By Jude Obuseh
This piece will, no doubt, elicit mixed reactions from its readers, with some preferring to view it as the random cogitations of a misguided mind, while a minute fraction would probably concur with some of the salient issues dealt with herein, blunt or acerbic as they may sound.
The title of this piece is the outcome of this writer’s candid convictions about the state of contemporary Christianity, within the context of the recent untimely demise of Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua of the Synagogue Church Of All Nations (SCOAN).
Before proceeding on this excursion, let’s quickly operationalize the concept, Christianity. According to Wikipedia, Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. It is the world’s largest religion, with about 2.4 billion followers. Its adherents, known as Christians, make up a majority of the population in 157 countries and territories, and believe that Jesus is the Christ, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, called the Old Testament in Christianity, and chronicled in the New Testament.
The term “Christian” used as an adjective is descriptive of anything associated with Christianity or Christian Churches, or in a proverbial sense “all that is noble, and good, and Christ-like.
From the forgoing definition, the picture that emerges is that of a religion, which like other world religions is man’s attempt to reach God; a human construct, so to speak. Thus, the doctrines, modes of worship and all other ritualistic practices that are meant to guide Christian denominations in their conduct are the works of men, not of God. Let’s be clear on that!
Themes taught in Christianity include faith, morality, charity, love, forgiveness, perseverance, obedience, empathy, unity, loyalty and other virtues and values that are meant to keep its adherents in harmony with their Maker and ensure social harmony – a peace building function. These themes were taught by Jesus Christ and later his Apostles, forming the fulcrum of the gospel and birth of the Church.
The Contemporary State Of Affairs
However, it is sad to note that the core principles of the Christian religion have not always guided adherents of the faith, especially in contemporary times, in their relations with God and their brethren, contrary to the instructions of Christ, and later his Apostles, on communal living and the need to see the Church as one body with several parts (read Acts 1:15 – 26; 2:41 – 47; 5:1 – 11; 6:1 – 6; 1Corinthians 12:12-27 NIRV)
The history of the evolution of Christ’s earthly Church, in the post-apostolic era, is a history written in red ink; a bloody history of attempts by the sons of perdition, the acolytes of Satan, to silence the undiluted gospel of salvation for God’s Children by repressing and killing its messengers. From the days of John the Baptist, through the commencement and end of Christ’s earthly ministry, to the present dispensation, it has been the same sad, bloody symphony (see Matthew 11:12).
Most regrettable is the fact that the attacks against the body of Christ, in contemporary times are coming from both outside and within the Church itself. Yes, the soldiers of Satan have penetrated the body of Christ to sow disharmony and falsehood, and to deny the reality of the power of the living God. Guilty of this sacrilege are some of the heads of some Christian denominations who have abdicated from performing their core duties as the supposed shepherds of the flocks of Christ on earth, preferring to engage in acts that are at variance with Biblical teachings on Christian conduct.
The mess in the contemporary church is defined by the crazed worship of mammon rather that the living God, unbridled supremacy contests among denominations, concocted doctrines promoting materialism, political entrepreneurship, hypocrisy, self-righteousness, hardheartedness, rank immorality, vindictiveness and several other hypocritical demeanors that have turned Christianity into a joke in juxtaposition with other religions.
Enter Prophet TB Joshua
Let’s come to Nigeria, one of the world’s supposed bastions of Christianity, where the shameful conduct of some supposed shepherds of the flock, consequent to the demise of a fellow shepherd in the body of Christ, Prophet TB Joshua, has further dented the already sagging image of the Christian religion, throwing it back to Pharisaic times; a period in Bible history when truth was considered treason and falsehood was venerated by the false apostles of moral correctness.
The late Prophet TB Joshua was the arrowhead of the Nigerian based Synagogue Church Of All Nations, SCOAN. His mortal existence was a practical depiction of the tribulations, passions and sacrificial dispositions of Jesus Christ, our Lord, during his earthly ministry. Joshua was a pious, unassuming man imbued with a burning zeal for the propagation of the gospel; a proven servant who patterned his life after his Master, preaching unencumbered truths, performing mind-blowing signs and wonders, and carrying out altruistic acts of charity that endeared him to many. Just like his Master, Jesus Christ, he practiced what he preached; did not reel out mere fantasies to bewilder his congregation, but led in words and exemplary deeds, ministering to both the physical and spiritual needs of his followers, while not failing to guide them in the proper ways of the Lord.
However, despite the stark evidence of his divine calling, TBJ, rather than being embraced by other parts of Christ’s body, was instead derided, demonized, castigated, ostracized and excommunicated from joining the mainstream Church bodies, such as the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN et.al, for daring to inspire a mental revolution in the body of Christ; for supposedly instigating a sort of spiritual renaissance. Just like Martin Luther’s travails, after inspiring the Protestant Reformation, nothing was spared by TBJ’s detractors in their vain attempts to drag his name in the mud and apparel him in Old Nick’s Kimono.
