When people become successful in any field of endeavour, their words and lives carry influence. When they speak, people listen; whether they are right or wrong.
Recently, former CEO of UT Bank, Mr. Prince Kofi Amoabeng has been in the news for views he expressed in an interview granted an Accra-based radio station. Among some of the views he expressed is his unbelief in an afterlife — heaven and hell. Mr Amoabeng is a successful man, no doubt about that. He carries influence. It is for this very reason I am writing this article. Because of his influence, his words can mislead people who look up to him.
He is quoted to have said:
…although [I] was a Christian who believed in God, the concept of the afterlife was difficult for him to accept…“I believe in God, I believe there is a creator; if you don’t like, call it nature but for me as a Christian, it’s God. “…I go to church once in a long while, when there is a wedding or a funeral. I don’t believe in the afterlife, I believe that you have to do what is right and that your heaven and earth is here, I don’t think there is anything anywhere.”
If Mr. Amoabeng indeed spoke these words, then it is obvious, judging from what it means to be a Christian that his claims to be a Christian can be questioned. He can be moral. He can be philanthropic. He can be a successful business man, but if what he believes contradicts with the Bible, then his beliefs are in error. Now to guard myself against subjectively denying Mr. Amoabeng’s confession of Christianity, let me walk through his own words to point out that his Christian faith is questionable.
1: Christians Believe In An AfterLife.
I don’t believe in the afterlife, I believe that you have to do what is right and that your heaven and earth is here, I don’t think there is anything anywhere.
I do sympathise with Mr. Amoabeng when he was quoted to have said “the concept of the afterlife was difficult for him to accept.” He is certainly not alone in this struggle. Christians do struggle with various aspects of the faith. But our struggles doesn’t define the truth. The truth must rather resolve our struggles. Our struggles therefore doesn’t permit us to doubt or call into question what the bible clearly teaches.
“Afterlife” is a core, foundational, fundamental christian doctrine. Without it, Christianity crumbles. Christianity without an afterlife– eternal life and damnation — is a contradiction. Christians believe in an afterlife. It is safe to say that anyone who doesn’t believe in an afterlife is not a Christian. The Bible explicitly teaches about the afterlife. “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment (Hebrews 9:27). Denying an afterlife is not a problem of modern humankind. It dates back to first century Christianity. Paul addressed this issue which strikes at the core of Christianity. There were those who denied the resurrection and Paul wrote to address this.
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.(1Corinthians 15:12-19).
This is one of the many places in the Bible an afterlife is addressed. In verse 19, Paul addressed the assertion or belief that “your heaven and earth is here”. The Bible doesn’t teach that at all. Paul says “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied”. If all of our hopes as Christians is for the here and now, then clearly we are to be pitied because we have believed in a lie. When Jesus spoke about faith in Him for eternal life, an afterlife was explicit(John 3:16). “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
“eternal life” clearly teaches a life after death. Whether we believe it or not, the Bible teaches an afterlife where we get to spend life in eternity with God in heaven or in hell separated from God for our sins.
2: Belief In God Doesn’t Make A Christian.
I believe in God, I believe there is a creator; if you don’t like, call it nature but for me as a Christian, it’s God”.
A Christian must of necessity believe in God. But believing in God and the existence of a Creator makes nobody a Christian. If believing in God makes a Christian, then the devil is a Christian: “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe— and shudder!”(James 2:19).
3: Church Attendance/Membership Doesn’t Make A Christian
I go to church once in a long while, when there is a wedding or a funeral
This doesn’t even qualify to be termed “church attendance”. Attending a wedding or funeral is not the same as church attendance. More so, attending “once in a long while”. Attending church or holding church membership doesn’t mean a person is a Christian. People grow up in church, they sit on boards and committees, but they are far away from the kingdom. If regular church attendance doesn’t necessarily make a Christian, how much more casual attendance?
Now that said, church attendance for a Christian is also a command and where a person attends occassionaly, we have cause to question their faith. I admit people find themselves in situations where they might miss church once a while, but whatever situation necessitates this, a person must quickly find ways to resolve it. Church attendance is biblical and a command. You cannot be a Christian and habitually miss church. Christianity is communal and christian faithfulness, maturity and growth occurs in the context of Christian fellowship. Not to love the association of fellow believers will be a sure sign we are not regenerated(Hebrews 10:23-25, Acts 2:42-44).
In matters of faith, we allow the Bible to speak and not what “celebrities” or influential people in society say. An afterlife is a reality explicitly taught by Scriptures and anyone who denys it has no right to be called a Christian. When we die, we either spend eternity with God in heaven or we are banished away from Him into the lake of unquenchable fire-hell- for our sins-