What If God Does Not Forgive?

by Dele A. Sonubi


One thing I love about Christian religion, unlike the Islamic religion, is that it is an open religion; you can reason with it, you can critique it, you can say your mind about it; the church will listen and if you should have superior arguments, the church will mend its ways and if not… the church will just ignore you as if you have no relevance. My peculiar background as a former student of Mayflower School tutored and disciplined by the great social critic and popular agnostic, Dr. Tai Solarin, often colorized my skepticism of religion- particularly the Christian religion as it is projected and exaggerated in Nigeria by Christian fundamentalists. The great emotional and devotional manner in which Christianity is presented by charismatic pastors is as though these Nigerians were present in heaven when the religion was sent down and when the Holy Bible was being written and complied. Interestingly, such skepticisms often lead me to a greater understanding of my environment and give me better grasps of things dear to us- either as individual or as collective moral agents. Needless to say, that I regard myself more as a Christian than either Muslim or traditional religious worshiper. Due to my “western” education and exposure, I feel more comfortable inside a church worshipping the same God than anywhere else for the same worship!

One of such skepticism is what occurs in my mind this day. The following exercise which I am embarking on is an intellectual challenge; a hypothetical subjugation of error, our collective perception of certainty- particularly about the ease with which we make God forgive our sins.


Let me start with my conclusion. What if we had been wrong all the while about our description of ease with which “we make” God to forgive sinners and criminals? What if unknown to us, God does not forgive- particularly in the manner we currently hold his forgiveness? If God does not forgive, what happens to our fear of hell- the kingdom of eternal damnation for which we seek forgiveness of sins and plead the blood of His redemption?


When I posted my thoughts on “Who owns the church?” on the Nigerian village square website, I got responses that I did not realize would come. People reacted and while some praised the opinion, some rained fire and brimstone on my head for daring to suggest that:

Nigerians should become a little more sensitive when they go to churches because of the tens of different church collections as “offerings” in the name of God;

When church collections are made and hundreds of millions of Nigerian Naira are collected to build a church edifice, who owns that church when it is completed? Is the church owned by members of the public who contributed money to build it (some of who might have moved to other churches as consequence of relocation or re-definition of standards), or the pastor (with his wife, children and spouses) who brainwashed people into paying for the constructions?

No church challenges or rebukes Nigerians who do not pay taxes, but rain curses on those who do not pay church 10% tithe; and as a result, the Nigerian government should begin to consider collecting taxes from churches because they make enormous resource just by saying words that both blackmail and brainwash Nigerians.

That God, exists in the awesomeness of His descriptions and attributes by His followers- be they Muslims, Christians or Traditional African Religious Worshippers is undeniable, irrevocable and of universal truth. Conversely, that there is no phenomenon as described, worshipped and called God is also an approachable temptation of reasoning. These are two opposing views, each at both ends of the divide. Notwithstanding, either of these ones also demonstrate signs of beliefs when confronted with the fear of the unknown.

Those who believe in the existence of God need not use any argument to buttress their claims; their faith, the holy books and the numerous experiences of his awesomeness are proof enough that He is that which is worshipped. To fault this argument will require going into the faith world and denouncing the experiences of the faithful.

However, those who say God cannot exist, use all forms of arguments to justify their claim of His inexistence. To them, what is not logical, or cannot be proven in scientific or Darwinian ways cannot pass muster as valid arguments. For example; if they say, God is Alpha and Omega: The Beginning and The End, how logical can it be to further claim that God allows free will when the Omniscient already knows our end and what discussions we will take as free agents? It does not make sense because then God must have known what we will say or do before we say them or perform the act. And again, how can an Alpha and Omega create a world so imperfect and he sits on His throne watching destructions, epidemic, famine, genocides, war sufferings and agonies and he does nothing about it while angels sing his praise all day!

A middle ground for all the atheists or the skeptics is the acceptance and or proposal that either God does not exist or He exists but not in the magnitude of our descriptions of Him. The bottom-line here is either to deny or call for review, our collective illusions (or perceptions) of the attributes of god.


