It is perhaps pertinent at this stage of our history, at this turn of our political and socio-economic life, while searching for lasting solutions to our myriad national problems, to take a look at the contributory factors induced by religion. My focus is on our modern day version of Christianity, Pentecostalism, which seems to be the in-thing nowadays. It is no gainsaying that it is perfectly normal nowadays, that for one to be socially acceptable, one must be a Christian. A Christian not just in terms of accepting the doctrines of the Christian church as it was said to have been postulated by Jesus Christ, but to be born again. Religion, which ordinarily should have been a strong social and moral weapon, is today a strong source of social concern in our motherland.
Our Christian men of God today have contributed in no small ways to the social upheaval the Nigerian nation is going through at the present moment. They laid the foundation of greed and social discontent from which the society is yet to come to terms. They departed radically from the preaching of the Lord Jesus which emphasised contentment and instead substituted greed and avarice into the social lexicon. They offer wishy-washy holiness and continue to inundate us with the doctrines of prosperity, albeit, prosperity at all costs. They decided to build a temple of materialism from which they hold the befuddled populace in a trance-like grip. They pretend holiness while their every deed and acts spell materialism and nothing but materialism. They have constituted themselves into a national shame seeing profit in a false preaching and call to a material God.
Writing on the surge of Pentecostalism in
Unlike their counterparts in various parts of the world, who devoted their time and energy to the development of their countries and to fighting the cause of the poor, Nigerian Pentecostal clergymen would rather wine and dine with those in power, even in the presence of abiding poverty and hunger in the land. The romance with politics was never as intense as in the fourth republic when our men of religion came out openly in support of Olusegun Obasanjo, a so-called born-again Pentecostal Christian. All through the years of Obasanjo’s misrule, the celebrated Pentecostal community could only muster whimpers of protest at the audacity of that dubious man who hid under the cloak of a condescending religion. Before the controversial landslide election victory of Obasanjo in 2003, the president of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Mike Okonkwo, urged all Nigerians to vote once more for the tyranny and misrule of Obasanjo, since he was one of the folds. In fact, around that time, Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God likened Obasanjo to the prophet Elisha whom God had “specially ordained”. This was just one in the unguarded forays of Pastor Adeboye into the murky waters of politics. I can vividly remember this pastor openly anointing Olusegun Osoba as the only one fit for the government house when Osoba was seeking for the second term which he eventually lost. While all Nigerians were aghast at the effrontery of Obasanjo during the infamous third term debacle, it took the boldness of Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor in May 2006 to declare that “third term in office is not a crime”. Yes, dear pastor, it would not have been a crime, only that our doctored constitution did not allow it and Nigerians never wanted it.
Our men of God have gallantly deviated from the path and only pay lip service to the true essence of Christianity. The fact that the church business remains one of the most flourishing businesses in
The Christian teaching have always emphasised that the pursuit of God, while not in contradiction with material comfort, has nevertheless stressed its incompatibility with unbridled pursuit of materialism. It is only apt to state that our dear nation, while in the throes of despicable political leadership, is also groaning under a terrible assault by a cult of religious materialists. We are living in an era of religious materialism, also known as spiritual Pentecostalism, and the society is poorer for it.
Is it not surprising that in the various fronts that have arisen in our struggle for the socio-political and economic emancipation of
The lucrative nature of this modern day pseudo-Christianity can only be explained by the rapid nature of its spread. It is particularly endearing to many Nigerians because of its tendencies to revert to traditional means in their efforts to perform miracles. Their flamboyance is another attractive feature as this is well attuned to the African psyche that loves all things vain and gorgeous. Pentecostal churches and hotels compete for space in
Perhaps a journey down history lane would show that the origin of Pentecostalism in
However, in the 1960s to 1970s, originating in the wave of evangelical student revivals, new Pentecostal churches were brought into being with Benson Idahosa emerging as the leader of this breed. The
It may be necessary at this juncture to take a look at how much God had blessed his children while preaching the Pentecostal message. In the course of waking up the dead and making the lame walk, Nigerian Pentecostals have continued to organise crusades and revivals to bring solutions to the numerous problems afflicting the people. Problems such as barrenness, unemployment, financial difficulties, deliverance from ancestral curses, sickness and so on. In the course of performing these miracles and wonders, our pastors have not done badly financially. Of note is the Christ Embassy Church of Pastor Chris Oyakhilome which has an annual turn-over running into billions of naira. David Oyedepo, the general overseer of Living Faith Ministries (aka Winners Chapel) has grown into what is termed “an oak tree in Christendom”. His riches are stupendous and his ministry boasts of a 50,000 capacity worship centre known as Cannanland in Otta, Ogun state, along with a private university and many other similar interests. Of course, his Holiness rides in a private jet to further enhance the business of his ministry.
Adefarasin is an eloquent and charismatic televangelist whose mission today boasts of a 1.3 billion “
While much can be said about the docility of our present day men of the bible in the face of the social injustice and economic marginalisation of the masses, a special mention must be made of one who refused to toe the line. Pastor Tunde Bakare of the Latter Rain Assembly remains a lone voice in a class of acquiescent men of liturgy. His non-conforming attitude to the Obasanjo years remains fresh in memory. In particular, his prophecy on “Hundred Days and Hundred Ways” rattled the then government so much that he was promptly arrested and interrogated by the State Security Service.
While the nation is being plundered,
Jesus brought the gospel of love, peace and redemption but Nigerians are being short-changed as what we are getting is plainly the Gospel of Materialism. It is so bad that the whole thing has been turned into ridicule and the pastors are busy fleecing the society blind. May God save us!