One cure remains for that form of sinful human pride known as racism. The gospel of Jesus Christ strips us of all boasts, collapsing our ethnic claims of superiority, forcing us to accept the absolutely level ground at the foot of the cross.
Africa receives some American errors that are quite beneficial. For example, before the NBA finals, the Super Bowl or the World Series, sports merchandisers produce memorabilia of both finalists winning, so as to be able to immediately sell when the final is over. Unfortunately, half of that merchandise represents an alternate universe: where the team that lost actually won. What happens to the champions-that-never-were T-shirts and caps? Much of it is donated to third-world countries, where needy folks wear shirts displaying an event that never happened. Hey, we’re not complaining. Another shirt on a poor man’s back is a good thing, even if it celebrates what never occurred. Error is sometimes beneficial.
Some imported errors are profoundly destructive, though. The worst of them are theological errors, for what touches Scripture touches ultimate realities. Two such errors that originated in America are particularly devastating for a country like mine: the Prosperity gospel and Woke theology. Both errors share the distinction of claiming to be a cure, but worsening the disease.
The Prosperity gospel claims to cure the pains of grinding poverty. According to this “gospel”, poverty is the prison operated by Satan who came to steal and destroy our birthrights; humans need only to actualise a reality of prosperity and health through the spoken word of faith, and God will be allowed to bring about blessings previously held back by our negative thought and speech. This slightly Christianised theology of 19th-century New Thought has taken Africa by storm. People suffering in dire poverty through a combination of misunderstanding the modern economy, a lack of marketable skills, laziness, governmental destruction of opportunity, or other providential circumstances are led to believe that poverty can cured by giving what little money they have to the slick preacher up-front. A ‘seed-offering’ will come back hundredfold. After all, look at the car that Apostle Shazam is driving: it’s working for him, right?
Christians rightly feel revulsion at the shameless exploitation of the poor by unscrupulous merchants of financial magic. We feel grief that naïveté and gambling greed pull and push the poor to part with their last coins. But one thing is for sure: if there was one place where the Prosperity gospel is particularly wretched, it is in countries already suffering from extraordinary levels of unemployment and economic stagnation. This is a “cure” that accelerates the disease.