“Buying & Selling Churches in Nigeria”

By Akin Ojumu

Ignorance is the coin of the realm of charlatans. Impostors in the House of God feed off on the gullibility of the people of God. Just as scam artists exploit the trust and stupidity of their victims, the confidence of false teachers relies on the naivety of those who become their prey.

As practiced today, Christianity in Nigeria bears no resemblance to the faith practiced and handed down to us by the early Church fathers and those who succeeded them. What many consider to be the Christian faith today is nothing more than a syncretic amalgamation of aberrant religious practices held up on the shaky pillars of twisted and mangled Scripture.

Sadly enough, the vast majority of self-professed Christians, many of whom are good people who genuinely love the Lord and sincerely want to serve Him, are oblivious of the fact that what’s being sold to them as biblical-Christianity is neither biblical nor Christian. Because of their sincere desire to believe what they are told, and as a result of decades of brainwashing, impressionable Christians tend to hang on tenaciously to the lies fed to them by their pastors.

Considering the ferocity with which these Church folks attack those who dare criticize, challenge, or expose the erroneous teachings and conducts of their pastors, it’s easy to see the extent of the indoctrination and the severity of the bewitchment. 

Any attempt to question what the General Overseer says is often met with misplaced outrage and uncontrolled rage. You often hear the defenders of their powerful man of God rain down curses not only on the person questioning their beloved pastor but also on his descendants even to the third generation.

Since no one likes to be cursed out without wanting to punch back hard, naturally, there’s always the temptation, on the part of the targets of these vicious attacks, to want to respond in kind and fight fire with fire with the attack dogs of the charlatans. 

Nevertheless, to succumb to such a temptation of retaliation is to underestimate the depth of the roots of the deception that Church folks suffer from. Those who personalize the insults thrown at them by hoodwinked Church people, who sincerely believe they are defending the honor and integrity of their daddy and mummy in the Lord, underappreciate the gravity of the mendacity festering within the walls of the Church.

Spiritually hungry Nigerians are, for the most part, mere victims of a corrupted religious establishment. In an attempt to quench their spiritual thirst, these folks end up in one of the many denominations that make up the continuum of aberrant Christianity that exists in the country. 

On one end is the sanctimoniously pious holiness Church where the adherents believe they can attain, and have attained, lives of sinless perfection. At the other extreme is the laissez-faire extremely immoral hyper-grace kind whose loosey-goosey type of Christianity demands nothing of its members. 

Sandwiched in between, in this continuum of man-made religion, you have the motivational bloviators who prioritize worldly strategies and fleshly gimmicks to achieve success over the true Gospel. There’s also the Buying and Selling congregations where health, wealth and the gaining of the whole world are the emphasis and the summum bonum. And then there are the organizations steeped in New-Age myths and Gnostic mysticisms whose members regularly receive visitations from angels and are frequent flyers to the throne room in heaven.

Last time, we started the discussion about the Buying and Selling category of Churches in Nigeria. Taking a trip down memory lane, we illustrated this type of Churches using, as an example, Johann Tetzel, who was the preeminent seller of indulgences to people who wanted to buy their way out of purgatory in 16th century Christianity. In today’s commentary, we’ll take the discussion a step further.

There’s nothing novel about Commercialized Christianity, which is synonym for Buying and Selling Christianity. Such religious entities date as far back as the Tower of Babel. Appealing to the lust of the eyes is an ever-effective weapon in Satan’s armory. Fanning the lustful flame of the flesh is a tried-and-true strategy of the evil one. The enemy of the human soul understands that the surefire way to derail a believer in Christ is to whip up in him the pride of life.

Standing erect at the heart of a typical Buying and Selling Church is a massive altar dedicated to mammon. It’s here the high priest receives the daily sacrifices. Worshippers in these places have been conditioned to believe that if they ever want to make heaven, they must bring their tithes and offerings to the shrine of mammon, in full and without fail.

Epitomizing this type of transactional Christianity is a place I’d like to call GRRC. A quintessential Buying and Selling denomination, GRRC is one the largest and most influential religious organizations in Nigeria. It boasts of shrines – Oops! I mean, parishes – in every nook and cranny of the country. You’d hardly walk a mile on a street in Nigeria and not find a GRRC parish.

At a conference of the pastors of this denomination held a few years ago, the extremely popular and sacredly idolized General Overseer of GRRC gave the following stern warning to the gathering of mortally terrified men and women:

“I’m going to give every one of you pastors an opportunity to repent tonight. And then to go back immediately after this convention and restitute your ways with your congregation. Make it clear to them, anyone who is not paying his tithe is not going to heaven. Full stop.”

When a Church trivializes the sufferings of the Lord Jesus and reduces it to mere money, it ceases to be a true Church. Any supposedly Christian organization that diminishes the efficacy of the substitutional death of our Savior and makes the payment of tithes and offerings a prerequisite for attainment of eternal life has lost its right to be called a House of prayer and has become a den of robbers.

A Pastor who tells the redeemed of the Lord that the Blood of Christ alone is insufficient to save them from the fire of hell, is either tragically uninformed about the Word of God or he is cynically deceiving those for whom Christ paid the ultimate price. 

Either way, such a person is unfit for the Office of Overseer of God’s flock. For an Overseer must be able to accurately teach sound doctrine (1 Timothy 3:2) and must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it (Titus 1:9).

There’s still a lot more to be said about the Buying and Selling category of Churches in Nigeria. We’ll continue next time.


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