JESUS CHRIST’S LOVE LETTER TO ALL AFRICAN CHRISTIAN LEADERS AND MEMBERS – Pastor Jide Makinde (Domingo) – PART 5.
THE PROPHETIC – PENTECOSTAL CHURCHES IN NIGERIA (AFRICA).
“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and REPENT. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” Revelation 3:14-22
THE OLD GENERATION PENTECOSTAL CHURCHES IN NIGERIA (AFRICA).
Before the PENTECOSTAL REVIVAL in Nigeria (Africa) of the 1960s-80s, there existed some foreign established/assisted PENTECOSTAL CHURCHES in Nigeria, which came in, the early part of the 20th century (1900s) . Some of them were the Assemblies of God Church (USA), the Foursquare Gospel Church (USA), the Apostolic Faith Church (USA), the Apostolic Church (Great Britain), the Christ Apostolic Church (a Nigerian offshoot of the Apostolic Church), and the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA) (USA). All of them have since been nationalized.
These churches can be described as part of the WESLEYAN-PENTECOSTALS (a mix of the HOLINESS MOVEMENT started by Jacob Arminius (1560- 1609) , and John Wesley (1703 – 1791), and PENTECOSTALISM (1906 ). These Churches were the SPIRITUAL SEED of the 1960s-80s NIGERIAN CHURCH- REVIVAL.
Many human agents of the NIGERIAN CHURCH REVIVAL of 1960s-80s came out of these WESLEYAN-PENTECOSTAL CHURCHES, before establishing their own Denominations.
These NEW WESLEYAN-PENTECOSTALS and the OLD WESLEYAN- PENTECOSTALS regarded themselves as the LIVING CHURCHES, or the BIBLE-BELIEVING CHURCHES in the 1960s-80s CHURCH-REVIVAL.
THE NEW GENERATION PENTECOSTAL CHURCHES IN NIGERIA (AFRICA).
Beginning from the 1970s, the NEW GENERATION PENTECOSTAL CHURCHES emerged on the scene in Nigeria. They imported wholesomely the AMERICAN WORD OF FAITH PENTECOSTALISM ( HEALTH AND WEALTH GOSPEL)( pioneered by Oral Roberts, Kenneth E. Hagin, A.A Allen, Jimmy L Swaggart, Jim Bakker, Jesse Duplantis, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollars, Eddie Long, Benny Hinn etc), and diffused it into the nascent NIGERIAN CHURCH-REVIVAL of the 1960s-80s, which was basically a Home-grown- indigenous WESLEYAN-PENTECOSTALISM. The Nigeria Media noticed the differences, and labeled the latest entrants as the NEW GENERATION PENTECOSTAL CHURCHES.
Typical of everything that is Nigerian, the NEW GENERATION PENTECOSTAL CHURCHES, nigerianized and domesticated the AMERICAN WORD OF FAITH PENTECOSTALISM. The HEALTH AND WEALTH GOSPEL, then assumed the Nigerian togas of “My God that I serve is not a Poor God”, and “Money is the vehicle of the Gospel”.
The arrival of the NEW GENERATION PENTECOSTAL CHURCHES in Nigeria, coincided with the end of the NIGERIAN CIVIL WAR in 1970, which devastated and emasculated the means of livelihood of so many, and dislocated many others from their natural habitats. It was a period of hopelessness and despair for so many.
A country endowed with natural and human resources, and that promised so much at Independence from the Colonial Powers, within a decade had frittered away all the goodwill by mismanagement of her resources. By the end of the Civil War in 1970, the country was bedeviled with political instability and economic uncertainty.
Although the Government promised a national Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Reintegration programme to reset the People’s button of hope, most of the Programme remained on paper due to bureaucratic incompetence.
The HEALTH AND WEALTH GOSPEL which promised instant solutions to ALL MALADIES could not have come at a better time, for so many people, who were financially hopeless and handicapped, and many who could not afford very basic Medical bills in the few functional Hospitals available at the time.
THE PROPHETIC – PENTECOSTAL CHURCHES IN NIGERIA (AFRICA).
By the end of the 1980s, another distinct PENTECOSTAL GROUP had fused into and integrated with the NEW GENERATION PENTECOSTAL CHURCH, which can be described as the PROPHETIC-PENTECOSTAL CHURCHES.
