1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The quest for truth and interpretation of prosperity theology has motivated us into this research work, appraising the centrality of Jesus and his ethical teachings on prosperity gospel. Prosperity theology is known to be promoted by mega churches and televangelists with the same messages of tithing, giving and regular attendance to services which are believed to bring material blessings. The proponents of this theology are of the opinion that it is not God’s plan for anyone to be poor but to live in abundance. They believe that the more money a Christian gives to his or her church, the more he or she will receive from God. It is important to clarify the statement of Jesus that “you will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me” (John 12: 8). This is not contradictory to the theology of prosperity. In other words, the attitude of individuals to the teaching of prosperity determines the result that he or she will obtain.
Those who condemn prosperity theology claim that, money or materialism has no eternal value. Quoting from a Christian Daily Devotion titled ‘Word for Today’ it reveals seven of the world’s most successful men of their time that met at Edge Water Beach Hotel in Chicago, United States of America in 1923.1 The story has it that, these men control more money than money in the United States’ treasury. The account went further to mention how each of them ended their life in penury with all the money they possessed. Charles Schwab, head of the largest independent steel company lived the last five years of his life on borrowed money and died as a pauper, because of bad investments, stock market crash, prolonged economic depression and wasteful spending.
Arthur Cog, the greatest Wheat Speculator, shot himself. This man towards the end of his life lost $50 million dollars in the stock market, he was charged of evading over $400 million income tax, why two more indictments on similar charges were pending. Cog died of heart attack a few months before his trial at the Edge Water Beach Hotel in Chicago. These problems we believe must have contributed to his mental disorder, which made him to consider suicide as the best option. Richard Whitney, President of the New York Stock Exchange was convicted of embezzlement and imprisoned.2 Others are: Albert Fall, a member of the President’s cabinet, he went to prison for bribery; Leon Fraser, President of the United States Bank of International
Settlements shot himself as a result of depression and the death of his wife.
Also, Ivar Kreuger, head of the International Match Co., which was then the world’s largest company at that time, committed suicide. Kreuger’s death occurred because of the crash in business and lack of support from his bank, although, his brother Torsten Kreuger was of the opinion that his brother was murdered.3 Another rich person was Michael Jackson, he crashed into a deep debt before he died as a result of ill health. If these so called successful men ended their lives the way they did, there is an indication that ‘one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses’ as taught in one of the ethical teachings of Jesus Christ in (Luke 12:15). Man must therefore live for the right reason.
What happened to the above mentioned personalities and how they spent their money does not stop God from blessing others according to His will. Similarly, some other people portray the prosperity gospel as ‘idolatry’ because it is assumed that it gives undue importance to prosperity gospel and cultivate authoritarian organizations, with the leaders controlling the lives of the adherents.4 In a situation whereby poverty wields its destructive influence at every stage of life, from the moment of conception to the grave, one cannot but embrace this doctrine that will bring new meaning to one’s live. There are lots of mis-interpretation and mis-conception regarding wealth or prosperity. This is the reason why this work is making an in-depth study to some of the interpretations given by the proponents and opponents of this doctrine with an effort to make some clarifications for better understanding of the concept of prosperity theology in relation to the ethical teaching and practices of Jesus Christ. It must be noted that, desire for money is not a sin but the love of money brings evil. One can desire money for comfort and expansion of the gospel; these are not for selfish purposes. Paul’s assumption in (1Timothy 6:9-10) is that men should not mis-use wealth. Thus, we submit here that the principle of moderation is needed at all times and in all circumstances for perfection.
The rejection of Abraham’s covenant of material blessing to mean spiritual blessing of salvation is a problem in the context of prosperity gospel. The submission of Ken Sarles was faulted when he says both physical healing and financial prosperity have been provided for in the atonement of Christ.5 A critical look at the word ‘atonement’ shows that it means sacrifice. Jesus made Himself a sacrificial lamb. He paid the price for sin, adversity, death and whatever can enslave man. Therefore, the atonement is the supreme expression of the love of God and Jesus Christ for man. Therefore, Sarles submission, that physical healing and financial prosperity had been atoned for by Christ is valid so each person must claim his or her own benefit including prosperity.
There are questions we need to answer with all sincerity as individuals. Is there anyone who does not need money? Are there people who love to live in abject poverty in spite of the provisions available to have a breakthrough or is it right that some should enjoy wealth and comfort, enjoy luxury and comfort, while others live in destitute, dirty and unpleasant condition as a result of poverty or neglect.6 The teaching of prosperity does not reject personal property7 or acquiring worldly materials in this work but the intention of such possession. It is however, observed that, prosperity gospel is fundamentally flawed as a result of love of understanding. This work will inform and inspire critics on this controversial doctrine and foot-hold prosperity theology and all the physical and spiritual blessings accrue to it; especially at a time like this when the war against poverty has not been won.
The teaching of prosperity gospel is a common feature in Nigeria and other parts of the world since the beginning of the twentieth century.8 However, the concept is an interesting and highly controversial discourse. It continues to generate the interest of scholars of Religions, Sociologists and Historians. It is believed that the theology of prosperity preaching is responsible for the expansion of the New Religious Movements today, and it has even influenced the doctrine and practices of the mainline and African Independent Churches in Nigeria.
The concept is variously called: Word of Faith, Faith Movement, Health and Wealth Gospel, Positive confession, name it and claim it gospel.9 Prosperity theology proponents support the idea that God wants every Christian to be abundantly successful in every way with special emphasis on financial prosperity.10
Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper in health even as they soul prospereth. (3 John1:2).
The above quoted biblical passage and others often quoted fundamentally sum up two things. Firstly, the phenomenological interpretation is exclusively financial, neglecting the spiritual well-being of the people. Secondly, it is believed that the prosperity gospel is more than financial success. Ken L. Sarles says that the gospel consists of healing from sickness,11 Otabil interprets Biblical prosperity to mean salvation. In other words, a life that is free of sin and demonic activities will be prosperous. He added that, benefits from God such as forgiveness of sins, healings, redemption of lives from destruction and crowning us with tender mercies brings a prosperous life.12
Rolley Bailey describes prosperity not only as the absence of diseases or infirmity, but a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being.13 Thus, from the foregoing, we see that prosperity gospel touches other areas of Christian teachings, such as avoidance of sin, sickness, poverty and demonic oppression. Jesus Christ said ‘the spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the good news to the poor; He hath sent me to health the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised’ (Luke 4:18-19).
The critics may have some reasons to say that the preachers of prosperity gospel do not place enough emphasis on spiritual growth. For example, Jim Bakker was of the opinion that a pastor should be as rich as the richest person in his church. Duncan Williams adds that the times when pastors trek are over. Unfortunately, Bakker was convicted of fraud by United States of America government and sentenced to jail in 1989 and later released. Bakker recounted of his so-called faith equal fortune.14 He regretted living a flamboyant lifestyle not placing enough emphasis on spirituality. His book, ‘I was wrong’ is an evidence of his remorsefulness. However, that is not enough to disregard its theological importance.
Cathlean Falsany, a religion columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and a critic of prosperity gospel, argued that when Jesus talked about material wealth, it was just part of a cautionary tale. She maintained that Jesus was born poor and died poor. According to her, she emphasized more on the importance of spiritual wealth and health gospel. Her question was, ‘Was the poor cursed by God because of their unfaithfulness’? She concluded by saying that the gospel of prosperity has turned Christianity to a doctrine of little spiritual value and magical thinking.16
In his book ‘Defeating the Dragons of the World,’ Stephen D. Eyre identifies this cultural trend that has invaded the church as the ‘dragon of materialism,’ concerning its effects Eyre wrote:
The Dragon of materialism leads us to become preoccupied with the material side of life. All our time, energy and thoughts are focused in the physical aspects of life. We became practical materialists. We know that there is more to life, but the way we live shows that we have adopted the creed of the dragon of materialism, matter is all that matters.17
Eyre is of the opinion that prosperity is evil and therefore calls it a ‘dragon’. The word dragon is mythological representation of reptiles or serpent. It is often held to have major significance in various religions and cultures. Evil is also associated with this creature because of its magical and supernatural power. Eyre believed that this spirit of wanting to have more is a dragon of materialism.
Scot McKnight argues against what is often called prosperity gospel, with the idea that God wants to bless believers financially. He is of the view that the gospel has some explanation to make as she could see people not employed, suffering and going to bed worried if there would be food on the table for the family the next day, with anxiety written on their faces and voices. Some of these people mentioned are found to be faithful yet with many problems.18
The Nigerian Tribune dated 10th September, 2011 reports that, poverty has been the bane of the socio-economic well-being of Nigerians where it is believed that by the estimation of its vast and rich natural resources, every citizen is expected to live comfortably. It went further to say that, the country has enormous resources and potentials. It is currently ranked 20th among the poorest countries in the world. This was further confirmed by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in its 2010 Global Monitoring Report (GMR), which revealed that about 92 percent of the nation’s population survives on less than $2 daily while about 8 percent survives on less than $1 daily.20
The Nigerian Tribune dated 30th June, 2012 also reported that, Nigeria is among the top ten failed States in African and 14th in the world.21 The Fund for Peace (FFP) declared this in its 2012 Annual Conference. Also, Precious Gbeneol, the Special Assistant to the Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Millennium Development Goals at a meeting where countries re-assembled to recommit their efforts to tackle global poverty itemized some efforts being made to address poverty in Nigeria. For instance, 2,844 primary health facilities were constructed, 6,673 health workers received training, more than 74,000 school teachers were recruited, over 2.4M insecticide-treated nets were provided, 3,524 small town boreholes with solar powered pumps, 6,031 boreholes with hand pumps, 393 small town water supplies skills were also constructed. In addition to this, 3,709 VIP toilets were provided while 7,673 people were trained on vocational skills.
In spite of these giant efforts to reduce poverty to the barest minimum in Nigeria, the Ambassador Martin Shearman of the United Kingdom remarks: ‘The Nigeria National report on the progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, its economy grew at an annual rate of 6.8 percent between 2012 and 2013, he added that there is still extreme poverty that exists in the country.
Speaking on the high level of poverty in Nigeria, the Editorial Section of the Nigerian Tribune reported on the High Level Policy Dialogue on Nutrition-Sensitivity Agriculture in Nigeria. The head of Co-Operation, European Union (EU) delegation to Nigeria and West Africa, both Mr. Bran O’Neil and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) representative, Dr. Richard Seki, remarked that over eleven million children in Nigeria are suffering from stunting disease. According to O’Neil:
There are too many mal-nourished children in this country as over eleven million children are suffering from stunting growth and many also are suffering from chronic mal-nutrition.
Under-nourished children in Nigeria reflect the poverty situation in the country. There is no accessibility of food to many poor children in the country. The National Bureau of Statistics (2012) gives the data below to buttress the above statement. Sokoto State is said to report the highest rate of poverty, put at 85%. Other states with over 70% rate include Katsina with 74.5%, Adamawa 74.2%, Gombe 74.2%, Bauchi 73%, Kebbi 72% and Zamfara 70.8%.
According to this data, the State with the lowest poverty rate in the country is Niger State with 33.8%, followed by Osun with 37.9% and Ondo 45.7%. Others with less than 50% poverty rate are Bayelsa State 47% and Lagos State 48.6%. The report gives the average poverty rate in the North-West geo-political zone as 71.4% which remained the highest in the country. The North East region and North-Central region is put at 69.1% and 60.7% respectively. Poverty is said to be least dominant in South-West 49.5%, South-South 55.5% and South-East Region 59.5%25
From the report of the High Level Policy Dialogue on nutrition – sensitivity Agriculture in Nigeria, over half of all children in the Northern part of the country are stunted while 41% of all children under 5 years are classified as stunted, 23% are severely stunted. The North-West region has the highest level of stunting with 56%, followed by North-East with 42% and the North-Central with 29%. The regions with the lowest levels of stunting are South-West with 22%, South-South with 18% and the South-East with 16%.26
Following the above data, the effect and factors responsible for stunting in human growth was mentioned, while solution to this challenge was given, such as, integrated approach and close partnership across ministries of Agriculture, Health, Education and Human Affairs was given. Among other solutions, the government had been advised to prioritize the issue of nutrition by making policies on production of more nutritional food, also the government has to address the growing economic gap between the rich and the poor. Growing inequality in the midst of growth needs to be addressed through effective re-distributional policies.
In Nigeria, poverty is evident. No wonder, poor people are deceived with money especially people with low income. Many have sold their birthrights as a result of hunger and lack. A new N200 note and a mini bag of rice will do to vote for corrupt leaders because of lack and needs without considering what will become of their destinies.
It is surprising that, as people are craving for riches, the concept of the poor by the Roman Catholics at Vatican II is the theology of ‘Option for the Poor’ or preferential option for the poor which was popularized in the early 1970s.27 The Latin American Catholics re-oriented their perspective from seeing the poor as the object of the mercy of the church but as the subjects of their history.28 The option for the poor was accepted and used in Liberation theology before it was considered for a radical paradigm shift.29 A school of thought sees the poor as object of mercy that is required to be nursed by the church and another says the poor people are impoverished as a result of their short comings and divine punishment for them is to be poor.
Monreau, however, argues that the idea of opting for the poor incorporated into Liberation theology needs to be changed. He says that the poor are no longer seen as object of mercy but at people gifted by God to exemplify His justice. It is argued that they are the people of God because they are impoverished. It is also argued that we must see the poor as the sinned against rather than sinners, even though they face oppression as a continual way of life, yet they receive the support of God at all times.
This idea is proven from the Biblical point of view that an option for the poor is not optional because it is founded on God’s nature portrayed in Jesus incarnation. Again, poverty is acceptable because Jesus came with the purpose of bringing good news to the poor and as a result of this they are blessed with epistemological advantage in reading the scriptures for they have biblical truths in them. At this juncture, we must clarify the word ‘poor’ being refered to here. We want to assume it is the poor in the spirit who will inherit the kingdom of God as we have it in (Matthew 5:3). There was an evangelical resistance to this new ideology of the poor.30 The needy would not want to accept the concept as God’s nature portrayed in Jesus’ incarnation and continue to suffer.
There is a need to say that everyone must be poor in spirit and that is why option for the poor is not optional. It is the responsibility of individuals and the church to care for the poor and the needy. The church can help in alleviating suffering of the poor and give them hope. We must emphasize here that poverty is not worth opting for.
Akanmidu in his Inaugural Lecture at the University of Ilorin, Ilorin titled, Poverty Alleviation Programme and the Politics of Ethical Despair in Nigeria: Classified Poverty in Nigeria into two – they are, absolute and relative poverty. Absolute poverty, he says, is the inability to meet basic needs of life, while relative poverty is settling for whatever is available or insufficiency and not necessarily the best. Many people want help in their state of hopelessness and want to live a meaningful life, it is, therefore, not difficult for them to embrace prosperity message.
The theology of prosperity crept into Nigeria in the early 1980s. It became popular and expressed during the implementation of Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) introduced by General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (Rtd) to reposition the country’s economy and open it up for private participation with its strict ‘conditionalties of monetary austerity, fiscal austerity, privatization and financial liberalization, currency devaluation, reformation of public sector and other structural adjustment policies’. Nigeria under the leadership of General Babangida had a bitter experience as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) induced SAP turned away, due to what economic analysts have described as ‘lack of institutional framework’ that could allow successful implementation of SAP which came with devaluation of National currency by more than one thousand percent.32 The Policy caused economic depression and made life difficult for common man in Nigeria, which made many to flounder in abject poverty today.
Despite the rich human and natural resources, Nigeria continues to wallow in abject poverty. There is no doubt that seventy percent of Nigeria population are living below the poverty line. There is a sharp contrast between the incomes of the poor and the rich and a large percentage of Nigerians lack basic needs. The greatest challenge besetting the country is poverty and corruption in the midst of plenty and bad leadership. The prevailing economic situation and failure of the government to checkmate the ugly trend, have forced many who could not engage in armed robbery, ritual killings, bribery to engage in some other foul means. For instance, begging for alms has become a professional business. Some see it as an opportunity to make money without labour.
Many solicit for financial support by fabricating lies, such as, loss of money, medical expenses, others swarm around motor parks parading themselves as ministers of God trading the gospel for many by offering plethora prayers for passengers to collect money. The most inhuman method that some poor mothers have adopted to beat the plague of poverty is to beg for money, using helpless set of twins strapped to their bodies or sprawled on the floor in market and other public places apparently to draw sympathy from the public and perhaps to exploit the fortunes that twins are believed to harbor. As if this is not enough, on 1st January, 2012, the government of President Goodluck Jonathan removed fuel subsidy. The price of PSM was given as N140, although, it was later reduced to N96 per liter after much struggle by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC). That notwithstanding, the price of fuel is still on the increase. This has inflicted more problems on the masses because of poor income being received at the end of the month. It has also caused a lot of protests in many parts of the country. The government on the other hand, analyzed how the proceeds will be used to provide other amenities, such as good roads, healthcare, electricity, education etc. To many Nigerians, the government has not alleviated their poverty but added to it. Unfortunately, the same elected representatives of the National Assembly have been found to be involved in bribery and corruption in so many areas of the economy.33
The price of fuel was a bit stable for sometimes until 2015 when the country experienced another hike in price of fuel with the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. The New Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, GMD, NNPC in a speech after a meeting with the stakeholders, including members of National Assembly, Labour and Oil Industry unions gave reasons for the increase in price of fuel, when he said that:
The main reason for the current problem is the inability of importers of petroleum products to source for foreign exchange at the official rate due to the massive decline of foreign exchange earnings of the Federal Government.
He went further to say that this led to inability of private marketers to meet their approximate 50% portion of total national supply of premium motor spirit. The inability of the marketers to meet their approximate 5% of national supply left the government with no option than to:
1. Allow individual importation of fuel, subject to quality specifications and follow other guidelines issued by regulatory agencies in order to increase and stabilize the supply of fuel.
2. That oil marketers will be allowed to import premium motor spirit on the basis of FOREX proared from secondary sources and accordingly PPPRA template will reflect this in the pricing of the product.
Dr. Ibe Kachikwu said it was after all these that the new price for PMS was announced as 145 maximum per litre with effect from 11th March, 2016. The increase in price generated a lot of controversies and divisions among the labour leaders as the (NLC) pronounced workers to go on strike that lasted for two days before it was called off for negotiation. The new official pump price affected everyone, business and cost of living. Some see it as anti-people, undemocratic and totally against the spirit and letter of the ‘CHANGE’ President Mohammed Buhari promised the nation. The government is not trying to bring unnecessary hardship to her citizens but to find a lasting solution to the problem.
We really cannot say whether the oil boom in Nigeria was a blessing or a curse. The oil boom in 1970 led to a complete economic crash. There was a shift from agricultural sector to the non traded petroleum and projected revenue for petroleum was high. The borrowing of General Murtala Mohammed on grand scale in mono-economy became a problem because of a sharp decrease in the world oil crisis under the regime of Ibrahim Babangida in 1980s.35 This brought about an inflation that affected everyone as things became expensive and prices of commodities were on the increase. The government resulted to borrowing and went into numerous debts. The country is still facing the same situation today.
The Structural Adjustment Programme implemented by the government failed. The decline of the economy was so severe that by 1991 Nigeria was labeled a low income country and qualified for World Bank assistance. It is assumed that the Nigeria oil crisis caused the state to become predatory for its income. Up till now, the country is yet to recover from 1970 economic crash. Because of the bad economy, Nigerians live below the poverty line; many are not gainfully employed, government skips payment of salaries in some states while wealth distribution was grossly unequal.
The Goodluck Jonathan administration was alleged to loot the treasury before handing over to the administration of President Muhammed Buhari on May 29, 2015, as a result a general problem of insufficient funds to pay government workers arose. The effort of the President was indeed appreciated for his bailout programmes for the State, an action which has also been condemned by the former Minister of States for Finance, Mr. Remi Babalola. In his paper presented at the opening of the 45th Annual Conference of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Nigeria (ICAN) he affirmed that, ‘as good a gesture as the bailout is, it may lead to moral hazard as the states continue with financial recklessness leading to financial insolvency’. Poverty and suffering was highly increased in the country, because of mismanagement and misallocation of resources, coupled with an unprecedented level of corruption that was at its highest peak in the history of the nation.37 For instance, the controversial 2.1 billion dollars meant for the purchase of arms to fight Boko Haram insurgency during the tenure of President Goodluck Jonathan was allegedly diverted and shared by some influential politicians.
Increase in the level of corruption day by day brought down the standard of living drastically with high rate of inflation and poor living condition. Hunger, disappointments, anxieties, joblessness has been the lot of many people. This phenomenon geared up prosperity messages and it was heartily embraced by many Christians in Nigeria. Some ministers who caught the vision popularized the theology and their churches were populated. The expectation of Nigerians was to live a life free of oppression, demonic activities, fear, sickness and abject poverty. This is the core message of prospertity preachers, suggesting ways to live in plenty.
Many people from the mainline and African independent churches drifted to Pentecostal churches (e.g. Living Faith Church, The Redeemed Christian Church, Christ Embassy, Latter Rain Assembly, Mountain of Fire and Miracle, etc), because of the preaching of hope to the hopeless and the needy. It is therefore believed that, ‘The gospel of prosperity preaching serves as a wake up alarm for the depressed, apathetic and the hopeless. It brought a new challenge to the mainline church doctrine of poverty held by the church for many years. On this note, we can say that prosperity teaching provides abundant life, hope, and makes life more meaningful, creative and productive.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
It is generally believed that Pentecostal churches have visibly incorporated the identity of corporate practice such as, public outlooks, advertising strategies, methods of fund raising and aspirations in their worship. In other words, making prosperity churches business oriented. This view will be examined in line with the Ethical teachings of Jesus Christ in relation to prosperity gospel in the Living Faith Church. As a matter of fact, prosperity gospel should propel churches to greater heights, bring spiritual and physical blessings. In this study, we shall find out Christ standard on acquisition of wealth and the extent to which Christians have replaced some value commitments and holiness with material possessions.
