However, as a church, there is an elephant in the room that we seem to be failing to see—namely, that this scourge is almost exclusively among our Charismatic friends. Notice, I said “almost exclusively”. So, put those guns back into their holsters! I agree that once in a long while you hear of a pastor in other Christian circles being guilty of these misdemeanours. However, for every one of these pastors there are ninety-nine Charismatic pastors wreaking spiritual havoc. Am I the only one seeing this discrepancy in numbers on the two sides of this fence?
Also, in other church circles there seems to be self-regulatory methods that quickly kick these wolves in sheepskins out of the sheep pen. Disciplinary measures are undertaken and the individuals are speedily expelled. Across the fence, in the wider Charismatic world, these self-regulatory systems seem to be almost absent. Partly, it is because the pastor and his wife are normally the owners of the church’s name and the church’s assets. Hence, they have the audacity to tell those who point out their wrongs that the whistle blowers are the ones who must leave. Or, if they are ever expelled, they simply cross the road and start another Fimo-fimo [i.e. Something-something] International Ministries. And the rot goes on! Isn’t this ridiculous situation staring all of us in the face?
I have been told on many occasions that when I lump the bad guys with the good ones under the umbrella of “the Charismatics” I do a great disfavour to the good guys. I should perhaps use the term “prosperity gospel preachers” or “health-and-wealth preachers” in order to point out who the bad guys are.
Two vital concerns
Two issues concern me here. Firstly, why is it that almost all of these heretics are being nursed in Charismatic circles until they are weaned and ushered upon the world’s stage as full-blown heretics? Does this not suggest that there is something intrinsic in the Charismatic milk, which, once sucked for a number of years, tends to lend itself towards these heretical views? I am simply asking.
For instance, there is the view that God still speaks to us independent of the Bible. Drink this milk for a number of years and you will soon be attributing to God the inner voices coming from your fallen self. Then there is the view of “the man of God” who is a cut above everyone else in the church. Again suck this for a few years and, before you know it, you want to be a bishop, an apostle, and God-knows what other ecclesiastical titles are being forged in this factory of madness. You also close yourself off from peer accountability structures. You are a chief!
What about the emphasis on miracles, signs, and wonders? Again, does it not make sense that once this becomes a regular diet, all that people will want is health and wealth at the fingers of ecclesiastical witch doctors? Even the blood of Jesus is no longer about appeasing the wrath of a sin-hating God but instead it is about sprinkling on cars (for safe travel), hospital beds (for healing), and wallets (for more money). This is such an obvious continuum that I am amazed that we are not seeing this. Charismatic teaching is breeding these spiritual mavericks!
That does not mean that everyone who holds on to Charismatic views will end up tipping over the cliff edge. I have many Charismatic friends who I deeply respect and so far they are keeping a safe distance away from the edge. Many of them, for instance, are concerned about the Nigerian religious junk that is engulfing the continent. However, I am still asking the question: Can’t they see that intrinsic in their doctrinal position are the seeds leading to the disaster we are currently facing on the continent? This question needs to be faced honestly.
Secondly, I am very concerned about the failure of acknowledged leaders of the Charismatic movement on the continent of Africa to address this matter because to me it is a very serious issue. Behind closed doors, with a volume that is just slightly louder than a whisper, they assure me that they are concerned about it and are addressing it. But I never hear their voice in the growing chorus of condemnation at the havoc being caused by these health-and-wealth preachers.
A creepy similarity
There is a creepy similarity between this phenomenon and what is happening in Islam. There seems to be a fear by many people to state that Islam is the cause of the current mayhem in the world. They would rather we just call the people who are doing all this simply as terrorists. However, why is it that Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Boko Haram, Al Shabaab, etc., comprise people of Islamic belief? Could there be something in Islamic teaching that fosters the belief that Allah rewards you if you thrust your religious convictions down the bloody throats of other people?
Notice also that behind closed doors, Islamic leaders are willing to tell us that they are equally opposed to these militant terrorist groups. They assure us that Islam is a very peaceful religion. But even before they finish giving us these assurances, these Islamic terrorist groups are reported to be blowing up civilians on every side and we do not hear any loud condemnation from their lips. CNN, BBC, or Aljazeera is not quoting any of them issuing clear condemnations against these perpetrators of mayhem. Instead, they are conspicuously quiet.
These assurances from both Charismatic and Islamic leaders—while the world is going up in flames—remind me of what my late dad used to say when you wake up with a wound on any of your toes or fingers. He would say, “It was the work of a rat.” When you would ask how come you did not feel pain while the rat was nibbling your flesh away, he would say, “The rats blow on the wound each time they nibble. Thus you do not feel the pain. And that way, they can eat away your entire toe or finger.” Although that may not have been true, it was enough to keep me checking my limbs in the morning when I slept in a rat-infested place.
I fear that although the story of blowing rodents may be untrue, Charismatic and Islamic leaders are fulfilling this story in the world of humans. Their assurances are numbing our nerve-endings while rebels within their ranks wreak havoc. It is time they admitted that their teaching is fundamentally flawed at a very crucial point and is a nursery bed that is breeding these dangerous religious fanatics!