This group originated from the Christian “PRAYING BANDS” that metamorphosed into Christian Denominations in the early part of the 20th century (1900s), particularly in the South-West of Nigeria.
THE “PRAYING BANDS” CHURCHES.
The “PRAYING BANDS” CHURCHES originated from the South-West of Nigeria in the early part of the 20th century (1900s).
These “PRAYING BANDS” CHURCHES started off as “Revivalist Protest-groups”, out of the Mainstream ORTHODOX CHURCHES, such as the Anglican, Methodist, and Roman Catholic Churches.
In the early 20th century (1900s), many “Church-goers” were becoming disenchanted with the mode of worship in these Colonialists’ established churches. Apart from the “Pan-Africanist” sentiments, many people seeking spiritual upliftments were disappointed with the lackluster, nominal, and lukewarm mode of worship in these “ORTHODOX CHURCHES” at that time. Free-masonry and other fraternities’ activities were tolerated and excused in these Churches, at that time. The PRAYING BANDS’ groups at that time regarded the ORTHODOX CHURCHES as the DEAD CHURCHES.
They therefore set up the “PRAYING BANDS” as REVIVALIST groups, within their Denominations. But the Orthodox- Churches’ Authorities were not comfortable with their activities, which were already drawing large followings. Many of the Leaders were “excommunicated”, and had no choice than to form their own Church-Denominations.
ELEMENTS & PRACTICES OF WORSHIP OF THE ‘’PRAYING BANDS’ CHURCHES..
Although, some Church-Denominations came out of the “PRAYING BANDS” with different names, certain ELEMENTS AND PRACTICES OF WORSHIP unified them together as a distinct Christian group in Nigeria.
(i). They engaged in rigorous Prayer and Fasting sessions. They can go on for 40days, 21days, or 7days “dry-fasting” sessions, many times in a single-year calendar. They believe so much in the Power of Prayer and Fasting to solve every problem of Man.
(ii). For personal effective and efficacious Prayer-sessions, some certain secluded “Mountain-tops” were designated as “Prayer-Mountains” of Solutions.
(iii). Most of the members of these “PRAYING-BANDS” do not take medicines or drugs for their ailments. They believe in “Faith-Healing”.
(iv). Their concepts of the Holy Ghost Baptism ,and Gifts of the Spirit are different from the PENTECOSTALS. Some of the members are believed to have the “Gift of Vision”, or are “called” as “Seers” (or Prophets/Prophetesses).
These “Seers” (both men and women) under the influence of heavy “Worship sessions”, become ‘’agitated and vibrated’’ by the “Holy Spirit”, will enter into a trance, and start to “Prophesy” to the rest of the congregation, of “mysteries” of past and future events.
(v). These “PRAYING-BANDS” borrowed some “Mode and Elements of Worship” from JUDAISM. (which actually have already been fulfilled by the Incarnation, death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ in the New Testament).
* They use different colours of candles for different kinds of Prayer-sessions.
* They use incense to establish the right “spiritual environment” for their prayer sessions.
* Their Ministers pray on water, so that the congregation can drink it as “holy water”, or use it to sprinkle on their accommodation or offices. They can also use the “holy water to take spiritual bath.
* In some special “Deliverance sessions”, the “prospects” are taken to flowing Rivers or the Bar-Beach at the Lagoon to be “spiritually washed and cleansed”.
* “Anointing Oil” are specially prepared and packaged by their Ministers for the congregations, for protection, preservation, and other self-defence.
THE 6TH AND 7TH BOOK OF MOSES.
However, due to a need for “Higher Mysticism” and “Higher Revelations”, some of the Ministers of the “PRAYING BANDS” (not all), resorted to the use and practice of the “6th and 7th Book of Moses”.
* The “6th and 7th Book of Moses” is a compendium of a set of the “Hebrew-Kabbalah” Mystic teachings, alleged to be the continuation or Addendum or Apocrypha to the Officially – canonized “Five Books of Moses” (the Pentateuch), which was at that time popularized by the American Publisher, L.W. de Laurence.
* A part of the Book deals with the Practical uses of the Psalms, with the corresponding “Hebrew names of God” to be used with each of them.
* Another part deals with details of the miracles, signs, and wonders performed by Moses in the “Pentateuch”, and the alleged corresponding “Incantations/Invocations conjured” by Moses to effect those Miracles, signs, and wonders.