It is observed that, the directives that serve as guides to the Christians have been neglected. For example, God had a purpose when He addressed the Israelites that the land they were about to occupy must be shared and its resources distributed to families, clans and tribes. This agrees with the Jubilee principles as against the monopolistic tendencies of unbridled capitalism, that fails to have a concept of care for the natural order which the scriptures mandated, such as, allowing individual to exercise stewardship through the rights attached to private property, fails to encourage responsibilities on sharing with the poor and encourages the idea of pursuing for its own sake.41 On the contrary, God is seen as having preferential treatment for the poor. A certain amount of favoritism is given to the marginalized, perhaps to create equal opportunities and guide against unjust implementation of the law as viewed by Blomberg.42
Although, the Bible does not mention capitalism but speaks mostly on economic issues, as many of the parables of Jesus are related to economic matters. What attitude should be exhibited towards acquisition of wealth as taught by Christ, reviewing the concept of prosperity theology in Pentecostal Churches with special reference to the Living Faith Church. This is expedient because of the strong emphasis in the message and lifestyle of leaders of the church.
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
A lot has been said by scholars in various literatures, journals and on the internet concerning prosperity theology. This theology caught the attention of many who embraced it, while it was denounced by others. Thus, no doubt, it has generated a lot of discussions and arguments among Christians and church ministers. Although, this theology has been philosophically, socially and biblically applied, some interpretations still persist, thereby causing division in the church. Considering the problem of proof texting, some words or verses in the Bible are interpreted on a selective hermeneutics thus, there is difficulty in understanding such verses or words in relation to prosperity teaching.
This work, therefore, examined the ethical teachings of Jesus in relation to prosperity theology in Pentecostal Churches using the Living Faith Church as a case study. The ministry has been able to establish branches of the branches of the church in all the six geo-political states in Nigeria and beyond with more than 5,000 churches in Nigeria. The call and vision of the founder, Bishop David Oyedepo is examined in this work. A detail historical background of the origin of the church was explored by tracing its development from inception to date. In doing this, the life of Bishop David Oyedepo was examined. The study established the events in his early life, educational background and his conversion story that eventually led to his emergence as the founder of the Living Faith Church worldwide.
The study also examined the beliefs and doctrines of the Living Faith Church in Nigeria. The work highlighted the involvement of the church and her contributions to health, education and socio-economic development. It also discussed extensively ways by which the concept of prosperity has blessed its members, the general attitude of Christians on the concept, the confusion, errors and extremism regarding the theology. In this regard, it brought about clarity and understanding about biblical prosperity and ways to maintain a balanced understanding of the subject, as taught by Christ. The work however, never failed to look at the unique traits of the church in comparison with other churches and how this has affected the growth of the church.
Finally, the biblical perspective on wealth and poverty are important for our study to teach godly lives, avoiding ascetisicm and materialism. Biblical views of poverty are essential; if we are to fulfill our responsibilities to the poor.
1.4 SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
The study examined the ethical teachings of Jesus Christ in relation to prosperity gospel in the Living Faith Church. We chose the church because it is one of the major proponents of prosperity theology. Bishop David Oyedepo, the founder of the church claims that God spoke to him while in America to go home and make His people rich. We therefore, examined the teachings of Christ concerning wealth or prosperity as practiced by the Living Faith Church, considering the vision, beginning, growth and spread of the church vis-a vis the interpretation of prosperity gospel in the church between 1981 to 2015.
The Living Faith Church is a world-wide organization. A study of its growth and development should rather have covered the church branches in Nigeria and various continents. But this would have rendered the study unmanageable and speculative. The work concentrated on the Living Faith Church with her headquarters located in Ota, Ogun State. The study is limited to prosperity preaching in Pentecostal denominations, particularly the Living Faith Church.
1.5 JUSTIFICATION OF THE STUDY
Prosperity gospel is a controversial discourse. The critics erroneously believed it to be worldly and evil; causing confusion and attitudinal problem in christiandom. Therefore, the research work tends to emphasize the goodness of God to humanity. We believe there is the need to suggest that the teaching of the church pertaining to prosperity is the will and aspiration of God, God is interested in the welfare and well-being of man, although care must be taken not to assume that wealth represents God’s blessings all the times.
The need to research into the concept is necessary to establish beyond doubts the importance of the teachings concerning wealth and to help many Christians to come out of pretence, confusion and embrace the gift of God with a perfect understanding that God’s blessings are not restricted to the heavenly realm alone, but often allows man to enjoy marital blessings here on earth.
1.6 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
This thesis conducts a biblical and theological analysis of prosperity theology. The research tools adopted included both primary and secondary sources of data collection. The primary source is the oral interviews conducted with leaders and some members of the church in selected big cities and towns. The secondary source searched information from historical journals, biographies, periodicals, and other related books available in the libraries of the University of Ilorin, Ilorin, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Lagos State University, Ojoo, Lagos, United Missionary Church of Africa College Library, Ilorin, Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso and Landmark e-Library, Omu-Aran.
Also, there were extraction of information and unstructured, personal observations through visit to prayer meetings, church services, annual Shiloh programmes organized by the church in Ota, Ogun State. The researcher took part in some of the programmes in Ota. Relevant verses in the Bible both the Old and New Testaments related to the subject were examined, which gave us an opportunity to arrive at a critical, analytical and reasonable conclusion.
1.7 LITERATURE REVIEW
As a result of the importance of the concept of prosperity and its interpretation in the contemporary scholarship, many scholars have argued for or against the concept. Dapo Asaju in his thesis titled: The Ethical and Theological Study of the concept of Materialism in Christianity and Yoruba Indigenous Religion,44 adopted a comparative approach in the study of materialism in Christianity and Yoruba indigenous religion quoting from the book of (Romans 7:15-25) to buttress his point. It is evident that there is a serious disagreement between spirituality and materialistic life. To him, materialism has become an evil concept affecting the adherents of the three main religions in Nigeria namely: African Traditional Religion, Islam and Christianity.
The teaching of Jesus Christ, His life and attitude towards materialism were examined as a model for Christians. Many at times, we want to believe that Jesus frowned at wealth, that he would prefer men to live a low life, and that accumulation of wealth was wrong.45 Throughout the ministry of Jesus such teachings was never heard. Although Jesus had interest in economic matters noting its gains and losses, most of his parables indicated this. In the same manner, he went further to analyze the perils and benefits of wealth. In fact, His main concern is the effect of wealth on an individual and the development of his character, and the effect on the society at large; noting in particular the benefits and temptations of wealth.46
In addition to this, it can be categorically said that Jesus had no intention to disdain wealth, but noted that a man’s possession could lead to temptation turning away his heart from social duties to a self – centred life. In other words, wealth that is meant to bring comfort to everyone could become an end in itself to the wealthy, however, he was emphatical about the dangers of worldly materials.
The teachings of Jesus Christ, His life and attitude towards materialism were examined as a model for Christians. The Old and New Testament as background to Christian’s concept of materialism was based on obedience and righteous living. This was obvious in the life of Abraham but King Solomon failed in this area. The latter failed because he disobeyed God by marrying foreign wives in contrary to God’s commandment. In fact, Moses instructed that no king of Israel should multiply wives for himself (Deuteronomy 17:17).
Although, Solomon’s multiple marriages were primarily political in nature, he became attached to these women and their gods. His construction of shrines for foreign gods was no mere political gesture. He participated in the worship of his wives’ gods, which might have included shrines for prostitution and child sacrifice. Solomon’s wealth and knowledge exceeded that of his contemporaries, but God took away his ability to enjoy them because of his disobedicence. He suffered as a result of this and acknowledged that only by knowing and obeying God can anyone have a meaningful life. (Jeremiah 17:11; Amos 4:1-3; 5-12; Proverbs 11:24; 15:27).
As regard greed and obsession for acquisition of wealth, parables illustrating the dangers of materialism were cited, such as, parables of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:13-21); Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-21), The rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-31), etc. We agree with him that wealth or riches itself is not evil but if care is not taken, it could hinder spiritual growth. This is why Jesus said ‘seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness and all other things will be added unto you.’ Preachers interpret this passage to mean the promise of good things to those who live a righteous life. The good things anyone would have in mind include: good education, power, position, prosperity, good health, good children, etc.
The significance of the word ‘seek’ God’s righteousness before other things could be added requires obeying God’s instructions and his will.49 If God’s commands are followed the “all other things” that are God’s blessings will follow automatically but in conformity to God’s righteousness pave way for God’s blessings.50 Why many put their hearts on wealth is because of fear and lack of trust for provisions. Philippians 4:19 says ‘but my God will supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus’. This verse ought to bring relief and stop them from running up and down. Lack of trust that makes many to lay their treasure on earth leads to non-fulfilment, selfish desire, bitterness, envy, misplacement of priorities and lack of concern for other people. Jesus knows the needs of man but demanded we should seek first, the spiritual benefits of the kingdom and all other material possessions will be supplied.
God is a God of providence. In the gospel according to St. John, Jesus said, “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24). Based on this scripture, we will like to modify Eno’s submission as quoted by Asaju; the former believes that the spiritual decline of the society to materialistic consciousness is the fault of the Christians. This is not very correct because everyone desires to be rich.
The only way to alleviate poverty from the church is to teach and accept the doctrine of prosperity as legitimate and desirable while waiting on the mercy of God for its manifestation. The early church lived an un-materialistic lifestyle but, there was no proof that they regarded materialism as sinful as believed by Asaju. Ananias and Saphirah were condemned not in the basis of what they possessed but on the ground of unfaithfulness which best described Asaju’s notion that materialism is not in substance alone, but in attitude.
We agree with Asaju’s conclusion that Nigerian churches have failed the society in many respects. However, the church cannot be solely blamed for the collapsed system in Nigeria. It can be rightly said that, the church also has a role to play by showing good example through leadership style, discipline, integrity, elimination of bribery and corruption, etc anytime and anywhere Christians find themselves in power or in position of authority.
In You and Your Finance by Tosin Awoyinka,51 he maintains that materialism is not ungodly but emphasized that trust must not be in such material possession at the expense of one’s salvation. Quoting from the book of Haggai 2:8 and 1 Chronicle 29:12, riches come from God and him alone enables man to be wealthy; and as a result of this, he is of the opinion that there is no need to defraud, cheat, work in oil company or come from a well to do home before one becomes rich. It is true God has the power to make rich, He does not condone laziness. For any increase or multiplication to happen one must be blessed.
Randy Alcorn in his book, Money, Possessions and Eternity says ‘materialism is not only wrong, it is stupidity52 in Jesus’ discussion about the worthlessness of materialism in (Matthew 10:26), his question is ‘What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul(s) or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?’. This is why Jesus gave a serious warning against materialism, when he declares ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed, a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions’ (Luke 12:15). Randy explains greed in two manners: possessiveness and covetousness. Greed is a serious offence against God, and the origin of all destructive force imaginable including War53 (James 54:1-3).
God warned the people of Israel against this evil called greed. It is regarded as a violation of the first and most foundational commandment. ‘…You shall have no other gods before me’ (Exodus 20:23). Also, the eighth commandment in (Exodus 20:15) is another warning against stealing, a by-product of greed, while the tenth commandment warns against covetousness, another form of greed.54 There are various forms of greed in both the Old and the New Testaments with their repercussions as a result of unnecessary desire for material things. For example, Achan’s lust for money and possession brought death to the entire family (Joshua 7), Balaam cursed God’s people in return for Balak’s payment (Numbers 22:4-35), Delilah betrayed Samson to the Philistines for a fee (Judges 16), Solomon’s disobedience against God’s commandments led to his downfall; to be prosperous in material things Gehazi deceived Elisha (11Kings 5:20-27), in the ultimate act of treachery, Judas asked the chief priests ‘what are you willing to give me, if I hand him over to you?’ (Matthew 26: 14-16, 47-50; 27:3-10).55
Jesus knew materialism would bring negative effects to anyone who is attached to it but still he did not condemn it out rightly. We must always realize that we are made for one person who is Jesus and for one place which is heaven.56 Therefore, our hearts must not be too attached to what is ephemeral. Accumulating wealth as earlier discussed is wrong when it becomes an end in itself, and when one tries to keep it, hoard it and trust in its power to save. However, as a means to an end much good can be accomplished in the world when wealth is used to further God’s work. In the parable of Jesus narrated the story of a certain man who went on a journey, he gave his servants money and instructed them to manage it for him. The servants who traded with theirs earned interest and were rewarded, while another servant was penalized for neglecting his responsibility (Luke 19: 11-12). In this parable, God wants us to be faithful in whatever he puts in our care as he gives us the ability to produce wealth Deuteronomy 8: 17-18).
One of the books of Bishop David Oyedepo reviewed is Success System. Oyedepo says that one can be successful in so many ways, either through the power of darkness, cheating, fraud or hand labour.57 He maintains that ill-gotten wealth will dwindle while true prosperity comes from God and abiding by his word; he added that, success that comes from God does not bring unhappiness. Oyedepo made it clear that anyone that will be successful in life must know the secret as written in the Bible. He added that knowing the word of God to become prosperous is important, which is also the foundation for divine success.58
David Oyedepo also in another book titled, Winning the War Against Poverty,59 compared the economic meltdown in the world today to the days of Joseph. He made us to understanding that in the beginning it was not so. This according to him, is more of the mind than destiny, that is, man lives the way he thinks. He quoted Ecclesiastes 9:14-17 which says ‘…the voice of a poor man is not heard and his words are despised.’ He also cited the continent of Africa as an example of poverty stricken race. As he rightly points out, poverty erodes human dignity. One of the reasons why the world powers despise the continent of Africa is because of her poverty. On the other hand, we may not accept in totality that African countries are poor. Poor governance and mismanagement ruined many African countries. Nigeria is cited as a paradox of a rich country with poor citizens.
The author reminded his readers that Africa’s input in the economy of America assisted in revitalizing her economy towards the industrial revolution in the16th -18th centuries. Africa on the other hand is not recognized because the voice of a poor man is not heard and his wisdom is despised. He, therefore, advised new orientation and a reconstruction of value system. To him, traveling abroad to look for comfort, is indirectly enslaving oneself.
To support Bishop David Oyedepo’s view about giving less consideration to living abroad has more disadvantages than advantages. The footprint of Trans-Atlantic slavery and colonial rule in Africa and Caribbean countries is the creation of modern African Diaspora. The African in Diaspora had a considerable impact in the economic development of many countries culturally, socially and politically. One of the contributions of Africa-American that was obvious in the twentieth century is the genres such as: jazz gospel, blues and rap/hip-hop that transformed and dominated popular music in the United States of America.
There was an influence of Rastafarianism – a religious movement that emerged in the 1930’s that was named after Ras Tafari (1892-1975). Rastafarianism came into global prominence in the 1970’s because of its strong influence on reggae. Its most lasting impact has been the popularity of ‘locks’ a hair style that was at one time associated with the religion.
Africans played an important role in the abolition of slave trade movement in the eighteenth century, not only as writers, but as participants in debates and other activities throughout the country. Many Africans were opportuned to study abroad which gave them more knowledge and exposure. One of the disadvantages to Africans living in Diaspora was seen during the first and second World War as more Africans were sent to the war front. From the British West Indies, both men and women were enlisted in the Army, while thousand of black troops were recruited into the French Army including hundreds from the Caribbeans that were held prisoners by the Nazis.
These Africans sacrificed their lives to endure long period of incarceration as prisoners of war. African – American ex-servicemen in Britain faced racial violence. Riots and racist attacks led to several deaths of the Blacks. Today, the situation is not better; there is still discrimination against the Blacks.61
In 2005, it was reported in Britain that about 12,000 doctors and 16,000 nurses were employed into the National Health service from African countries, while a World Bank report estimated that there were over 70,000 African migrants to Europe and North America every year. The brain drain is not just of direct economic benefit to the receiving countries, but a form of exploitation to those countries that have trained their citizens only to loose them to overseas countries. Africans are denied visa sometimes at the immigration office, humiliated and deported.62 Traveling abroad is not bad but we must not despise our country and all the natural endowment to become second class citizens in another man’s country because of comfort and greener pasture.
We agree with the author Bishop David Oyedepo, that one of the causes of poverty is possessing a poor man’s mentality. A man’s poverty mentality must be healed before he can create wealth. A man must work on the concept of equality of destiny. Whatsoever causes barriers on ones destiny must be removed. Oyedepo’s view represents a fundamental approach to having a total life. Jabez name was given to him because his mother bore him in sorrow. The outstanding thing about him was that he called upon God and he was answered. He applied the concept of equality of destiny and he got what he wanted from God (1Chronicles 4:9-10).
According to Oyedepo, spiritual dimension of economic recovery is accompanied by divine speed, which brought a change in Egypt (Exodus 12). Natural laws are broken by spiritual dimension of economic recovery. Therefore, it is a fact that divine speed can move man to any height. Life is enhanced as one adds values to other people’s life, and poverty is eradicated not by laboring to be rich, but in enriching others. A sacrificial life is therefore, encouraged. The story of the widow’s mite made an indelible impression to every generation with her attitude of giving without reservation or grumbling.
The widow of Zarephath gave all that she had to Elijah first and was blessed (1Kings 17:8-10). A woman whose husband died because of debt, used his two sons as collateral found the favour of God. Those who attended the marriage at Cana in Galilee also witnessed a divine provision (John 5). The feeding of the five thousand men in (John 6) was another great miracle. People ate and there were left over. Simon Peter who caught a great multitude of fishes (Luke 5:1-11) and the provision of money out of the mouth of a fish were all demonstrations that God intervened supernaturally in the lives of his people.
The author does not want his readers to deny themselves the need of money, by thinking that it is the root of all evils. (1Timothy 6:10), Ecclesiastes 10:9) prove that nothing on earth can be detached from money. The Living Faith Church is one of the churches which understand what financial breakthrough is. The 50,000 capacity auditorium in Canaanland at Sango Ota in Ogun State, is said to have entered the Guinness book of records as it was believed then to be the largest single auditorium in the world.
The auditorium is built to worship God and for the comfort of the entire members. Canaanland city is described as festooned with assorted light of various colours, balloons and artificial trees and flowers. The altar is simply exotic. In addition, it is swathed in lush green lawns, the landscape cuts and picture of a typical holiday resort, much like a vast estate set in a beautiful jungle.63
Prayer alone cannot accomplish this, it must be backed up with action and money. As one of the proponents of prosperity gospel, the founder of Living Faith Church believes that poverty is not a sign of righteousness but a curse. Therefore, the man of God warns against pretence. He suggested that the only way to overcome poverty is to have a perfect understanding of the covenant. The power to get wealth revolves round the platform of the covenant. In (Genesis 12:10; 12:2-3) Abraham was rich in cattle, silver and gold. Isaac was equally blessed by God (Genesis 20:1; 13; 26:33; 42:2; 43:11-15). Joseph moved from prison to become a prime minister. A unique thing about the covenant is that, it is full of blessings. This is the will of God for His children. There is the need to act in faith and launch ourselves into financial blessings. God desires to satisfy His people with good things (Psalm 103:5). We share the view of Oyedepo that poverty stinks, kills and humiliates.
Gloria Copeland in her book ‘Will is Prosperity’64 shared David Oyedepo’s point of view on prosperity gospel. She is of the same mind with David Oyedepo’s point on prosperity gospel. She also believes that from the beginning, God provided financial prosperity for His own people. Through obedience to God’s word, man lacked no good things. She supported the fact that Adam was provided with a help mate, ability, abundance and a kingdom. She went further to say that, Adam was not limited in any form until when he fell. As a result of this, he died a spiritual death because of his disobedience. God sent him out of the furnished garden to toil and sweat before he could eat. In other words, God’s will for Adam was abundance and plenty. Poverty, lack and suffering came into the world because Satan took dominion. Though, God wanted him to live in plenty, he chose to live otherwise.
God, therefore, provided a way out by entering into a covenant with Abraham (Gen.17:1-9). God promised to make the covenant an everlasting one by extending a covenant to Abraham’s children. This covenant of blessing was established for all Israelites by faith. God fulfilled His words and entered into a better covenant through the blood of Jesus. The New Covenant was ratified in the blood of Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham. The Old Covenant was incomplete as far as man’s needs are concerned. For this reason, Christ redeemed man from the curse of the law….that the blessings of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ. (Galatians 3:3; 14; 26:29). The author made the following clarifications.
1. That God has given covenant men power to get wealth;
2. That prosperity is necessary to establish the covenant; and
3. That for God to bring to pass His promises concerning Abraham, he must prosper Abraham’s descendants.
It is unfortunate that the covenant is not established in the lives of some people today because poverty had perverted their lives. Deuteronomy 28 reveals the fact that poverty and lack are part of the curses of the law, as a result of disobedience. If sickness and disease are regarded as curse, and healing is regarded as part of Abraham’s blessing, this blessing is said to be divine prosperity as explained by Copeland.
Similarly, Nimi Wariboko develops a theory which he calls Covenant Paradigm. In this theory, he opines that, people and nations are blessed on the basis of covenant of giving or the covenant of good efforts of sacrificial giving to the church. This, he believes will lead to national development; not just the seed of Abraham. Poverty he says is a religious problem because of lack of faith.. 65 Nimi Wariboko quotes the popular verse in the book of Malachi:
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, says the Lord of Host if I will not open you the windows of heaven. (Malachi 3:10).
Sunday Adelaja66 reacted to Wariboko’s idea of financial giving and other material resources to the church as a wrong means of becoming rich. ‘Being active in the church, faithful in giving tithes and offerings and additional giving to various church projects’ cannot make anyone to be rich. ‘The one on the receiving end only becomes wealthy, live in luxury and excess while large portions of their flock can barely afford three square meals a day.’ Adelaja maintained that giving has its place in the law of giving but it cannot make anyone sustainably wealthy. In these two different opinions, two things are interwoven. Adelaja believes this is not enough to bring prosperity as some may pretend to be given and are lacking in some more important things. Adelaja wants his readers to know that God cannot be bribed.
