A peep into life in Africa, through the eyes of an African Reformed Baptist pastor.

Water, water, water, everywhere. What else do you expect? I am a Baptist, and I live in the land of the mighty Victoria Falls!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Pastoral self-appointments must stop


It is a well-known fact that state governments in Africa are deciding that enough is enough and are moving in to arrest the rot taking places largely in Charismatic churches. The stench cannot be ignored any more. This has already begun to happen in Kenya under President Uhuru Kenyatta. South Africa and Zambia are also preparing legislation. It will not be long before other African nations join in.

Why are national governments beginning to do this? It is because their citizens have been sexually raped and financially defrauded by men of the cloth with impunity and they can no longer look the other way. Sadly, this is also because they have noted with dismay that the church is doing nothing to arrest the trend.

I have my ears to the ground. After all, I live in Africa. I am hearing the church cry foul to the intervention of governments. The cry is that this is a form of persecution by the state because the church is expressing its misgivings about injustices being done by state machinery.

To some extent this is true. However, the question still begs to be answered. What is the church—especially the Charismatic church—doing to stop the rot that is taking place within its own ranks? I have my ears to the ground and can safely say that there is precious little being done about it. That is very sad.

Is it not obvious that the fountain that is gushing out this stream of imposters is the failure in Charismatic circles to regulate who should become a pastor? Pastors are appointing themselves and conferring on themselves titles like “apostle” or “prophet”. Anyone can put up a sign saying, “Signs and Wonders Church International by Prophet John Banda” and, hey presto, a church is born!

Is that not wrong?

Think about this for a moment. To be a president of a country, you must belong to a political party. To stand in national elections, a certain number of people should nominate you and you must pay a hefty amount of money. You must also undergo strict screening to ensure your character is impeccable. Then you must present yourself for elections. If you lose you cannot be a president. If you contravene the law you can be impeached by your party or by a court of law.

To be a doctor or an architect or a lawyer you have to go to school in that field for no less than four to five years. You then have to undergo internship under a seasoned individual in that career. You must also go through licensing examinations. If your mentor does not endorse you or you fail your licensing examinations you cannot be allowed to practice in that career. If you are ever guilty of professional misconduct your licence can be revoked.

Why are presidents and doctors and architects and lawyers subjected to such stringent measures? It is because of the many human lives that are likely to be destroyed if you have the wrong character in such practices. The president has the army and the police at his disposal. Imagine what he can do if he is the wrong character. Doctors look after our lives, architects design our shelters, and lawyers protect our freedoms. They can mess you up if they are charlatans.

Let us now look at pastors who look after the eternal well being of our souls. What does it take to be a pastor, especially of a Charismatic church? Nothing! There is no school that you need to go to. There is no official mentoring. There are no exams. All you need is a bit of eloquence, swag, and spring in your step. If you can throw in an American or Nigerian accent that will only be a bonus.

Thus we have individuals who have been total failures in every other area of life who are now making a living as Charismatic pastors. Some of them impregnated women outside marriage even before they became men of the cloth. They are already moral failures and yet they are now in pulpits teaching us how to live.

How are these charlatans managing to escape the dragnet despite having such a checkered past? It is simply by claiming that God spoke to them and told them to do what they are now doing. In Charismatic circles that claim seals the mouths of anyone who tries to prevent such an ignoble character proceeding to pastor a church. Who are you to prevent what God is doing in the life of his anointed one?

The only way we are going to address this flood of evil men and imposters filling the pulpits of the land is by a return to the Bible. What does the Bible say? For instance, how did the apostle Paul become a leader in the church? God spoke to him on the road to Damascus, but was that all? No, Paul himself states that he had to bring his credentials to the church leaders for them to give him the right hand of fellowship as a fellow minister of the gospel (see Galatians 2:1-9).

How has it been across history? Exactly the same! Pastors did not appoint themselves. They had to be trained under recognisable tutors. They had to undergo stringent exams on matters of doctrine. They had to undergo character assessments. Only when they had passed all these were they allowed to take “holy orders”. All this was being done to preserve the souls of the people who they would be overseeing. By claiming that God still speaks to us as individuals independent of Scripture, we have thrown all this away and now quacks are running and ruining churches. We have discarded the means to hem them in.

