Last week, in the first part of this article, I argued that pastors are not immune to error. Ecclesiastical impostors are having a field day dredging up fables that impoverish the spiritual, mental, financial and emotional wellbeing of many. In fact, in a bid to make Christianity a syncretistic, money-spinning, show biz religion, some Nigerian pastors have inadvertently become couriers of delusion. It is worthy of reiteration, if a pastor is swayed by the spirit of seduction, he will be Satan’s bait to those within the orbit of his authority. Doom looms when people uncritically accept theological nonsense.
There is hardly any catastrophe as huge as having a pastor that is Satan’s bait to his flock. It fosters satanic colonisation of the minds of weak-knead churchgoers. Baits do numb minds. They induce false happiness, senseless actions and blind loyalty. It is safe to assume that was why some South African Christians eagerly ate grass under the instruction of their pastor, claiming it will get them “closer to God.” Generally, heresies have the effect of a lullaby, when dripping from the mouth of a respected preacher. Or better, tsetse-fly effect; causing the sleeping sickness of the soul. If a Christian starts listening to “doctrines of devils”, he would inevitably cultivate dangerous habits of the mind and become docile in Spirit, even though he may still be hyper-active in church.
It appears religious people do not primarily use their minds to seek truth, but to authenticate falsehood they wish were true. Hence, we sometimes justify twisted truth, condone apostates and castigate those who warn us about their antics. Largely, we do not bear in mind the forewarnings of Paul at Miletus to the pastoral elders of Ephesus, as recorded in Acts 20:29-31: “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard!”
As promised in the first part of this article, let me draw your attention to some mushrooming nonsense in the Nigerian church. I am not well predisposed to name and shame game; so, this is not to expose anyone to vulgar taunts, but to contribute to stemming the rising tide of error. Time and space will fail me to highlight many common errors. However, I will endeavour to state their working principles.
Nonsense number one: This witch-must-die syndrome, fall-down-and-die prayer. These nonsensical practices affront the integrity of God’s word. Spirits don’t die. Praying for the death of your perceived enemies is not consistent with biblical truth. Jesus is a life-giving saviour, not a terminator. He wants all men saved, not dead. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil, not the doers (1 Jn. 3: 8). Hence, during his earthly ministry, he did not call angels from heaven to consume those who vehemently opposed him.
It seems to me that churchgoing witch hunters are not seekers of God and truth, their longing is not to live the Christ life. They are ensnared by fear and drowning in delusive superstitions, so, they clutch burning straws. Don't be fooled. Your blessing is not in the devil's storeroom. No enchanter can bury your glory. Witches don't have to die for you to live your best life. You can reign in their midst.
Noticeably, hermeneutic laxity marks the way some pastors approach the sacred duty of studying and feeding God's flock. Also, some manifest paucity of knowledge about exegesis, which is the art of drawing meaning from biblical text. What is common is “eisegesis”, which is reading ones meaning into biblical text. Some read their cultural idioms, biases and stereotypes into scripture. This has given rise to many doctrinal errors, predicated on pre-conversion experiences.
For example, in Yoruba mythology, ?àngó is venerated as the god of thunder and lightning, his double-axed attribute makes him a willing destroyer of wrongdoers. Someone raised in this cultural milieu may read Elijah’s fire-from-heaven encounter with the prophets of Baal and their eventual death as a biblical parallel of ?àngó’s workings and enact a prayer doctrine out of it.
This is worrisome, for Nigerians unduly place religious leaders on the pedestal of avatar of enlightenment. Hence, many people without thinking or testing the biblical validity of what their spiritual leaders say, act as told and spread their sayings.
Nonsense number two: Praying to the God of your pastor in the name of your pastor. Proxy access to God is erroneous. Apostle Paul did not confront controlling spirits by flaunting his impressive spiritual pedigree. He did not pray like this: I am Paul, the author of two third of the New Testament, erudite Apostle to the Gentiles, veritable church planter and leader builder, o God hear me, or you demons get out. His spiritual sons did not wage war against the forces of evil by alluding to his exploits of faith. His testimony was not their weapon of war, or access to God.
So, why do some of us pray in this fashion: The God of Pastor Fire Abu, whom I serve answer me now by fire? Remember the error of the seven sons of Sceva. Don’t relieve their mistake. Devils don’t bow at the mention of the name of celebrity preachers. Their names cannot cure a rat’s headache.
The faulty beliefs that pastors are infallible and mediators between God and men have fuelled this practice of name-dropping while praying. It also makes us to accord greater significance to their words than scripture. As a result, the expression “my pastor said” is used more frequently than “the Bible says.” This indicates shift of authority and loyalty. Where the Bible is not revered as the final authority in matters of Christian doctrine and practice, unthinking religious parrots would confer false primacy on the words of their pastors.
Nonsense number three: Physicalising weapons of spiritual warfare and idolising symbols. Biblically, it is nonsensical to fight spirits with physical instruments and symbols. Koboko services are Pentecostal jamboree. You cannot flog demons. Prayer shawls from Holy Land are not access code to God’s heart. Jerusalem candles don’t repel evil. Holy water sanctifies nothing. Olive oil is not the anointing. You cannot “give the devil a hot slap in his face” by waving and offering dollars. I am sure you have read: “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled”
Pastor, don’t teach me nonsense. The fact that you are always digging deep for fresh revelation is salutary. But the feverish quest for “new truth” could lead to error. It is detestable to elevate Jewish mythology to the rank of canonised truth. When you say things like Lilith was the first woman, not Eve, without situating it in its proper mythological context, makes the occasional use of earplugs desirable when you are speaking.
Pastor, don’t teach me nonsense. God is not money-oriented. He does not esteem men based on their possessions. Buying a customised Bentley 2014 model is not a proof of God’s love.
God is not a money doubler. Yes, He is in the business of blessing generous people. But it is not consistent with His character to bless people, because, psyche pressure was mounted on them to give. Some sold their cars after listening to action-inspiring messages about “24-hour miracle”, and nothing happened. Others gave $119: 99 to activate the blessing of Psalms 119: 99, yet, nothing happened.
The clarion call is: Pastor, don’t teach me nonsense. Protect the sanctity of the pulpit. Be a custodian of truth. Uphold the inerrancy of scripture. What and how you teach matter. Habitual failure to differentiate biblical truths from personal opinions demeans the pulpit. Dogmatism, which is about conferring the force of truth on opinion, often fuels heresies. This is because; it is hostile to enquiry, and open to unquestioned acceptance of propositions. This mode of transmitting knowledge cannot raise defenders of truth. You cannot force feed people and hope they will become heroes of faith poised to extend kingdom frontiers. Imitate Paul. He had an effective teaching ministry. He wasn’t dogmatic. He was a master of the arts of polemics. Hence, his spiritual seeds could smash warped philosophies, break down barriers erected against truth and heal massively corrupt cultures.
Pastor, don’t teach me nonsense. It may bring quick fame and fortune; make you the pastor of the fastest growing, always-in-the-news church in town. But at the end, stardom is vain. Make your works free of Satan’s fingerprints