* Another part deals with the interpretation of all types of Dreams and Visions.
* Another part deals with the invocation of “Angels” (Tongues of the Angels?) by their specific names, for specific assignments, desired by the Ministers, as the “Angels” are supposed to be the ministering- spirits of men.
Some European and American Theologians considered the “6th and 7th Book of Moses”, a “Useful White Magic tool”, to be used for the benefit of myriads of the suffering and downtrodden Humanity.
Nadab and Abihu, the Sons of Aaron, the first High Priest of Israel, offered “strange fires” before God in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, and they were consumed by their own “strange-fires”. (Leviticus 10:1-7). Many New Testament “Priests” and ‘’Pastors’’ are deceived by the Longsuffering, Patience and Grace of God in dishing out swift punishments against unscriptural, unbiblical, and ungodly acts in the CHURCHES.
By the end of the 1980s, the PROPHETIC-PENTECOSTAL CHURCHES emerged on the scene, as a NEW FACE of the NEW GENERATION PENTECOSTAL CHURCHES.
They skillfully rebranded and repackaged the “PRAYING BANDS” elements and practices of worship with the “WEALTH AND HEALTH” doctrines of the WORD OF FAITH PENTECOSTALS, to create a new brand of the NIGERIAN PROPHETIC-PENTECOSTALISM.
THE INFUSION OF TRADITIONAL POWERS AND PRACTICES.
By the early 1990s, the Socio-Politico-Economic environment in Nigeria, had further degenerated since the end of the Civil War in 1970.
The state of the National Economy had nose-dived because of corruption and mismanagement by the Military and Political leaders. The Exchange-rate of the currency had quadrupled. The inflation rate had hit the roof. At a point, Basic Essential-commodities such as Wheat flour, Milk, Sugar, Cooking-Oil, Kerosene, were rationed to the Masses. At the same period, Dollar placements on Letters – of-Credit for Importers were rationed to a few priviledged Business Enterprises.
By the time the Rationing was jettisoned, to be replaced by an IMF/ World Bank Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), the Political and Economic destiny of Nigeria was no more in her hands. Nigeria, despite all her endowed mineral-resources became a broke, poverty-infested and debt-ridden nation.
The sad state of the National Economy translated to the Masses’ suffering, poverty and penury. Although, the priviledged Military and Political classes and their cronies got eye-boggling richer, the Middle class (white-collar office workers) was violently and mindlessly obliterated. The Poor class (the Blue Collar-Factory and Farm workers) descended into the “Extreme Poor class”. This Socio-Politico-Economic environment was replicated in virtually all the Sub-Saharan African countries at this time.
In the absence of a “Messiah-Government” to alleviate the suffering of the Masses or provide the social and economic-safety-nets, as in Europe, America , Canada , and Australia, the Masses as ‘’abandoned Orphans’’ had no choice than to turn to the CHURCHES for Deliverance and Survival. The people wanted quick solutions to their Poverty situation, Healing to their physical, spiritual, and mental sicknesses and diseases, and many other divine interventions.
And here comes the PROPHETIC-PENTECOSTAL CHURCHES to the rescue !
The Principle and precept of the NIGERIAN-CHURCH was then repackaged and re-calibrated as a MARKET-PLACE, where the PRICE of a PRODUCT was determined by the strength of the DEMAND and SUPPLY.
People were now rushing into the CHURCHES at this time,… not because they were looking for SALVATION, KINGDOM OF GOD or HEAVEN. No, they were desperate for quick and short-cut solutions to the many diverse problems plaguing their lives and families. They needed raw miracles, signs and wonders now and here ! (Heaven was/is too far away from the present challenges and Troubles. ! )
In order to open the flood-gates of the SUPPLY of the Miracles, signs and wonders, these PROPHETIC PENTECOSTAL Ministers had to lower the Bar and Lintel of the “SALVATION MESSAGE”.
A typical ALTAR CALL sounds like “God is love”. There is no need for “REPENTANCE OF SIN”. Just come as you are. Do not allow the “Pharisees” to condemn you, or make you guilty of your sins. Your coming to the Church is great enough effort on your part. God appreciates your effort. Jesus Christ is very grateful for your coming. Jesus already paid the price of your past, present & future sins. Just give your Life to Jesus. (Whatever that means; without letting them know what sins are all about, and without them Repenting and ceasing from their sins through Christ’s grace)…. And there you are; You are now Born Again ! You are now a child of God! … (Indeed? Just like that ?)
