In “The Will to Believe,” William James says that whether an individual is justified in subscribing to religious faith depends on whether religion presents the individual with what he calls a genuine option.
Genuine options, according to James, are unique, high-stakes choices between incompatible alternatives, where it is impossible to avoid choosing one way or the other.
Religious faith presents such an option, for each of us has a unique opportunity to live by the truth of their religion and the choice is unavoidable. James does not argue for or against religious faith, but he does claim that we should not be criticised for making either choice:
“In either case we act, taking our life in our hands.”
We encounter a similar predicament, a genuine option, with respect to political faith. The option of faith in progress is unique, and the stakes are significant, for our choice dictates the shape, direction and meaning of our lives. We can thus apply James’s defence of the choice of religious faith, despite the lack of supporting “evidence” to guarantee the wisdom of the actual choice, to the case of political faith as well:
To preach skepticism to us as a duty until “sufficient evidence” for religion be found, is tantamount therefore to telling us, when in presence of the religious hypothesis, that to yield to our fear of its being in error is wiser and better than to yield to our hope that it may be true. It is not intellect against all passions, then; it is only intellect with one passion laying down its law. And by what, forsooth, is the supreme wisdom of this passion warranted? Dupery for dupery, what proof is there that dupery through hope is so much worse than dupery through fear?
The relation between religion and politics continues to be an important theme in political philosophy, despite the emergent consensus (both among political theorists and in practical political contexts) on the right to freedom of conscience and on the need for some sort of separation between church and state. One reason for the importance of this topic is that religions often make strong claims on people’s allegiance and universal religions make these claims on all people, rather than just a particular community.
Where I’m going with this, one may ask.
Zimbabwe’s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Nelson Chamisa over the weekend claimed that the Lord spoke to him and assured him he shall rule the Southern African country, despite losing to President Emmerson Mnangagwa in the 2018 general elections.
Addressing supporters, relatives and friends of late Vimbai-Tsvangirai Java at the late legislator’s memorial service in Harare, the politician, pastor and advocate said that it was only a matter of time that the calling shall come to pass.
“The Lord has spoken to me lately that one day I will lead this country. I do not know when or how this will happen but he has spoken to me over this issue,” said the AFM cleric.
Tsvangirai-Java – daughter of founding MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai and wife to Tabernacle of Grace leader, Apostle Batsirai Java – died in June this year in a horrific Kwekwe car crash that also claimed the lives of two other MDC members on their way from a caucus meeting in Bulawayo.
According to NewZimbabwe.com, Mr Chamisa, who during last year’s polls ran a #GodIsInIt campaign, went on to say that he was not as power-hungry as his rival and President Mnangagwa who he accused of depending on witch doctors to remain in power.
On the other hand, President Mnangagwa has said that Chamisa is failing God by not accepting the 2018 presidential election results and the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) ruling.
Speaking to leaders of local Christian denominations at State House earlier this month at a meeting meant to find a home-grown solution to the country’s deteriorating political and economic crises, the Zanu PF leader lampooned Chamisa for refusing to accept the 2018 presidential results. He said God was a God of order and, therefore, the refusal by the MDC and its leadership to accept the results, which were reaffirmed by the ConCourt, was a clear act of defiance against God.
Last month Zion Christian Church (ZCC) leader Bishop Nehemiah Mutendi also busted MDC leader’s politics of faith and presidential bubble saying the young politician is a puppet of the West who is used to imperialise Zimbabwe. The fire-catching bishop, who has at many times been branded as a ruling party apologist since the days of former late-president Mugabe, said that Mr Chamisa still has a long road to travel to be the rightful king for the country as he lacks the merits of a true leader.
“The whites are still bitter that we took our country from them. They have for long tried to make their way back into the country but have failed. So, they have now devised a new strategy to retake our country using a puppet Chamisa. Do not be fooled with the opposition because they are being used by the whites who have a hidden agenda. They know they will not be able to have their way in this country with Zanu PF in power which is why they have chosen Chamisa,”
Bishop Mutendi told attendees at the Chief Nhema senatorship ceremony.
He said the people of Zimbabwe have faith in the ruling Zanu PF party and have shut out Chamisa because they know he is not right for the country.
“The people of Zimbabwe know that MDC is a project of the West which is why they fail to win elections. The people do not want Chamisa to rule the country because they know the whites will come back and occupy our land. For a person to be a right king, he should learn first the history of the country and appreciate it from those in power. Chamisa does not know the history of this country and cannot be the right king,” added Mutendi.
He said the reason why the opposition has failed to take over power from Zanu PF is that no man can fight what God has chosen and be successful.
Meanwhile, Adv Chamisa on Sunday said his party was going to remove President Mnangagwa from power in the next five months of the new year if dialogue fails to yield positive results.
Perhaps the best conclusion to this will be to say, if all these leaders hear from the same Lord/God as they would all love us to believe, then it leaves a lot to be desired why they are hearing different messages.
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