A Road Map for Better Living

A professor of Christian Theology and Ethics, in a book of engaging craftsmanship, seeks to canalise man’s thinking and ways into paths for profitable, worthy living

One common thread that runs through the lives of men and women of conscience and character the world over is that they refuse to be silent in the face of evil. Thus they champion a cause and carry it on with sheer grit and undying fervour. This validates the cliché that persons of character are the conscience of their society. This is because the fact that everybody is doing something does not make it right to them, and that no one is doing it does not make it wrong. Countless weapons have thus been deployed at various times in history to achieve noble causes, and one of them has been literature. To this genre, therefore, belongs Godliness Is Great Gain.

A product of the writerly craft of Efe Ehioghae, an associate professor of Christian Theology and Ethics, Babcock University, Ilishan, Ogun State, the book takes the average reader on a journey of rediscovery and, perhaps, recovery in a world of growing godlessness clothed in the garb of religiosity.

Through select topics aimed at correcting growing vices and misconceptions that have direct bearing on contemporary developments, from people’s hype and obsession with prosperity, desecration of that which is holy in the name of civilisation, to the bedlam and religious rubbish that are easily passed for freedom of expression in worship and liberty in God’s presence, the writer takes time to realign the minds of people to discovering a better and more profitable way to live. The work is didactic as it is a sincere effort to reorder the immoral steps of a generation that has lost touch with propriety and rectitude.

The 252-page book, with its 13 chapters, comes in three parts. Part One sheds light on the concept of godliness and throws up an array of perceptions of what people see as godliness. By means of three chapters that explain the actual meaning of godliness, its flight from the dealings of modern man as well as an exemplar of godliness, the section stands as a bridgehead for the message the entire work imparts to its readers. Facets of Godliness is the title of Part Two and it could not have been more aptly designated. It names virtue after virtue and outlines desirable qualities which should naturally be the collective fruit of godliness but which either seem to have been absent in the lives of the average Christian or are confused with some fake which come under the veneer of this fruit. Each chapter in this part is an unsparing portrait of life in modern-day Nigeria where the deification of personages and the glorification of vice seem flagrant.

Rewards of godliness form the fulcrum of Part Three as it addresses a litany of questions on the blessedness of cultivating godliness. It speaks of prosperity and the undue influence it continues to have on current generations. While the author is not against wealth acquired through enterprise and fair dealings, he, however, takes exception to its worship. For some, Ehioghae’s admonitory piece may seem and sound prescriptive and judgmental for its insistent vociferousness. It could not have been otherwise judging from Nigeria’s gradual degeneration into turpitude and godlessness. So blatant is the current level of degeneracy that like Martin Luther, Jr, Ehioghae considers as cowardice any form of silence in the face of such insidious vice.

Godliness is Great Gain is a guide for pious living and encouragement to the godly person who is, at times, confronted with doubts as to the profitability of the lifestyle he has adopted. The book has come in handy for a society like Nigeria that is in need of redemptive materials of this kind both in its educational institutions and religious centres whose proliferation has not helped in promoting godliness.

By repeatedly making use of illustrations and scriptural passages to firm the grip of his counsel in the minds of readers, Ehioghae no doubt scores a bulls’-eye. Jesus Christ whom he cites variously did make use of it successfully in his days. Also, by zeroing in on icons in the Bible in the form of character study and as models for readers, the author makes it clear that godliness is neither a tall order nor utopian but something attainable and practicable by mortals. A sublime narrative with invaluable lessons, Ehioghae’s is one piece that bears similarity to and reminds one of Philip Baker’s Weird Christians I Have Met. Its lessons are profound and its relevance not in doubt.

The work is rich in both past and contemporary experiences. It also comes with a simplicity that makes it understandable as it shares everyday experiences with candour in a way that endears it both to the young and old. Though small in volume, the work comes with both a bibliography and an index, making it easy locating names. Godliness Is Great Gain has some redemptive suggestions that may well help Nigeria as a part of “the human race” which, in the words of late American president, Adlai Stevenson, “has improved everything except the human race.” It remains an affordable guide for living a fulfilled life.

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