By Tochukwu Ezukanma
In our religionism, our neighborhoods are brimming with churches. Christians throng these churches almost every day of the week: Wednesdays, Thursday, Fridays, and of course, Sundays. There are vigils, morning devotions, evening services, Sunday services, Fellowship meetings, and one revival and crusade after another. In addition, the radios and televisions inundate us with preaching and exhortations from pastors. Why is such a religious country steep in wickedness, dishonesty and selfishness? Why are we so knowledgeable of the Bible and quote it with effortless facility but remain welded to satanic proclivities?
It is because our most important fount of morality, the church, lost its moral compass. Ordinarily, the society finds its spiritual, moral and ethical rudder in the church. But engrossed in their quest for wealth and power, our “men of God” became spiritually and morally rudderless. In their perversion of the Word of God, they strayed from the essence of Christianity: salvation, and love, forgiveness, chastity and other fruits of the Spirit; care and compassion for others, especially, the poor, sick and weak; and respect for the rule of law. They now preach prosperity. Prosperity Doctrine is falsehood. It ignores the central themes of the Gospel of Jesus, and dwells on peripheral issues. It dwells on money, cars, mansions, and sowing seed and getting rich. It preaches inanities like: Jesus was poor so that we, Christians, will become rich; if you are poor, you are not a partaker of the covenant of Jesus Christ, etc.
With Prosperity Doctrine, many Christians became fixated on materialism at the total disregard of the kernels of Christianity, like the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and upholding His precepts: love God with all your mind, heart and soul and love your neighbor as thyself. As a result, unlike in the past, when Christians, inspired by the unadulterated Word of God emanating from the pulpit, attempted to be Christ-like, Christians, now, befuddled by Pentecostal pastors’ travesty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, are greedy, wicked, lawless and licentious. They profess Christ, but endeavor not to be Christ-like.
Preoccupied with power and consumed by greed, these pastors, especially, one-man owned Pentecostal church pastors, spout lies, and sometimes, outright nonsense from the pulpit. They intimidate their members into empting their pockets into the offering boxes as offerings, tithes, first fruit and an assortment of seeds. They twist the Word of God to convince their members of the staggering nonsense that to question or disobey a pastor, “an anointed of God”, will bring the wrath of God on you in this life and consign you to hell fire in the hereafter. Although Jesus Christ came to raise believers, not pastors, and the promises of God are to all believers, not, exclusively, to pastors, some Nigerian Pentecostal pastors have successful apotheosized themselves, and made themselves the objects of worship to their members. Thus, their congregants worship them and submitting totally to their personal wills.
Many Christians are essentially enslaved to their pastors and are victims of the pastors’ whims and caprices. This unbridled power over their flock provides the pastors unparalleled latitude for exploitation and abuse. Not surprisingly, many Pentecostal “men of God” break up homes, seduced married women, defile under-age girls and fleece their members in variegated ways. So, instead of being the fount of the Truth, and consequently, a wellspring of hope, peace and encouragement, and emancipation from fear and diffidence, the church became a major source of problem for the Nigerian society; reinforcing the dread, dismay and dispossession of the Nigerian masses.
That a country with the greatest concentration of extreme poverty in the world is also home to the wealthiest pastors in the world is a powerful testament to the exceptional success of Nigerian pastors in swindling the masses with their distortion of the Word of God. Therefore, it is imperative that the government scrutinizes the activities of these greedy and unscrupulous businessmen, masquerading as men of God. The Corporate and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) is splendid. The object of the law is to inspect the financial activities of Nigerian churches. As far as I am concerned, the law should also checkmate the enthralling grip of pastors on the minds of their members by restricting the errant nonsense some Pentecostal pastors proclaim from their pulpits.
In their penchant for mendacity, some super-star pastors and other members of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) want Nigerians to believe that the church is directly connected to God, and cannot submit to the authority of the government. Ironically, a number of Bible verses unequivocally state that the church must be subject to the authority of the government. It was a precept that Jesus exemplified and the early Christian leaders dramatized. Evidently, these Pentecostal pastors that perfected the art of twisting the Word of God and hoodwinking their members think that they can also deceive the Nigerian government and the generality of Nigerians.
Some of them argue that a Moslem president and his administration lack the moral and spiritual authority to regulate the affairs of the Christian church. Caesar was neither a Jew nor a Christian. Caesar was a Roman that believed in, and worshipped, the Roman gods: Cupid, Mercury, Apollo, etc. Instructively, Jesus Christ recognized, respected, and submitted to, Caesar’s authority, and obeyed the laws of his empire, the Roman Empire. In the 1st Century, when St Paul wrote in Roman 13:1 to 7, and in his other epistles, and Peter wrote in 1Peter 2:13 to 15 urging Christians to subordinate themselves to the powers of the government and all its agents, no kingdom of the world was ruled by Christians. Invariably, they were urging Christians to obey the laws of kings and governments that were not Christians.
Therefore, in accordance to the Word of God, irrespective of its religious make-up, the Buhari administration reserves the right to regulate Nigerian churches. As dictated by the Bible, pastors must submit to government regulation, as stipulated by CAMA. Disobedient pastors will be punished by the Buhari administration with the approval of God.
- Tochukwu Ezukanma writes from Lagos, Nigeria.
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