Pastors, Avoid Govt Regulation of the Church

One day, Nigeria will get a decent, effective, and corrupt-free government. And one of the tasks that will confront such a government is what to do about the naked and shameful exploitation


of millions and millions of the most vulnerable people in our society – the poor, the sick, and the needy. For, indeed, this is what some unscrupulous men are doing to the vulnerable people that flock our Churches for succor.

Falsely using the name of Jesus Christ, some of our leaders in the faith are skillfully exploiting the simplicity of people to fleece them of their hard-earned, and most times, insufficient money. By cleverly twisting Scriptures to manipulate our minds, these men have brain-washed a huge segment of the Christian community into docile donors that can be milked at will.


 And the milking comes under various forms of monetary offerings that we are told that God demands or requires, before He can bless His people financially. Such offerings are endless and are growing daily in number. First-born redemption offering, first-fruit offering, prophetic offering, parental offering, appreciation offering, building offering, special offering, etc. Even people that would normally be sensible are being constrained to give these offerings because they are being manipulated, enticed, or guilt-tripped into giving.


 And sincerely, no responsible government will continually turn a blind eye to the exploitation of its citizens by men that are placed in positions of trust and authority – spiritual leaders in this case. Remarkably, the British government demonstrated this sense of responsibility when, recently, it issued a temporary ban on Dr Oyedepo, the leader of the Winners Chapel, from coming into the United Kingdom. Dr Oyedepo’s reputation preceded him, and the British government rose to the challenge. Whereas the Cameron administration may not be able to sustain the ban forever, because of legal considerations, it has at least made a huge statement. And this statement should not be ignored by any right-thinking Christian.
For it is the height of anomaly and abnormality for governments to regulate religion. It is a dangerous precedent that can quickly erode the fundamental human right to freedom of worship. But every right we enjoy also connotes a responsibility. And the responsibility here is this: religion should regulate itself along the lines of decency so that the government will have no business in interfering in faith matters.
Christianity, the genuine variant, lends itself readily to all that is called noble and decent in any human society. For there is no religion in the world that cares for the interest of the vulnerable and weak in the society like Christianity does. Genuine Christianity DOES NOT exploit the poor, it gives to the poor. Genuine Christianity DOES NOT threaten poor people that cannot give a tenth of the income with curses. Genuine Christianity DOES NOT teach that the ONLY WAY that God can bless a man is when such a man gives and gives to the bone!
‘Give-to-the-bone-to-obtain-God’s-blessing’ is the deception that has been brought into the Christian faith by (1) unscrupulous impostors or (2) mis-guided true men of God. For, indeed, men that are truly called by God are now finding it hard to keep their fingers out of the trillions of Naira that is potentially available in Christendom. Pls let’s keep it in mind that this staggering amount of money is available – tax-free, unregulated, and unaccounted for. Pastors can take it at will, spend as they like, and are not under any obligation to publish an account – audited or not!


 The most alarming of ‘unholy offerings’ collected in the Church in Nigeria was perpetrated by, surprisingly, the most revered minister of the Gospel in the country. Parishioners were encouraged to bring varying sums of money to redeem their first-born male child. It was called ‘first-born redemption offering’. And, as usual, the money started rolling in quickly. Please imagine a man that was the first male child of his parents; he would have to pay twice – first for his own ‘redemption’ and for the ‘redemption’ of his first male child!
I will write briefly about this offering, for in this way, we can see how some men of God manipulate the Bible to exploit their flock. God instituted the redemption offering under the Old Testament (OT) to highlight His ownership of the first male-child as a token of the deliverance from Egypt (Exodus 13:11-16). They were to be consecrated to His service in the temple. Later in the same OT, God cancelled that plan, and INSTEAD chose the tribe of Levi to be His priests instead of the first-born sons (Numbers 3:40-51). So even before the OT ended, God DID NOT LAY ANY FURTHER CLAIM TO THE FIRST-BORN MALE CHILD in terms of their having to be redeemed with money. To cap it all, when Christ died, his blood was shed for the redemption of the WHOLE human race. He also fulfilled the demands of the law of the Old Testament. So, with all these clear facts, why would ANYBODY tell New Testament believers to pay for something that has been purchased by the blood of Christ – apart from the fact that the practice had also been ABOLISHED in the OT!


 This is simply preying on the ignorance of the masses that do not know their Bible as clearly as pastors. It is this same ignorance that is preyed upon for all the other offerings that are being resurrected from the Old Testament to exploit believers in the New Testament. As I write this, most churches are warming up to collect, this coming Sunday, the entire January salary of their parishioners. They have been ‘taught’ that God wants that too! Meanwhile in the seven instances that the word ‘first-fruits’ occurred in the New Testament, it is crystal clear that IT HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH ANY OFFERING. Rather, it was used in a way that showed that the ‘first-fruit offering’ in the OT was a FORE-SHADOW of the blessings of God that will be bestowed upon mankind. The substance of this blessing appeared in Christ Jesus. So why are people still being taxed for the shadow????


 The answer is simple. Greed. Pastors need money. As they think up new projects to out-do each other in empire-building, they need money to execute these grandiose projects. The fastest private jets, the biggest auditorium, the biggest cathedral, the biggest university, the biggest music festival, the biggest this, and the biggest that. Yet in these same Churches, there are starving, poor people. People that are unable to afford a decent meal, pay their rents, or pay hospital bills. It is one of the greatest acts of inhumanity, that it is from the ranks of these lowly ones that pastors squeeze out money, threatening that God's curse is upon those that do not bring a tenth of their income to Church every month. Or that God will not bless His children abundantly until they start paying all the defunct offerings that pastors are resurrecting from the Old Testament.


 Genuine pastors have a task here. They CANNOT AFFORD TO BE QUIET!!! Or to be cowed by the financial muscles of the pastors that are daily milking God’s flock. It is not the business of governments to understand the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament. It is not within the remit of their duties to know what is a shadow in the OT, and how it is fulfilled in Christ in the New Testament. That is the duty of the pastors that know the truth!!! THEY SHOULD SPEAK UP. Because when they speak up, governments and people will be able to identify the charlatans in our midst. Furthermore, the mis-guided godly pastors will think twice before introducing spurious ‘offerings’ that serve no other purpose than to impoverish God’s people; and to give Christianity a bad name. Brothers and sisters, please let us pray out the spirit of timidity from the hearts of pastors that know the truth. Jesus called His Church ‘The Pillar and Ground of Truth’ (1 Timothy 3:15). We ALL must defend this nomenclature with everything we’ve got. A witness that knows the truth, but chooses to keep quiet is A WICKED WITNESS.


 We must tell the people that the ONLY TYPE OF OFFERING that God requests from New Testament believers is the one that is given cheerfully from FREEWILL. It is a cheerful giver that God loves (2 Corinthians 9:7), not a constrained giver. Not a deceived or manipulated giver. God is not a money-doubler. When we give to him, He does not ALWAYS dispense our harvest in monetary terms alone. If He does, most believers should be very, very rich by now – given the way we have been cajoled to give, give, and give in the last three decades or so. Rather than all of us becoming rich overnight, it is only the pastors that are ascending the Forbes list of the wealthy! Church, please THINK. Please arise, WATCH and PRAY.


 For if we do not act now by crying out to God, one day, we will have a responsible government in Nigeria. And that government will have a heart of compassion for the weak and the underprivileged that are being exploited in the name of our Saviour. And when we eventually face the Saviour on the Last Day, He will remind us that protecting the weak and the under privileged was one of the main tasks that He gave His Church.
Friend, how are you fulfilling that role?
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