It is necessary to know that giving is a law whether it is done with a correct heart or not, once the law is fulfilled there is a reward. The reward could be of the flesh or spiritual depending on the heart with which it was done.
There were times in the Old Testament when God’s people selfishly held on to their money and resources instead of giving them to serve God’s purposes as tithes and offering. During the building of the second temple, God’s people seemed more interested in building their own houses instead of preparing God’s house. As a result of this attitude, many of them suffered financially and in other areas of their lives as well. God disciplined His people for refusing to bring their tithes to Him. Wariboko therefore, encourages Christians by improving their economic circumstances through giving. God does not operate on human logic and He is not limited by our resources. In the book of Malachi, there is a challenge and a promise. His principles have not changed. The need for ministry support has not changed but has increased. The duty to exercise ones faith and responsibility with personal resources has not changed, resources are limited by not giving to others.
Gyadu objected to giving as sacrificial but transactional because it is reciprocal. 67 Whether giving is viewed as sacrificial or transactional, the religious implication is more important. Gyadu is wrong because his idea about sacrificial giving is not scriptural. Christians should not hesitate to give sacrificially. In (11Corinthians 8:3), Apostle Paul testifies about the Macedonian churches when he says that ‘For I testify that they gave as much as they were able and even beyond their ability entirely on their own’. The Macedonian passions and priorities are towards God. Sacrificial giving can test and strengthen our faith in God’s ability to provide whatever we need (Philippians 4:18-19).
Togarasei Lovemore in his paper, The Pentecostal Gospel of Prosperity in African contexts of poverty: An appraisal, embraces prosperity theology as he views critically the Pentecostal Gospel of prosperity in the context of poverty experienced in sub-Saharan Africa. He emphasized the possible contribution of this doctrine to sustainable development. He says in his earlier studies that Pentecostalism has identified its success among the poor as a result of its promise of prosperity. Citing examples of how Pentecostal Christianity is contributing to poverty reduction in Zimbabwe and Botswana. He concludes that the gospel indeed contributed to poverty alleviation in five ways: encouraging entrepreneurship, employment creation, encouraging a holistic approach to life.68
Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye in his book titled, The Ultimate Financial Breakthrough says that the ultimate financial breakthrough is powerful enough to put to silence all other breakthroughs. Adeboye explained that the only way to have explosive breakthrough is knowing what to do, to get the best result and doing it.69 The General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church Worldwide Pastor Adeboye cited some principles to become wealthy. The first step is sowing at the most difficult time to do so. The widow of Zarephath is a good example of this. She gave her all that she had even when she sensed death. The heart and the hand that gives are blessed. Whoever wants to be blessed must give with a correct heart.
Sowing seeds on a good ground is essential for God’s blessing. The Zarephath widow gave to a man of God. In giving, it is wrong to give to those who can reciprocate the good gesture. Sowing on a good ground brings a harvest of thirty, sixty and hundred folds.70 Adeboye postulates that in the principle of sowing there must be room for waiting. He cited the example of farmers who are never in a haste to harvest, because they know that between sowing and hasting there is a waiting period which could be prolonged or brief. Hardwork is another principle Adeboye mentioned for whoever wants to experience financial breakthrough such a person must not be lazy. God has promised man financial blessings, it is the duty of man to work in order to obtain what God has promised (Ephesians 1:3)…which has blessed us with spiritual blessings…) God has blessed man already, not that he will bless, so all we need is to tap into that race through hardwork.
According to Adeboye in his book, he emphasized remembering God by putting him first. He says when the food harvest comes, God must be revered in order to enjoy and sustain what has been worked for. In addition to this, sacrificial giving is one of the concepts that can open doors for a prosperous living. Giving is reciprocal. In (Luke 6:35) the Bible says:
Give and it shall be given unto you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, shall men give into your bosom.
This is the reward of anyone who gives either to God or an indigent person. The benefits or rewards come with great recompense, either temporarily or spiritually.71 ‘Givers never lack’. Anyone that will be rich must be open handed, so that anytime he calls for help God will respond. Adeboye concluded by maintaining a position of keeping on sowing or working. Anyone who stops work without a reason will experience poverty. The more reason the bible says in 2Thessalonians 3:10 through Paul that:
‘for even when we were with you, we gave you this rule ‘the one who is unwilling to work shall not eat’
So therefore, according to this verse in agreement with Adeboye’s statement, the sustainability of wealth is to keep sowing.
Emiola Nihinlola in his work ‘Between Prosperity and Spirituality: A Theological Examination of the Perspective of the Church in the 21st Century African Society’ explains the relationship between material prosperity and religious spirituality.72 To Africans, prosperity and spirituality are of prime importance especially in the modern world. It is disheartening that with the level of religiosity life is still unfair to many because it is full of troubles, ups and downs, lack, needs, uncertainty, sickness and diseases.73 Nihinlola made it clear that prosperity goes beyond material possessions, although it is good and it includes all basic things of life that can bring comfort to man. The author wonders why Nigerians would always take accumulation of wealth to mean prosperity, putting their trust in uncertainty that brings pains and destruction on the other hand, Nihinlola closes the gap between spirituality and prosperity as both are all-inclusive principles.
Ire cited the example of Jesus’ ministry which includes preaching, teaching, healing and deliverance. The implication is that even in the ministry of Jesus, he attended to both spiritual and physical needs of the people. Also, Nihinlola emphasized the fact that prosperity teaching is much needed and timely because of the existing hardship in the society. The author supports the teaching of prosperity as an eye opener to alleviate poverty. Again, looking at the early church, the writer of the book maintained that, the church did not only grow on the basis of teaching the word but because the church was after the well-being of the members. The Apostles practiced exactly what Jesus did meeting the spiritual and physical needs of the people. As a matter of fact, Nihinlola concluded that it is ecclesiological insensitivity to deny the relevance of financial prosperity in a context of material poverty.74
In view of this, material prosperity should not be an issue to Christians who understand prosperity and what the use is. Oyedokun cited examples of people in the Bible who were rich and this did not in any way throw them off balance, Abraham, Job, Barnabas, Joseph of Arimathea and Lydia on the other hand, the rich young ruler, the rich man and Lazarus75 were condemned because of their greedy attitude to wealth. No wonder Jesus spoke out also on greediness and the affliction of the rich. In Luke 12:13-15, a man demanded Jesus to resolve an inheritance dispute the man had with his brother, Jesus refuses to be part of estate arbitration and warns his listeners ‘Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.76 Jesus notices the evil intention behind that request is greed. Jesus, perhaps turn to the crowd to warn them when he says ‘Take care…’ The parable is telling us that we cannot leave out the notion of physical life. No possessions keep a man alive,77 that is, the comfort and happiness of life is not in the abundance of what he posseses, in other words, what a man has cannot secure his life.78
Jesus’ attitude must not be considered as that of an agnostic and dualistic dreamer,79 who is not concerned about his well-being and needs, according to Wheeler,80 money and possessions have great importance as a means for ourselves and to help others, but Jesus frowns at the undue importance we give to material prosperity because it is a spiritual and moral confusion and as a result of fundamental misunderstanding of the value of possessions and the role that possessions can play in a man’s life. When due, importance is given to material possessions, it often lead to a lifestyle of luxury, pride, hoarding, self-indulgence, oppression and lack of generosity. The problem with greed is that it leads to sin as we can see in the story of the rich fool.
The rich young ruler that came to Jesus to know what to do to inherit eternal life exposes again unnecessary love for possession. Jesus told him: ‘You lack one thing; go sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven’ the man went away sad because he could not part with what he had. Jesus turned to his disciples and warned them about the dangers of wealth, when he says: it is easier for a camel to go through the eye if a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God (Mark 10:25).
Jesus is not actually saying the man should sell all that he had and start all over again, but throwing light on how man’s attachment to his possession can debar him from sharing what he has with the poor. The necessity and goodness of wealth as a resource for meeting human needs is emphasized here. However, material wealth as we can see has generate a lot of problems among Christians, as Wheeler believes it is often an hindrance to heeding the gospel, dangerous because it is often a temptation to the sin of idolatry, a means of social injustice. Looking at the Pharisees, Jesus attacked them as ‘full of greed and self-indulgence’ (Matthew 23:25; Luke 11:39) ‘greedy and wicked’ in (Luke 16:14) and they are described as lovers of money seeing their attitude towards wealth and possessions and a true test of love that identifies Jesus’ true followers.83 However, this notwithstanding, instead of anti-materialism or hostility to wealth84 Sandra suggests that going back to the New Testament book will pattern, teach and enlighten the church on wealth and possessions.85
J. Leo Green, in Resources Unlimited86 examines the place of material things in the purpose of God and the life of man. In this study, he points out that God is the creator and controller of all things. That is, everything is from Him, through Him, and in Him. In analyzing the purpose of God in creation, Green says that, God created ‘things’ for two reasons. One, to serve His sovereignty purpose and two is to serve the needs of man, the focal centre of his purpose.
Two basic things are important in this discussion. It gives us a preamble to our study. The first thing is the use of ‘things’. Man is to use and not to abuse them. He is to care for that which is committed to his keeping. This agrees with Seneca’s opinion as claimed by the early Christian writers in the Wealth of Christians. He did not support wastage but he regarded it shameful for anyone who is bankrupt. He was indifferent to wealth because it is something a man should be prepared to leave behind. Seneca tried to find out what is a man’s limit to wealth. His conclusion is, having what is essential and what is enough.87
Seneca’s conclusion on the limit to wealth and what prosperity is what he calls ‘having what is essential and what is enough brings us to Green’s discovery. Green discovers the problem of ‘control’ as one of the difficulties we face today as a result of distortion or perversion of the biblical doctrine of dominance. It is said that the biblical doctrine of dominance encouraged technological development which made it possible for man to control his environment while secularism helped man to seek to control his environment for self and at a high speed. Instead of dominating by things because he tends to acquire too much. It concludes that materialism is on the increase and shows no signs of slowing down.88
Max Weber, a German Philosopher, says that Christianity produces religious and ethical foundations of worldly asceticism that is, living a life without physical pleasure or comfort, associating it with religious foundations such as Pretism, Calvinism, Methodism and Baptism; believing that their doctrines contributed to capitalism. These doctrines accept every job, occupation, career employment to be a calling, thereby, making an individual to be responsible to both his employer and God. Thus, work is seen as a religious obligation that could bring honour and glory to God through individual’s efficiency and productive performance of duties.89
Weber went further to explain that in the past, Christians looked down and condemned worldly activities and the eschatological hope made worldly activities unattractive and meaningless, while a shift from this understanding brought the development of capitalism in the government, private individuals or group of persons to be involved in production and distribution of goods and services.90 The Christian theory of calling made job legitimate and acceptable whether cleaning of toilet, mail distribution, farming, priesthood, etc. In calling, he submits Christians were taught to be dedicated, hardworking, efficient, productive, successful and prosperous in their respective careers. Outstanding success in a calling is seen as a mark of God’s grace upon the individual while making money is evidence that the individual is successful in his divine calling. With this understanding of God’s calling, John Wesley made his Methodist congregation to know that:
…religion must necessarily produce industry and frugality and this cannot but produce riches. We must exhort all Christian to gain what they can and save money all they can, that is, in effect to grow rich. 91
The basic teaching given to Christians was to be industrious, frugal, to avoid lavish and extravagant spending on luxuries from money they gained from hardwork, meaning that money not spent cannot be circulated. The foundation of this doctrine was well laid in Europe because it was under the influence of Christianity and contributed to the rise of the spirit and growth of capitalism in the West. Other negative attitude to work such as time wasting, laziness, idleness and gossip were discouraged. Benjamin Franklin wrote his fellow Christian that time is money. The church was not allowed to be profit-oriented, the bank was approved to promote credit system activities. Also, Christians were urged earnestly to pay back their loans as at when due to give room for continuity. Principle of honesty, prudence, punctuality and justice was promoted among the Christians.92 As good as these principles were, Weber differing view point was obvious in his statement when he says:
Restless, continuous, systematic work in a worldly calling must have been the most powerful conceivable level for the expansion of the spirit of capitalism.¬¬¬93
Weber noted that all the methods and teachings employed were just to increase wealth by all means. Restriction on consumption and acquisition activity is amassing of capital while a scetic compulsion to save increased wealth by making productive investment possible. Max Weber concluded that there was a correlation between certain forms of Protestant Christianity and rapid progress towards capitalism. According to him, Protestantism was a major factor in the creation of development of the spirit and practice of capitalism.94
The socio-conflict approach is rooted in Karl Marx’s critique of capitalism, a method of production and trade based on property and wealth owned by private individuals with minimal industrial input by the government. According to him, in a capitalist society, religion plays a critical role in maintaining an equal status quo, in which certain groups of people have radically more resources and power than other groups of people.95 Having noticed the exploitation, oppression, suppression and the poor conditions workers were exposed to in the production of goods and services and their exemption from the decision making, Max was of the opinion that religion is an illusion and argued for its elimination from the society.96
Religion is therefore, regarded as an obstruction for proper growth of creative powers which were capable of scientific exploitation, discovery, invention and innovation, citing example of the Proletarians who had the ability of scientific planning, administration and control of the society; with religion hindered the use of their talents. Thus, this action did not give room for effective change, transformation, reformation and progress in the society. He explains further that religion encourages the poor masses to give out name of ‘faith’. Judging the social inequality, injustice and discrimination against the masses, he was furious and concluded that religion supports capitalism and this same religion full of exploitation and classified as economic social evils is enforcing believers to be loyal to their capitalist in obedience and humility.97
Max believes that the people submitted to the class of oppressors because they had nothing to their names and also have no control over their lives. Thus, he concludes that religion becomes an authentic act of governing an economic order that has kept the people under the control of the oppressors denying them of their rights by exchanging their lives rewards with deceit. The bourgeoisie used religion as a tool to keep the less power proletariat pacified promising rewards in the life to come instead of immediate reward. It was in this sense that Marx asserts that:
Religion is the sign of the oppressed creature, the feeling of a heartless world, and the soul of the soul-less circumstances. It is the opium of the people.98
Karl Marx sees religion therefore, as a misapprehension, a belief that is not true and fulfill of exaggeration that takes away suffering inflicted and encourages obedience to the capitalist exploiters. Marx is calling for the Proletariats to discard and its deceit about other worldly events. This will enable this class of people to stand against the bourgeoisie and fain control of the means of production, and only then would they achieve real rewards in this life.99
The socio-conflict approach to religion highlights how religion as a phenomenon of human behavior, functions to maintain social inequality by providing a world view that justifies oppression. Karl Marx believes that religion is a tool of social control used to maintain an unequal status quo which should be abolished. We disagree with Karl Marx on this statement that religion is to maintain an unequal status quo. Everyone has right to his or her own opinion, but it must be noted that religion removes inequality. The adherents of various religions may keep in existence unequal status not the religion. Karl Marx’s ideology of religion demands for a total change in the world, because modern life is associated with the problem of capitalism. To cut down the excess, the only way out according to him is to bring about effective change in the social and economic structure. He emphasized on reformation in trade, industry and development of wealth in a country. Ludwig Feurbach on the other hand, focuses on material reality as he adopted materialist philosophy.
Thus, the church is faced with challenges to clarify and articulate an adequate theology and ethnicity regarding man’s relation to the material world. Green draws his conclusion with the feeling that Christianity is the most materialistic of all religions and can help create a healthy, circumscribed, moderate and biblical materialism. It is also necessary at this juncture to examine the argument against the concept of prosperity. Some references in the Bible are hereby noted. (Exodus 20:4-6; 34:17; Leviticus 19:4; 26:1; Deuteronomy 4:15-19′ 5:8-10; 27:15).
Lory Hildreth in his work The Christians’ Relationship to Material Things, highlighted that hoarding or absolutizing of wealth can be regarded as sinful. In the gospel according to Luke 12:15, there is a warning against covetousness for man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions, that is, our happiness and comfort does not depend on our great deal of wealth, because materialism is not eternal but temporal. A man’s wealth that is shared with others will go a long way to make life comfortable for other people. Jesus speaking on material things, encourages faithfulness, so that He can entrust more riches into our care. Jesus is not against anyone who desires to be rich, acquisition or having more than necessary has always being man’s problem. Man is property conscious and lacks the spirit of sharing which was strong among the early Christians.
John Chrysostom taught that Wealth as Peril and Obligation has a fundamental notion that true wealth is by nature outgoing.100 Two major things happen to wealth by his narrative: one it ‘moves’ and two ‘expands’. These two things must happen to wealth before it can be properly utilized. Today wealth has a different meaning in the sense of ‘accumulation’ and ‘expansion of power’ the exact opposite of Chrysostom idea, in this case, such wealth cannot eradicate poverty but increase it.101 He likened wealth to seeds piled up and rots away unlike if it is planted on the fields. It germinates and brings forth more of its kind. He appreciates Abraham and Job for been rich and just in sharing their wealth but feels there ought to be a division in the society between the rich and the poor. Each discharging her proper function because of his belief that God’s intention for creation was for commonality of property102 supporting his argument with this statement as quoted by Wheeler.
Tell me, then, whence thou are rich…? The root and origin of it must have been injustice. Why, because God in the beginning made not one man rich and another poor. Nor did He afterward take and show to one treasures of gold, and deny to the other the right of searching for it, but he left the earth free to all alike. Why then, if it is common, have you so many acres of land, while your neighbor has a portion of it? 103
Chrysostom in essence is saying that, the order of creation was commonality and not private property while a large private property could become injustice if not used in the correct way. Chrysostom has this to say again:
This wealth is not a possession; it is a loan for use. For when thou diest, willingly or unwillingly, all that thou hast goes to other, and they again give it up to others, and they again to others. Goods are named from use not from Lordship, and not our own, and possessions are not a property but a loan104
According to this philosopher, all that a man has is to be ‘used’ when a man claims ownership of a property, death eventually disposes him of it. Therefore, his main objection to the notion of property is that it must be limited and that man should not hold on to things that cannot last forever. Speaking on the obligations of the rich could not pin point why those who are rich live because all they do is to accumulate wealth. At a point in time, he was alleged of accessing the rich, an allegation which he denied by and said both the rich and the poor are guilty of his accusation as he warned about covetousness and greed that exist at all levels in the society.
In his conclusion, Chrysostom does not spare the poor in the obligations of sharing with the less fortunate than themselves. Both the rich and the poor have their peculiar problems. As the problem of the rich is pride, on the other hand, the problem of the poor is lying. Chrysostom did not give room for any one not to give to the less priviledged.
Augustine is a bit philosophical in his approach to wealth and possessions. He admits that, nothing is in itself evil, evil comes when man is corrupt or misuse what is good why evil in wealth lies not in the riches themselves but in the avarice that often accompanies wealth. He does not deny the fact that gold, silver, and possessions are good but do not make the owner good, especially when they are not allowed to be used by the common man. Augustine says it is as good as not having them at all. 106 From his explanations, he made two distinctions: one, all things are good two, some goods are to be used why other things are to be enjoyed, any attempt to use what is to enjoy or enjoy what is to be used evil comes in. In other words, what brings sin to man is to enjoy things and using God to obtain things.
He went further in his analogy to say that those who are rich and greedy love to enjoy their possessions alone, and not for the purpose of God and at the same time they use God by worshipping him in other to increase their wealth which is a fundamental vice of humanity. 107 In buttressing his point on the use of possessions he also he differentiates between what is ‘necessary’ and ‘superflous’ in life. He categorizes the necessities of life as clothing, food, shelter and other comforts of life that could make living worthwhile, but all in abundance. The irony of this teaching is that, what is superfluous to the rich is a necessity to the poor; he therefore encourages Christians to give to the needy what they cannot use. Augustine in his various theological teachings addresses the issue of lending without interest why lending to God by giving to the poor is a ticket to heaven:
‘Give the temporal and receive the eternal, give the earthly and receive the heavenly: since God pays the merciful bountifully, anyone who performs act of mercy makes a loan to God. 108
His view on atoning for sin can be seen in his idea of giving alms, prayer and fasting which is a means of cleansing sins committed daily. The porosity of this method of atonement allows people to sin at will knowing they could give alms to wipe away sins. Speaking on transferring of wealth to heaven that is ‘laying up treasures in heaven’ Augustine gave an illustration of a house that is at the verge of collapsing in which the owner evacuates the house with all his possessions. In the same vein, he says, Christians should transfer their possessions to a safer place which is heaven because of destruction coming upon the world. In achieving this, Augustine encourages giving to the poor
Because he believes giving alms to the poor will pave way for eternity, and atonement for sin. This may be unacceptable if salvation does not include repentance, confession of sin and accept the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord. Unlike other philosophers, Augustine disagrees with them on the commandments and the counsels of perfection. To him, Christ’s commandment to sell all they had and give to the poor was not directed to anybody but those who wish to be perfect. In other words, he rejects communal life practiced by the early church. However, the major concern of Augustine was his emphasis on the need to use material wealth to obtain spiritual blessings which is a major problem in his theological teachings.
Ronald Sider, is not far from the truth when he emphasized on the danger of imitating a materialistic lifestyle which has made many to fall into a version of theological liberation by giving themselves to society’s views and values instead of biblical injunction.109 The gospel of prosperity assures people that God values them and wants the best for them with the proper use of their possessions as instructed by Augustine, abilities, potentials, they could maximize their talents and enhance their own values as human beings.110
Chinua Achebe in his book The Trouble with Nigeria describes indiscipline in Nigeria as a condition ‘per excellence’ because it is seen at home, school, public service, in the private sector, government and legislative assemblies. Also he sees it as self interest which has eaten deep like a cankerworm into the Nigerian system. The refusal to submit ones desires and action to restraint of orderly social conduct made the vast majority desire, and acquire material possessions wrongly. It is this desire that corrupted everyone, leading to embezzlement and looting of government property is correct in his observation that total gross of indiscipline and stealing in Nigeria is found at all levels. Stealing and corruption that started little by little by individuals has become so massive that is now affecting everyone and it has increased the level of poverty in Nigeria.
