In the past few years there has been an increase in the number of reported shenanigans done by the clergy. I do not know if the mischiefs have increased or access to information has increased due to the internet and social media. The incidents range from a pastor asking people to drink petrol to another making people eat grass and yet another claiming to walk on thin air. From the rather embarrassing failed prophecies to the recent spraying of the insecticide “doom” on people’s faces, these are just a few of the many issues that have become common practice in the many charismatic churches around our country and the African continent. Some issues are silly, comical and embarrassing while others are unhealthy, disturbing, unacceptable and utterly shameful. Yet with all the drama and activities, I see three major problems with the current happenings and teachings of the Charismatic movement in our country and the continent in general.
It dilutes the gospel
The gospel according to the Bible is a holy God as the creator, father and judge of the world giving His only son Jesus Christ as a perfect sinless sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sins by dying in the place of a sinful, rebellious people who deserve wrath and judgment, and yet if they believe in the work of Christ and repent of their sins, they will be saved (Acts 17:22-32, Romans 3:11-18, 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, John 3:23). That is gospel, the good news! Sadly all we hear now is deliverance and promotion. If you believe in a “Jesus” you will be delivered from all sorts of demons, spirits and curses that need binding or loosening and have been hindering your progress in life. And the Bible makes it very clear: a diluted gospel is no gospel at all.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. Galatians 1:6-10
It belittles sin
The consequence of a diluted gospel is that you invariably belittle the horror of sin. The Bible teaches us that Christians wrestle with three enemies namely self (sinful and does not seek God), the world (hostile to God and his word) and the devil (the enemy of God and his people). A man-centered gospel will always have an unhealthy preoccupation with the devil and world as being the problem and not sinful self. The common message now is that there are spirits and demons for everything the Bible calls sin. So you have the demon of adultery, theft, murder, drunkenness, lust etc. If it is not a demon, then it is the spirit of one of your ancestors. Therefore, man becomes a victim of his sinful nature and desires and is not responsible and answerable for his sins. This belittling of sin has led to the damning to hell of a lot of people. Unless a person acknowledges his sins and repents from them by calling on the name of Jesus he cannot be saved. What a tragedy!
It promotes materialism
It is true that the prosperity gospel finds fertile ground in poverty stricken Africa, but more than that it finds fertile ground in a naturally materialistic people, whose desire is to amass more and better things. We have a longing desire to quench the thirst for satisfaction in life with possessions and positions, and the prosperity gospel promises to fulfil that longing, and it promises health, wealth and promotions. Again this message is leading thousands to hell, and in a sense is God’s judgement on a people who do not desire him but simply want to use Him to get what they want. Paul Washer is spot on when he says:
“False teacher are God’s judgment on people who don’t want God, but in the name of religion plan on getting everything their carnal heart desires… those people who sit under him are not victims of him but he is the judgement of God upon them. And they want exactly what he wants, and it’s not God”.
Any preacher or church that does not preach Christ is false and is misleading people. The church and its ministers should have Christ central to their message and ministry; they should decrease and Christ should increase. Every minister of the gospel should echo Paul’s charge “woe is me if I do not preach gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16).