How you go in also determines how you go out. If other people appoint a pastor, when he messes up those people will defrock him. But if a pastor has appointed himself then the church becomes his personal possession. He is not accountable to anyone. He is untouchable. He can commit adultery and even divorce his legitimate wife in order to marry a sweet sixteen he admires in the pew and he still remains the prophet of the church. Who can dare to kick him out? He will tell you that if you do not want him you should be the one to go. This is his church!

Let us face it. We have failed to address this problem. If the state does not come in, this growing monster will consume the little that is left of the reputation of the church as a safe haven. It is no use crying out against the government for overstepping its jurisdiction if we ourselves who are the church are not addressing this stinking elephant in the room. Magistrates and judges are tired of handling cases of sexual defilement and financial fraud by apostles and prophets, which we are not addressing because we dare not “touch the Lord’s anointed”.

Every human being must be accountable to both God in heaven and humans on earth. Pastoral self-appointments must stop. If the church will not regulate who is allowed to become a pastor then let the state do it. For heaven’s sake, someone had better do it before the church becomes a laughing stock on earth and in hell!

22 comments:

  1. I agree with your concerns, but having the civil government step out of their role is not a good solution. Look to the history of England when government was allowed to step out of their God given role, and control the church. Not only will government not solve this problem, but they will create other problems. The only solution is hard, and that is bringing the Scriptures to the people, so they will not attend church with unqualified pastors.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very important article on this subject. As Christian I feel ashamed about this development, abusing the Holy Scriptures for business ventures and to defraud people of much more than just money. However, isn't it the case that people just get exactly what they want? Their "itching ears"(2 Timothy 4:3) let them "say to seers,"Do not see," and to the prophets,"Do not prophesy to us right things; speak to us smooth things, prophecy deceits." (Isaiah 30:10)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bingo! Yes, 80-90% of pulpit-filling "pastors" are theologically bereft and spiritually bankrupt. Yes, they are full of SELF--self-appointed, self-loving, self-reliant Bride-molesters! However, if pew-sitters were being Berea's like they're supposed to rather than spiritually apathetic, these charlatans would not be in "business" for long! Paul told Timothy this would happen in 2 Timothy 3:1-7. He told was the root reason with the first words of his exhortation to Timothy: "...For people will be lovers of self..."

      Delete
  3. These are the problems which we are facing now and they need to be addressed now. Indeed, if the church will not self-regulate, then countries should coin laws to govern the churches so that we do not have situations where churches are turned into individualistic business ventures with no resemblance whatsoever to what churches ought to be. The problem of a multitude of prophets who are not even judged according to Deuteronomy 18:20-22 as to their authenticity makes the matter even foggier, because without the application of this acid test, anyone can be a prophet. Well articulated pastor and keep going!

    ReplyDelete
  4. We certainly have "Charismatic chaos" in South Africa! Thank you for this timely article. i will surely pass it on to our network of pastors.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks Pastor.

    You too Jim. I think that is the exact point of the article.

    The challenge is in Africa, such churches are getting rarer and rarer and it is gradually encroaching into even the conservative or orthodox denominations.

    It is all about a 'fresh' word or new revelation etc etc meanwhile you see very little biblical fruit and holiness by the people always excited about the Holy Spirit.

    It can be saddening but we always have to encourage one another and keep working on people one at a time as God grants us opportunity to show them the truth gently and lovingly but firmly nonetheless.