An average Nigerian thinks of how to make money by all means. For instance, The Nation Newspaper dated Tuesday, 3rd February, 2015 reported that the former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido, alleged in 2014 that N30 trillion was not remitted to the Federation account by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Another former CBN Governor, Charles Soludo, has also alleged that N30 trillion has not been accounted for under the watch of the then Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Crude oil stealing has become legalized that there is now what is known as ‘Bayelsa Diesel’ in the market, a fall-out of the 400,000 barrels per day of crude oil is stolen in Nigeria. Ifeanyi Uba is said to have single-handedly spent N25 billion campaigning for President Jonathan. Also, Uba at one time was accused of kerosene subsidy fraud.112 Furthermore, the crime and corruption magazine listed some corruption cases in Nigeria in 2016.
1. 195 Billion Maina Pension Scam pension funds alleged to have been misappropriated of which he claimed to have recovered from pension thieves.
2. Kerosene subsidy scam: The Emir of Kano – Mr. Sanusi former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria report that despite the removal of kerosene subsidy in 2009 by former President Umaru Yar’Adua, there was no evidence across the country where kerosene is sold at a subsidized rate.
3. $6bn fuel subsidy scam: A report was given that ($6bn) was defrauded from the fuel subsidy fund in the past for two years.
4. 123bn Naira Fraud; Mr. Stephen Oronsaye, a former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation was alleged N123 billion fraud perpetrated during his tenure, between 2009 and 2010.
5. Police Pension Fund Fraud: The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) indicted Mrs. Uzoma Cyril Attang and four others before an Abuja high court on an 18-count charge of conspiracy, breach of trust and embezzlement of N328 billion police pension funds, etc.
6. Stella Oduah car purchase scandal: the minister of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority purchased two bullet proof BMW cars at an allegedly inflated rate of N225m.
7. NNPC missing $20billion naira: $20billion from oil sales not remitted into the treasury was discovered by the then governor of the country’s central bank.
8. $15million in Private Jet Arms Scandal.
9. Crude Oil theft according to him more than 10% of all Nigeria’s production is being lost to the State and oil companies of about $1bn a month. The outcome he said did not only keep the world price of oil high, but causing corruption and social disorder.
10. Ekiti Gate: This was a recorded 37-minute conversation involving some high personalities that included eventual winner of the election, in person of Governor Ayo Fayose. A conversation that recorded the bribing Brigadier General Momoh for assisting in carrying out election fraud in Ekiti.
11. Mohammed Abacha N446bn Case: Nine counts of stealing was charged against Mohammed in 2014 for unlawfully taking N406.3bn allegedly stolen from its coffers between 1995-1998 and lastly was the N7Billion Bribe allegedly given as bribe to some religious leaders to campaign against Buhari which was later denied.113
It is unfortunate that, all these cases, nothing was done or said to convince the public of appropriate measure taken to stop future occurrence.
The former British Prime Minister, David Cameron on 12th May,2016 in London described Nigeria and Afghanistan as fantastically ‘corrupt’ which reveals the level of corruption in these two countries that needs urgent attention.
We have got the Nigerians actually; we have got some leaders of some fantastically corrupt countries coming to Britain. Nigeria and Afghanistan possibly two of the most corrupt countries in the world.
Among those who reacted to Cameron’s statement was Senator Ben Murray Bruce who said Cameron was rude for demeaning our leaders. The Presidential spokesman also said, Cameron’s statement did not reflect the good work that the President is doing.114 It is unfortunate that our so-called leaders are being paraded before the (EFCC) Economic Financial Crime Commission for Corruption.
Craig L. Blomberg in his book, Neither Poverty Nor Riches expresses the goodness of wealth and the wish of God to bless His people with material possessions115 as expressed by others. He highlighted laws given to the Israelites that in their faithfulness and obedience they would be blessed. He included the restrictions placed on accumulation of property placed on accumulation of property whereby dependence was solely on God as he was reverenced as the owner of all things. The author acknowledged that material possessions are from God and at the same time simultaneously one of the primary means of turning a man’s heart from God. One needs to be a good steward.
The author did not fail to mention extremism of wealth and poverty which are in themselves intolerable. Some accumulate wealth and resources they cannot exhaust in their life time. In Nigeria today, the excesses hoarded have deprived others from having better opportunity for a reasonably decent standard of living. This is exactly what Augustine was referring to when he saith whatever God gives after taking what we need, the rest is superfluous it should be given to the needy and not to be hoarded.
In the National broadcast on Saturday, January 7th, 2012, the former President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on deregulation of the downstream Petroleum sector, spoke on combating terrorism and acts of violence especially in Gombe, Potiskum, Jimeta – Yola and Mubi and to assure every Nigerian of Safety. He promised to reduce foreign travels to the bearest minimum while ministries, departments, agencies are to reduce their overhead expenses. Mass transit was launched on January 8th, 2012, with a promise to empty 10,000 youths in every state as well as completing the Lagos to Kano rail lines.116 The President went further among other things he promised to do was the reduction in the executive salaries of all political office holders by 25 percent; to confirm that some earn more than enough when some are jobless, hungry and helpless. The former President’s effort must be appreciated for taken a bold step geared towards equity: and a drive for the principles of moderation and simplicity of life.
Another work reviewed is the Midas Touch written by Kenneth E. Hagin. The author in no doubt accepts prosperity gospel quoting from 3John 2, ‘Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and in health even as thy soul prospereth. In this passage, there are three types of blessings. The first is material prosperity (Joshua 1:5-9; 1Samuel 2:7-8; 1kings 2:3-4; 1Chronicles 29:12; Ezekiel 8:22; Job 36:11; Psalm 24; John 15:7; 11Corinthians 9:6-8; Philippians 4:19). The second category of blessing is bodily healing and health. (Exodus 15:26; Psalms 9; Psalms 103:3; Isaiah 53:4-5; Isaiah 58:8; Matthew 8:17; 1Peter 2:24; James 5:14. The third blessing is salvation of souls: (Matthew 1:21; Romans 1:16; Romans 10:9-10; Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 2:8-9; Hebrews 7:7-25). 117
Oyetade in his paper, ‘Sound health in 3John 2 and its implication for 21st century Pastor in Nigeria’ however, throws an insight in this passage. He said that the third Epistle of john is directed to an individual who identifies himself as an elder. It was also written to a highly wealthy and well to do Christian named Gaius who had health challenges. According to him, Gaius was terribly ill and the sickness prevented him from performing his duties to his fellow men. He went further to explain that the prayer of John was that Gaius physical health may equal or be the same as the health of his soul which must have been an indication that the one to whom the letter was addressed was sick. 118
In his exegesis of 3John 1 and 2, the verses were broken down into three verses in the Greek text. The first is the singular tense literarily translated as ‘I pray or wish’; this is used in non-religious sense of ‘to wish or to hope’. The second verb he translated to mean ‘that all may go well with you or you may be well in all respect or in every way that goodwill always happens to you’. This he refers to as having good health in general. The verb means granting of a prosperous and expeditious journey which means to cause to prosper. 119 the last verb described by Oyetade has an English root indentified as ‘hygiene’ which means prosper in good working order, or to be healthy. He went further to explain that the verb also means to be free from debilitation that is, having a good health all round. Because of this, he makes us to understand that it has become a proper method to open and close personal letters in ancient times wishing someone total health. 120
However, Oyetade and Kenneth Hagins are saying the same thing, having in mind material prosperity, good health and salvation of soul. If these blessings are not the will of god, the apostles would not desire them. It is therefore a good thing we live and enjoy them through faith. Whoever is going to receive what God has in stock for him, such a person must think in line with God’s word which some find difficult to do. Hagins gives the condition for a prosperous life as enjoyed by the Queen of Sheba, King Solomon, Job and Uzziah as willingness to obey God.
Oh the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked; or stand around with sinners or join in the mockers. But delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the river bank, bearing fruits each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. Psalm 1:1-3.
In as much as God wants His people to be blessed, materially, as found in the above passage, there is a condition, such as meditating on his law and his words. With the goal of focusing attention on God’s reality, growing in trust, reference and joy, a man who does this will surely prosper. What hinders man to prosper according to Kenneth in his book, the Midas Touch is seen in Genesis 1:20-30. Man refuses to take dominion in the area of finance. To some people, poverty produces piety they argue that Jesus was poor while on earth. He did not own anything, so why must His followers live in affluence (11Cor. 8:90… ‘though he was rich, yet for our sake he became poor that ye through the poverty might be rich’ (Deuteronomy 29:9; Joshua 1:7; 1Kings 2:3; 1Chronicles 20:5; Job 36:11; Nehemiah 1:11; Psalm 1:1-2).
In addition to Hagins contribution on the issue of prosperity, he tries to solve the problem of ‘extreme’ in prosperity theology like Blomberg. He explains this from biblical point of view, noting how unscriptural the teachings that emphasize either ‘poverty mentality or excesses in the prosperity gospel’. We agree with the author because, through excesses in either poverty mentality or prosperity theology, many have fallen into the ditch, that is why Ronald Sider, in his contribution emphasized the danger imitating a materialistic lifestyle. John Chrysostom taught his audience that wealth is not a possession but a loan for use this to avoid unnecessary attachment to wealth. Thus, Dapo Asaju believes that there is a serious disagreement between spirituality and materialistic life. To him, materialism has become an evil concept affecting the adherents of the three main religions in Nigeria namely African traditional religion, Islam and Christianity. Asaju believes that the spiritual decline of the society to materialistic consciousness is the fault of everyone desires to be rich.
Also, Asaju is of the opinion that, the early church lived an un-materialistic lifestyle was true, but there was no proof that they regarded materialism as sinful as believed by Asaju. Ananias and Saphirah were condemned not on the basis of what they possessed but on the ground of unfaithfulness which best described by Asaju’s notion that materialism is not in substance alone, but in attitude.
Asaju’s conclusion that Nigeria churches have failed the society in many respects is not out of place. However, the church cannot be solely blamed for the collapsed system in Nigeria which is very clear. It can be rightly said that, the church also has a role to play by showing good example through leadership style, discipline, integrity, elimination of bribery and corruption, etc anytime and anywhere Christians find themselves in power or in position of authority. Thus, the church is faced with challenges to clarify and articulate an adequate theology and ethnicity regarding man’s relation to the material world.
In this chapter, having made a brief survey based on the review of selected literature, prosperity theology is seen as a sword of division within ranks of Christendom, theologians and philosophers. Some see the doctrine as unnecessary and materialistic, why those who support the concept believe it is part of the covenant of God for man. However, poverty in a man’s life is dehumanizing as God does not derive joy to see his children suffering. This group of people is suggesting that, the only way to alleviate poverty from the church is to teach and accept the doctrine of prosperity as legitimate and desirable. The next chapter sheds more light on the subject concerning prosperity in both the Old and New Testaments.
NOTES AND REFERENCES
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79. Glen H. Stassen and David P. Gushee, 415.
80. Sodra Ely Wheeler, Wealth as Peril and Obligation, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995), 132-133.
81. Glen H. Stassen and David P. Gushee, 415.
82. Sondra Ely Wheeler, 134.
83. Sondra Ely Wheeler, 134.
84. Thomas Schmidt, Hostility to Wealth in the Synoptic Gospels (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1987), 103-135.
85. Sondra Ely Wheeler, 134.
86. J. Leo Green: ‘The Place of Material Things in the Purpose of God and the life of man’ In Resources unlimited. Williams Hendricks (ed) Kentucky: Steward of Southern Baptist Convention, 1972), 72.
87. Redmond Mullin, The Wealth of Christians (Exeter: Patermoster Press Ltd, 1983), 16.
88. J. Leo Green, 68.
89. Akpenpuun Dzuragba, An Introduction to Sociology of Religion (Ibadan: John Archers, 2009), 31.
90. T. Parsons (Trans), Max Weber: The Protestant Ethics and Spirit of Capitalism (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1958), 79-92.
91. M. Horalambos (et al). Sociology: Themes and Perspectives (Sough: University Tutorial Press, 1980), 466.
92. Akpenpuun Dzuragba, 32.
93. Akpenpuun Dzuragba, 32.
94. Akpenpuun Dzuragba, 32
95. religion and social control.www.google.com/ur/?q=https://www.boundlesscom/…religion.
96. Erin Long Crowell, Religion and Social Change in Protestantism and Liberation Theology-video and Lesson Transcript/study.com
97. Akpenpuun Dzuragba, 27.
98. religion and social control.www.google.com/ur/?q=https://www.boundlesscom/…religion.
99. religion and social control.www.google.com/ur/?q=https://www.boundlesscom/…religion.
100. Sondra Ely Wheeler, 203.
101. Sondra Ely Wheeler, 203.
102. Sondra Ely Wheeler, 203 – 204.
103. Sondra Ely Wheeler, 204.
104. Sondra Ely Wheeler, 205.
105. Sondra Ely Wheeler, 205.
106. Sondra Ely Wheeler, 215.
107. Sondra Ely Wheeler, 215.
108. Sondra Ely Wheeler, 217.
109. Ronald Siders, Rich Christian in an Age of Hunger, (20th edition) (London: Hodder and Stoughton 1997), 263.
110. Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu, 235.
111. Chinua Achebe, The Trouble with Nigeria (Enugu: Fourth Dimension Publishing Company 1985), 27.
112. The Nation Newspaper, Tuesday, February 3, 2015, 2, 6, 57.
113. Crime and Corruption Magazine, Vol. 1 No. 1, July /August 2016, 30-37.
114. The Punch May 11, 2016, 17.
115. Craig L. Blomberg, 246.
116. A National Broadcast by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on Saturday January 7, 2012. Also, Sunday Tribune January 8, 2012, 55.
117. Kenneth E. Hagins, The Midas Touch: A Balanced Approach to Biblical Prosperity (Tulsa: Faith Library Publications, 2000), 1.
118. M.O. Oyetade, ‘Sound Health in 3John 2 and its Implications for the 21st Century Pastor in Nigeria’ A Paper presented at the Second International Conference organized by the Faculty of Arts, Benue State University, Makurdi, Nigeria. July 21 -24, 2014.
119. M.O. Oyetade, Sound Health in 3 John 2.
120. M.O. Oyetade, Sound Health in 3 John 2.
2.0 BIBLICAL TEACHINGS ON WEALTH POSSESSION IN THE BIBLE
There are various views of scholars about wealth and economy which has its root in the ancient economic system. Some recognized the fact that the Bible is still relevant in today’s economic world,1 while some hold the view that care must be taken in applying its general principles of economic life to contemporary times.2 It is assumed that biblical commands relating to economic life would be a bit difficult, because the system to which these commands were addressed no longer exist. Rather, general principles in the scriptures on economic life is applicable to different situations should be used.
Some commands are applicable in the past and contemporary society and do not change the application of the text. Though admittedly, there are different situations in the past and present, but the scripture is applicable to any economic life and system at all times. II Timothy 3:16-17 testifies to this – ‘All scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work’. This means that, there is no time the Bible principles are not relevant when applied.
The origin of the materialist world emerged from the book of Genesis Chapter 1, which is the creation account. The fact remains that the blessing and abundance of the garden were created for Adam and Eve to enjoy. The blessings and abundant life provided by God was the beginning of materialism and corruption in the world according to Hellenistic thought.3 The truth is that the power given to man to dominate his environment does not warrant exploitation, but rather, responsibility to take care of what is committed into his hands.4 The evidence of corruption that came into the world so quickly is seen in (Genesis 4), Cain’s murder of Abel, and the destruction of human race in the flood (Genesis 6-8). However, this was not the intention of God for man.
The punishment man received as the result of sin made work more difficult for man, and in an attempt to work harder, he began to acquire, exploit, hoard and also became conscious of possession. It must be noted that, God does not promise that hard work will automatically bring material blessing but emphasized on obedience to Torah and the covenantal frame work that the vast majority of Old Testament promises of prosperity will be viewed.5
God fulfilled his promises to the people of Israel by giving them the land of Canaan with its abundant natural resources, (Numbers 14:8; Deuteronomy 6:3; 8:18). He also gave a pattern in which the land should be distributed to each family and clan, according to their sizes (Numbers 26:52-56). On this note, the history of Israel of ownership of property has a sociological law codes safe-guarding property in order not to oppress the poor or as a means to acquire more than necessary.6
Israelites attached great importance to land especially where their ancestors were buried, for example, Abraham wanted to own the land where his wife was buried, Joseph demanded that his body be interred with his ancestors, likewise his father Jacob gave the same instruction.7 Unlike neighbouring cultures, Israel’s law tended to place a higher propriety on people than on property or social class.8
Land – its possession went beyond economic issue, unlike the Roman tradition and jurisprudence, there was no absolute property right, although the land was sacred not because of the sepulchers of the patriarchs but because it was God’s property even after sharing among the Israelites.9 Therefore, there was no room for the misuse of property, land, animals or slaves.10 On this, Wright opines:
The economic system was geared institutionally and in principle towards the preservation of a broadly based equality and self-sufficiency of families on the land, and to the protection of the weakest, the poorest and the threatened and not to the interests of a wealthy, land owning elite minority.11
Because the land belongs to God, He has right to the produce for himself through the payment of tithes and other similar duties, and indirectly by making available to the needy. The Old Testament emphasized its interest in the predicament of the less privileged, such as the poor, widows, fatherless, oppressed, etc and the duty of the affluence towards them.12 In fact, the poor are mentioned more than three hundred times in the Bible.13 Moses received specific instructions as they inherit the Promised Land. For example, the opulent must be openhanded towards the poor and the needy. Directive given concerning annual harvest was such as to make provisions for the poor as some produce should not be harvested so that people in need could gather the extra for themselves. Whatever the poor did not take was to be left for the wild animals.
For six years, you are to sow your fields and harvest the crop but during the seventh year let the land lie unploughed and unused, then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what they left. Do the same with your vineyard and the olive grove. Leviticus 25:1-7; Exodus. 23:10.
Gerstenberger suggests that the reason behind this law and rest was to reduce accumulation of wealth for a long period, also to rely on God for provisions. Again, this was on avenue to remind the people of the years of slavery in Egypt, 14 and encouragement to make them support the poor among them willingly.
This commandment became controversial and raised a lot of questions that the entire Talmud was set apart to expatiate more on its scope and application. The Talmud has it that the amount of what will be left on the farm would depend on the size of the field, the number of the poor in the community and the size of the crop, but should not be less than one-sixth of the entire crop.15 The Talmud went further to say that, when a crop requires special equipment or expertise for harvesting, the owner would be responsible for harvesting and then distribute it to the poor.
The Rabbis were very careful about this law because they knew the heart of God concerning the poor. On the issue of whether a rich traveler on a journey could take produce from a field or orchard and eat, especially if the field had been harvested before, meaning that, what would be left on the field would not be much.16 Some argued that the traveler, at that time in need of food was poor and could take from the gleanings. Others maintained that the rich traveler was not poor even at that point, he would only be cheating or depriving the poor of what belong to them, therefore restitution must be made to the poor.17 These and many other debates raised were to safeguard the rights of the poor, with the understanding that the poor do has rights, rights that limit the power and authority of those who own the land.18
The issue of tithe was given a prompt attention. The Old Testament tithing system demonstrates the concern and support for the poor on the third and sixth years of each seven year cycle. In all, there were three tithes in the final Rabbinic system; one tithe was given to the Levite for maintenance of the temple cultus.19 ‘I give to the Levite all the tithe in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the tent of meeting’. A second tithe was consumed by the worshipper and his family in a celebration at the temple or other chosen place.20
Be sure to set aside a tent of all that your field produces each year. Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and oil, and the first bone of your herds and flock in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his name, so that you may learn to reverence the Lord your God always. (Deuteronomy 14:22-23).
The third tithe, given in the third and sixth year of the Sabbatical cycle, was for charity. It was stocked in the towns for aliens, travelers, fatherless and widows.21
At the end of every three years, bring all the tithe of that years produced and store it in your towns. So that the Levite (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfy, and so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the works of your hands (Deuteronomy 14:26-29).
The presentation of tithe before God must be given with an oath thus: ‘I have removed from my house the sacred portion. I have given it to the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widows…
Instructions were given to the Israelites in the Old Testament to keep the Sabbath, Sabbatical year and the Jubilee. The Sabbath is the resting day for the Israelites when no work is done. The Sabbath started from the day of creation. God rested on the seventh day of creation so also his people must take a rest at the end of each week (Exodus 20:8-11). The origin of the Sabbath according to Blomberg was not certain, but may be linked with the seventh year from each individual’s first seven year of cultivation,23 that is the land was to be fallow for one year in seven years (Leviticus 25:1-17).
In the legislation in Leviticus, the years are to be organized nationwide. It also remained the provision of God in the wilderness.
I will send you such a blessing in the sixth year that the land will yield enough for three years. While you plant during the eight year, you will eat from the Old crop and will continue to eat from it until the harvest of the ninth year comes in. Leviticus 25:21-22
This was another way of God telling his people to put their trust in him and not to hoard or accumulate wealth. Apart from resting and reducing accumulation for material wealth, it offered some other opportunities. All Israelites who sold themselves or was sold into slavery by poor parents or relations must be set free without paying a price, debt must be pardoned; loans granted to fellow Israelites must not be with interest (Leviticus 25:35-36; Exodus 22:25). Ballard supported the idea of non interest on loans, believing that usury is a sin.24 Blomberg opposed him in the sense that, he failed to realize the shift from the Old Testament agrarian world to globally interconnected, capitalist context. A poor man’s clothes taken as a pledge or collateral for a loan must be returned to him before night fall. A wealthy lender could not refuse to make a loan to a poor person simply because it was too close to the seventh year of debt cancellation. If a wealthy man or an individual hired a poor person for a job, the employer is to pay the wages on a daily basis so that the worker could buy for himself and his family what to eat (Deuteronomy 24:1-15, 15:7-11) in verse four of the same book, the Bible reads:
However, there should be no poor among you, for in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you.
