By Akin Ojumu

Throughout the history of Christianity, deliberate and concerted efforts have been made to conceal the truth of the Word of God from those who believe. Early in its history, the hierarchy of the Church feared the potential impact that a personal knowledge of God’s commands would have on the believer who reads the bible on his own. They were afraid of what would happen when a believer comes to a personal understanding of God’s precepts gained through personal study of the bible and not merely what they heard preached from the pulpit.

According to William Tyndale, one of the foremost leaders of the Protestant movement, “the Church forbid owning or reading the Bible to control and restrict the teachings and to enhance their own power and importance.” In the minds of these leaders, an educated Christian is a dangerous Christian who would one day rebel against the excesses of Church fathers, and an informed believer is one who will someday rise up in protest against the wanton debauchery of the Church establishment.

In order to prevent this feared rebellion against their authority, the Church hierarchy embarked upon a strategy that would keep the average Christian ignorant of God’s truth and thereby tethered to a leash. At various councils and synods of Church authorities, laws and edicts were enacted that prohibited the believer from owning a personal copy of the Bible.

Decree of the Council of Toulouse (1229 CE):
“We prohibit also that the laity should be permitted to have the books of the Old or New Testament; but we most strictly forbid their having any translation of these books.”

Ruling of the Council of Tarragona of 1234 CE:
“No one may possess the books of the Old and New Testaments in the Romance language, and if anyone possesses them he must turn them over to the local bishop within eight days after promulgation of this decree, so that they may be burned...”

Proclamations at the Ecumenical Council of Constance in 1415 CE:
Oxford professor, and theologian John Wycliffe, was the first (1380 C.E.) to translate the New Testament into English to “...helpeth Christian men to study the Gospel in that tongue in which they know best Christ’s sentence.” For this “heresy” Wycliffe was posthumously condemned by Arundel, the archbishop of Canterbury. By the Council’s decree “Wycliffe’s bones were exhumed and publicly burned and the ashes were thrown into the Swift River.”

What these various decrees, rulings, and proclamations did was to criminalize personal bible ownership. The violation of any of these laws carried severe punishment including but not limited to, strangulation, burning at the stakes (e.g. William Tyndale, was strangled and then burned at the stakes in 1536 CE), hanging, banishment, ostracization, and being declared insane and consequent imprisonment in psychiatric institutions.

There are those who would want to believe the events describe above happened in the days of ignorance that have long passed, and many there are of the opinion that such things don’t happen in this modern age. Even for those willing to concede that these things may still be happening today, they are quick to point accusing fingers at Communist China where the government regulates the number of Churches, Islamic nations where ISIS exercise dominion, or Islamic controlled regions where Boko Haram wreak havoc. As such, Church folks are wont to raise prayer points for Christians facing persecution in Islamic Republic of Iran and Communist China but are often oblivious of the systemic self-persecution going on in their own backyard.

With the subtlest of subtleties and sleight of hand, the Holy Bible has been stripped from the hands of individual Christians and have been made into bonfire to appease the gods of ignorance. In a modern age, the devil has adapted and taken on modernity. The barbarism of the 1st Century has given way to the modernity of the 21st Century, and the brute force of the early ages has been replaced with the sophisticated discombobulation of the modern era.

In order to perpetuate their power, the clergies have successfully convinced the laities that the word of the man of God carries more weight than the written Word of the Almighty God. The First Estate, in furtherance of their influence, has done an extraordinary job in elevating the authority of their pronunciations over and above the inspirations of the Holy Spirit given to men and canonized in the Holy Bible. Sadly, in these modern times, befuddled Christians have willingly capitulated to the whims and caprices of the hierarchy of the Church.

Within the early Church were certain people known as the Gnostics who held beliefs that deviated from the doctrines of the Church. The Gnostics placed particular importance to “special knowledge” as a way of knowing God. According to their heretical beliefs, collectively known as Gnosticism, salvation is not free at all. In order to be saved by God a man must first acquire a “special knowledge” which they call gnosis. This mythical knowledge is granted only to a few people through special revelations, and to be conferred with such a knowledge makes one a spiritual giant, and those with no such knowledge are mere midgets in the faith. These heretical beliefs were strongly condemned by Apostle Paul. He described it, in his 1st Epistle to Timothy, as “profane and vain babblings…and “false knowledge”.