    I have seen God opening people's eyes to things some of us might consider very obvious. Let us keep at it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yes, Jim it is difficult for governments but they do have duty to combat fraud, that is one of the states God-given tasks. Whether the fraud is getting people to part with money, claiming fraudulent healing or promising prosperity, it is all fraud and needs to be tackled. Whilst I do not like state interference in the churches affairs, most churches (in the UK anyway) are charities and as such have to comply with charity law. Governments are to protect the weak and vulnerable and hold perpetrators of fraud to account.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I like this article. The fact that the Bible says, there will be falsehood in the last days, it does not mean that we stop doing anything to arrest the situation; it does not mean God cannot intervene and help us. Church mother bodies and the Governments must work together and see the way forward. Thank you for this article.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the government, I would think the churches would not have much right to complain if they are allowing so much fraud to go on. I wonder if the same might end up happening in Honduras. (I mean about the government getting involved)

    ReplyDelete
  9. I could not agree with you more. The rot is stinking and has to be swept away. I think the 'how' the government is to step in is the most important of all in this matter. The government, must not regulate the true church - we represent different kingdoms and are governed by different documents. Therefore the true church should self-regulate using the Bible. The qualifications laid out in Scriptures (1 Timothy 3:1-7) are mostly to do with conduct and unless there are godly men in the pulpit, the cause of Christ is not being perpetuated. If the cause of Christ is not being represented then that is not the church of Christ.
    Most of the so called churches are not churches and therefore the government should come in and arrest the fraudsters and imposters as criminals (not as pastors, for God-appointed pastors would not be part of these wicked schemes).
    I believe the government should wield it's sword to punish the evildoer. Fraudsters, whether they are clergy or not should be apprehended. The failure of our governments is that they do not administer justice fairly.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks so much for the article. Indeed there are many issues which should be of concern to us as we witness these occurrences in the name of the Lord

    I do have a concern in a particular section of the article which i will produce below and then proceed to present my concern in the form of a question and wish to get a clarification from our brother Pastor Conrad or maybe someone who might be in a position to clarify

    Quoting Conrad

    "Thus we have individuals who have been total failures in every other area of life who are now making a living as Charismatic pastors. Some of them impregnated women outside marriage even before they became men of the cloth. They are already moral failures and yet they are now in pulpits teaching us how to live."

    My Question:

    Does the scriptures forbid as a principle or a command that people's pre-salvation lives MUST be a deterrent to them serving as Pastors and teachers or preachers of the gospel?

    Thanks and God bless

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    2. I think this blog post an verses make it clearer

      http://www.gty.org/blog/B160302/what-to-look-for-in-a-shepherd

      "Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you."
      Titus 2:6-8 NKJV
      http://bible.com/114/tit.2.6-8.NKJV

      "not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil."
      I Timothy 3:6-7 NKJV
      http://bible.com/114/1ti.3.6-7.NKJV


      It is essential that a new believer shows a lifestyle of fruit which can be affirmed by the congregation and even by unbelievers (not that we seek their opinion).

      Delete
    3. @Franklyn

      You obviously did not understand what you quoted.

      Quoting again:

      "Some of them impregnated women outside marriage even before they became men of the cloth"

      Man of cloth refers to a clergyman and not a Christian. So, Pastor Conrad was not referring to pre-salvation life but pre-clergy life.

      1 Tim 3 gives clear details of the requirements to be a bishop

      Delete
    4. @Franklyn

      You obviously did not understand what you quoted.

      Quoting again:

      "Some of them impregnated women outside marriage even before they became men of the cloth"

      Man of cloth refers to a clergyman and not a Christian. So, Pastor Conrad was not referring to pre-salvation life but pre-clergy life.

      1 Tim 3 gives clear details of the requirements to be a bishop

      Delete
  11. Governments have a duty to safeguard all citizens against all sorts of criminal activity regardless of who these citizens are in society; i.e. their status or station in life or their religion or lack of it. And if the Church or individuals called pastors etc are law abiding they should have nothing to fear. But they should have nowhere to hide if they are up to no good.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I believe that once the government is invited to regulate church affairs, they will get a taste that they cannot give up. They will not stop with the section of the church you disapprove of, but will interfere across the board.

    JCL, Richmond, VA, USA

    ReplyDelete
  13. I agree that the bride and this world is indeed in deep trouble, however these are most definitely one of the signs of our time. I daily see people that literally abandon main stream churches including commercialised charismatic churches.

    I have also realized some time back that there is a massive need for real discipleship training in the general body of believers.