Verse five reveals that the blessings mentioned by God was dependent on their obedience, while we have in verse seven that there could be poverty in the Lord.
‘If there are poor among your people in any of the towns of the land that the Lord your God in giving you…’
And because the children of Israel were not the obedient type, verse eleven declares that there would be poverty in the land. Israel’s prosperity depended on covenant and loyalty to God. And if they are faithful they would prosper in all that they do.25
The celebration of Jubilee year is shrouded in obscurity according to Hartley.26 Jubilee takes place once in every fifty years or after seven periods of seven years each. This was a time when all land are returned back to original owners, debts were cancelled, Israelites slaves were to be set free.27 Property were returned to impoverished family members in other to give them the opportunity to make a living (Leviticus 25:47-55). During this period, each person of family had a second chance of once-in-a-lifetime to start a fresh again, no matter how irresponsible they had handled their finances or how far into debt then had fallen. Blomberg added that, freedoms given in each sabbatical year seem to render the Jubilee legislation unnecessary.28
It is confusing whether the fiftieth year that was to be consecrated was the same year as the seventh sabbatical year in a sequence of forty-nine years, counted inclusively or was part29 or all of a second consecutive sabbatical year. Blomberg concluded that, it was not clear if Jubilee was ever implemented and of course there might not be need for it from our calculation of seven in seven places of sabbatical years that gives us forty-nine years. This makes no difference, for the will of God in the Old Testament times remain the same.
Jubilee by no means supports the people that no one has anything to his name for property belongs to God. Wenham emphasized that the Jubilee principles oppose ‘the monopolistic tendencies of unbridled capitalization and thorough-going communism.’30 North says ‘Where communism decrees ”none shall have property” the Leviticus also decrees, “none shall lose property,” but both are against unhealthy latifundism.’32
There are other laws concerned with justice for the poor that shows God’s concern for them. Justice was to be fair and handled equally. That is, neither rich nor poor was to receive favor or special treatment in the court of law. (Exodus 23:2-3, Deuteronomy 1:17, Proverbs 31:9) Foreigners or alien must not be maltreated. (Exodus 22:21; 23:9) Daily payment of wages for the poor workers was required and the poor were not allowed to make less expensive offerings (Leviticus 55:7, 11; 27:8). God determined to protect the poor and the disadvantage from being misused by the wealthy.
Apart from giving Israel laws, God’s intention was for them to be an example to the surrounding nations (Deuteronomy 4:5-8) whereby these principles should find some application in all cultures.33 Christopher Wright summarized the major thrusts of the Law given to Israel as follows: There was to be shared access to the land and the use of its resources by the distribution to family clan and tribe, all able-bodied Israelites had the right and responsibility to be productive workers, economic growth and material goods were both validated and put under constraint and critique and justice to be used and distribution of the products of the activity of God’s people.34
It is believed by some people that these principles are not practicable today, because these laws were written to a people whose occupation was purely agriculture, unlike today when not many people are interested in family. With today’s economic system, property and other valuables can be monetized to allow the needy purchase what they want.
The pursuit of wealth as found in the Bible seems cloudy with potential problems, a more reason why those who possessed wealth were viewed with moral and spiritual skepticism.35 The ancient economic system was based on agriculture with limited commerce and trade. Scott arrayed that the real estate was predominant productive asset.36 He described the ancient economy as “zero sum game”37 in his analogy, the economic resource was relatively fixed, those who are rich, became rich at the expense of other people. It is like a pie, a larger piece is taken by the most influential leaving others with small piece of nothing. 38 This is a great opportunity for many to acquire wealth wrongly through theft, taxation or extortion.
One of such wrong acquisitions was found among those who give out loans to the poor with a high interest rate making it difficult for them to pay back. If the lenders could not pay back, he becomes enslaved, as in the story of the widow’s oil in II Kings 4. The creditor intended to take her two boys as slaves because the husband could not pay his debts before he died. The idea of taking advantage of the poor was common in the ancient world, more reason the Bible frequently condemns exploitation of the poor. Another striking example was Ahab in I Kings 21:1-16. Ahab wanted to forcefully take over the ancestral land of Naboth. Naboth was killed when he refused to give out his vineyard, violating the law of Leviticus 25 on ancestral lands remaining within families.39
The Poetry and wisdom in the literature highlights God’s concern for the poor. The books are Job, Song of Songs, Psalms and Ecclesiastes. Job for example, gave a graphic description of the oppression and exploitation which the poor experienced in his days.40 Job showed exemplary concern for the poor, as seen in (Job 29:12-16). He rescued the poor, fatherless, widowed, blind, lame, needy and stranger. In verse 19 he said, ‘I broke the fangs of the wicked and snatched the victims from their teeth’. His statement depicts his opposition to the wicked at all cost.41 Job searched his life in his plight if he had ever failed to assist the poor and demanded for the severe judgment of God in Job 31: 24-28.
If I have put my trust in gold or said to pure gold, ‘You are my security, if I have rejoiced over my great wealth, the fortune my hands had gained…so that my heart was secretly enticed…then these also would be sins to be judged, for I would have been unfaithful to God on high.
In all that Job passed through according to Alden, Job maintained his innocence, tenderness, generosity, service, justice or bravery42 a type of life every Christian should desire to live. The life of Job explains to all who claimed that wealth is a sign of good gifts from God especially to those who love God. If God could allow the devil to destroy the wealth of Job, then wealth is not worth craving for. Another lesson to be learnt here is that man must be generous with his wealth; it must be shared with the poor and the needy. Job backs up the emptiness of life with his statement in Job 1:21.
Naked I come from my mother’s womb and naked I shall depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.
From the above passage, Clines observed that the idea of wealth as a reward for piety stands in tension with that of death as the great leveler of persons.43 Job himself saw a ‘boundary situation’ from which life can be measured and not fatalism or despair.44
The book of Psalms, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes contain strong and controversial saying. It is noticed that they have also held on to the Deuteronomic prosperity gospel based on industry and faithfulness that command blessings, including material well-being (Psalm 112:128; Proverbs 12:11; 13:21; 21:5). They were also aware that most times, the poor and the needy never come out of poverty while evil men flourished (Psalm 37:16-17; Proverbs 15:16-17; 16:8).45 There were various texts that frown at the wealthy about the transience of earthly riches, the book of Ecclesiastes contributes to this. Comparing Psalm 39:4-7 and Proverbs 23:4-5, the outcome or lesson to be learnt is that, man must trust his maker and not in the amount of wealth he possesses or he wished to have (Psalm 52:7, Proverbs 3:9-10).
God champions the cause of the poor, thirty three times the poor is mentioned in the Psalms.46 The poor receives special favour from God (Psalms 9:18; 68:5-6; 113:7-9). Many Psalms are law in outlook because of their emphasis on social justice.
Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
According to Gillingham,47 Psalms 90:17; 86:1; 109:22, reveals that there is a periodic equation between materially poor and the pious person, he opines that:
That the Psalmists were deeply convinced that God was concerned not only about the alleviation of all aspects of material deprivation, but also for the relief of the deep religious needs which the vicissitudes of life presented. They saw quite clearly that physical and spiritual well-being before God were two sides of the same coin’.
For example, Psalm 9-10 illustrates how God has exalted the poor and the oppressed who trust in him.48 But there are times in David’s life when he was poor also. Psalm 37:25 reads ‘I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread’ if this is true then David a man after God’s heart should never be poor. In Psalm 73, David complained his feet almost slipped…when he saw the prosperity of the wicked and as they increase in wealth. David had peace when he understood the final destiny of the wicked and this is what many people have experienced of which the Psalmist called injustice. This could actually be a serious problem in terms of what prosperity means if care is not taken.
It must not be forgotten that whether a man is rich or poor it makes no difference for he is the Lord of all. Also, God is on the side of the poor and the oppressed. (Psalm 147:7) gives more understanding when he says:
He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, and the Lord lifts up.
Ecclesiastes stresses the vanity of trusting in accumulation of wealth. (Ecclesiastes 5: 8-17; 6:1-12). The book encourages man to fear God and keep his commandments thereby, relativizing whatever temporary happiness derived from material possessions, while it also teaches that it is acceptable or right to enjoy God’s gifts as long as they are committed to God’s work. Ecclesiastes describes wisdom and wealth as an ideal life (7:11-12) while (11:1-6) enjoins diversification of investments.50 Why Bray refers to this verse as the risk involved in sea-trade and not a call to charity. In a nutshell, this book enjoins us to enjoy material world and it is also possible to enjoy creation without worshipping it. The book in general, accepts man to have comfort and enjoy the good things of life as long as it within the context of serving God. The book of Proverbs is one of the Old Testament books that have a lot to teach on material possessions. The book contains moral rules or strong beliefs that are regarded as true but regarded by some people as not valid in all circumstance. This book highlights a number of ways to have possessions or wealth and how to keep them. A method based on humility and a righteous living. We shall look at a few of them.
Good people leave an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous (Proverbs 13:22)
Verse 25 says:
The righteous eat to their heart’s content, but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry.
In these two Proverbs, good and the righteous have satisfaction and left over, while the wicked have nothing but suffering. Proverbs 29:7 says the righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern. This verse emphasis the need to judge the poor with justice and fairness which shows again that God remembers them.
Honour the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops, then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats with brim over with new wine. Proverbs 3: 9 -10.
Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, come back later; I’II give it tomorrow’ when you now have it with you. Proverbs 3:37-38.
The righteous is expected to give, not just giving but generously to both the Lord and the needy out of what he has. A rule goes with what we have in Proverbs 3:27-28, giving should be done at the appropriate time and not to be postponed. Proverbs 30:8-9 looks different from other passages on wealth possession, when he writes:
…give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only daily bread. Otherwise I may have too much and disown you and say, who is the Lord? Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.
It is obvious that the author’s socio-economic standing according to Whybray differs from all the rest in the canonical collection. Although not greedy but have a clear understanding of wealth and destitute is; literally, we may suggest that the writer is not greedy, and does not want to be poor. We agree with Chutter that it is not easy to put the teachings on material possessions in the book of Proverbs ruling because of its different prerequisities.51 What is generally accepted is that the book disagrees with extremity, either of poverty or wealth. In the other hand there is room for wise accumulation and disbursement52 of wealth if used for God. The balance of the reflections of the wise or the correct thinking of the wise is summed up in Proverbs 30: 7-9. The writer understood the problem that could arise from extreme poverty and extreme wealth, a situation that can turn a man’s heart from God. No wonder, the Psalmist prayed that he should not disown God is he had too much or dishonor his name in the face of abject poverty.
Donald Gowan has no problem with anyone becoming rich because he assumed that there will always be some who will possess relatively more possessions. To him, there is no scandal in wealth because it is a gift from God. In a situation whereby those who have enough would deprive those who have little is what bothers him.53 Aitken’s comment is a relief to anyone who cares to change. His suggestion on contentment could be a solution to the problem of wealth. He said that if individuals and nations were contended, two-thirds of the world will not be living in poverty.54 Injustice, greed, vices and unfair distribution of wealth will disappear.
The prophets of the Eight Century spoke a lot on the failure to keep the social and economic law in their days. These messages dwelt on the accumulation of wealth by the rich, oppression of the poor, failure to help them, and the perversion of justice. Accumulation of land and property received great condemnation from the prophets. For example in Isaiah 5:8:
Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field till no space is left and you live alone in the land.
Micah 2:1-2 reads:
Woe to those who plan iniquity to those who plot evil on their beds… They covet fields and seize them, and houses and take them. They defraud a man of his home a fellow-man of his inheritance.
Amos 6:4-7 tells us how the rich live in luxury forgetting the poor in the land.
You strum away on your harps like David and improvise on musical instruments you drink wine by the bowlful and use the finest lotions but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph…
Isaiah suggested to the people what is expected of them in Isaiah 58:7. To share their food with the hungry, provide for the poor; give shelter and cloth the needy. Also Isaiah 3:14-15. God spoke against the princes or rulers who were also referred to as elders and leaders for destroying instead of preserving and for violently taking away the goods of the poor from them. God promised to call them to a strict account for the wealth and power used and abused by them.
Amos in his time also condemned the practices of the rich against the poor such as using false weights and measures and denying justice to the poor. Isaiah also gave this pronouncement:
Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. Isaiah 10:1-2.
Jeremiah was not left out in giving warning to the people when he called on the Kings of Judah to be fair in their judgment to the poor and the needy.
Donald noticed the features of economic development through the growth of larger towns and cities such as Samaria and Jerusalem as another way of exploitation.55 1Chronicles 4:21, 23 referred to them as families of linen workers and potters. These people did not own any land but their means of livelihood was through sales of products in the markets. Coupled with this was the international trade which was a monopoly of the king during Solomon’s reign (1 Kings 9:26-28), no mere person could engage in such trade. Bible made mention of cities like Phoenia, Tyre. The prosperity of Tyre led to false pride security. Donald went further that her pursuit of wealth became her god. This idolatry was equally judged.
The growth of these cities, especially during the reign of Solomon led to unfaithfulness to the laws and the use of forced labour. Apart from building cities as recorded in II Chronicles 8, these cities were named after foreign gods. The consequence of Solomon’s action was his reliance on foreign alliance, his interest in pagan religious practices especially from his foreign wives. In a nut shell, the Prophets in their regime were known for bold condemnation of the sins in their days, such as on ethical issues and material possessions.
It was made clear that Old Testament economy, material blessings for example was not an end in itself. Resources were to be shared with nations and the needy and should be distributed fairly. As a result of this, possession of wealth whether in humble or extravagant measure, these laws were hammered in the ears of the Israelites.
We are drawing our conclusion from Williamson’s summary on the teaching of the Old Testament and material world. We must recognize that the land and its produce are good. It is dangerous when these produce are used for personal gain and not to help those in trouble. Also, land belongs to God, and he has given it to man so that we can all benefit from it. It must mot remain the hands of a few people. The principle of generosity and compassion with one’s material blessings56 should be imbibed by everyone and be implemented in the society. This reduces poverty among the people to the barest minimum.
2.2 THE JEWISH PERSPECTIVE OF WEALTH AND POVERTY
During the inter-testamental period, there were Jewish literatures that emerged such as, the Apocrypha that contained some books, a handful of the Hebrew Scriptures that were not canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. The Pseudepigrapha, these are Jewish literature written in the name of the Old Testament heroes that were also not canonized, and the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered by the Pre-Christians.57 Examining these literatures in relation to our focus, both the Apocrypha and Pseudegrapha believe that wealth and possessions are good stressing that as God’s people are blessed, they must reach out to the poor and the needy. There is an example of Abraham’s generosity from in Genesis (13:6; 11:22-25, 21:12), Asemeth, Joseph’s wife exhibited this generosity with her costly clothing and jewelries.
Blomberg quoting from Pseudo-Phocylides 109 says “when you are rich, do not be sparing; remember that you are mortal.’ Recording from Sirach 13:24 as quoted by Hollander says ‘riches can be good’ if they are free from sin59 while 31:1-11 says wealth can be a testing device, create anxiety and ruin for those who wrongly pursue it. Also, in Sirach 44:6, the same idea is repeated:
‘Rich men furnished with resources, living peaceably in their habitation.’
In addition to the above, almsgiving is given high prominence in the Jewish community it is regarded as a virtue and always a means of atonement.60 The Tobit therefore encourages almsgiving in proportion to what one has; the poor in this regard is not exempted from giving. A section of the Sirach read thus:
…It is better to give than to treasure up gold. For almsgiving delivers from death, and it will purge away every sin. Those who perform deeds of charity and of righteousness will have fullness of life. Sirach 3:30, Tobit 12:5-9.
The wisdom of literature and the Old Testament addressed the same issue when both examined the corruption and wickedness of the rich emphasizing the stupidity of setting one’s mind on wealth61 but instead it must be understood that wealth comes from God.
People who labored to accumulate wealth in the correct way should also not put their hearts in their wealth waiting for a time to enjoy them because death could come unexpectedly leaving their goods to other people just like the rich fool (Luke 12:15-21) the Sibylline Oracles 3:235, Testament of Judah 19:1, 1Tim. 6:10, these three scriptures warn against the love of money that leads to idolatry while Sirach 18:37 and 37:29 warned not only the love of money but the danger of excessive luxury.
Other warnings that served as guide in the wisdom literature during the inter-testamental period were: exercising care in situations of lending and surety as recorded in Sirach 8:12-13; 16:33; 29:1-20), the value placed on work and industry. The spirit of moderation in all things was the acceptable doctrine.62
Judith Hill in his paper summed up the prosperity in the Jewish culture in two developments. He viewed the first sect of Jews who lived together in sectarian communities as those who had all things in common and no one lay claim to anything. The second group of Jews was those of the Qumran community whose understanding was to share prosperity in all egalitarian manners among the members. Apart from this, everyone was to work in the agricultural set-up like they had in other to be of help to the entire community. In this case, material prosperity was not paramount as such to this Jewish sect but their emphasis was to develop piety.63
The Jews of that time in his conclusion believed that prosperity equals temptation which could become an idol in a man’s heart; therefore, it was better to acquire wisdom instead of prosperity so that one would not be enslaved to wealth. He cited the following scriptures to buttress his point. Testament of Judah 19:1 “My children, the love of money leadeth to idolatry; because when led astray through money, man name as gods those who are not gods, and it causeth him who hath it to fall into madness” Wisdom of Solomon 8:5 “If riches are a desirable possession in life, what is richer than wisdom who effects all things’ Sirach 31: 1-2, 5-7 “Wakefulness over wealth wastes away one’s flesh, and anxiety prevents slumber, and a severe illness carries off sleep…” “He who loves gold will not be justified and he who pursues money will be led astray by it. Many have come to ruin because of gold, and their destruction has met them face to face. It is a stumbling block to those who are devoted to it, and every fool will be taken captive by it”
THE DEAD SEA SCROLL
Still on the Jewish perspective on Wealth and Poverty, a Jewish sect known as the Essene who lived a monastic life, at the shore of the Dead Sea at the site called Qumran will be examined. The Essene practiced communal method of wealth in which each person releases what belongs to him instalmentally to a common purse of the entire community.64 The property submitted undergoes a one year scrutiny before it is finally accepted for admission and which would be handed over to the ‘Inspector of the belongings of the Many’. The one who brings his belongings is referred to as the ‘Initiate’. The Initiate could not be part of this community in full, not until after the second year when his belonging is accepted and put into the community treasury.
One of the reasons why goods are kept aside for that long could be to know the true owner of the property. It is for this reason any found not to be faithful to what he has submitted was exempted from the pure food of the ‘Many’ for a period of twelve months.66 This community were a set of serious minded people who would not allow mis-management of the community possessions. The Essenes frown at killing because of riches. They also have the conviction that the priest and the temple in Israel are corrupt. Ill-gotten gain in the Dead Sea Scroll is referred to as ‘Wicked Wealth’ which appeared more often in the Scroll than the Apocrypha.67 Therefore, to refrain from corrupt practices, the poor, the widow and orphans must be treated well. The Qumran community was prosperous according to Farmer68 and the communal sharing did not in any way impoverish the members.69 The Qumran community takes bribe and injustice seriously, anyone found guilty of it was executed.
The Dead Sea literature scrolls explain the beliefs and what the Qumran is all about. For example, there is the Weir scroll that equates the anointed, the poor and those that were saved and at the same time see the poor in the spirit and the frail equivalent. In the Hymn scrolls is the beatitude blessing the poor, the men of truth… who love compassion, the poor in spirit, those refined by poverty and those purified by ordeal…. In the scroll is commentary and interpretation of the Torah in relation to economic matters, law on taxes, first fruits and tithing. The Temple Scroll has among other things, the Deuteronomistic theology of blessing for faithfulness with the prophetic theme of social justice, ‘pursue justice exclusively so that you can live and enter and take possession of the land which I give you as an inheritance for ever’.70
Enigmatic Copper is another scroll that gives direction on how to recover hoarded goods such as gold, silver and other valuable artifacts buried in the Valley of the desert outside the Qumran settlement. Unfortunately, none of the artifacts believed to be buried had been found according to Blomberg who suggested this scroll could be given a literary interpretation.71
Another interesting thing worthy of mentioning was the collection for the poor in the Synagogues. The needy were attended to either daily or weekly according to their needs, clothing and food were distributed, this was to discourage door to door begging among the people. In addition to this generosity, part of the money in the treasury in Jerusalem was used for welfare.73
THE GRECO-ROMAN VIEW OF WEALTH
In the Greco-Roman context in Mediterranean world, Judith Hill admits that, the basic economic concept was described by socio-cultural anthropologists as that of a ‘limited goods society.’74 She went further to say that in the entire world, there was a fixed quantity of goods or wealth that would not increase or decrease, while the pattern of life was that if a person become richer, another one must automatically become poorer in other to maintain the name among the wealthy in the world.75 For the society to move forward, someone must become poor. The whole idea was that the riches needed were present in the world, controlled by some group of people.76 This type of economy is more or less a capitalist system where the resources are left in the hands of a few power people. The Greeks saw poverty as an ‘unadulterated evil, shame and disgrace’, and the victims were blamed for their misfortune.
There was lack of organized welfare system in the Roman Empire, although the government took it upon herself to give relief support to the people in times of natural disasters.77 Nevertheless, the wealthy among the people served as patrons of the poor, who were referred to as clients, and the unemployed in their community. The relationship between the poor who are the clients is what Blomberg called ‘tit for tat’,78 that is, favours are returned. The wealthy gave or attended to the needs of the poor, while the clients engaged in odd jobs as they also give their patrons public acclamation to bring them honour and esteem. In this system, those who are rich are more honoured among their counterparts.79 The benefit given by the wealthy made them to evade Roman taxes in the early post-Christian times.