One of the greatest and perhaps most significant attributes of God to modern faithfuls is that of an All-Forgiving-God. God is Merciful and Forgiving. To New Testament Christians, the almighty God had sent his “only begotten son” whose redemptive blood becomes the symbol of atonement of our sins- even the ones not yet committed. Once the blood is pleaded on sinful act, forgiveness is attained, purity is added, candidacy of heaven and its bless is spontaneous and reigning with God is assured. With a simple act of approaching a priest to make a simple confession of a grievous offence committed knowingly (most times), or going to one of the Pentecostal Churches and confessing, a lift of the priest’s hand (in the name of the father, and of the son, and of the holy spirit) and forgiveness is attained and automatic! It used to be that with some down payments, the Catholic Church would write a certificate of forgiveness of sins to any congregation that wanted it. Now, it is not that expensive or tasking; it is only by confessing to sins committed at the confessional; that is all. Henceforth, it no longer matters that millions of money meant to eradicate poverty was stolen from public treasury into private bank account to eradicate the poverty of the person who stole it; or that people’s wives were slept with; or that someone’s life is destroyed because of one conscious act of the other person; or that an unimaginable and heinous crime to humanity was committed. Those sins/crimes were committed oblivious to anyone. Confessions are made only to God through the priests.

This, in ordinary view, does not make reasonable and logical sense. But then the argument is that things of God surpass all (human) understanding. This argument of things of God surpassing all understanding is the basis of remotely scaring people from critical thinking. But let us leave things as they are here and approach another fundamental issue.


At different times of my everyday life, I have reasons to question why I remain loyal to this country, Nigeria inspite of all. There are so many things deliberately wrong with it and those who make them deliberate are anxious not to allow corrections. Apart from the dilapidating nature of all aspects of her infrastructures, Nigeria’s current class of leadership is grossly inadequate. Nigerians, o

utside the ruling class are, on daily basis, making tremendous scarifies to the growth of the nation while an insignificant few, who have power, who are in control of social and political authorities, make a jests of out faith in the country. They embezzle money so flagrantly and openly that one begins to wonder if these characters have any morals at all or whether they were ever taught any decency of any sort. To think that President Olusegun Obasanjo and his deputy, Vice President Abubakar Atiku were busying saying to each other; “you were the one that stole the meat from mummy’s pot…; no I caught you eating it first …” makes one imagine whether Nigerians truly fear God and His laws against sins. Both leaders were openly accusing each other of stealing money from the national treasury so shamefully that even some people are too petrified to read or listen to more of the accusations.

The accusations had been countless; the number of government officials who divert monies meant for public healthcare into private use while watching children dying of lack of adequate care; the number of accountants who stole pensions funds of retired public servants, create ghost workers and receive their benefits monthly; the number of politicians who receive bribes so that toxic wastes or hazardous things are deposited within habitable environments; the number of police officers who lend guns to hired assassins and armed robbers and make sure the attacked areas are not patrolled while they “operate”; the number of bankers who rape their female employees who are desperate to keep their jobs; the number of corrupt judges who lay bad judicial precedence; the number of government administrators who use state machineries to terrorize, commit murder and assassinate political opponents. Yet, Nigerians are one of the top most prayerful people in the world and at the same time, Nigeria is one of the top 3 most corrupt nations of the world. From private sectors to public sectors, there are disgust and extremely distasteful character of men and women camouflaging as prayerful, God-fearing, holier than thou and righteous amongst nations.

It is permissible to conclude that one of the major errors in Nigeria is the institutionalization of corruption. Structural corruption in other countries might be a passing phase in their national aspiration, but in Nigeria, it is systemic and endemic in our private and public lives. As a result, every weakness in the Nigerian system can be explained from the viewpoint of corruption which is a huge culture. Again let us leave this point alone for now and come back to it later.

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Asuquo Ema November 2, 2006 - 6:24 pm

This is indeed a very thought provoking article because it really makes one analyze religion from a critic's point of view.

