By Georges Macnobleson-Idowu
Christianity, according to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, is a religion that is based on the teaching of Jesus Christ and the belief that he is the son of God. In other words, it’s a religious practice, activity or act, which represents and/or showcases the beauty in the act and pattern of life of Jesus Christ. And a Christian is a person or follower, who by virtual of his faith accepts to live by the laid down principles, footprints, and doctrines of Christ.
It’s no doubt that the emphasise in these definitions is in the teaching, practice, act or deed of a Christian and the institution called Christianity. It also follows that the only parameter by which any of these two factors can be adjudged whether they truly represent Christ or not, is by the teaching, deed, and practice of Christ, which are chiefly based on the Holy Bible.
But then, I make bold to say what is obtainable today, in disguise for Christianity and Christian, is nothing but hypocrisy and fathom deception. It’s a deep departure from what, how and who a christian, and the institution called Christianity was and should be. I’m 120% sure that everyone, who reads this piece would agree with me that a lot of terrible things that need serious attention are happening in the Christiandom, and all we have attributed them to is that it’s the End Time. Yet, for over 2,012 years now, the phrase: ‘It’s the End-Time’ has been a common saying of man, but the World has always remain intact. And unconsciously to man, this saying however, to a large extent, has continued to invoke and enforce the End-Time’s spell or better still, spirit on the people, even when it’s not yet the God’s time. After all, the scripture says there is power in the tongue.
The recent action taken by the Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministries, in which it dragged one of its members Kehinde Oshodi, who was residing inside the Prayer City, before the Chief Magistrate’s Court, in Abeokuta, Ogun State, over an allegation that Oshodi is married to two women against the so-called Prayer City’s rules or regulations, I must say, brought all of the shortfalls of the Christiandom to the fore again. In truth, I still find it rather difficult to believe that a Church, which major responsibility is to teach the gospel and show the society good moral values and examples to follow, would take up the duty of the Holy Spirit to convict a member of his sin by dragging him to court, vandalising his property and even evicting him and his family from his property at the Prayer City, which he claimed he built for over 29 million naira, despite a Court ruling, restraining the Church from such action, and insisting that it has no right on his marital life in accordance with the law of the land. I ask, what manner of Christianity is this?
It’s even worse when the Church begins to run from pillar to post, trying to suppress the media interest in the matter. But I ask myself, what does an old man, who carries himself to the village square and naked himself before the people, expects the villagers to do, if not to gossip about his shameful conduct. I expect the Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministries to have prepared for a media clampdown while it was dragging Oshodi to court, when it could have settled the matter out of court by just valuing the contentious property and paying him off, since his alleged devilish conduct could longer be tolerated inside the supposed holy prayer city. After all, the Bible says give what is Ceaser to Ceaser.
A Lagos High Court, sitting in Ikeja, has recently told the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Chapel of Victory, Ikeja, to maintain ‘zero noise pollution’, while conducting its religious programs, following a suit filed by one Esther Ogunsalu, a 79-years-old woman, who shares the same fence with the church. Ogunsalu, in her suit, said the noise emanating from the church prevents her from sleeping, adding that it also triggers her hypertension. But then, I took time to ask myself, why do our Churches make so much noise these days? Sincerely, I’m yet to see one good reason why they make all this noise. I doubt, if the Lord’s hands are now very short that they can no longer reach His people or if he’s now deaf that he cannot hear them. It’s even sad to know that despite all this noise, the aggressive manner of preaching and addressing God, if not mere shouting at Him, and the indiscriminate expansion of churches everywhere, the people are worse-off. They, as a matter of daily routine, are getting more entrenched in sins, unreliable and great evil addicts – greed, tribalism, corruption, fraud, armed robbery, occultism, and ritual have been their characteristics. Worst still, the witches and wizards now see the Church, as the most convenient domain to operate and even take up top positions. I doubt, if such things ever happened in the Church those days while we were growing up. If not for anything, at least, I know that Churches did not use megaphones to disturb the neighbourhood and no witch or wizard or any evil person dared come into the Church without been exposed. It’s sad that the Church has lost all its powers to propaganda and noise-making today. I cannot claim to be a Bible scholar, but I yet know that it says that certain signs shall follow those who belief, and that it’s not of he that willeth or runneth, but of he that showeth mercy. It also follows that it’s not by power or by might but mine spirit says thy Lord. I believe Churches today lost all when they assumed it’s all about physical activism and how loud they could shout or make noise. But I ask again, what manner of Christianity is this?