Economic issues to different Greece and common philosophers and political theorists vary. Plato believed in equality especially among the wealthy, and concluded penury and excessive wealth corrupted the state. While those who are poor engage in crimes and excessive wealth amount to luxury.80 Other causes of crime in the society are poverty and idleness as viewed by Plato. To reduce the rate of crime in any society, everyone must be gainfully employed. Aristotle believed in private property and was against communalism, Stoics on the other hand, supported self-sufficiency and accepting in totality any situation that is beyond man’s control. Cicero also came up with idea of helping the needy but not to bear bitterness and pain for others bur bring relief to the people when necessary.81
The Epicureans slogan ‘Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you may die’ was almost the opposite of Stoics idea. The slogan that was misinterpreted was due to Epicurus health that was at stake. He cultivated a life style that would take away pains such as, having pleasure, having friends and engaged in cultural activities.82 The cynics lived a more simple lifestyle, they relied on begging while to them a worldly goods has a virtue, a lifestyle that was traced to the time of Jesus as they wander from one town to the other.
Duncan Jones made us to understand that another life style sprang up with lavish spending. For example, banquets for the well to do, sustaining a large army, remunerating urban employees, caring for the imperial household, gifts and monies for public works and foreign subsidies and debts. All these started in the days of Augusto.83 It is unfortunate that the Roman government revenue was not from taxes or agricultural produce as reported by Jones, charges were made flat or in percentages, so that the rich never made the same sacrifice as the poor.84
2.3 BIBLICAL EXAMPLES OF WEALTH POSSESSION IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
2.3.1. THE PATRIARCHS
The call of Abraham was accompanied with a promise. Green summarized the promise thus: the gift of a land, significance nationhood, a great name and numerous posterity, divine protection and a high mission in human history.85 Abraham was loaded with wealth and riches. The Patriarchal property included silver and gold apart from flocks. These riches were mentioned repeatedly in (Genesis 20:14-18; 30:43; 47:27).
There is the need to understand the patriarchs’ wealth within the covenantal context: that is, the wealth is tied directly to God’s plan to give a special land to his people.86 The riches of the patriarchs was not questioned because it was directly from God. If he chose to bless the patriarchs, he could as well bless anybody including the members of the Living Faith Church, which is the focus of this study. The Bible talks about the act of giving of the patriarchs which could possibly be the source of the reward for their giving.
The Living Faith Church emphasizes giving and sowing of seeds as a condition for receiving which had its origin in the Old Testament. For instance, Abraham allowed Lot to have the best part of the field, this is an act that was recognized by most commentators as setting a model for his descendants to imitate. He paid his tithe to Melchizedek (Genesis 14:20). He refused gifts from the King of Sodom, (Genesis 14:23) neither did he enrich himself at the expense of others.
Hamiton’s assumption on Abraham’s tithe to Melchizedek says it could possibly be a gift and not a tithe.88 This was because the Israelites had not been instructed to pay theirs at that time. His subsequent refusal of gifts follows royal etiquette closely paralleled at Ugorit.89 Isaac inherited all that Abraham had except portions given to other sons sent into the Eastern countries away from Isaac. He was assumed to be a successful farmer with great possessions of flocks, herds and many servants.
And Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac. But while he was still living…he continued to add to his wealth all his days. And was considered richer and greater in power than the king of Philistine (Genesis 25:5-6).
Jacob although crafty, was wealthy in Haran. He was enriched through the wealth of Abraham, Isaac and their servants. He gave Esau livestock when he met him, what he had given Esau was nothing compared to what he had. Jacob worked for fourteen years to marry his wives. However, Jacob was generous with that he had acquired (Genesis 33:11) ‘Please accept the present that was brought to you, for God had been gracious to me and I have all I need’.
Joseph rose to power in Egypt when he came back from prison even though guiltless. His distribution efforts at the time of famine showed one early fulfilment of God’s promise that his people would be a blessing to many nations.90 God has always wanted his people to be free from poverty, weakness and sickness but live in abundance and enjoy good things, which all depend on their level of obedience.
Solomon was another man greatly blessed. He did not seek wealth when God offered it to him. He was a man of great wisdom, wealth and power, the third king under the monarchy. He controlled the entire region West of Euphrates and had peace on his borders. Solomon intimate fellowship with God was seen in his choice and knowledge, when God appeared to him in his dream. If God saw being wealthy as sinful, he would not have lavished wealth on him. This reminds us of the teaching of Jesus. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you (Matthew 6:33). Solomon’s reign was a time of unparalleled wealth and greatness for Israel. The wealth gathered by Solomon created the oppressor class. The nation was wealthy but many people live in poverty. Although, we can never retreat from dependence on God, our strengths of character or personality are at the same time our points of vulnerability.
Asaju was of the view that, Solomon could not maintain a balance between his spirituality and wealth, and that occasionally he indulged in the worship of idols and cults of his numerous wives and concubines. Solomon’s wealth as people assumed was not his major problem. He failed because he married women from among those nations God specifically warned him to avoid. God forbid inter-marriage with the Moabites, Ammorites, Edomite, Sidonians and Hittite (1 Kings 11:1).
2.4 BIBLICAL TEACHINGS OF WEALTH POSSESSION IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
From the book of Matthew to Revelation, the New Testament writers spoke about the importance and the need for immediate attention on wealth possession in the New Testament. It teaches that accumulation of wealth is antithetical to serving God’s kingdom; no wonder Jesus’ disciples were encouraged to share what they had with others and follow him without looking back.92 The book of Matthew reveals that the disciples were taught to put away anxiety on what to eat and drink but to seek first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:25-34). Prayer was to be their main focus for provision and sustenance (Matthew 6:11-12; 18:23-35).
The disciples that were on a mission to Israel were warned not to go with money and to receive no payment in return. Matthew’s teaching in general demands using one’s resources to help those in need. The importance of sharing material was mandatory for the community, an act practiced in the early community in the book of the Acts of the Apostles. Paul encouraged the churches to give to the poor saints in Jerusalem, pleading with them that there should be a ‘fair’ balance between the rich and those who are poor, explaining to them that this attitude of sharing is in accordance with Christ example of ‘self emptying’ which does not allow individual have his or her own interest alone but the interest of others. (Philippians 2:4).94
Paul went further by warning Timothy in 1Timothy 6:5; 9-11, that those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many and senseless and harmful desires that plunge people in ruin and destruction….The pursuit of wealth is a dangerous path for Christians. The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil because some people eager for money have wandered from faith and pierced themselves with many grieves (v. 10) If riches were a reasonable goal for the godly, Jesus would have pursued it. But He did not, instead preferring not to have a place to lay his head (Matthew 8:20), he also taught his disciples to do the same. Judas was the only one who followed after riches and lost his soul. This, however, does not condemn those who are rich but reminds them to be mindful of covetousness which is idolatry (Ephesians 5:5) just as warned by Paul.
The Bible warns in (1Timothy 3:3) that believers must live a life free of the love of money (Hebrews 13:5). The love of money, the scripture says leads to all kinds of evil (1Timothy 6:10). And that is why Jesus gave this warning ‘Watch out, be on your guard against all kinds of greed, a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions (Luke 12:15).
In sharp contrast to the ‘Word of Faith’ that emphasize wealth and possessions in this life, Jesus said, man should not stock up for himself treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal (Matthew 6:19). The irreconcilable contradictions between prosperity teaching and the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is best summed up in the words of Jesus in (Matthew 6:24) that says, you cannot serve both God and mammon.
In the book of Revelation, the church at Smyrna lived in abject poverty (Revelation 2:9) while the Church of Laodicea rejoiced in her wealth. The church at Laodicea was condemned and regard as wretched, pitiable, poor and blind, why the Church at Smyrna was consoled. Economic power and prosperity are consistently associated in the prophetic book with the power of the Beast that tries to delude the saints. Also, in Revelation Chapter 18, the Bible made it clear that ‘the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn because the suffering and misery caused by Babylon (the world system), commerce and economy will collapse with punishment in proportion to the self-glorifying and self-indulgent lifestyle she formerly supported.
Also, the rich, powerful and corrupt enterprisers that rejected God and piled up wealth at the expense and injury of other will be stripped of their wealth and power in one dreadful day. Verse 9 says, ‘And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her…’ Meaning that all those whose main concern was money, luxury, power and selfish pleasure will weep and mourn for the ‘god’s of their lifestyle is destroyed. They would no longer profit in merchandise again because their riches would be taken away from them. In the book of James, there is a reward for the rich oppressors.
Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your
miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth eaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you and shall eat your flesh as it were fire- James 5:1-6.
There is a clear indication of God’s hatred for businesses and governments founded on greed and oppressive power. There is no place for individuals who pursue wealth, status and pleasure instead of the humble values of Jesus Christ. Those who live in selfish luxury and pleasure will eventually be brought down by God’s wrath, his justified anger, judgment and punishment, since they refused to be humbled by his judgment. One is likely to ask of what benefit is their years of wasted labour to acquire wealth?
In the New Testament, Richards equates giving out material possessions to the way of the cross, as we have in Luke 4: 25-33 where Jesus gave this order as one of the conditions of discipleship. To carry ones cross is to deny self, put away one’s selfish desires in order to follow Jesus and follow his purpose. Jesus simply told his disciples to give up all their possessions. This is similar to the idea in 1 John that commanded helping the brother and sister. In the passage ‘we know love by this, that he laid down his life for us and we ought to lay down our lives for one another…’ according to Richard ‘laying down our lives for one another’ he viewed in terms of economic sharing just as Paul grounds his economic appeal to the Corinthians in the self sacrificial example of Jesus (II Corinthians 8:9).
The biblical teachings in the New Testament generally urge Christians to be more concerned and compassionate about the needy and poor, giving priority to members of the household of faith. Basically, Jesus’ focus in his ministry was to the poor and the oppressed (Luke 4:18-19), the Samaritan who had extremely tense relations with the Jews (Luke 17: 11-19; John 4:42) the lepers, (Matthew 8:24), the widows (Luke 7:11-15, 20: 45-47) and others who were disadvantaged materially, financially, or socially. Jesus rebuked those who were in love with possessions and ignored the needy (Mark 10:17-25; Luke 6:24-25; Luke 12: 16-20; 16:13-15, 19-31). Jesus wants His followers to give generously to the poor. He demonstrated this by keeping a purse for the poor (John 12:5-6, 13-29).
For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that we should give something to the poor (John 13:29).
Jesus did not regard such giving as optional, he made it clear that whatever we do or refuse to do for the least we have done it for Him (Matthew 25:40). One of the ways to serve God is to show kindness to the poor and the needy, people who cannot repay our kindness. Jesus therefore encouraged His followers to have compassion towards others.
Holmes Rolston, points out three general ways of giving and sharing wealth with others – support of the church, provision for one’s family, and service to men in the world. In his explanation, he says that the first concern of the church is giving to support the ministry. When Jesus sent the disciples on their mission with only life bare necessities, he expected them to be supported by those to whom they ministered. ‘Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belt, take no bag for the journey or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff: for the worker is worth is keep’ (Matthew 10:9-10). Paul teaches that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living from the gospel (1Corinthians 9:14; 1Timothy 5:7).
The second teaching on giving made Rolston to submit that it is the concern of the church to give to the church members. The Jerusalem Church laid a precedent as a church established a community of goods, where many Christians sold their property and gave the proceeds to the Apostles for distribution to the needy (Acts of the Apostles 2:44ff; 4:3). On this note, Richard Foster says ‘if we take the biblical witness seriously, it seems that one of the best things we can do with money is to give it away. Therefore, it is not morally wrong to preach prosperity theology in other to increase the people’s faith and the giving of tithe and offering.
Thirdly, the concern of giving to the needy as in the Jerusalem relief offering (ICorinthians 8:9); the Living Faith Church has being helpful in giving relief package to those who were involved one disaster or the other. One of such contributions is seen in Winners’ Chapel at Osogbo where food items were distributed to alleviate the hardship of the people occasioned by the non-payment of salaries of workers in the State in 2015. The State Pastor, Pastor Olumuyiwa Emmanuel made a passionate appeal to members of the church to bring foodstuffs and money to assist members who are civil servants that were not paid for some months having noticed that the salary issue was affecting some members of the church. He decided to make a call to offer them succor. He pleads:
There are people among us who are civil servants and who have not been paid for seven months. These people need our help especially at this time. Whatever you have, bring them to the church from tomorrow. He must be our brother’s keepers. Don’t bring clothes; this is not the time for that. There are people who slept on empty stomach last night and we cannot pretend that we don’t know. Bring food stuffs and money; they will be distributed to those who need it next Sunday. We are going to reach out to them effectively and maximally because nobody must suffer in our midst.99
During the distribution of good items such as groundnut oil, rice, etc non members of the church including Muslims in hijabs and purdah were cited among the crowd, queuing for distribution of food by the officials of the church. Pastor Olumuyiwa maintained that the church has been blessed to be a blessing unto poor and the needy, irrespective of their religions. He stated that, the church is given to welfarism and that God does not bless people to be a container, but blesses people so that they can bless others.
The Pastor added that, rather than acquiring wealth, people should cultivate the habit of giving to the poor and in return, receive the blessings from God. One of the beneficiaries, Mariam Adeogun, in an interview with the Nigerian Tribune, expressed her gratitude to the church for their concern and support. She said that, if churches could get involved in such giving not minding their religious differences, it will save many people from hunger, sickness and sudden death.100
In Ilorin, Kwara State Capital, the Living Faith Church Youth cultivated a farm with the assistance of the church. According to Pastor Olaniyan who was the State Pastor then said, the project is embarked upon to empower the youths, teach them to be self-employed and shun laziness. Confidence and strength is imparted into the youths as this will help to increase control over their lives and situations. Ilorin community benefits from this project because the products are sold to both members of the church and outsiders. That provided job opportunities as many were employed to work on the farm. The implementation of various projects by the Living Faith Church in each state is based on discretion of the church.
The church is also found in building the body of Christ through her contributions to projects in Yorubaland, such as, building of schools which provide quality education for children in various communities. There is also creation of employment in these areas. In an interview with the General Overseer of the Living Faith, Bishop David Oyedepo, he said that giving out material things is not the real thing in bringing relief to any community.102 This will be discussed further in Chapter six of this work. Another dimension of wealth distribution in the New Testament is attending to the needs of the family. In the teaching of Jesus on caring for parents, He rebuked the Jews who avoided financial responsibility to the needy parents by declaring their wealth or giving as corban that is reserved or given to God. Taking care of parents is paramount to Bishop Oyedepo which was seen in his interview with the Punch Newspaper.
People give here because they are taught to give, because we understand the scripture… Every normal Winner member takes good care of his parents, by so doing the church is relieved of unnecessary welfare burden and this allowed the church to assist those who do not have other source of help.103
This act is supported by the teaching of Paul in (1Timothy 5:4) that Christians should share their resources with others as their first religious duty, by giving to their family members, and went further in verse 8 that anyone who fails in this assignment be classified as worst than an unbeliever. The New Testament underlines the need for Christian responsibilities giving to others, as we shall discuss some selected parables of Jesus Christ, that encourages alms giving as chief duty of man (Matthew 6:2-4). In (Luke 14:14), Jesus said that those who help the poor would be rewarded at the resurrection, that is giving is not act that will be forgotten in the last day. Jesus also made it clear that as we give our possession to the hungry, thirsty, naked, stranger and those who are imprisoned, we are giving to the Lord himself (Matthew 25:31-46). We shall examine some selected parables of Jesus Christ and their interpretations that have to do with Christian responsibility in giving.
2.4.1 THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS (Luke 16: 19-31)
The parable is unique in two ways, first, it is the only story which does not limit its action and retribution to events in the world alone but to eternal life and secondly, it is peculiar to the gospel of St. Luke alone which suggests one of the characteristics of the gospel for the poor or the underdogs. In this story, Lazarus had a rough encounter in life, while the rich man dressed in purple robes, the most expensive material available at that time. He wore ‘linen or busos’ a high quality Egyptian cotton used for expensive under wear.104 The combination of this outfit stands for royalty and ultimate luxury.
The bible does not give nor narrate any spiritual condition of Lazarus, 105 but his name was mentioned in the parable. His name is Greek equivalent of Eliezer meaning ‘God help’106 but lived a contrary life to this name. The popular story about Lazarus was that he was poor and sick without extended family to cater for him. He was always ‘thrown down on the ground,’107 by friends daily at the ornamental gate, a position where the rich man and his guests could not but see him as they passed by, which suggest the rich man’s gate was an indication that he had enough resources to adequately help him.108 No information revealed Lazarus as a beggar, but we may infer that he was badly diseased with open sores on his body.109
The rich man ended his journey in hell, not because he was said to have committed any sin or because he was rich, Abraham himself in his days was rich and did not end his journey in hell. The rich man was condemned for living for himself through his riches. This parable is not critical about wealth but at the socially irresponsible wealth of the rich man that put him into trouble because he used all he had to feed his pride and his extravagant lifestyle.
His appeal to Abraham to allow someone from the dead to go and warn his brothers who were not living right which suggest that the rich man knew he never walked right with God. He agrees with Seccomber’s110 conclusion that, the rich man had understanding of the Old Testament teaching about caring for the needy but refused to give a helping hand to Lazarus. The rich man had examples or people he could emulate therefore, he was not counted as been ignorant of the law.
There is an understanding that God loves and wants to give man inheritance which includes prosperity. In 3 John 2, the Bible says that ‘Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth’. Although God wants to prosper man he does not want anyone to love money as popularly being quoted in (Ecclesiastes 10:19) that money answereth all things thereby teaching people to love money. To love money is to become self centred. Since God is interested in the material well being of man, he has different ways through which He provides material properties and possessions for man.111
2.4.2 ZACCHEAUS THE TAX COLLECTOR
Zaccheaus was the chief tax collector. He worked directly for the imperial state, not as a middleman like Matthew the Levi. Although, he was dubious in character, he sought to see Jesus as he passed through Jericho. Jesus having insight to everyman’s heart, saw Zaccheaus, he accepted him and promised to be his guest. The tax collector responded not only with joy but also promised to use his wealth to assist the poor; ‘…the half of my goods I give to the poor, and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I will restore it back four folds (Luke 19:8b). There is a sharp contrast between the story of the rich young ruler and this noble man who was willing to make restitution on his own.
The teachings received by members of the Living Faith Church encourage giving generously in form of tithe and offering and special donations which is principle for receiving just as Zaccheaus decided to give out part of his wealth to the poor when he met Jesus. Tondear’s reasons for Zacheaus change was to spare Jesus of been accused of eating with a sinner by the Jews and to make a public declaration of his new way of living and to demonstrate that, the changes of life goes beyond words of mouth but also in practices by gladly making restitution and paying generous compensation as well.112 Blomberg quoting Pilgrim says that, ‘the narrative give a full detail of ownership account in the Gospel of Luke, while it is also a paradigm of the right response of the would-be rich christians’.113
Zaccheaus idea of restitution portrayed a sign of true repentance. Although, no one was allowed to give more than 20% of this total assets in order not to become poor in the name of restitution.114 Zaccheaus went beyond what was required of him to repay the Jewish taxes in order to restore what he had taken from people to enrich himself as noted above. Willingly the tax collector in question decided to make a change unlike the rich young ruler who was too distressed to part with his possession.
Having examined Jesus’ teaching on futility of worldly possessions, it is pertinent to say that, the gospel has been consistently holistic according to the teaching of Jesus Christ. The Jews were always at logger-heads with him because His teaching was a pointer to accountability or stewardship as he would always condemn their selfish attitude to material possessions. Jesus never mentioned the covenant model that assumes material reward for piety, but through a self denying sacrifice rather than basking in glory.
Jesus applauded the widow’s mite because she gave all that she had. It was a strange occurrence to find a poor woman, more so, a widow to part with all that was left for her to survive. It was not clear if this woman had other means. Jesus took note of her, and she became a model which demonstrates that it is the percentage or the amount of sacrifice, not the net giving, that counts before God.116 Wright was not friendly with this matter as he picked up the Jewish leadership fostering such an injustice against the widow. Normally, the temple treasury comprised of tithe and offering funded by the rich.117 For this reason, it was wrong to allow a widow to contribute, since there was no evidence that poor people ever contributed to the treasury,118 but this woman gave her last two small copper coins’ voluntarily.
Personal attitude to wealth matters, especially, when it involved denying oneself of pleasure. The widow gave more than others, and something that cost her a great deal, while others gave what did not cost them anything because they gave out of their abundant wealth which has no impact on their lifestyle. David said he would not give to God that which did not cost him anything. To anyone who does this, it is indeed a sacrificial life. Jesus constantly emphasized the need to worship God with our wealth instead of keeping it for selfish purpose or spending it on things that have no eternal value, because it paves way for blessing and increase.
2.4.3 THE GOOD SAMARITAN (Luke 10:29-37)
In the story of the Good Samaritan, a certain man went from Jerusalem to Jericho where he fell into the hands of robbers. The road was said to be most dangerous in Palestine at that time. The man who was attacked was left half dead. The religious people who were supposed to help and save the man’s life looked on and passed by the other side of the road under the pretence of avoiding legal pollution.
A Samaritan whose race was hated and despised showed mercy and humanitarian compassion by rescuing the life the injured man. In an attempt to teach the lawyer who was his neighbor, Jesus also taught the need to have compassion for the needy, which convincingly supersedes our understanding of the parables as the answer to the question of the lawyer, that brought about the discussion ‘who is my neighbor?’ (Luke 10:24).
The story of the Good Samaritan is relevant to this study when compared with the hospitality and enormous generosity given by the Living Faith Church towards the poor and the needy at various levels, just as the Samaritan offered to help, giving a blank cheque to those that would cater for the injured man without minding the cost. The Living Faith Church is involved in bringing relief to many in various positions of need or in potential danger.
Some wealthy individuals like the Levite and Priest sharing one role as a negative model are reluctant to give and feel that the world owes them a living.119 The Samaritan and the Living Faith Church provide a shocking counter example by demonstrating their act of sharing, commitment in their humanitarian services regardless of the religious or ethnic barriers. The parable of the Good Samaritan contrasts markedly with the parable of the Rich Fool. The Rich Fool demonstrated an unrelenting, self centred focus and unmitigated accumulation of surplus goods, with no thought for anyone else.
