Question: If a non-Christian says to you “God bless you!”, will you respond “Amen”?
This was the was the question that popped into my head onetime when I observed that members of a group I belong to on whatsapp(social
networking app for phones) seem to invariably respond “Amen” to quotes
by other members regardless of the source of these quotes so much so
that I had playfully tagged the group “Amen-Sayers”.
brooding the matter a little further, I realized this propensity to say
“God bless you” and its consequent “Amen” response seems to be
engrained in our Ghanaian subconscious mindset. It appears to me that
this statement seem to be a mere part of our lingo as a people because I
find that Ghanaians (and I daresay all of mankind) are inherently
religious and will therefore embrace any speech that invoke blessings.
After all, who doesn’t want good things?
Anyway, I decided to run
this by some of my friends to solicit their views. Those I asked almost
unanimously said yes, that they’ll respond “Amen” to such a statement
regardless of who it was coming from citing varying reasons for their
stance some of which were compelling and others not. Some of the more
compelling reasons they gave included the following:
- To Save Themselves the Trouble:
Many people assume Ghana is a Christian state but it is not. I would
however agree that we are a religious state. So to many of us, the idea
that there are people who don’t believe in the existence of any deity is
unbelievable. Atheism is practically non-existent in the mind of the
average Ghanaian. So to save face, such people would rather just respond
“Amen” to save themselves the trouble of having to explain the
intricacies(if any at all) for their (non)belief.
- To Appear Respectable:
It is typically considered rude to not respond to an otherwise benign
invocation of blessings. After all, the person typically doesn’t deem
his invocation as insulting or critical so to them it’s only natural to
expect the recipient to reciprocate in a friendly and warm manner.
Anything short of that is considered rude and no one wants to be tagged
- To Appear Tolerant: Being a
multi-religious state means coexisting with people of different faiths
and therefore, people not wanting to appear fundamentalist or fanatic,
will just respond “Amen”. The main idea is to appear accommodating and
- It’s Biblical: Some
stated categorically that the Bible supports responding in the
affirmative. Others took a rather passive approach stating the Bible
does not condemn it so why not just respond in the affirmative?
I personally do not respond in the affirmative to such invocation of
blessing even from certain ‘Christian’ circles. I usually just smile to
their kind gesture and it ends there. Here are my reasons why.
I don’t think it’s intolerant or rude to stand by what one believes. I
think it’s a matter of how one crafts his response or otherwise that can
come across as rude. So to me, to cower from adhering to one’s faith
when it means one will appear to be dissenting doesn’t make one
intolerant but makes one insincere and also smacks of cowardice. I think
that is even more dangerous.
Secondly, many Christians easily
let their guards down whenever anybody at all invokes God in whatever
venture (however nebulous such a venture may be). Many Christians seem
to forget the biblical admonition that we’re to “Be sober-minded; be watchful…” because “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”(1Pet.5:8). We forget that the “even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”(2Cor.11:14)
so that we shouldn’t just assent to any pronouncement of ‘blessings’
just because it’s in the name of God. We’ll be displaying gullibility if
Thirdly, what or who does the non-Christian mean by
‘God’? Many Christians are unaware that not all who profess belief in
‘God’ refers to the one and the same deity Christians worship.
Christians believe in the existence of one God who is the creator of all
things and who is a Trinity of persons and is sovereign over all
things. But not all believe like the Christians do so how and/or why
will you assent to invocation by someone when you’re not even sure if
they’re referring to the same deity in whom you trust?
Fourthly, some of my respondents said the Bible supports it. They quoted such verses as “I
will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse,
and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”(Gen.12:3) This verse does indeed appear to support the idea however, upon consulting Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible he says concerning that verse that “… Not
the priests only that should bless his children, the children of
Israel, as the Targum of Jonathan, but all men of all nations, and of
every age, that speak well of him, commend him for his faith and
holiness, and tread in his steps, these are blessed with faithful
From the above commentary, it appears the understanding of the word ‘bless’ as used here denotes “to speak well of” or “approve of” instead of the usual “to confer prosperity or happiness upon”
for how is it possible for an unbeliever to invoke blessings of a deity
he does not know nor believe in on behalf of believers in that deity?
It appears incongruous to me.
Given the above reasons, I wouldn’t
affirm any invocation of blessings from any non-Christian source. Or
will you respond ‘Amen’ to Kwaku Bonsam (a popular fetish priest in Ghana) if he says to you “God bless you?”
Let’s get talking.
Soli Deo Gloria!