Fr George ADIMIKE
Reno Omokri is such a great guy that I admire his faithfulness, loyalty, and his principled engagement with issues, especially regarding the Nigerian project post- Jonathan. His consistency, intellect, courage and patriotism amidst virtue-deficit pseudo-intellectual and public commentators have won him our respect and love. Even when I disagree with some of his positions, especially on religious matters, I retain my respect for him. Therefore, thinking that he would value this conversation, I dare offer the benefit of explanation and clarifications to him and his many followers through this public forum. I hope that being an intellectual, an activist, and a minister of the Gospel reminds him that he is not infallible and needs to allow the Holy Spirit to enlighten him further. 

In engaging with Reno Omokri on the propriety of the Christian use of images for devotion and worship, it deserves to be mentioned that any worship of an image amounts to idolatry. Conversely, its total rejection spells atheism since it rejects God who presented or allowed the divine to be appreciated through sacramental mediation. Undoubtedly, both extremes are mistaken. Materiality is employed in the worship of God who dwells in unapproachable light and who is beyond the comprehension of our intellect. Out of God’s graciousness, He revealed in time the mystery hidden before all ages (cf. Col. 1:25-27) in Christ Jesus. Thus, He who is the eternal and incarnate Word of God (cf. Jn 1:1,14) becomes the image of God (cf. Col. 1:15) so that the pure Spirit makes self available, accessible and proximate to the embodied humans. This underscores the sacramental economy and makes an encounter with God possible and easy through infra-spiritual realities. In His self-revelation and self-disclosure, God uses sensible objects or means imbued with symbolic significance. Similarly, in man’s response to God in worship and devotion, he uses these vestiges of God, which though concealing more than revealing Him, are not without value.

In this fullness of time when true worshippers do so in spirit and truth (cf. Jn 4:23-24), one cannot deny that no worship of God can exclude human embodiment in its faculties of feeling, reasoning and operating. Instead, worship entails engaging the head, the heart and the hand, employing the intellective, the affective and the psychomotor or rather the operative dimensions of man. Hence, man worships in spirit (spiritually) and in truth (corporeally, which means surrendering to God according to the truth of the human person: bodily, sensually, and sacramentally). This reality is so because God, who is Spirit, known corporeally in Christ, the image of the unseen God, created man bodily and spiritually, relationally and rationally as His image (cf. Gen. 1:27). But since man is not purely spiritual – a spirit imprisoned in the body – as the Gnostics of Ancient Greece thought, the whole man, created as a substantial unity of body and spirit, rather than an aspect of him, worships. And God could not command man to worship contrary to his nature.

The Scripture is replete with examples of material elements being either commanded or permitted in the worship of God. Does it not fascinate you that the same God, who commanded His people not to make a graven image, also instructed them to make the Ark of Covenant with its specifications (cf. Ex. 25: 10-22)? The same God, who could have healed them without the mediation of materiality, later commanded them to mould a fiery serpent for their healing (cf. Numbers 21:4-9). Christ gave it a Christological meaning and depth in the New Testament, by using it as an analogue…

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