It is important for professing Christians to give account everyday on how many unused surplus goods, property or investment they accumulated without considering the needy around them. It must be emphasized here that, Christians have a duty to care for the needy whether friends, strangers or enemies. A Christian or Christian community must respond constructively, sacrificially and inconveniently to the needy. Christian organizations or non-governmental organizations must embrace practical and effective measures to secure the welfare of the needy. This means that the selection and treatment of recipient, the forms and style of the relief given, the attitudes the scale of the relief and the fund raising to make an adequate call on love, kindness, wealth, intelligence, commitment, time and talent which is imposed by Christian charity. There is no room or place for compulsion, compromise or complacency.
The Living Faith Church is recognized as one of the Christian bodies whose doors are open and her table is welcoming to the needy by giving support to her neighbours when necessary.
2.4.4 MARY’S ANOINTING OF JESUS CHRIST IN BETHANY (Mark 14: 3-9)
The story of Mary’s anointing of Jesus Christ at Bethany bears a significant resemblance with the activities of the Living Faith Church, as it has afforded many their classic proof-text for justifying lavish expenditure in the name of Christ. While Jesus was eating of the table in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume. The account records that she broke the jar and the pour the perfume on Jesus’ head.
Those who were around her were angry because of the thought of pouring oil on Jesus was a waste. If we look at verse 5, they said, ‘it could have been sold for more than a years’ wages the money given to the poor’ Jesus came in on the matter when he saw the reaction of the people. Quoting from Deuteronomy 15:11, Jesus said that they would always have the poor among them at all times but they would not always have Him. He encouraged them to be open handed towards their brothers, the poor and the needy.
However, for this woman, it was a spontaneous display of loving gratitude, the fact that it was a costly perfume made her response purposeful. Christ’s gift to her had meant so much that the response was of deep gratitude. From this passage have emerged some things for consideration in the story. Jesus said the woman sympathizes with Him and prepared Him for his death. Allan Verhey was of the opinion that Jesus rebuked the woman’s accusers, not for their concern for the poor but presumptuously singling her out, for self righteousness, judging her in the presence of the whole community.
The lifestyle of Jesus draws our attention because it is relevant to our discussion. He agrees with Bruce’s thought that Jesus did not live an ascetic life.121 If many could lavish more than three hundred denari, roughly a year’s wages for the average worker, Jesus is calling everyone not to be weary in doing good especially to the poor. There are times the Living Faith Church is praised and appreciated by the people and on many occasions she is criticized for being extravagant. In an interview, Bishop David Oyedepo, in the Punch Newspaper dated August 4, 2015, confirmed what people say about the church that it is meant only for the rich. In his reply:
The Bible is an open cheque book, it is by revelation we access what belongs to us; by faith we take delivery of it…but in case people don’t know, they perish for lack of knowledge and in case they think when you are rich you miss heaven, then they perish for lack of knowledge.122
He went further to say that: ‘We are not ashamed to be called the church of the rich. If they call your family poor, will you be excited?123 He was also of the opinion that no man in his right mind enjoys living in poverty, and nobody wants to be poor but many people pretend not having interest in riches. He concludes, ‘most of us came in poor, but the light of God’s word came on us and worked out of poverty in grand style into wealth and riches.
According to Bishop Oyedepo, it is more honourable to give than to be a beggar just as the woman who anointed Jesus with oil acknowledged the death of Christ. In verse 7 of the same Chapter Jesus’ point was that we should not criticize generosity aimed at honouring God and bringing relief to mankind, regardless of how the money might otherwise have been used. No human pretext, however noble (as in caring for the poor) should be used to prevent true worship. In an attempt to debunk the statement that the Living Faith Church has six private jets and seven hundred cars donated to Pastors as gifts; Oyedepo gives brief information on what he has done personally from his own end without the support of the church.
…We also give to the poor. My family has sponsored close to one hundred and fifty thousand people out of the University and others at Landmark University are on sponsorship on our own ticket because of our commitment to agriculture. It is our lifestyle…the church is blessed because the church is a giving church. I signed millions for people who have health needs from the welfare account. For instance, the church gives sponsorship annually, more than 150 million worth of naira and it is not in the news.125
In spite of several criticisms against the church, such as, honouring president invitations, high tuition fees and some other issues relating to wealth, it is observed that the Living Faith Church is still deeply involved in helping the poor, just as generosity to the poor is a regular mandate in the New Testament. Escobar explains ‘therefore, there is no amount of money spent on humanitarian services that is too much.’126 It must be noted that a church is not a money making venture or a place to accumulate wealth, but a place where lives are transformed and challenges of life reduced to zero.
2.4.5 THE RICH FOOL (Luke 12:16-21)
The parable of the rich fool that started with an inheritance dispute between two brothers is described as timeless and more relevant today than any other time.127 A younger brother wanted Jesus to speak to his elder brother for a better share of the family inheritance even though he knew that according to the Jewish law, the eldest is entitled to two-thirds why other brothers would share the remaining one-third. Jesus was not interested in the transfer of property because it was a family issue and also because he was against the greedy nature of the younger brother which underlies the request for help.129
The parable clearly shows that Jesus narrated the story to warn people against greed. He said to them ‘Watch out, be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions’. What Jesus was teaching the people is that having more does not make their lives better. Perhaps the request of this young man made Jesus to narrate this parable.
The rich man had money and possessions. He was living without putting others around him into consideration. He had no regard for man or God. It is necessary we say it again that the rich man was not condemned because of wealth but there is the danger in possessing too many things. A follower of Jesus must have a true sense of values, recognizing that real life is not measure by possessions.130 The problem with the rich man was that he did not know where to keep his harvest. From the look of things, he had an honest wealth, a successful farmer who did not appear to cheat others, he had all it takes to be a successful businessman, but Jesus called him fool because he did not set his priority right.131 verses 18 and 19 of Luke Chapter 12 reads:
Then he said, “This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and will build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grains and my goods. Then I will say to myself, ‘you have plenty of good things led up for many years. Take life easy, eat, drink and be merry” (Luke 12:18-19).
The things the rich man possessed controlled his life. He is concerned about himself and his goods and not about others. His pride did not allow him to acknowledge God as the source of all that he had. As a result of this, he was not generous to other people especially his neighbours and thought life would just continue as it was.132 This man demonstrated an unrelenting, self-centred, focus and an unmitigated accumulation of surplus goods, with no thought for anyone else,133 for this reason, he commands Christians to not keep surplus goods, property, investments without thinking about the poor and the needy.
2.4.6 EARLY CHURCH BELIEVERS AND POSSESSIONS
The great sermon delivered by Peter on the day of Pentecost gave birth to the first Christian community. The believers gathered together as a church with the following characteristics: teaching, fellowshipping, breaking of bread and prayer.134 The community had everything in common selling their possessions and goods, they gave to everyone who had need,135 so that no one lacked anything that is good. Thurston was of the opinion that what could have led to the ‘common purse’ and its distribution was a carry-over from the time in which the disciples were with Jesus for considerable number of years in his ministry, sharing the same supply of money.136
The idea of having everything in common just as the apostles sold their possessions and goods did not go well with Criswell who argued that, that Christian experience was a mistake,137 because it affected the Judean Church for not been able to cope with the famine as recorded in Acts 11:27-30.
…one of them named Agabus, stood up and through the spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman World. This happened during the reign of Claudius…. Acts 11:28
The reason for the inability to cope with the famine was because the Christians diverted their resources into the common purse, which could also mean that, the rich members had been exploited.138 However, this could not be found in the Acts of the Apostles that the well to do sold so much of their goals that they had little left to invest for future needs.139 Fee Gordon and Douglas Stuart were not in support of following normative commands in any literature.140 Citing example of Ananias and Saphira, who wanted to do what other brethren did but they did not have the grace and this led to their death. Therefore, the idea of common purse when examined critically created some problems, such as, encouraging a life of pretence, impoverishment, like the Judean Church that could not cope with famine and deaths of members of the church like Ananias and Sapphira.
However, William Larkin quoting Johnson Luke, never saw the system as a burden or failure but rather noticed the act of irresponsibility of churches in taking care of the poor and caring for one another.141 Larkin said that Luke agitated for the normative, of which he was in full support because it will foster unity which will also help voluntary periodical supply in the church to raise fund for the poor.142 Talbert expressed his view and at the same time supporting normative compounds that, there is no exegetical or historical support for understanding early Christian communalism as an improper or failed experiment.143
Howard Marshall sees communalism to be difficult in practice. However, he does not want to confuse communism of the early believers practice and that of a political and economic system, which emerges from the development of productive forces that leads to a super abundance of material wealth.144 This allows for distribution based on need and social relation based on freely associated individuals according to Marxist theory.145
From the above discussion so far, William Larkin, Johnson Luke, Charles Talbert and Earnest are all correct in expressing their various views concerning normative commands. We must also emphasize the fact that God loves a cheerful giver.
Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. II Corinthians 9:7
Individuals should be allowed to give whatever he or she can do at a particular period of time. Also II Corinthians 6:2 shows Paul encouraging generosity in giving by citing the example of the Macedonian churches that gave out of their severe trial, and extreme poverty, giving as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Believers can also do the same when we realize that it is God’s command to give. Secondly, it could be anyone’s turn to be in need of help. Every man will reap what he sows. (Galatians 6:7).
It is discovered that the Living Faith Church practice communal living but not as it was practiced in the book of Acts of the Apostles and this is what Liefeld is saying that not all that are written in any literature can be practiced, but it has to go through careful study and see how workable it is. Apart from the spiritual benefit, it helps to identify individual needs, their gifts and other things about them. Problems of individuals are easily solved especially the needy because of the closeness and unity in the fellowship.
Christian teachings require adherents to care for their neighbours as found in the Living Faith Church. The obligation was practiced in the early church. For instance, Dorcas, Cornelius, Aquila, Priscilla and Mason, etc were noticed in the historic records of giving and bringing relief to the poor. We allude to the fact that, the financial Koinonia of Jerusalem church brings relief to the believers. Property was not held in absolute possession but as a trust to be administered to the needy. Chrysostom in the Wealth of Christians sums it up: Wealth is not a possession, it is not a property, it is a loan for use.146
Paul and Barnabas represented the Church in Antioch in Syria, they brought an offering to the Jerusalem Church for the needy Christians in Judea (Acts 11:28-30). Paul’s goal on in his third missionary journey was to gather money for the poor saints at Jerusalem (Romans 15:26). He instructed the Galatians and Corinthian churches to give towards this course.
Now concerning the collection for the saints, let everyone of you lay by him in store, as God has prospered him, that there be no gathering when I come… (I Corinthians 10:1-4).
When the church in Corinth was not generous enough in their giving, Paul challenged them to give their best to help those in need (II Corinthians 8:9).
…Whosoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and whosoever sows generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion for God loves a cheerful giver (II Corinthians 9:6-9).
Paul considered giving as an important aspect of work as it is stated in the book of Romans that one of the gifts that the Holy Spirit gives to the Christians is the ability to give generously for God’s work and the people’s need. This is the way every Christian should view giving if indeed we are to be blessed.
This Chapter has undertaken a study on wealth possession as it plays a crucial role in the economic life of the people. There is no doubt that there are wrong acquisition of wealth and the exploitation of the poor. We have also established the fact that, wealth or riches is not wrong on its own while having the comfort of life is a necessity. Holding limitless riches while others suffer excessive deprivation was condemned. We uphold the concept of stewardship to the wealthy for correct use of their resources which hangs on the principle of a fair and equal distribution of wealth.
NOTES AND REFERENCES
1. B.A. Scott, Views of Wealth in the Bible and Ancient World, http: 17 www.m.action.org. Accessed 10/10/2010.
2. B.A. Scott, Views of Wealth in the Bible and Ancient World, http: 17 www.m.action.org. Accessed 10/10/2010.
3. C. Wright, Walking in the Ways of the Lord: The Ethical Authority of the Old Testament (Leicester: IVP, 1995), 181-187
4. R.A. Young, Healing the Earth, (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 1994, 84.
5. C.L. Blomberg, Neither Poverty Nor Riches: A Biblical Theology of Possessions. (Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1999), 82
6. Von Waldow and H. Eberhard, ‘Social Responsibility and Social Structure in Early Israel’ Catholic Biblical Quarterly Vol. 32: 1970, 186.
7. Justol L. Gonzalez, Faith and Wealth: A History of Early Christian Ideas on the Origin, Significance, and Use of Money. (New York: Harper ; Row Publishers, 1990), 2.
8. Robert G. Gnuse, ‘You Shall Not Steal: Community and Property/’ In Biblical Tradition, Maryknoll: Obis, 1985, 31.
9. Justol Gonzalez, 20.
10. Justol Gonzalez, 20.
11. Christopher J.H. Wright; 155.
12. S.O. Abogunrin, ‘Jesus pronouncement in Wealth in the context of Health and Wealth Gospel in Nigeria’, In Biblical Studies and Corruption, S.O. Abogunrin (ed), (Ibadan, NABIS, 2007), 241-242.
13. A.S. Moreau, 932.
14. S.O. Abogunrin, 241
15. Justol Gonzalez, 21.
16. Justol Gonzalez, 21.
17. Justol Gonzalez, 21.
18. Justol Gonzalez, 21.
19. R.B. Cunningham, ‘Principles and Procedures of Responsible Giving’ In Resources Unlimited, William L. Hendricks (ed) Stewardship Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1972, 222.
20. R.B. Cunningham, 224.
21. R.B. Cunningham, 224.
22. R.B. Cunningham, 224.
23. C.J.H. Wright, ‘What Happened Every Seven Years in Israel? Old Testament Sabbatical Institutions for Land, Debt and Slaves’ Evangelical Quarterly 56: 129 – 138, 193 – 201.
24. Bruce Ballard, ‘On the Sin of Usury: A Biblical Economic Ethics’ Christian Scholars’ Review, 24: 1994, 210-228.
25. L.D. Johnson, An Introduction to the Bible (Nashville: Convention Press Centre, 1969), 65.
26. John E. Hartley, Leviticus (Dallas: Word 1992), 427-430, 430-431.
27. Sondra Ely Wheeler, 22.
28. Craig L. Blomberg, 45.
29. Sidney, B. Hoening, ‘Sabbatical Years and the Year of Jubilee’, Jewish Quarterly Review 59: 222 – 236.
30. Gordon Wenham, The Book of Leviticus, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979), 323 – 324.
31. Robert North, Sociology of the Biblical Jubilee, (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute 1954), 175.
32. Craig L. Blomberg, 46.
33. Craig L. Blomberg, 49.
34. Craig L. Blomberg, 49 – 50.
35. R.B. Scott, Views of Wealth in the Bible and Ancient World http://www.m.action.org Accessed on 10/10/2010.
36. R.B. Scott, http://www.m.action.org Accessed on 10/10/2010.
37. http://www.m.action.org Accessed on 10/10/2010.
38. C. L. Blomberg, Interpreting the Parables (Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1990), 34.
39. Simion J. Devries, 1Kings, (Waco: Word, 1985), 256.
40. Isaiah Temilade Oyedokun, 24.
41. Elmer B. Smick, ‘Job’ In Frank E. Gaebelein (ed), Expositor’s Bible Commentary 4, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, (1982), 841-1060.
42. Robert L. Alden, Job (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 1993), 284.
43. David J.A. Clines, ‘The Theme of the Pentateuch’, In Journal of the America Oriental Society, Sheffield: 1989, 36.
44. Craig L. Blomberg, 59.
45. J. Emmette Weir, ‘The Poor and Powerless: A Response to R.J. Coggins’ In Expository Times 100, Rowman ; Littlefield Independent Publishers: 1988, 13 – 15.
46. James McPolin, ‘Psalms as Prayer of the Poor’ In Kelvin J. Catheart and John F. Healey (eds), Back to the Sources: Biblical and Near Eastern Studies, 79 – 103 (Dublin: Glendale, 1989), 81-83.
47. Sue Gillingham, ‘The Poor in the Psalms’ In Expository Times 100, Rowman ; Littlefield Independent Publishers: 1988, 15 – 19.
48. L.J. Hoppe, Being Poor, (Wilmington: Glazier, 1957), 121 – 122.
49. Graig L. Blomberg, 62.
50. R. N. Whybray, Ecclesiates, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), 159.
51. Gordon A. Chutter, ‘Riches and Poverty’ In the Book of Proverbs; Crux 18.2,: 1982, 23-28.
52. Michael D. Guinan (trans) Gospel Essays in Biblical Theology, (Chicago: Franciscan, (rev. ed, 1977), 35-36.
53. Donald E. Gowan, ‘Wealth and Poverty in the Old Testament: The case of the Widow, the Orphan and the Sojourner’, Interpretation (Int) 41:1987, 350.
54. Kenneth T. Aitken, Proverbs, (Edinburgh: Westminster, 1986), 190.
55. A. Hay Donald, Economics Today: A Christian Critique (Oxford: AbeBooks 1991), 39 – 43. Also, R. Mullin, The Wealth of Christians (Exeter: Paternoster Press, 1983), 85.
56. H.G.M. Williamson, ‘The Old Testament and the Material World’,, Evangelical Quarterly 57: 1985, 5 – 22.
57. C. L. Blomberg, 92 – 93.
58. C.L. Blomberg, 93.
59. Harm W. Hollander, ‘The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs’, In M. de Jonge (ed), Outside the Old Testament, 71 – 91 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 86.
60. C. L. Blomberg, 94.
61. Martin Hegel, Property and Riches in the Early Church, (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1974), 16 – 19.
62. C. L. Blomberg, 94.
63. Judith L. Hill, ‘Theology of Prosperity: A New Testament Perspective’ In African Journal of Theology, 28.1, FATE 3 2009, 46.
64. C.L. Blomberg, 98.
65. C.L. Blomberg, 98.
66. C.L. Blomberg, 98.
67. David Flusser, ‘Blessed are the Poor in the Spirit’ In Israel Exploration Journal 10, 1960, 1 – 13.
68. William R. Farmer, ‘The Economic Basis of the Qumran Community’ In Theologische Zeitschrift, 1995, 11: 295 – 308.
69. James C. Vanderkam, The Dead Sea Scrolls (Grand Rapids: Eerdsman), 1994, 82 – 83.
70. C. L. Blomberg, 100.
71. C.L. Blomberg, 100.
72. C.L. Blomberg, 102.
73. Gildas Hamel, Poverty and Charity in Roman Palestine, First Three Centuries CE, (Oxford: University of California, 1990), 210-219.
74. Judith L. Hill, 47.
75. Judith L. Hill, 47.
76. Judith L. Hill, 47.
77. C. L. Blomberg, 103.
78. C. L. Blomberg, 103.
79. Andrew Wallace – Hadrill, (ed) Patronage in Ancient Society, (London: Routledge, 1989), 123.
80. Sophie Laws, A Commentary on the Epistle of James, (London: Black, 1980), 919.
81. A.R. Hands, Charities and Social Aid in Greece and Rome (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1968), 82.
82. C. L. Blomberg, 104.
83. Richard Duncan-Jones, Money and Government in the Roman Empire, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 33-45.
84. Richard Duncan-Jones, 172 – 175.
85. J.L. Green, ‘The Place of Material Things in the Purpose of God and Life of Man’ In Resources Unlimited. Williams L. Hendricks (ed) (Kentucky: Steward Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1972), 68.
86. R.C. Clayton Brough and T.W. Grasste, Understanding Patriarchs Blessings (Springville: Horizon Publishing Co. 2008), 31, 53-54.
87. G.J. Wenham, Genesis 2, Vol. 5, (Waco: Word, 1987), 229.
88. V. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Vol. 2, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1990), 413-414. Also Graig L. Blomberg Interpreting the Parables, 37.
89. V. Hamilton, 413 – 414.
90. C. L. Blomberg, 37.
91. Commentary: www.blestudytools.com/…1Kings//–kings. Accessed 28/5/2012.
92. Hay S.B. Richard, The Moral Vision of the New Testament: Community, Cross, New Creation; A Contemporary Introduction of New Testament Ethics. (Harper San Francisco: Harper Collins Publishers, 1996), 464.
93. Hay S.B. Richard, 464.
94. Hay S.B. Richard, 465.
95. Hay S.B. Richard, 466.
96. Hay S.B. Richard, 466.
97. Holmes Rolston, ‘Paul’s Philosophy of Stewardship’: In Contemporary Theology. T.K. Thompson (ed) (Richmond: John Knox Press, 1946), 39 – 53.
98. J. Foster Richard, Money, Sex and Power: The Challenge of the Disciplined Life. (New York: Harper and Row, 1965), 73.
99. The Punch, Monday June 8, 2015, 13 and The Nigerian Tribune, Monday July 20, 2015, 4.
100. The Nigerian Tribune, Monday July 20, 2015, 4.
101. An Interview with Pastor Olaniyan, the then State Pastor of the Living Faith Church, Ilorin, Kwara State July 13, 2015.
102. An Interview with Bishop David Oyedepo – Founder, the Living Faith Headquarters Church, Sango-Ota, Ogun State, August 2015.
103. An Interview with the Punch Newspaper granted by Bishop David Oyedepo on May 24, 2014, 27.
104. kennethbailey.www.shenango,org.2000. Accessed 28/5/2012.
105. C. L. Blomberg, 123.
106. C. L. Blomberg, 123.
107. David Wenham, The Parables of Jesus Pictures of Revolution (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1989), 142.
108. kennethbailey.www.shenango,org.2000. Accessed 28/5/2012.
109. kennethbailey.www.shenango,org.2000. Accessed 28/5/2012.
110. David Seccomber, ‘Possessions and the Poor’ In Luke – Acts Linz Journal for the Study of the New Testament 1983, 176 – 177.
111. Kenneth E. Bailey, Poet and Peasant: A Library Cultural Approach to the Parables in Luke(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976), 161.
