportune and appropriate that Rev. Anane Denteh has decided to write his book in this area.
Awareness and ignorance are two opposites. In philosophy and the Human Sciences, theories have been propounded each trying to make statements about the validity and credibility of the facts they present about the reality out there. The reality out there has a nature which is indisputable, but the types of information and knowledge we present about it can be either true or false. When one has a false knowledge or facts about the reality out there, we say that person is ignorant about the truth about that object.
This question about the various definitions of ignorance is brought out clearly in Chapter 1 of Rev. Denteh’s book. Written under the heading Conceptualizing Ignorance, the first chapter of the book sets the tone for a basic understanding about the causes of ignorance. This is then followed by many practical examples illustrating the many outcomes or impacts of ignorance in our lives. This book should therefore appeal to the Christian community in particular and, above all, to the wider public as a direct and to-the-point introduction to the relations between objects (ontology) and our conceptualization of them (epistemology).
Chapters 2 to 18 provide useful examples of the many negative impacts which ignorance about reality can have on our lives. Rev. Denteh brings to our attention the liabilities associated with ignorance in the sociology of the family, the health sector, in public administration, poverty and economic activities, and the broader ecological environment. The example concerning Julius Caesar, Brutus and Cassius is particularly interesting.
Having set out the problems associated with ignorance, Rev. Denteh then turns the reader’s attention to issues on critical theory, emancipatory philosophy and spiritual delivery out of the power of ignorance. These issues emerge clearly in chapters 19, 20 and 21. Here, the reader is informed about the need for us to be self-reflexive and monitor all the time, the dynamics of the relations between the forces of awareness and ignorance in our lives. In these three chapters, we are informed that the forces of awareness do not come to us automatically but are difficult processes and outcomes that need to be constructed consciously all the time. We therefore need to constantly plead and work for knowledge, awareness, wisdom and liberation. This process of emancipation from ignorance is what Rev Denteh refers to as “Removing the Veil of Ignorance.” How do we remove the veil to enable us to see clearly? This is the crux of the question in the book.
For an answer to this vexed question, readers need to refer to the many quotations the author extracts from the Bible. In his broad coverage of the concepts of awareness and ignorance, Rev. Denteh has produced a book that maps out much of what is today an expanding field concerning the relations between God and our knowledge of Him. This is undoubtedly an important book and one that needs to be widely read. In the depth and breadth of its expositions, it is innovative and informative. Reading his book brings us full circle, back to the basics – re-inscribing and re-situating Jesus in our lives.
Professor Solomon Yirenkyi-Boateng
Institute for African Renaissance Studies
University of South Africa (UNISA)
Pretoria. South Africa.
FOREWORD BY PROFESSOR STEPHEN ADEI
Overcoming Hypocrisy is an unusual book in many ways. Besides the fact that very few books are on the subject, it is also true that few people are qualified to write about hypocrisy. Thus Apostle Vincent Anane Denteh has made an important contribution to Christian literature by providing a systematic, rigorous and comprehensive treatment of this universal canker of double standards in human behaviour.
It is clear in Overcoming Hypocrisy that hypocrisy is a subject the Bible devotes a lot of pages to. The Lord Jesus Christ himself reserved his sternest condemnation to the Pharisees not because of their religious observances, but their tendency to prescribe one thing to others while they themselves live differently. Seven times in Mathew chapter 23:13, 14, 15, 23, 25, 27, 29 Jesus pronounced woes against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. Taking a cue of Jesus’ description of hypocrites as “wolves in sheep skin”, Apostle Denteh exposes the wittiness, cunning and pretensions of hypocrites. Their behaviour undermine Church relationships and organisational cohesiveness.
One would expect an Apostle of The Church of Pentecost to limit his exposition on hypocrisy to the Bible; not so with Apostle Denteh. He devotes part three of his work to the Psychological Perspective of Hypocrisy and considers issues ranging from Machiavellianism to the Fallacy of Hitler’s Final Solution and Mastery unearths how human beings could be so bastardly wicked towards their fellow humans by hatching bad plans against their targets. The answer to this “Myth of Pure Evil” whereby the perpetrators of such heinous crimes manage to project their victims as “pure evil” and use that to justify their beastly atrocities lies in expressing the hypocrisy of such people.
Whether one shares “crocodile tears” or “strain a gnat while swallowing a camel” to use the metaphor of the Lord Jesus Christ, hypocrites are contradictions to themselves and can have negative consequences on the church, society, and organisations.
The section of how to overcome hypocrisy (Chapter Sixteen) should not be missed by any reader. This is because we all need to get out of the self-deception, self-ignorance, and pretense of hypocrisy into the liberty, freedom, and sincerity of the sons of God. This is not one of the books one must read and put aside but on that should be a subject of study for its theoretical, practical, and transformational impact on those who will take contents seriously.
Stephen Adei (PhD)
Professor of Economics and Leadership
Companion of the Order of the Volta, Ghana
4th March, 2015.
