A new book by Miakpo Emiaso transports its read to mysteries of forgiveness. Nicholas Okeugo offers a review
I have read Miakpo Emiaso’s books in the past. But reading Forgiveness – A Sure Path to Peace and Joy is a different ball game altogether. This is because no one reads this book without feeling affected somehow. You are certain to find yourself somewhere somehow in this book.
Forgiveness – A Sure Path to Peace and Joy is an eight chapter book in 221 pages published in September 2015 with well laid out chapters as follows: Meaning and Nature of forgiveness, conditions for forgiveness, not all Sins are forgivable, repentance and confession, is it Possible to forgive and forget?, forgiveness and ‘Holy Ghost Fire’, prayers, and the need for forgiveness.
Chapter eight is an epilogue and contains interesting quotes and insights on the subject matter of forgiveness. The first chapter discusses generally the meaning and nature forgiveness where the author espouses on the fundamental and universal character of the concept of forgiveness. In this chapter, the author talks about secular and divine forgiveness and examines the concept of forgiveness from the perspective of major world religions as Budhism, Sikhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam as well as the Grail perception and Rosicrucian views of forgiveness.
Miakpo Emiaso in this first chapter of the book, calls into play definitions of the concept of forgiveness from various authors, groups, institutions and religions. For instance, he finds that the Grail Message appears to teach that there is no such thing as forgiveness in the way it is popularly understood that sins can be forgiven simply by confessing them and repentance – a teaching which he says he enjoys even though he still struggles to understand aspects of the teaching.
Quoting profusely from the Grail teaching on forgiveness, the author tells his readers that the Grail Movement believes that one can only be forgiven of sins after one has suffered the consequences of such sins for they say that “Forgiveness occurs when a man has duly reaped the consequences of his wrong actions”.
Emiaso however goes on to state in page 46 of the book that when he reads the account of the Last Supper where Jesus Christ told his disciples to drink His blood which is shed for the forgiveness of sins, he confesses that he gets a little confused by the Grail teaching notwithstanding his admiration for the logic of the teaching.
Chapter two of Forgiveness – A Sure Path to Peace and Joy is emphatic that there are conditions for forgiveness. According to the author, forgiveness is neither automatic nor free. In this chapter, Emiaso points out that although God’s mercies are infinite and that He is always willing and happy to forgive, unless one repents, forgiveness can never benefit one for, according to the author at page 68, Jesus Christ made this point clear when the Lord said that ‘… except ye repent, ye shall … likewise perish’. The book examines in details the two conditions of repentance and confession at chapter four the author wonders whether it is possible for human beings to forgive and forget.
In chapter three, the author makes the point that blasphemy is an unforgivable sin and that speaking in tongues not as the Holy Spirit gives utterance amounts to blasphemy and cautions against such practice while at chapter five.
In Chapter six, the author discusses what he describes as Holy Ghost Fire Prayers which he describes as an unforgiving practice based on wickedness and ignorance. And in chapter seven, the book examines the beauty and advantages of forgiveness.
Emiaso in his writings shows that he is an effective and a thorough communicator and teacher. These qualities are amply demonstrated in the book where he combines a bit of humour in discussing the serious issues of man’s natural unwillingness to repent saying that if Adam had repented when God came calling, the world of mankind would be different today. See at page 66 where the author invites mankind in a rather comical poetry in pidgin English to appeal to the devil to repent and apologise to God so that he can be forgiven and let the world know peace as it was in the Garden of Eden. Hear Emiaso as he says that ‘suppose we all go to Lucifer and say to him: ‘Bros, which one you dey? Why you go dey hold ground with God? You no know say God na Ose? Oya come. Come lie down make you butu. Tell Ose say you sorry. Say you no go do so again’.
