Tuesday, 11 March 2014
Physical, Emotional, Mental, and Moral Abuses In The Church – Time For Government Intervention
I’m not surprised by the recent slapping of a young worshipper in the service by Bishop David Oyedepo in the presence of thousands of parishioners.
I have seen worse abuse than that. The difference is that the abused appears to be a very young girl.
From her dressing, she is probably a poor young girl, who attends Bishop Oyedepo’s Winner Chapel – aka ‘Cananland,’ which is the richest ministry in Nigeria with over 50,000 members, a university, hospital, clinics, various real estate properties and other business interests in Nigeria and overseas. Like most of other abusers in the church, the bishop’s behavior is the height of Satanism, arrogance, atrocity, pervasion, godlessness, deception, manipulation, and abuse in the church by men who claim to be prophets of God. The bishop’s action is not just a physical abuse but emotional, mental, moral, and financially abusive as well.
Bishop Oyedepo slapped the poor worshipper because she said, “I’m a witch for Jesus.” That statement can not be the only reason for the richest Bishop in the nation to slap the young girl in the presence of thousands of worshippers.
This behavior is the sort of godlessness that is rampant in churches throughout the world today – especially in Africa – Nigeria leading the pack. And this is because most Christians have become very gullible and biblically ignorant. I could not imagine any intelligent person sit and listen to the junks that most of these men and women of cloth rap from the pulpit nowadays.
Jesus Christ warned his followers about false prophets who would rise up to lead many astray and to destruction (Matthew 24:11). In Oliver Discourse, Jesus warned, "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name. And will deceive many" (Matthew 24:4-5).
But, let us examine a few examples from biblical text to compare if what the young girl said should cause Bishop Oyedepo to slap her face publicly.
When Jesus was teaching in the synagogue, a man possessed by evil spirits cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God.” Jesus did not slap him. Rather, he sternly said, “Be quiet! “Come out of him.” And immediately the evil spirit left the young man. – Mark 1:23-25. In Mark 5:6-7, Jesus was confronted by a man possessed of demonic spirits at Gerasenes. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I swear to God that you won’t torture me!” Jesus simply commanded the evil spirit to leave. “Come out of this man, you evil spirit”- Mark 5:8. Then Jesus asked him, what is your name? Jesus did not slap the man.
What about other deliverances like the forgiveness and deliverance of Mary Magdalene, who was possessed of seven demons, the Samaritan woman at the well, or the woman who committed adultery that the Pharisees wanted to stone to death. Jesus had compassion and forgave them for their sins and short comings. He did not slap or beat them like the foolishness we see today in churches around the world.Jesus had compassion on people and that was the secret behind his genuine miraculous healings.
The Apostle dedicates the entire epistle of Timothy to teachings against false prophets, false doctrines and godlessness in the last days and warns Timothy, his son in the ministry to flee from such things. He writes, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths”, Second Timothy 4:3-4.
In Second Timothy 3:1-5, Paul warns, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God — having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”
Second Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” The Apostle Paul charges Timothy, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.”
As teachers and preachers of the Word of God, we are reminded to do our best to study and show ourselves approved to God, a workman who odes not need to be ashamed but who correctly handles the Word of Truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
What we have in Nigeria today especially within the Pentecostal and various charismatic churches are men and women who do not know how to rightly divide the Word of Truth. What we have today is not proper of the Word of God, but pragmatic psychological philosophies for attaining success or solving spiritual matter rather than a sound exposition of God’s Word.
What we have today is deceitful prosperity preaching where the preacher alone gets richer and richer and the parishioners poorer and poorer. What we see today in Nigeria are men and women who are using the Word of God for profit, men and women who are not called - but who have called themselves into ministry for lucre.
What we have today are men and women who do not give a damn about the implication of God’s call - who do not understand that one cannot be a preacher and teacher of the Word without receiving a divine call from and of God. What we have in today’s Christendom are men and women who do not take the call of God seriously and who do understand the enormous task, duty, suffering as well as honor and blessing of God’s divine call on a life.
So today, we are witnesses of the manifestation of Jesus and Apostle Paul’s prophetic warnings about the increase of godlessness, false prophets, satanic churches and establishment of ungodly religious organizations worldwide.