“No matter how clever we perceive to be in pretext or hypocrisy, we need to understand that hypocrisy is not a glorious life to cling to, especially if we consider our actions and attitudes in the context of Proverbs 14:11-13 which warns against destruction of the house of the wicked while that of the upright will flourish. With this passage, we can conclude that even if we stand to gain from hypocrisy, there is a divine call to consider the ways of God and the moral standards that guide our Christian lives and follow them” (An excerpt from page 203)
“And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land” (1 Kgs. 17:7, NKJV).
Whether we are able to identify the providence of God for our lives or not, it is factual to say that our source of living and life itself is God. Without His providence, no one can survive in this world.
For example, both human beings and all other living organisms in this world need rains to survive. We need air to breathe and natural resources to live on. Acknowledging this fact implies that every person would have to submit his life to the sovereignty of God.
Elijah’s Encounter with Ahab
When the prophet Elijah encountered King Ahab of Israel he realized that the king had failed to acknowledge the providence of God which was the cause of his ungodly behaviour that displeased God. Ahab was indeed a wicked king and could pursue his evil plans against other people (for example, his wickedness towards Naboth). He was also arrogant towards God.
When Elijah realized that Ahab was not ready to repent, he came onto the scene. This time he was to prove to him the supremacy of God over His creation. It was also to tell Ahab that God is the source of survival of Israel and the world at large and what He was going to do through Elijah would reveal the vulnerability of the world in the hands of the Creator – God.
Elijah then declared that it was not going to rain for three-and-a-half years, except by his word and it really came to pass (1 Kg. 17:1 cf. Jas 5:17). As characteristic of every stubborn sinner, Ahab received the message very clearly but he never showed remorse, let alone repentance. He was rather arrogant and had a false sense of security in his wealth and achievement. Perhaps, he thought a king of his calibre should not bow to a ‘mere’ prophet.
God honoured Elijah’s prayer but He spared his life from the starvation that people on the land suffered. This is a clear evidence that anytime God brings judgment upon the wicked, He shows mercy towards His faithful children. His sparing of the lives of Noah and his family during the Genesis Flood as well as Lot and his children from the judgment against Sodom and Gomorrah are typical examples of this claim.
This assures us that as ungodliness is becoming pervasive in our society today, God still knows His own (Jn. 10:14) and would grant the righteous in Christ mercy on the judgment day (Rom. 8:1, 2). He will never make a mistake to condemn the wicked together with the righteous. He knows His sheep and His sheep hear His voice (Jn. 10:27).
Elijah Sent to Brook Cherith
While the ungodly were suffering in Israel, God directed Elijah to Brook Cherith (near the Jordan River) to stay there for a raven to feed him (1 Kg 17:3). Throughout the period that Elijah remained there, God prepared ‘special food’ for him as He used the raven as a courier for that supernatural assignment (1 Kg 17:4).
Although we do not have so many details about the menu and the mode of preparation of that food, we can infer that it was part of God’s provisions for His children in times of hardship. This is a source of great assurance to us that if we continue to submit to the will of God, He will intervene in our situation during defining moments in our lives. His intervention will be at the right time and with the perfect solutions.
The Cutting out of Elijah’s ‘Supply Chain’
Suddenly, the circumstances under which Elijah was able to survive by the Brook Cherith changed without his prior notice. One day, Elijah realized that the raven failed to bring his food to him while the brook too was dried up. The implication was that he was struck with both water and food shortage at a time that the whole nation was lacking these two basic necessities.
At that moment, everything that Elijah was relying on for his survival by the brook was gone. His ‘supply chain’ had broken. The famine too was still persisting in the country. To the ordinary mind, this could have been a very frustrating issue or even the end of his life, but what followed next indicates that there is a divine alternative to every situation (Gen.18:14; Jer.32:27).
While we as humans see life as full of uncertainties, but God’s purpose for our lives is always certain and it is not determined by current situations that confront our society. It was against this backdrop that Elijah neither devised any personal strategy by digging a well into the brook for water nor going out to search for the raven. He did not run ahead of God and neither was he ‘smart’ before God. Instead, he depended on Him, knowing very well that God would never leave nor forsake him.
Dear reader, when your brook dries up as the case of Elijah what becomes your reaction? Do you attempt to dig a well in the desert without the will of God or you look up to Him for solution? Do you resort to complaining and murmuring or you look up to God in prayer? This is a food-for-thought!
On the Journey to Zarephath: an “Upgrade” of Elijah’s Status
“God came to Elijah’s rescue again at the dried brook and directed him to go to Zarephath. This time round, Elijah was to be fed by a widow who was also at the verge of dying with her family as a result of the famine” (1 Kgs 17:8-13).
Elijah was now being served by a human being and not a raven. His status in the crisis has been upgraded by God, although the crisis was not yet over. This implies that whenever the world is desperate and confused about dealing with some apparently insurmountable situations, God would still have His neat provision for His children. Even while the problem persists, God still has provisions that can upgrade the status of His children.
