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Idolatry in Christian Garbs – By Tochukwu Ezukanma

By Tochukwu Ezukanma  | Lagos, Nigeria | December 13, 2021 | The 19th Century German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, once wrote, “This valuation was brought to a peak by Jesus: with Him every man was of equal worth, and had equal right. He was in His deepest instinct a rebel against everything privileged; he believed and struggled unremittingly for equal rights”. And to Nietzsche, the teaching of Jesus Christ, “He that is the greatest among you, let him be your servant” is an “inversion of all political wisdom, of all sanity.”

It was in this inversion of wisdom and sanity that, as the Jews came to arrest the master they could not distinguish Him from his disciples. Normally, a master should be distinguishable from his disciples by the trappings and symbols of power and authority on him. But in demonstration of His teaching on humility and its associated inversion of rules and norms, the master, Jesus, blended in with His disciples. It took the kiss of Judas to reveal Him to the Jews.

In Nigerian Christendom, it will not require the kiss of a Judas to identify the master (pastor, prophet or general overseer) because they are detectably different from their disciples and flock by their spruce outfits, special seats in designated sections of the church, and the bowing and kneeling of people before them. They will also be revealed by their pompous strutting, superciliousness and empty ogaism. Jesus preached and evinced humility, rebelled against everything privileged, and struggled for the equality of all, but, ironically, many Nigerian pastors are arrogant and imperious.

Ordinarily, the church is a bastion of incorruptibility, and a sturdy bulwark against pervading and encircling societal vices because Christians, especially pastors, should be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. But, in Nigeria, the evils and decadence of the society permeated and dominated the church, and many pastors, especially, one man own Pentecostal church pastors became incorrigibly selfish, insatiably greedy, incurably dishonest and ruthlessly obsessed with power and money.

Fixated on power and money, and laden with unbecoming attributes, they jettisoned the kernel of Christianity for its peripheral, prosperity. Prosperity Doctrine is falsehood aimed at lining the pastors’ pockets and building their financial empires. It enables them to sustain their lavish lifestyles, maintain fleet of luxury cars, purchase private jets and indulge their sinister fancies – all – at the financial strangulation of their congregations.

To use the word of God to advance the quest for power and wealth, new age Pentecostalism fashioned it into a tool for cultivating the pastor’s mystique and personality cult, and elevating him to an object of supreme exaltation, even worship. The deliberate apotheosis of the pastor and its consequent intimidation of the congregation into unquestioning obedience to him and emptying of their pockets into the offering box as offering, tithes, first fruit, and seeds is priestcraft.

The religious historian, Robert Brow, once defined priestcraft as, “The rise of a group of people (pastors/priests/prophets) that claim to control access to God, and who suggest that offering of sacrifice (tithes, first fruit, sowing of seed, etc) is the meritorious act which forces God to grant favors” and blessings. The excessive veneration of pastors and purposed falsehood that underpin priestcraft undermines the essence of Christianity. They make “void the word of God,” and strip Christianity of its essential ingredients: the fruits of the spirit.

“Priestcraft”, Brow wrote, “stifles individual piety, truth and justice and divorces morality from religion.” It is the stifling of individual piety, truth and justice and divorce of morality from Christianity that explains the paradox of Nigerian Christianity. How can a country  inundated with the Christian doctrine, which is founded on love, humility, compassion, lawfulness, etc., be full of hate, haughtiness, cruelty, lawlessness, etc? How can our neighborhoods be studded with churches, and Christians are endlessly praying, exhorting, preaching and evangelizing, but the country is a vast scene of moral squalor, honeycombed with crooks, electoral fraudsters, thieves of public funds, ritual killers, etc.?

It is because the religious elite cannot provide the desperately needed moral and spiritual leadership because, in their priestcraft, they call evil good, and exalt prosperity without piety and blessings without righteousness. Although the Bible states that God “hates robbery for burnt offering”, they preach that irrespective of the source (robbery, fraud, ritual killing and other forms of criminality) of your money, as long as you sacrifice to God in offerings, tithe, first fruit and seed, God will continue to bless you, favor you and answer your prayers.

That is, they preach and prophesy that despite sinfulness and depravity, Christians will continue to enjoy blessings and prosperity, as long as they continue to sacrifice to God. The use of sacrifice to obtain blessings and prosperity in total disregard for God’s commandments and fruits of the spirit is magic, and the identical twin of magic is idolatry. A religious system devoid of individual piety, truth and justice, and divorced from morality that thrives on the apotheosis of men, “who control access to God”, and deification of money, which “forces God” to action is not Christianity but idolatry.

The word idolatry might sound inappropriate and scandalous in the description of Nigerian Christianity. But even, as we do not bow to, and sacrifice to, the golden calf, there can still be idols in our lives. “The essence of idolatry”, wrote David Klinghoffer “is setting up authorities” and obsessions “in competition with, or to the negation of, God”. Therefore, idol worshipping can “manifest itself in every age, in one form of the other.” What authorities and obsessions have new age Pentecostalism set up in competition with God?

It is false pastors that are adored and worshipped because they are “infallible mouthpieces” of God, with total “control of access to God.” It is also money, the wild obsession of the Nigerian society, which, in addition to its worldly utility and influence, also “forces God to grant favors and blessings” and which God continues to heap on those that continue to sacrifice to Him in offerings, tithes, first fruits and seeds.

Tochukwu Ezukanma writes from Lagos, Nigeria


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Posted by on Dec 13 2021. Filed under Articles, Columnists, NNP Columnists, Religion, Tochukwu Ezukanma. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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