Haven settled the issue of being “Born Again”, then the REAL ISSUES” of the Miracles, signs and Wonders are then addressed. The new “disciples” are then informed that “God loves a cheerful giver”, the more you give, the more and greater your “miracles, signs, and wonders will be”. Do they need Faith to receive? No ! Why is the “Man of God” there at the Altar in the first place ? He is the one to activate his own faith and Anointing to break the ‘’Yokes’’ ! Your own duty is to “give generously” to “provoke” your needed “miracles, signs, and wonders”. They called this manifestation “POWER-EVANGELISM” – “Over the Counter-exchange of spiritual Fast-Foods” !
The data of the Church-Planting and Church-growth during this era of the PROPHETIC-PENTECOSTALISM surpassed all the previous decades, because of the lavish, unhindered SUPPLY of “Miracles, Signs and Wonders”, without any spiritual-preconditions.
It was at this period, that another FACE of the PROPHETIC-PENTECOSTALISM emerged on the scene.
Haven discovered that “Miracles, Signs, and Wonders” were the “magnets” that drew multitude of people to the CHURCH, and that POWER to do those “Miracles, Signs, and Wonders” was essential to have a “successful and lucrative CHURCH-MINISTRY”, these new set of PROPHETIC-PENTECOSTAL MINISTERS, went to the extreme, to acquire POWER AND INSIGHT from the Traditionalists, Occultists and Marine Spirits’ Practitioners (like the Witch of Endor (I Samuel 28:1-25), Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8:5-25), and the 7 sons of Sceva (Acts 19:13-20). Most times, these POWERS were/are received with Human and Animal sacrifices.
Unfortunately, the People were and are hopeless, helpless, desperate and traumatized, that they do not care a hoot, how their problems get solved. They just want solutions. Quick and short-cut solutions now or never ! Heaven ? Rapture ?….. Later !!!
And whosoever solve their problems and challenges are their true “Men of God. They are not discriminatory about the Source(s) of their “Miracles, Signs, and Wonders”. You can preach your heart out, quoting the Scriptures, like a Parrot, if you cannot perform evidential, empirical, and verifiable miracles, signs, and wonders, your CHURCH-Ministry is in real jeopardy in this new era.
And here lies the dilemma for the PENTECOSTAL-REVIVAL that swept the landscape of Nigeria and Africa in the 1960s-80s. By the 1990s up till this present time, the PROPHETIC-PENTECOSTALISM had become the Public “poster-boy” for PENTECOSTALISM in Nigeria and in Diaspora.
As at the time of this writing in 2019, most unfortunately, for some of the OLD GENERATION PENTECOSTAL CHURCHES ( the acclaimed LIVING CHURCHES), which were instrumental to the 1960s-80s NIGERIAN CHURCH REVIVAL, to remain relevant, visible, and productive in Ministry, they have had to borrow here and there of some of the ELEMENTS AND PRACTICES OF WORSHIP of the latter “tidal-Waves” of PENTECOSTALISM after them.
The OLD GENERATION PENTECOSTAL CHURCHES are compelled and blackmailed to ignore and excuse the excesses, compromises, and the corruption going on in the NEW GENERATION PENTECOSTAL CHURCHES, because of Religious and Political correctness. To publicly rebuke or sanction these excesses, would amount to a betrayal of Christian-Unity and Ecumenism. Everybody prefer to paper-up the Corruption and Compromises that are practically destroying, distorting, and descecrating the MESSAGE OF THE GOSPEL OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, in the eyes of a cynical and skeptical Public.
Upcoming Pastors who are recently led into Full-time Ministry do not have two thoughts about the Genre, Type, or classification of their Ministry. Without any hesitation, it has to be the PROPHETIC-PENTECOSTALISM, because that is the CHURCH MINISTRY that “sells” today. (There is a “ready-made” MARKET for it, and the DEMAND is very high ! )
As the coming of the OWNER OF THE CHURCH, the Lord Jesus Christ draws nearer and nearer, what is the way forward for the CHURCH IN NIGERIA ,AFRICA AND DIASPORA ?
To be continued.
Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the King of Jerusalem and of the Kingdom of God is coming very soon to upstage all Pretenders and Usurpers to his Throne.
Repent. Be prepared. Prepare others !
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