In the United States alone, there are over three hundred thousand ($300,000) local church congregations out of which thirteen thousand ($13,000) are satanic churches. Worldwide,there are about seventy thousand ($70,000) satanic religious organizations and three thousand ($3,000) denominations. The proliferation of these ungodly religious organizations has given rise to the plethora of atrocities we see today in churches. In the U.S, we have seen not only financial impropriety, but sex scandals of enormous proportions, including the ongoing scandalous sex scandal of Bishop Eddie Long, the senior Pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia, who was accused of molesting and sexually abusing fatherless young men he claimed he was fathering.
There is no doubt that the Nigerian church and pastors are emulating and borrowing from the rich American church and her superstar pastors, bishops and televangelists. One can easily notice some of the Nigerian pastors who are imitating and preaching like Pastor Benny Hinn, Bishop TD Jakes, Dr. Creflo Dollar, Bishop Eddie Long, Bishop Dale Bronner, Pastor Joyce Myer, Pastor Paula White, and Pastor Darlene Bishop etc.
Today, the streets of major cities in Nigeria are littered with all kinds of churches promising healing, wealth, prosperity and happiness and yet Nigeria and majority of her citizens remain among the poorest in the world. In addition to that – are the presence and practice of rituals, divination, astrology, sorcery, witchcraft, voodoo, magic, envy, greed, jealousy, hatred, idolatry, hypocrisy, ungodliness, wickedness, lust, immorality, adultery, and corruption remain inalarming proportion in our nation.
What we have today in Nigeria is moral bankruptcy, biblical ignorance, and satanic spiritual capitalism.
These imitators and imposters refused to understand that United States is a rich and capitalist country. The American religious organizations are big businesses and they have huge faith based budget and initiatives in addition to the monetary tax law exceptions from the federal government that makes wealth accumulation of the churches possible and easy without the churches depending solely on the meager tithes and offerings from their members.
Nevertheless, there are religious institutions, nongovernmental organizations, local, state and Federal Government that keep watch and monitorany abuses and atrocities in the church. Clergies have been arrested and imprisoned in the United States when any abuse is reported and found guilty. In the case of Nigeria, who will arrest Bishop Oyedepo for slapping a poor young girl in the church?
There are no institutions – religious, non-governmental or governmental institutions monitoring these abusive churches in Nigeria. As a result, they are taking ignorant and gullible Nigerians for granted.
False prophets have been around since the beginning of redemptive history (Deuteronomy 13:1-5), and they always find ways to get their human words out to the society at large. Jesus warned, Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves (Matthew 7:15). Saint Jude, in his brief letter to believers, warned against false prophets and told us how to respond to them by keeping ourselves in the love of God (Jude 21). In the teachings and writings of Jesus, Apostle Paul, Peter, John and even Saint Jude, we are also encouraged to confront false prophets and their followers, doing so with a special dependence on the Lord and being careful not to get contaminated by their false teachings.
False teachers and prophets have been around since the history of mankind. They are in our churches and society at large and they are hard to be detected until God exposes them for what they are. However, the Bible warns to have a discerning spirit and learn how to respond to them.
Despite the counterfeit churches and crisis in Christendom, the true Church that Jesus Christ established with the Apostles is still the most important institution in our universe apart from the family. The church is the custodian of the divine truth of God's Word. The church was entrusted with the divine truth, where certain men and women are called and ordained not only by religious organizations but by God to proclaim and teach these truths to the people.
Christianity must restore its credibility and purpose. Despite the scandals by men and women of cloth, the true Church –i.e. the Kingdom of God is still God’s number one agenda for redeeming His creation. It is through the Church that mankind can be redeemed. The Church is the custodian of the divine truth and should use the riches and wealth of God’s Word to redeem people not to exploit them.
Bishop Oyedepo should be investigated for his abuses – physical, emotional, mental, emotional, financial, and moral abuses. It is time; our law-makers work on a legislation to checkmate these kinds of abuses in the Church, otherwise our young generation and future ones are heading for moral bankruptcy, and biblical ignorance and the consequences will be enormous.