Emiaso, though a lawyer by training, writes such simple prose which is free of legal jargons such that every person of whatever level of learning can understand him. This is what he has shown in this book. Emiaso employs such common place language in this book that everyone can easily grasp the issues in focus. This is a hallmark of Emiaso’s writings even in his previous books on law. About this quality, a reviewer of one of his earlier works had said:
“Only Emiaso can discuss serious issues in the kind of relaxed prose as he has employed in this book as though he was writing a soft sell thriller in paperback. His masterful treatment of the sundry subjects covered in the book accords with the simplicity and current methods for teaching law”.
In this non law book on Forgiveness, Emiaso has characteristically been blunt and forthright in discussing certain vexed social and religious issues. For instance, in emphatically stating that the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is unforgivable, Emiaso declares at page 89 that “ while we lack the capacity to be judge over such things and I do not at all attempt to be judge here, there is no doubt that there are abuses to be daily observed in the name of the Holy Spirit of God. Therefore do I urge everyone to be wary of what we do or say in the name of the Holy Spirit no matter how highly placed we may be in the church. Let us embark not on what the Holy Spirit does not direct us. We must avoid imposing our personal convictions and wisdom on the Holy Spirit of God for the words of the Lord in this respect is clear and weighty’’.
The author is referring here to the practice of speaking in tongues not as the Holy Spirit gives utterance and states that some churches even have classes where how to speak in tongues is taught.
Also in his forthrightness, Emiaso explains in Chapter six, especially at page 168 that ‘‘It is not for (anyone) to pray for (the) destruction or for (the) death of (one’s enemies) because, by doing so, you are yourself being evil since not only is there no forgiveness in you, but you conceive of and plot evil towards another. Praying for your own protection is different from wishing, through your prayers to God, that somebody should die. God is not in the business of killing people. If it were so, there would be no one left on the surface of the earth’’.
Forgiveness – A Sure Path to Peace and Joy is so rich in content and depth that a brief review in the little space available here can hardly do adequate justice to this work on forgiveness which the author himself describes as ‘‘an unusual book by an unusual author with an unusual message presented in an unusual language’’.
Emiaso insists that he did not set out to write a religious or theological work but a robust social commentary and that he does not wish that he be judged from a religious perspective. Page 34 of the book contains the following plea: “ my conception of this work is not necessarily as a religious one and I wish not to be judged on the basis of religion. I insist that this book is not necessarily a Christian book. But I am part of a substantially Christian society hence my primary source of reference for this work is the Holy Bible. I have however also made references to non-Christian sources where appropriate with a hope that I have represented these sources rightly otherwise I beg forgiveness’’.
Once a senior reporter with the Nigerian Observer newspapers , Emiaso worked as Senior Sub-Editor with the New Nigerian Newspapers in Lagos before he was called to the Nigerian bar in 1989. He is a graduate of the prestigious Nigerian Institute of Journalism where, in his student days, was the president of the students union government.
No one picks up Emiaso’s Forgiveness – A Sure Path to Peace and Joy and will deny the rich quality of the book both in content and production. The book is very rich in content, attractively finished in matte lamination and intellectually stimulating, satisfying and challenging. Like his previous works namely the Red Book on the Law, Practice and Procedure: Area Customary Courts in Nigeria and the Yellow Book on Co-operative Societies Law and Practice in Nigeria, the Blue Book on Landlords and Tenants under Nigerian Laws, Forgiveness – A Sure Path to Peace and Joy is not in short supply of that magnetic allurement which makes it nearly impossible to drop an Emiaso’s book once a person begins to read it.
However, notwithstanding the attractive finishing, a few errors or omissions are observable. There is a typographical error at page 57 where ‘wo’ appears just before the word ‘work’ in the fifth line of the first paragraph. At the third paragraph on page 71, the word ‘they’ was wrongly written as ‘the’ thereby affecting the meaning of the sentence. And at page 8, the word ‘not’ is missing from ‘God does not kill His Creations’. Otherwise, this is a great book written by Miakpo Emiaso.