On Saturday, November 10, 2012, reports about a newly acquired private jet by the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria – Ayo Oritsejafor greeted Nigerians that morning and mixed reactions have continued to trail the acquisition till date. The President and Founder of the Sword of the Spirit Ministries – Bishop Wale Oke had in the midst of the criticism that greeted the acquisition, urged christians to stop criticising pastors, who own private jets, describing it as a tool needed in evangelism. He said it’s only in this part of the world that people make case out of pastors having jets. The pastor, who was ministering at an Advanced Ministers’ Seminar, at the National Stadium, Lagos, also urged his listeners not to join those, who bring ministers of God down, rather they should go ahead and impart peoples’ lives because their own day is coming. But then, another man of God and a very credible and respected voice in Nigeria – Bishop Matthew Kukah, on his part, believes that the acquisition of private jets by christian leaders diminishes the moral voice of the Church in the fight against corruption. He said stories of corrupt men and women being given recognition by Churches, as gallant sons and daughters, and pastors displaying conspicuous wealth through the purchase of private jets and so on, clearly diminish the Church’s moral position. I know that most Nigerians are likely to toe the line of Pastor Oke, because they are hypocritically religious. But the truth most be told. Bishop Kukah has simply said he, who comes to equity must come with clean hands. And that these owners of private jets are likely to have their hands soiled somehow. Nigeria, I must say, is today the only country in the world, where the people are yet to realise that their religious leaders are politically and psychologically manipulating their mindset, to get what they desire, hence they still enjoy so much patronage and trust from the people. Nigerians, whether educated, learned or not, are good-blind followers, who could do anything for their religious leaders. This was why pastors like Reverend King could perpetrate all forms of atrocities and yet Nigerians still attend his Church. No wonder, Pastor Wale Oke could confidently defend and even rebuke members of his Church for merely asking questions about some pastors, who consciously decided to buy jets, when a large chunk of their congregation are hungry and poor. I stumble on a story written by one Peter Anosike titled: Nigerians own 200 private jets. Through this article I was able to know that Nigerian pastors have invested about 1.3 trillion naira in the acquisition of private jets in the last three years. As I imagine what this money could do to the Nigerian society, another writer – Mike Akhariale asked the question: Is there an airport in heaven? I cannot help but to ask also if all these depict the simple and humble nature of Christ, who only rode on donkey, even when horses abound, to symbolise his Lordship. I ask, what manner of Christianity is this?
Let me confess that it still beats my imagination how a private jet has become a tool for evangelism. Perhaps, Bishop Wale Oke may want to argue that it helps them to meet-up their several religious engagements, around the world, in no time, but then, I asked, how much of this evangelism have they done in their own country and how much has it paid off in the society? All I know, and that is obvious, is that the home front is worse off. And if the saying that charity begins at home is anything to go by, one will agree with me that these owners of private jets have only acquired this luxury for selfish motives and religious activism. After all, Jesus Christ never took his preaching outside Jerusalem and Israel, yet the gospel is everywhere today. And doubt if any of our so-called private jets Bishops can claim responsibility for this spread, and if they do, the question would be what percentage of the world can they virtually beat their chest and say would make heaven, if Christ decides to come today. I think there is a misplaced priority here. The issue is not really about mere evangelism or perhaps, religious activism, but how many of those, who accepted Christ is Christ-like. Others have argued that commercial flights are not too good for them, hence they have to commune with God and pray intermittently in preparation for their engagements, and this seemed obviously impossible to achieve in the commercial flights. Again, I ask, if they have not fore-closed the opportunity to also win souls in such commercial flights. A Yoruba adage says what one has gone looking for in Sokoto is right there inside his ‘Sokoto’ – meaning his trouser’s pocket.
Alao Shobowale, is a 42-year-old pastor of a white garment church, who allegedly raped a 12-year-old foster daughter of his neighbour, and was recently arriagned before an Ebute-Metta Magistrate Court, in Lagos. Alao, who speaks Igbo, the only language that the girl understands, had reportedly lured his victim to the toilet of their residence and raped her. Similarly, in far away Atlanta, in the USA, there is the case of one Pastor Craig Davis, who allegedly transmitted HIV to women in his church. He was said to have been a preacher at the Full Gospel Baptist Church in Atlanta and in fact, a pillar of leadership in the community. There is also Pastor Wilson Kwambana, founder of Mount Olives Church, who allegedly raped a member several times claiming to be chasing out evil spirit. Pastor Kwambana also told his victim that the Holy Spirit had chosen a husband for her and he would also have to sleep with her to strengthen her Holy Spirit. There is yet another in Ghana, a married Pastor Roger Frempong of Calvary Charismatic Centre, who confessed of having had sexual affairs and relationships with four married women and nine young ladies of which seven are members of his congregation. An Anglican priest recently blamed indecent dressing by ladies and the lack of the fear of God, for the increasing cases of rape. The priest at St Luke Anglican Church, Akwakuma, Owerri, Reverend Ogechi Ofurum said a God fearing man would regard any woman, as his biological sister and not be motivated to rape her. It’s sad that while the Church has failed in this wise the so-called pagans or traditionalists, though through some forms of commitment to an oath, have been able to respect women and instill the fear of God in themselves. You want to ask me why and how? At least, if not for anything, I’m aware that an Ifa Priest and his Chiefs, who share the same beliefs and faith often swear to an oath, which prevents them from going closer, not alone having carnal knowledge of any woman or wife of fellow Ifa Chief.
Again, I ask, what manner of Christianity is this?
Georges Macnobleson-Idowu writes in from Lagos, Nigeria.