Even today, these babblings in profanity and vanity continue to pour, like rainstorm, from Church pulpits everywhere. Their thick clouds cast long foreboding shadows of deception across the Church horizon. Those who fancy themselves oracles with special knowledge, fill the airwaves with words laced with poison that engender terror and curses that make all those who hear bow down in fearful surrender.

These are folks who see themselves as having received a special knowledge that separates them from the hoard of witless souls who, with bowed heads and rent garments, “worship Him in Spirit and in truth.” Having received this special knowledge – anointing, is the modern term – they go about with rarefied air of self-importance. Their esoteric knowledge, they believe, confers on them a celebrity status in God’s kingdom and a cult like following and adulation among men. Thus, every utterance they make is taken as though God Himself has spoken, and their very word, is deemed spiritual truth and eternal law.

So, when by Scriptures we understand that “the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands,” the special ones with esoteric knowledge assert, contrariwise, that God wants them to build tents of meeting the size of a major city, and others with selfsame special anointing demand that we bring the last of our farthings so they may raise Cathedrals of Crystals to God that reach up to the heavens.  

Whereas the Bible says that “no weapon that is formed against you will prosper,” these prophetic ministers with special knowledge come with a revelation they claim to have received from God that your present setback is the result of witches from the village and wizards from your family who are waging war against your progress. In essence declaring that God must be mistaken, because weapons formed against you will certainly prosper, and you will forever need the powerful prayer of the anointed man of God in order to survive the attack from those who mean to do you harm.

When all that God demands of us in giving is for us to do it cheerfully – which the Scriptures instruct us gladdens His heart – men claiming special knowledge insist we are accursed and bound for hell if we fail to give a tenth of our income because God has placed a particular premium on our tithes. And so out of fear of being cursed and condemned to damnation, we begrudgingly “pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin,” and in the process turn blind eyes on “the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.”

Wherein the Scriptures say, “no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly,” yet these anointed folks with special knowledge tell us that unless we sow seeds, God will withhold from us all good things; they warn us that our dreams will die if we don’t give to their ministries, and they claim that the only way to pry open the windows of Heaven is by bringing our first fruits and lay them at their feet. And so, in terror of having dreams die, we empty our bank accounts, and sometimes enter into indentured servitude, in a futile effort to satiate the unquenchable appetite of the man and woman of God.

So, while it is true that the bible is now in the hands of almost everyone, and we all are free to study it on our own, in practice it is as though the bible has been taken away from many of us. Although no one is being burnt at the stakes for owning a bible in the civilized world, what we find happening is a methodical abandonment of self-study by Christians worldwide. For spiritual diet, there is a total reliance on what is preached on the pulpit. Common among many Christians is the ironclad faith in what the man of God says; “my Pastor says it so it must be so” is now a universal chorus of Church folks. Having gotten accustomed to spiritual sustenance by the words that proceed from the mouth of their fathers in the Lord, many believers have shelved their bibles where they gather dust, and as a result they all now suffer from severe malnourishment, a spiritual Kwashiorkor caused by feeding on a perpetual diet of empty words that lack the ingredients that provide a healthy spiritual life.

Because they have elevated the words of men above the Word of God, the Church is filled with Christians infected with the leprosy of ignorance and a vale of blindness shrouds their many darkened souls. As blind lepers, they are confined to the perimeter of the gates of knowledge of Scriptures and they stumble about blindly in darkness of the truth of God’s Word. Their leprosy is contagious, infecting everything they touch, and their ignorance thrives in the darkness in which they dwell. Being ensconced in the dark, they are beset with all manners of evil concupiscence; lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, pride of life, lies, greed, lasciviousness, and idolatry.

Today, I bear good tidings.

The Sunlight of God’s truth is the only effective disinfectant against the contagion of ignorance. The only cure for this pandemic of consumption of the soul is the truth of the Word of God. Those who know this truth shall be made free from the clutches of ignorance.

By all means listen to the man of God and endeavor to pay close attention to the messages that come from the pulpit. However, you must understand that another man's truth will not set you free. In order for you to know the truth, you must discover it for yourself. Like the Bereans, you must receive the messages of the man of God with great eagerness, but you must also personally examine the Scriptures daily to find out whether what you have heard is true. Until you take a personal voyage into the Word of God on your own, the scales of spiritual ignorance will not fall from your eyes. To find the truth, you must diligently seek it, and it is only those who find the Truth of the Word of God that are cured by it.


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