In their rabid resentment of the Lord’s servant, these imposturous, self-acclaimed Men of God, alongside their accomplices from the secular world launched a calumnious campaign that can only be compared to the INQUISITION, leveraging on propaganda, subterfuge, blackmail, arrant fabrications and other uncouth lying techniques to misinform the public, with intent to tarnish the image of a man who’s only sin was doing good for his fellow men.
Even in death, these unforgiving souls have continued to deride the image of the Lord’s servant, reveling in his demise, with one of these holier-than-though characters likening him to the Wizard of Endor. Christians, indeed! These overrated, self-appointed arbiters between God and man (contrary to Romans 10:3; Psalm 94 GNT) have, by their conduct, contradicted the very gospel they regularly trumpet from their pulpits, exposing themselves as the frauds they truly are. One wonders why they still have followers, when they have divested themselves of whatever divine authority they ever had, by their ungodly conduct.
That the major umbrella Christian associations have, several days sequel to TBJ’s demise, refrained from officially – or unofficially – expressing their condolences at the passing of a fellow human being is as heartrending as it is shocking. Not even his poor wife and children have been spared the prongs of the vindictive pitchforks of these sanctimonious men of the faith. To think that this is happening in a supposedly REFORMED body of Christ makes it all the more outrageous.
To think that most of the condolence messages and visits SCOAN has so far received, following the passing of its leader, came mostly from politicians, Muslims, traditional African religionists and other non-Christian individuals and groups, the so-called UNBELIEVERS, speaks volume of the true character and unchristian dispositions of the arrowheads of most of our mega churches. So, how can these hypocrites preach forgiveness, when they have no aorta of that virtue in their hearts? How can they teach love, empathy and compassion, when they contradict these Christian qualities in their daily conducts? How can they even call themselves Christians, when they are worse than those they call unbelievers?
This writer wishes to state, no matter whose ox is gored and without fear of contradiction, that there are lots of striking parallels between Jesus Christ in mortal flesh and the late TBJ: Both came from very humble backgrounds, but rose to Olympian heights by divine design; both were not considered worthy of bearing the mantles they both bore because of their supposed lowly statuses; both worked astounding miracles that their predecessors and contemporaries could only but envy; both saw charity as the center piece of their ministries, supporting the poor and vulnerable; both were despised for daring to refrain from following the existing order; both were called demoniacs; both were denied by their own people, but accepted by outsiders; both died early having successfully completed their divine stewardships on earth and; both were mocked in death.
All those engaged in untoward campaigns of denigration against TBJ, both during his earthly ministry and afterwards, are nothing but modern-day versions of the Biblical Pharisees and Sadducees, turf protectors, who tormented our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ throughout his earthly ministry because they saw him as a major threat to their ungodly money-changing business consortiums; a disconcerting rash that had to be obviated.
Only Pharisees see light and call it darkness. Only Pharisees deny the miraculous, incontrovertible works of God, in the face of hard evidence. Only Pharisees feel threatened by the successes of others. Only Pharisees attack the good news with equanimity under the sassy pretexts of correcting an anomaly (see Luke 7:30). Only Pharisees envy the works of others. Only Pharisees jubilate when a perceived enemy dies.
If one may ask, what is Christianity, if not a path to an immortal existence in heaven? What is Christianity without astounding signs and wonders? What is Christianity without charity driven by love for one another? What is Christianity without communal living, devoid of class consciousness? What is Christianity without the message of salvation? What is Christianity without love, forgiveness, empathy and other virtues? What kind of Christianity is really Christian?
TBJ has gone to his Maker in obedience to the ULTIMATE call which all mortals must answer one day. But he leaves behind indelible footprints that cannot be obscured by the shrill witticisms and devilish works of his vindictive traducers. He will remain a towering Hercules, dwarfing all his detractors put together, in the hearts of all men and women of goodwill who were fortunate to be impacted by his godly dispositions while on earth.
May the sweet, gentle soul of this angel find eternal rest in the good Lord’s bosom where all GOOD men shall ultimately meet after undergoing God’s JUDGMENT.
Note: I am not a member of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, SCOAN. I have never met TBJ in real life, neither has he given me any material gift. In fact, I was one of his fiercest critics when he started his ministry. But in due course, I saw the light. It is my unalloyed conviction that he was a true man of God who was grossly misunderstood by his own people, but who, nonetheless, finished a good fight.
You may decide to call this write-up the Satanic Verses, after reading it; that’s you cup of tea. But from whatever prism you wish to view my thoughts, just know that i have spoken my mind as LED! Only God can judge me, nobody else!
Jude Obuseh, a public Affairs Commentator, writes from Benin City. Email: Syncado2006@yahoo.com