    I personally believe that the solution to this degrading dilemma is found in the lives of true believers.

    A sad truth is that God is displeased with his bride and we see signs in our countries similar to those in Hosea 4. There is no doubt in my mind that it is for very similar reasons.

    Our solution lies in falling to our knees before our Sovereign creator and petition Him for mercy over our lands and nations.

    We sell His sovereignty from scripture and still fail to take the matter to him in prayer.

    YES WORLD IS IN A STATE !!!!! ITS CONDITION IS OUR FAULT FOR NOT HONORING GOD AS WE WERE HAVE BEEN CALLED TO DO.....

    WE SHOULD SERIOUSLY AND SINCERELY CHECK OUR HEARTS BEFORE GOD.

    No wonder Paul says that creation EAGERLY awaits for the sons of God to be revealed.

    The state of our lands nations countries territories and continents is our fault as Christs bride.

    Its time to REPENT!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Great article. I hope more countries, especially in West Africa will follow suite.
    If The Church cannot police itself to protect the people then the state has to step in.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Great article indeed. I have been pondering on what the bible says about the unity of believers (Philippians 2:2, John 13:35, John 17:23). In John 17 Jesus clearly teaches that the world will know that he was sent by God if the believers are one, it clearly shows that our unity entirely depends on have Jesus being in us. So i think one of the reason we are seeing this mess within the Christian faith is because churches have been growing apart instead of growing in unity. We do not co-work with one another even though we claim to be under one king, our God. I disagree that we should in some way depend on the government. To curb this issue believers need to work together. As you have indicated in many cases it has to do with proper training. I strongly agree with Riaan, "I have also realized some time back that there is a massive need for real discipleship training in the general body of believers. I personally believe that the solution to this degrading dilemma is found in the lives of true believers. YES WORLD IS IN A STATE !!!!! ITS CONDITION IS OUR FAULT FOR NOT HONORING GOD AS WE WERE HAVE BEEN CALLED TO DO.....WE SHOULD SERIOUSLY AND SINCERELY CHECK OUR HEARTS BEFORE GOD".

    There is a good number of young people who are passionate about the gospel, but there is sheer lack of discipleship training. There is an initiative started by the Redeemer Presbyterian Church led by Timothy Keller, I wish and pray we could have something similar in South Africa, here is the link: http://bit.ly/1qXI8bc

    ReplyDelete
  16. this absolutely true and Africa is a victim of this great calamity, there are many wolves dressed in sheep clothing, pretending to be pastors but with no knowledge of one, most of them only know one thing, look for a single verse in the Scripture that will itch the ears of the congregation and ignore the context and authorial intent, guess what next? begin to prophesy unto there lives all sorts of prophecies "you will be this and that, your shifting now ... and all sorts of things _ revival is badly needing

    ReplyDelete
  17. I have been thinking that government needs to pass a law that subjects the finances of every church, ministry etc, to a strict audit. Point is, the reason we have an epidemic of selfappointed Bishops and Prophetesses is simply because of the totally unregulated well of money a pulpit can deliver to s/he who has ultimate control of the establishment that houses the said pulpit. The controller usually christens the establishment with the name church (no pun intended.) The fact is that in Zambia, even reputable churches (yes these days churches like businesses are brand conscious) have eyepopping unaccountability. In the Pentecostal churches, "touch not the annonted" largely translates to ask not how the "Man of God" who quickly bestows some title or other on his wife so that she too can officially dip into the offering bag, uses church coffers. If government regulates how pastors are appointed, there will be a hullabaloo about government trying to make rules about an area over which it has no expertise. What rules can it pass - clergymen must have grade 12 and a theology qualification? Rather regulate the area government cannot be accused of thumbsucking rules. Simply every church must abide by basic accepted accounting principles. Maybe share audited accounts with members once a year?? Let them know where money goes, how much does Dr (Apostle) and his wife Prophetess Mwansa make a month? (If they have a set amount that is!) In short, cover the pot of nectar and see if you will still find a swarm of bees hovering around it.

    ReplyDelete