On Sunday August 29, 2021, there was a live online debate on the subject of the Holy Trinity, with the well known Reno Omokri in opposition of the doctrine, and Rev Fr Emmanuel Omokugo Ojeifo of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja speaking in support of it.
I thought that the very idea of such a debate was an interesting one and sorely needed within the Nigerian Christian space for many reasons: some obvious, others not quite so. I have decided to share my personal reflections on the whole initiative and how the event went, hoping that more people will pick interest and the conversations as they emerge and follow.
- Reno Omokri
I most profoundly laud Reno for even mooting this idea and working to make it happen. In an era where Christianity in Nigeria has become almost unrecognizable because of the many brands that are pretty much foundationless and quite literally whimsical, leeching and mercantilist, there is a need to jolt Christians to awakening by questioning the fundamental doctrines upon which their faith stands. This will cause them to really examine what they stand for and also question what they are dished from pulpits which they often swallow hook-line-sinker.
Reno does not believe in the Trinity and he is challenging Christians to demonstrate the truth of that belief. He is also quite evangelistic in his Unitarianism and is happy to draw as many as he can to his tent.
Christendom in Nigeria should thank Reno – and yes, Daddy Freeze – who sting them from time to time to truly examine their faith.
- Fr Ojeifo
I must also laud and thank Fr Ojeifo for picking Reno’s gauntlet and stepping up to the plate. The fact is that, within the Nigerian context, only someone with the quality of training afforded by the Catholic Church can truly address the questions raised by the Reno’s and the Daddy Freeze’s. Most others do not have the depth of training and scholarship, and the intellectual maturity to confront these questions.
And many young people are asking these questions, trying to find reasons to keep believing the faith they have been bequeathed by their parents, but no one pays them attention let alone give answers to their questions. They are simply disdainfully branded rebels for asking questions. Little wonder atheism is swelling in Nigeria. This is the 21st century!
More Catholics, clergy and lay, should emulate Fr Ojeifo: they should pick up their Bible and the Catechism and deepen their faith and knowledge. They should also get a skill or two in apologetics. The dam has broken!
- The Debate
While the debate proved to be interesting, it was not quite focused. Apart from the fact that both speakers – but especially Reno – did not decisively marshal their arguments pointedly for or against the motion, the major problem, I believe, is that they did not agree beforehand on the shape the debate will take. It was when they came on that they tried to decide. If they had earlier on decided and allotted time for statement of argument, rebuttal, cross-questioning etc, much more justice would have been done the subject.
Then again is the question of fundamental issues upon which to build the argument for subjects like the Trinity. If a person does not believe in or even understand the concept of Sacred Tradition, or the Sacred Magisterium, it becomes rather difficult to talk on the subject of the Holy Trinity – at least in our clime here – because many have not even heard about them and so cannot wrap their heads around the concept, place, and roles of the Councils of the Church through the ages in crystallizing the basic tenets of the Christian faith as we have it today. Fr Ojeifo tried to lay those building blocks in marshalling his points but they ended up taking more time than the main subject which he obviously would have expounded more upon.
It will be nice if, going forward as they have assured us they would, they can dedicate sessions to, say, Sacred Traditions/Scripture Alone, Sacred Magisterium/Councils of the Church etc.
- Apologetics Know-How
Catholics, and indeed other Christians, must learn how to present their faith in manners that are perceptible to and appreciated by others. There are different levels of commonality and deviation between one group and another. The way a Catholic will approach discourses with a Protestant who believes in the Trinity but will have nothing to do with anything “outside” the Scriptures is different from how he will with a Muslim who believes in God but has little or no confidence in the Bible. It also a totally different kettle of fish when talking with an atheist who does not believe in the existence of a God at all, much less taking the Scriptures seriously. You have to come from a position of mutual understanding, in each distinct situation, and proceed to build your argument. Again,the ranks of atheists are swelling among millennials, not because they simply repudiate faith but because they are asking for reasons to believe.
Once more, we thank Reno and Fr Ojeifo. Keep the debates coming.
Links to the debate below…