The opulent and extravagant lifestyle of Pentecostal pastors has attracted unwholesome attention across the world with the Hollywood television series, “Preachers of LA,” being emblematic and very instructive.
In Nigeria, there are obscenely rich pastors that are rated amongst the richest in the country; some of them ride in motorcades of bullet proof SUVs while some drive limousines and the crème-de-la-crème of that “miracle industry” fly in private jets.
Many of them have established educational institutions with their tertiary institutions constituted a create percentage of private universities; sadly, these institutions were established with the tithe and offering of a laity that cannot afford to send their children there.
A few years ago, a weekly magazine blazoned on its cover “In Jesus Name Incorporated;” though I did not have the privilege of reading the text, I found the title alluding to a topical issue.
Today, the topicality of the essence of the title of that cover page has reached alarming proportions. Shortly after the weekly magazine hit the newsstand, I stepped out to the carport of Transcorp, Abuja one evening and beheld a black SUV pull up; immediately it stopped, a burly young man with menacing biceps bounced out of the front door and opened the rear door from which a foremost pastor in Nigeria emerged; along with him, armed policemen emerged from the other doors of the SUV. At the heels of that, other SUVs pulled up and the scenario was encored.
As they went towards the door of the lobby, I said very audibly “In Jesus Name Incorporated.” One of them turned swiftly, we met eyeball-to-eyeball and he turned around and went through the entrance.
With church events becoming a daily affair, Pentecostal pastors consistently declare: “Jesus was born poor that I may be rich” and the congregation of thousands render a thunderously deafening “AMEN!!!”
In the silence of my mind, I have wondered if the faithful have stopped and contemplated the essence and spiritual significance and effect of that ritual, especially taken within the context of the phenomenally potent powers of intention and the law of attraction.
This piece subjects this feature of Pentecostalism to analysis for the purposes of enlightening the rare few who dare venture into deep thought on issues of religion.
First, the declaration begins with a fallacy: Jesus was not born poor; on the contrary he was born very rich; Joseph took his family in three donkeys to Bethlehem for the census; by contemporary standards, that would be a motorcade of three SUVs; he searched every Inn but they were all fully booked; given the situation, he moved into a barn where Jesus was born in a manger.
Therefore, the birth of Jesus in a manger was circumstantial and not a reflection of the socioeconomic status of Joseph. For further reading on the circumstance of Jesus’ birth, the reader should access my article “Jesus: Born or Rich?” in the Internet.
Returning to the spiritual implication of the autosuggestion on the altar in which the pastors declare “Jesus was born poor that I may be rich” and the congregation thunders “AMEN!!!,” it is offered that the keyword in the assertion is “I” thereby making the pastor the sole beneficiary and recipient of the anticipated material outcomes of the pronouncement and affirmation.
The pastors do not say “that you may be rich” in which case the suggestion would be for the benefit of members of the congregation, which, inadvertently, does not include the pastor and would, therefore, tantamount altruism, a virtue that disappeared from the pulpit long ago.
Again, the pastors do not say “that we may be rich,” which includes priest and laity and would have been the ideal thing to do; rather, they say “that I may be rich.”
This is a spoken spiritual spell that produces trancelike conditioning on the congregation and leads to lack of consciousness hence greater responsiveness to the suggestions and the thunderous chorusing of “Amen,” which is a collective declaration of assent.
So, the congregation is saying “so be it” to the self-seeking and self-enrichment spell of the pastor without realizing that they are not included in the anticipated material outcomes of the declaration.
I have said times without number that “the greatest hoaxes in humanity are embedded in the concretes of the obelisks, towers and domes of organized religion.”
The current hero worship in Pentecostalism has become very alarming; some congregations now pray to the God of pastor XYZ innocently believing that the pastor worships the true God.
Heavenly race is a purely personal pursuit; genuine men of God say this regularly. Worshipers should realize that, in view of the frenzied proliferation of churches, there are many wolves in sheep skin in Christendom; they should know that to say “AMEN” to a prayer is to agree with whatever is its substance.
People should, therefore, say “AMEN” with their God-given intellect switched on and they should be watchful of cassock-clad pedophiliac and pederastic priests, predator pastors and the plunderous pack of peripheral preachers who work wonders in Jesus name; little wonder the Bible says that “judgment MUST begin at the house of God.” (1 Peter, 4:17)
Obviously, we all have ears; however, for some, the ears are ornamental hence the Bible says “he that hath ears to hear let him hear.” (Matt 11:15)
O. Jason Osai
Rivers State University, Port Harcourt