I am always baffied at the way we Nigerians claim to be so religious and Godly but yet our actions say otherwise. We are always quick to attribute "God" and "Religion" to our fate instead of applying the human spirit to solve our problems. The average Nigeria uses the word "God" about five times in a single sentence without even thinking.

As an adult now, I see religion as simply "Man Made" and nothing else. In Asia "Hinduism and "Buddism" have existed there for centuries and is still prevailing today despite the influence of colonialism. It's the same thing in Africa with "Traditional Worshippers" that were around before european colonialists arrived. The major difference with Asia and Africa is that we Africans succumed to the pressure of european colonialists who told us that our way of life and worship were indeed inferior. People acknowledge "God" in so many ways through different religions – Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddism, Voodoo and other forms of traditioanl worship that may even be interpreted as being primitive or worshipping idols. There is a big difference between "Spirituality" and "Religion". One can be spiritual and at the same time not religious. Yes! It's very possible! Life will be very easy if all our problems could just be solved by simply praying but that isn't the case. Life is more complex than that.

An interesting observation I made is that most of the third world nations clinch on this notion of "Religion" and "God" while the western nations have basically abandoned this idea. Please bear in mind that it's these same western nations with the help of their so called "missionaries" that came and brainwashed us with this idea while at the same time exploiting us during the colonial era. We adopted the western religion (Europeanized version of Christianity) and at the same time failed to adopt their economical systems that have proven to make the western nations prosper.

As the famous singer Fela Kuti said "Shuffering and Smiling" – That sums it up for me as far as religion is concerned.

Tinu October 31, 2006 - 5:13 am


Your article makes an interesting and thought provoking reading BUT you based your discourse on the assumption that mere saying "I am sorry" or "confessing to a Priest" or "pleading the blood of Jesus" is enough to cleanse a sinner from all unrighteousness. How I wish it were that simple! The word of God instructs us that what is required is "True Repentance" and an assurance that the sinner will not return to his/her former sin. God is NEVER mocked, He will not allow His kingdom to be ridiculed. That He allows suffering and misery is always for a purpose which if we are patient and walk in the Spirit, our eyes of understanding will be opened and we will comprehend why certain things are the way they are. Let us consider the story of King David, a man after God's heart. When He had Uriah killed so he could take Bathsheba his wife, though he repented and lamented, God's punishment was that the child of that union died. We did not read in the bible that David ever committed the same sin till he died. Sometimes God raises up wicked kings and rulers over a rebellious people to bring them to their knees, e.g King Nebuchadnezzar.

Christ's redemptive blood is for those who believe in God through faith in Christ Jesus, as Lord and Saviour. So pleading the blood achieves nothing in itself except it is done in faith and in truth. I acknowledge the "lies" peddled by a lot of self acclaimed "Pastors" "General Overseers" and "Apostles", but that is their own script to which they shall all give account.

The state of our nation Nigeria makes a non-believer wonder if there is a God, but I can assure you as sure as there is a sky above that there is an ALMIGHTY GOD and He will in His own time make manifest His ways. Have you ever considered that maybe we as a people are being "pruned" (I don't want to use the word -punished) for our complicity in the ills perpetuated by our so called Leaders? When last have we as a people demonstrated against election rigging or raised our voices against corrupt leaders?- not in the comfort of our homes but on the streets.

I wish I can write more but it is late and I must get some sleep. However, I will like to leave you with these words:

God has not promised skies always blue, but He has promised strength for the day, rest for the labour, light for the way, grace for the trials,help from above, unfailing sympathy, and undying love. Have a blessed week.

Mrs Tinuade Ihama

Conscience October 28, 2006 - 8:26 am

Nice comment. I think I agree with most of your views.

BIGFEST October 27, 2006 - 3:53 pm

A thought provoking write-up.We should all fully examine this article.However,we will all be judged by what we do in secret because what you do in secret is your religion.

