Church should do more for Jamaicans -- Bruce Golding
FORMER Prime Minister of Jamaica Bruce Golding is urging the Church, which he described as an institution of influence, to move beyond the salvational doctrine and do more for the citizens of Jamaica.
"The Church in Jamaica seems largely to embrace what religious students call Soteriology, which is really a preoccupation with the gospel of salvation which says to its members 'this world is condemned, there's nothing you can do to improve it but repent and prepare yourself for the second coming'," Golding said to a round of applause while speaking at the Second Annual Leadership Forum of Generation 2000 (G2K) Mona Campus Youth League — themed 'Sustainable Human Development' last Tuesday at the University of the West Indies.
Using the Church of God denomination as his example, Golding said the Church, as opposed to the Government, has no problem gaining the favour of citizens and securing followers.
"Do you know the amount of effort we have to put in and the amount of money we have to spend when we're having conference at the arena, to fill the arena and to get the people from Hanover, St Thomas and God knows where to roll in to fill the arena? because if you don't fill the arena people will laugh after you," he said.
"I've been to some church conventions... Church Of God is the most powerful one and they'll have a convention that last one whole week and they ram the arena every single day," he went on.
Moreover, Golding reckons that the Church of God has the most powerful network of mobilising people and he challenged them to move beyond the salvation doctrine and use persuasive authority to address some of the serious cultural dysfunctionalities of society.
He added that Gordon House, home of the Jamaican Parliament, and its political members alone cannot bear the burden, as Jamaicans have lost faith in politicians.
"They (cultural dysfunctionalities) can't be addressed at Gordon House because Gordon House doesn't have the credibility, and because Gordon House is itself the subject of controversy. Twenty per cent of the country favour one side of Gordon House and 20 per cent favour the other side and the rest of the country not quite sure whether they want to business with (it) either," Golding said.
The former prime minister added that while he is not denouncing the doctrine, the church had a critical role to play but it must revisit its own mission and it has to reinterpret what is the prophetic role that it wants to play.
But Executive Chairman of the Church of God in Jamaica Adinhair Jones, in response to Golding, said that the Church is deeply convicted when it comes on to the social needs of people and continues to meet those needs with the futile resources it has.
Jones said that with an urge like that from the former prime minister, it is important that it be put in context, as the Church is known to play a major role in the social development of the country's citizens regardless of the communities they are from.
"As social erosion hastens, it is always important for the church to reflect its own prophetic stance in embracing and promoting the principle of neighbour love and take into consideration persons we interact with on a social level, and we are hoping to partner with government and private businesses to reach the social needs of people to a greater extent," Jones said.
However, Jones said that the preaching of the salvational doctrine can never be overstated or overplayed, and the Church will continue to preach it, as it is the core commitment of the Church to call people to repentance.
"Salvation is holistic, it is not just about 'church', it is a whole life transformation to have an impact on social relations, church, state and culture," Jones said.