It is obvious from this lesson that God is the source of our living and not the material things that we have hoarded for ourselves. Jesus says, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Lk 12:15, NIV cf. Ps. 62:10).
It would be a grievous mistake for anybody to think that his life is secured by the material things that he has acquired for himself. No matter how ‘stuffed’ your bank account is or how abundant your resources, there may be a situation in your life that can cause your “brook” to dry up and when that happens, depending on God would be best solution.
If the abundant and ever-flowing water in the Brook Cherith could dry up suddenly and the source of supply of food to Elijah could also cease without notice, then it can rightly be asserted that no condition is permanent. What happened to the prophet Elijah can also happen to any of us today. There could be dryness in everyone’s life, which would need divine intervention.
Your ‘raven’ too may stop providing you with your needs at a time that you are really in need but that must not disrupt your success story. Even as you think you are alone, that is where you would see God standing by you and directing you to a specific person in a specific city known as ‘Zarephath.’ A problem may persist around you but God can upgrade your status from that situation.
Perhaps the dried brook symbolizes sickness, loss of property or a bread-winner, a friend or business partner, whose activities were really impacting positively your life. It could also be the loss of a much paid job or even disappointment from someone you trusted.
In such circumstances we are asked to “Call upon Me [GOD] in the day of trouble; I [He] will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me [Him]” (Ps. 50:15, NKJV). (Bracket mine!).
The prophet Jeremiah has also re-echoed this point: “Call to Me [GOD], and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jer. 33:3). These are all assurances from the Lord Almighty.
Bear in mind that, what the world considers as good times may not last forever. As humans living in this depraved world the dark side of life, unpleasant situations, or the days of sorrow are inevitable in our lifetime.
However, having Jesus in your life in advance before ‘evil days’ set in (Eccl. 12:1-3) is the best decision that you can take for yourself. God would shore us up whenever He knows that our lives are at stake. Thus when your brook dries up, remain calm and follow the will of God because He alone can provide for His children the best and perfect gift (Jas. 1:17) in accordance with the glorious riches in Christ (Phil. 4:19).
Another vital lesson is that life in this transient world would one day dry up. Regardless of how we try to secure it or what we have acquired because it cannot not be everlasting. Our properties will tear and wear out while our own lives will grow old and become faint.
A new glorious day created by the Lord will come to replace what we have now. The Bible says, “And the world is passing away with all its desires, but the person who does the will of God remains forever” (1 Jn. 2:17, NET).
Securing your life in Christ so that you can have everlasting life is the best decision to make now. It is through Christ that all the promises of God in your life find their ‘YES’ and Christ in your life, you bear the hope of glory.
SUMMARY OF MY MISSION BOOK
REVITALISING MISSION AND MISSIOLOGY: THE WAY FORWARD IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY
Part One defines the conceptual framework of missiology in terms of its development as an academic discipline. It also chronicles the historical framework of how mission and missiology have developed throughout the centuries as it evaluates the contributions of some remarkable individuals in mission history. The achievements of past missionary activities as well as their mistakes have been highlighted for lessons to be learnt from it by the church today.
Part Two gives insight into the biblical foundations of mission, from which we can understand the real objective of mission as planned by God. It underscores the fact that God’s intention for mission runs through the whole Bible – right from Genesis to revelation. In this section, the Missio Dei as a missiological concept for contemporary mission activities have been evaluated. The book has highlighted God’s motive for mission and the church’s mandate in the Missio Dei.
Part Three looks into the historical development of mission in Africa – right from the inception of Christianity in the first century and how mission work was carried out in the first millennium in North Africa. It also evaluates how Western mission undertook their missionary activities in sub-Saharan Africa and its impact on the socio-political landscape of the region.
Part Four evaluates the strategic developments in mission, noting that the works of the missionary societies in the previous centuries were the factors for the rapid growth of mission in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The book examines the various activities of missionaries as a call from God and discusses how each category of the call can be conducted in contemporary mission work.
This section also highlights the impact of women in mission and how that spirit can be reinvigorated in today’s mission work among the womenfolk. Some missional concepts, like the three-self theory and the issue of indigenization in mission have been evaluated. A thorough discussion has been made on some church growth principles. Diaspora mission and cyber-mission, which are very important in mission work today, have been examined with the necessary recommendations made.
Part Five provides an overview of contemporary issues in mission as it evaluates how to address the emerging challenges in today’s mission work. The impact of post-modernism on contemporary mission work, and the engagement of the gospel and culture as a way of contextualisation in mission have also been thoroughly discussed.
Part Six focuses on the way forward in accomplishing the task of mission in our generation. In response to this question, this book has made a number of recommendations to the church (the universal Christian church) for consideration. These are meant to make the church re-evaluate its missionary approaches, revive its passion for the Missio Dei, and work out viable approaches to sustain the mission work in this century and beyond.