Uzo October 27, 2006 - 11:37 am

Well said! I agree with the comment by Rosie and most of all,i agree with the writer of this article.In my 31 years on this beautiful earth, i have never seen a religion filled with as many self righteous people as christianity.I know this for a fact cos i'm a catholic christian.(even though some of you may argue that those two nouns can't exist side by side). We say the central theme of our religion is love and yet we flagrantly rain omninous consequences on those we don't subscribe to our beliefs.We build overindulgent edifices to worship a man who was born in a manger? We preach against corruption and yet, we collect tithes from the politicians?

Hello? am i missing something here?

Rosie October 26, 2006 - 7:38 pm

When it comes to religion, I am very skeptical. Imagine that – a practising catholic who is skeptical on religion. When I was thirteen, my best friend at the time became a born again. She used to shove Bibles under my nose all the time until I told her to get that "man-made history book"away from me. She was shocked. She said I had blasphemed. I told her to read her history books and find out the Bible is just a bunch of stories , agreed upon by the early "fathers" (not mothers or sisters) of the church. Early Christianity was rocked with chaos. No one could agree on one thing. So they chose the books of the Bible from thousands of books (some are still being discovered today) and tried to destroy the rest. So when someone quotes the Bible to me and tried to justify morals based on the Bible – I tell them this: The Bible tells me the God I worship is a man. It tells me it is a white man with white flowing beard. It tells me I am made in his image. Well, as a black woman, I think God messed up a little because,there is a small percentage that physically look that way. The Bible is subject to strange interpretations. It contradicts, yet we cling to it, because it is all the founding fathers of Christianity left us. No one is as unChristian as Christians. We need to stop faking it.

Ikechukwu Nnamani October 26, 2006 - 6:11 pm

You echoed the thoughts I've carried in my heart for some years now. Why is it now that we have so many churches in Nigeria that evil abound?

Atrocities in the cities.

Abomination in the nation.

Let us examine ourselves deeply, running away from facades and flimsy promises of "salvation" at the "push of a button".

We need help from God, not to save us from the devil but to deliver us from our delusions.

Ben Idris Alooma October 26, 2006 - 11:44 am

This is an excellent article, very thought provoking. I hope that Nigerians in general (from the rich to the president to the legislattor to the armed robber to the beggar to the poor) read this article and meditate upon it. This article is qualified to be included in the Bible and Quran without further delay.

I have always been of the opinion that Nigeria (Nigerians) contemporary situations are beyond prayers. God is very far from the shores of the most wicked isolated nation in the universe. For God to hear Nigerians, righteous Nigerians must take over (radically preferably) the affairs of the country thereafter God will henceforth commence listening to Nigerians. For now, no way! with God.

On a second thought, what happens if there is no God afterall and ONLY the devil truly exists? Then most Nigerians have be conned and suffered for nothing! What happens if there is no heaven afterall? What if there is no hell (other than the present day Nigeria)?

Why do the children of overseers, pastors, etc always end up taking over the affairs of "their fathers" church? (No qualified other church member, right?)

Why do the children of rich (???) Nigerian end up in politics and positions of power/money control?

Why do Nigerian high ranking military officers (former or current) always end up with pot-belly?

Why do Nigerian politician become "overnight" multi-millionaires?

Why do the rich Nigerians alwyas have numerous foreign accounts?

Why do Nigerian legislators send their kids to foreign schools?

Why do Nigerian politician (from the president to the commissioners) run to foreign hospitals for simple medical check up? (note: there is no malaria in western nations, no sunburn, no fever, no … )

Why do Nigerian christians and muslims run to juju man/woman for booster power?

Why are Nigerians generally highly educated but mostly unemployed?

Why do the resources and wealth of Nigeria belong in the hands of one man or few people (that is, counting along the friends and girlfriends of the one man)?


Why …..?

Why …..?

If you can answer all these questions (truthfully) then Nigeria and Nigerians will experience peace, progress and prosperity.

God (Allah, Chineke, Olorun, or whatever you call him/her) and Satan (Bilisi, Esu, or whatever you call him/her) be with Nigeria.

Long live Nigeria. Long live Nigerians.


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