112. Keith Tondeur, What Jesus said about Money and Possession (London: Monarch Books, 1998), 29.
113. C. L. Blomberg, Interpreting the Parables 215.
114. C. L. Blomberg, Neither Poverty Nor Riches, 141.
115. John B. Poihil, The New American Commentary Bible Vol. 26 (Nashville: Tennessee Broadman Press, 1992), 119.
116. C. L. Blomberg, Neither Poverty Nor Riches, 144.
117. C. L. Blomberg, 144.
118. Addison G. Wright, ‘The Widow’s Mite; Praise or Lament? – A Matter of Context’, Catholic Biblical Quarterly 44: 256 – 265.
119. J. Sheen Fulton, Foot Print in a Darkened Forest (New York: Meredith Press, 1967), 112 – 116.
120. Allen Verhey, The Great Reversal: Ethics and the New Testament. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984), 18 – 19.
121. F.F. Bruce, The Gospel of John (Basingstoke: Pickering and Inglis, 1983), 257.
122. Saturday Punch, May 24, 2014, 26.
123. Saturday Punch, May 24, 2014, 26.
124. Saturday Punch, May 24, 2014, 26.
125. Saturday Punch, May 24, 2014, 26.
126. Samuel Escobar, ‘The Gospel and the Poor’ In Vinay Samuel and Chris Sugden (eds), Evangelism and the Poor: A Third Word Study Guide, rev. ed., (Oxford: Regnum, 1983), 97 – 106.
127. Keith Tondeur, 44.
128. Keith Tondeur, 44.
129. Keith Tondeur, 44.
130. Keith Tondeur, 46.
131. Keith Tondeur, 47.
132. Keith Tondeur, 50.
133. C.L. Blomberg, Neither Poverty Nor Riches, 119.
134. Luke T. Johnson, The Acts of the Apostles, (Collegeville: Liturgical, 1992), 58.
135. Gerhard Krodel, Acts, (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1986), 95.
136. Bonnie V. Thurston, Spiritual Life in the Early Church, (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993), 23.
137. W.A. Criswell, Acts: An Expostition, (Grand Rapids: Zondervban, 1978), 113-119.
138. Everett F. Harrison, Interpreting Acts: The Expanding Church, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986), 98 – 99.
139. Everett F. Harrison, 98 – 99
140. Gordon D. Fee and Staurt Douglas, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982), 97.
141. William Larkin J. Jr, Acts (Leicester: IVP, 1995), 83.
142. William Larkin J. Jr, 83.
143. Charles H. Talbert, Reading Acts, (New York: Crossroad, 1987), 64.
144. Howard Marshall, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Leicester: Intervarsity Press 1988), 84-85.
145. Earnest Haenchen, The Acts of the Apostles (Oxford: Blackwell 1971), 201.
146. J. Leo Green, 72 – 90.
3.0 THE ETHICAL TEACHINGS OF JESUS CHRIST
In this chapter, our focus will be the ethical teachings of Jesus Christ in relation to prosperity teachings of the Living Faith Church. The moral principles of Jesus concerning wealth or materialism will be examined, elucidating his proclamations concerning materialism that could become a stumbling block to our Christian faith and thus prevent gaining entrance to the Kingdom of God. Jesus taught his disciples and his audience how to live and handle possessions.
Jesus’ proclamation on ethical teachings may give some theological problems because Jesus is seen as both poor and rich on assessment of his background. Born in a manger, offering of two pigeons at birth purification, always found in the midst of low classes such as prostitutes, orphans, widows and other social and economic outcasts, borrowed a boat to preach, borrowed a colt on which to ride, and also a tomb in which he was buried.1 His background was evidence that he was not economically buoyant.
On the contrary, power and material wealth in his life and ministry was evident. He was sometimes found in the midst of religious teachers such as the scribes, Sadducees, and Pharisees as well as members of the Sanhedrin including Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea (John 3:1-21, 19:38), preached to wealthy people, attended public parties and feasts (Luke 5:29-32; John 2:1-11), used banking analogies to illustrate his parables (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-27), graciously receiving gifts from his followers. (Luke 7:36-39; John 12:1-3).2
Jesus lived between the two experiences of poverty, power and material wealth in his lifetime, yet in the mist of unattractive situations of economic needs, Jesus has the knowledge beforehand what a materialistic life will be. He therefore chose a humble way of life which caused him to give a serious warning to dissuade people against materialism by all means.
Greed comes in two ways: possessiveness and covetousness.3 Possessiveness is having the desire to control or dominate what we have in a selfish manner. Covetousness is showing a strong desire to possess what we do not have. Pobee says greed is money worship but it is not money alone, it also includes all valuables, treasures that are of great worth. He adds that greed is forbidden in three places in the Ten Commandments, thus a violation of the first and most fundamental commandment: ‘I am the Lord your God…you shall have no other gods before me’ (Exodus 20:2-3), the eighth commandment is a prohibition against covetousness (Exodus 20:15) while the tenth commandment frowns at covetousness (Exodus 20:17).
When we study the book of (James 4:1-3) it is relevant to what is happening in Nigeria. Many crave to have more money, possessions, higher status, and more recognition. We fight to acquire all these things by all means which is against the will of God. To come out of this habit, Jesus calls for a life of generous giving to break away from this practice. Giving will enable us to be free from the burdens of accumulation of wealth but help us lay treasures in heaven.
Jesus went further to ask his audience a rhetoric question, ‘And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world and lose your own soul?’ (Matthew 16:26). Jesus by his statement want his hearers to know that accumulation of wealth has no eternal value, while evaluating ones’ lifestyle from eternal perspective will cause our values and decisions to change. In the message of Jesus to lay up treasures in heaven, he suggests that our money and possessions can have eternal use. When money is spent on earthly goods, it is temporary and does not go beyond here but if spent for the kingdom’s sake it has eternal value.4 Therefore, Jesus argument is that any treasure invested on earth is lost after death but whatever we invest in heaven is eternal.
We must understand that it is not morally wrong to accumulate wealth, but Jesus says it is a poor investment, because it cannot stand the test of time.5 Pobee quoting John Wesley opines ‘I value all things only by the price they shall gain6 in eternity.’ Quoting David Livingstone he says ‘I place no value on everything I possess except in relation to the kingdom of God.’7 Heaven is the most paramount thing to both Wesley and Livingstone because they understood what eternity is. In other words, Christ’s stance on wealth is not a negative response, wealth could be pursued8 but not to a fault. It must be noted that God indeed want us to live a comfortable life. God himself have an investment mentality,9 wealth is good but we must not be consumed by it.
In Luke 12:13ff, a man walked up to Jesus and said ‘Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.’ Jesus was not ready to intervene in the matter and he replied, ‘Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?’ He wanted a large portion of the family inheritance knowing that he eldest is entitled to two-thirds of the whole inheritance, while the remaining one-third is divided among the other children.10 The younger brother was not ignorant of the law, but because of covetousness, he wanted a larger share and immediately. On the alternative, the elder brother could keep the inheritance to make it economically viable11 thereby, takes up the responsibility of taking care of his younger ones.
Jesus as recorded in the bible was not interested in family affairs and again there was a greedy undertone. Because of the relevance of the parable Jesus emphasized. Its importance in verse 15 ‘watch out, be on your guard against all kind of greed, a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possession.’ The attitude of this young man led Jesus to tell the story of a rich man who had produced fine crops and said to himself ‘I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones…you have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods…eat, drink and be merry!’ Jesus disapproves of these selfish and wicked intentions. He gave a serious warning especially concerning the younger brother that his desires to want more will not solve his problem and that because the wish to have more does not make their live better.12
From the above story, ‘The wealthy are much more likely than the poor to devote themselves to certain amusements which bring no benefit to the society and to live merely for the pursuit of pleasure instead of for service.’ Jesus is not against enjoying life but he teaches there is more to life than that. Considering the ethical teachings of Jesus, he encourages ‘service’ and so when a man decides to live for pleasure not minding what happens to others, he receives condemnation.13 Jesus also taught that the accumulation of wealth can bring temptation to a man, and his mind could be turned away from social duties to selfish living. Therefore, instead of wealth being used for the benefit of the society at large, it becomes to the one who possess it an end in itself, 14 killing the spirit of generosity and promoting stinginess and selfishness.15
In Matthew 19:16, there was another rich young man who came to Jesus to ask him a question: ‘Teacher, what good deed must I do to have an eternal life?’ Jesus told him about the laws to keep, and he confidently replied that he had kept those laws from his youth. Jesus now told him ‘Go, sell your possessions, and give everything to the poor.’ The man on hearing this became sad because he had great possessions. Jesus looking at him said to his disciples ‘It is easier for a camel to go through the eyes of a needle than a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.
Jesus’ teaching on selling of possessions and giving it to the poor according to Sandra might also be difficult today, but it is for no other reason than to keep a limit to what we possess. Selling possessions does not necessarily mean throwing away our valuable goods16 out rightly. If we own more than what is necessary and think we can cope with whatever arises brings much trouble.17 The New Living Translation commentary buttresses this point, that believers are not forced to sell what they have because everyone is expected to be responsible to care for his or her family so that no one becomes a liability on the other.
The attitude of not giving to others creates a gap between us and God. There is no place for lavishing what has been entrusted in our care in a self-centered manner. In other words, loving God demands that we release our substance for his work.
By way of contrast which was glaring, Jesus praised the poor widow who put her last two coins into the temple treasury (Mark 12:41-44). Jesus called the attention of the disciples and said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all others. His disciples might be wondering how that could be possible. He went further to tell them that they all gave out of their wealth but the poor widow out of her poverty, put in everything. All she had to live on.’ If therefore, you have not been faithful in the use of worldly wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? If you have not been faithful in what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? (Luke 16:10-12). The teachings of Jesus in this passage is simply saying when our uprightness is tested through money, are we not going to be found wanting. God want us to be truthful in even minor matters so that he can entrust into our hands riches of the kingdom.
Jesus was a bit harsh when he declared to his disciples in (Luke14:26-27) ‘If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison. Your father and your mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes, even your own life, otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.’ Jesus persuaded his hearers by way of giving hope to those who were of shallow mind to make up their minds either to follow him or go back. To follow Christ therefore is surrendering in totality to his will without any reservation even at the cost of one’s life. No wonder Paul says in (Luke 9:62) that, ‘Anyone who puts a hand on a plow and looks back is not fit for the kingdom of God.’ That means anyone who would follow Christ must close his eyes to the things of this world- its pleasures, wealth, honour, etc.
It is pertinent here to mention that Jesus’ teaching is not only for the poor to be saved, neither did he teach that discipleship is costly, but that wealth is often a hindrance to repentance and acceptance of the gospel.18
Jesus in his teachings on the mount which is often called the beatitudes spoke about money.
Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rusts destroy them, and where thieves break in and steal.
Jesus in his explanation concerning wealth, taught of the implications on individuals and the society, the danger of accumulation of wealth, temptations and advantages, his conclusion or thinking was not different from that of the social reformers.19 Jesus in (Matthew 6:19) indirectly open his hearers mind to the fact that the world in which they are, is just temporary and that they should be preparing themselves towards living there through their works on earth. How to do this is by making their deeds have effects in heaven e.g. giving tithes, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and bringing people to the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.20
Laying up treasures in heaven does not stop in the above mentioned works but to know and do the will of God. Jesus is also emphatic about where we keep our treasures. Automatically, our heart long towards where we have our valuables. Jesus wanted his audience to have a good orientation about this, that keeping their treasures in the right place and choosing things that have eternal value over temporary earthly treasures.
It is also interesting in the teachings of Jesus that, treasures kept in heaven are not subject to thieves and moths alone, but that they cannot be exhausted.21 The treasures we keep in heaven will definitely yield rewards that will be enjoyed till eternity.
Another teaching of Jesus concerning the wealth or possession as a hindrance to the gospel or the kingdom of God is found in the interpretation of the parable of the ‘sower’ as recorded in the synoptic gospels. Particularly interested in verse 7 ‘…other seeds fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plant.’ In other words, those who hear the word of God do nothing about it or do not accept the truth, others who teach the word do not practice it.22 The interpretation of Jesus of the parable is that the cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lust of other things choke the world, and it becomes unfruitful. They are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life that bring no fruit.23 Jesus ethical teachings drives home the fact that too much of giving oneself to the pleasures of the world would bring a poor response to the things of the kingdom not to talk of laying treasures in heaven. Sondra Ely Wheeler’s conclusion on the issue of response to follow Christ is a bit controversial. He is of the opinion that, selling of possession does not really matter. It may be sold or not – all that matters is to follow Jesus. This is not correct; a disciple that will follow Jesus must be ready to close his eyes to the things of this world.
Similar to the ethical teachings of Jesus in the parable of the sower, it is also found in (Matthew 10:5-10) where Jesus sent out his twelve disciples instructing them not to go with anything.
Do not take along any gold or silver, copper in your belts; take no bag for the journey or extra tunic or sandals or a staff for the workers is worth his keep.
The items Jesus mentioned to be avoided by the disciples were material things which could cause distractions in their divine assignment. It is not that those materials were not necessary or important, but that moment they could bring lack of concentration and does not characterize an experience of poverty or define discipleship.25 Jesus taught here that material things could bring stumbling block. More importantly, Christ is saying that those that would follow him will leave or forsake what they have to be part of a larger family of faith, where relationships are deep and possessions are freely shared.26
This chapter has enabled us to view materialism from Christ’s position. In a number of his teachings, Jesus addresses the believer’s proper relationship to money and possession. Jesus is not looking for those who live in severe self-discipline and abstinence from all forms of indulgence simply for religious reasons or living a solitary life because of religion, but eternity wise investors.27 Although, many are disturbed about how to make it in life especially a community where there is tremendous force for achievement. Meanwhile, Jesus’ teaching is that we should embrace the moral standard not the standard of this world. He advised us to relinquish worldly wealth in order to have eternal possessions in heaven. While giving cautions on the insecurity of wealth, he elucidated the best way to use our possession in the service of God and humanity by giving consideration to the most important things first.
NOTES AND REFERENCES
1. David W. Jones, What did Jesus really teach about wealth and poverty. Intersectproject.org>faithand-economic. Accessed on 16/05/17.
2. David W. Jones, David W. Jones, What did Jesus really teach about wealth and poverty. Intersectproject.org>faithand-economic. Accessed on 16/05/17.
3. John S. Pobee, Who are the Poor? The Beatitudes as a call to community (Geneva: WCC Publications, 1987), 34.
4. John S. Pobee, 94.
5. John S. Pobee, 94.
6. John S. Pobee, 94.
7. John S. Pobee, 94.
8. John S. Pobee, 95.
9. John S. Pobee, 95.
10. Keith Tondeur, 44.
11. Keith Tondeur, 44.
12. Keith Tondeur, 45.
13. Keith Tondeur, 63.
14. Keith Tondeur, 62.
15. Keith Tondeur, 102.
16. Sondra Ely Wheeler, 134
17. Keith Tondeur, 32.
18. Craig L. Blomberg, The New American Commentary, Matthew: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of the Holy Scripture, 161.
19. Francis Greenwood Peabody, Jesus Christ and the Social Question (New York: Grosset and Dunlap Publishers, 1966), 62.
20. Keith Tondeur, 15.
21. John S. Pobee, 99.
22. The Parable of the Sower https://christianpf.com. Accessed on 22/05/17.
23. The Parable of the Sower: www.biblestudytools.com. 22/05/17.
24. Sondra Ely Wheeler, 83.
25. Sondra Ely Wheeler, 128.
26. Sondra Ely Wheeler, 83.
27. John Pobee, 97.
4.0 ORIGIN OF PENTECOSTALISM
Before we proceed to the origin of Pentecostalism, it is pertinent we give a brief history of the introduction of Christianity to Nigeria.
In the 15th century, attempts were made by the Catholic Portuguese missionaries to introduce Christianity to both Benin and Warri,1 the present Edo and Delta State respectively. The attempt failed because of the introduction of Atlantic slave trade among other reasons.2 The missionaries worked hard to plant Christianity but the religion could not make a lasting impact on the people because the people found the religion harmful to their social stability coupled with the problem of language, culture, climate and communication.3 The second attempt to propagate Christianity in Nigeria in the 19th century was after the law abolishing slave trade was passed by the British parliament in 1807.4
The liberated slaves from Britain, America, Brazil and Wova-Scottia regained their freedom as they were re-settled in Sierra-Leone. It was amongst this slave that the first sets of Christians to Yorubaland were found, the Akus and the Lucumi.5 This is a form of salutation and a greeting among the Oyo people of western Nigeria and Yoruba ex-slaves from Ijesha and Ekiti districts respectively. Their different dialect and intonation identify their historical origins.6 Large numbers of ex-slaves resettled in Sierra-Leone due to the inter-tribal wars that ravaged their homeland before the Atlantic slave trade.7 Many of these ex-slaves who are Nigerians came back home as traders and missionaries.8 Others settled at Abeokuta – a new city found by the Egba group of Yoruba after the civil war.9 These ex-slaves wrote to the missionaries of the Church missionary society to inform them of their happy discoveries and to request for spiritual nurture.10 The pioneer missionary who was set to answer that appeal was Rev. Thomas Birch Freeman who was the first Wesleyan Methodist missionary to set his feet on Nigerian soil, precisely Badagry on 24th September, 1842. When the Baptist mission started propagation of Christianity in Nigeria in 1850, Thomas Jefferson Bowen became the first outstanding missionary of the southern Baptist convention, who volunteered himself for the mission work. As the mission work was going on, the catholic missions were not left out. September 8, 1863 witnessed the coming of father Burgher from Ouidah in Dahomey to Lagos as a missionary.
As Christianity was being spread through the mainline churches in Nigeria, there were some dissatisfaction as a result of European dominance and discourteous manner given to Nigerian customs and social systems by the European clergy, which led to the birth of African Independent Churches, with respect for African culture, suitable for the Africans and different from the parent denomination.11 While the African independent churches became acceptable to the Africans, in the 20th century there came a new religious movement that sprang up in search of the Holy Spirit that was believed has the power to uproot sin from a believer’s life, which will lead us to the beginning of Pentecostalism.
America and Britain has been described as the homes of Pentecostal movements. Although, there had been debates among historians as far back as to the original founder. Those who supported Seymour saw him as the founder because of his egalitarianism over Parham’s racist views. There is also the view that Azuza Street is evidence of an intrinsic racial and gender equality as the core of the movement, as most Pentecostals reflected the racial attitudes common in their day.12
Nevertheless, the origin of this movement is linked with two major sources, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Charles Parham’s Bible College in Topeka, Kansas in 1901 and William James Seymour’s Apostolic Faith Mission Revival on the Azuza Street in Los Angeles, California in 1906. Charles Fox Parham, a Methodist minister was referred to as the father of Pentecostalism. The theme of his message was speaking in tongues which he calls an initial evidence of being baptized in the spirit. He was of the view that Xenolalia- speaking in actual language was the bible evidence of the Spirit baptism. He believed one does not need foreign languages for world missionary. He therefore encouraged the students at his short-lived Topeka Bible School to search scriptural evidence of Spirit baptism as emphasized in the Acts of the Apostles chapter 2.
In January 1, 1901 Agnes Ozoma one of the Parham’s students spoke in tongues which was the first of speaking in tongue that marked the beginning of Pentecostalism. Ozoma was said to speak in Chinese language. The experience supported Parham’s ideology of xenolalia.13 In 1906, at Azuza street, a major revival occurred. Men and women experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and they spoke in tongues. William Joseph Seymour, an African-American, a student of Parham who used to stay away from his class because of racism was the leader of this phenomenon. He pastored a small black church in Los Angeles. In one of the services conducted, many people are baptized in the Holy Spirit. This attracted more people in Seymour’s service. He emphasized holiness, Pentecostal theology, stressing subjective spiritual experience rather than the pursue of intellectual knowledge.14
Seymour promoted Pentecostal movement to the fullest at Azuza Street with social implication for the church and the society. For the first time, both white and black men came together to worship freely at a time of high hatred and discrimination against the black.15 the Pentecostal movement spread to Europe, Norway, England and Sweden in 1908. There was a rapid growth of Pentecostalism to various countries through the American evangelists and the spread of Pentecostal literature. Although, there are other reasons for the growth of Pentecostal movement in other countries not linked to the Americans.16
4.1.0 THE IMPACT OF EDWARD IRVING
Edward Irving came to limelight in the 19th century, a Scottish Presbyterian minister who draws into millennial and prophetic circles. His interest in speaking in tongues increased his emphasis on spiritual gifts which Brumer says is parallel to Pentecostalism in the 19th century, the result of this experience was the formation of Catholic Apostolic church by Irving. Oladeji quoting Drummond says that the teaching of Irving, on tongues theology is a gift and a means towards the end of one of the signs of the last days.
Irving was sent out of Scotland Church because his teaching was said to be heretical and unacceptable by the church. The movement continued until 1901 and finally disappeared. Oladeji and Obaje concluded that Irving had no impact on Pentecostalism directly, his teachings were taught and more pronounced in Scottish Catholic Apostolic Church, but it is noticed that certain beliefs and practices relevant to Pentecostalism is seen, however minimal.
4.1.1 CHARLES G. FINNEY
Finney, an American Presbyterian Minister and leader in the second great awakening in the United States of America was said to have brought revivalism into the church. He lived between 1792 and 1876. He was called the father of modern revivalism and an advocate of Christian perfectionism. His individualistic approach to religion of revivalism was developed and institutionalized. He believed that the spiritual experience of an individual must be shared with other people. He adopted the method of praying for sinners by mentioning their names in their services to mount pressure of repentance on them. This revival method went a long way to influence American Christianity. Finney’s method of bringing men to spiritual crisis was important because men are sluggish, slothful and needed powerful excitement that will make them to obey the instruction of God. He further justified his methods from Brunner’s statements as thus:
…lead their minds off from religion and to oppose their influence of the gospel and it is necessary to come to raise an excitement among them till the tide rises so high as to sweep away the opposing obstacle.19
The Holiness movement believes that the presence of the Holy Spirit brings completeness of Christ’s life. However, the effort of Finney, Asa Matian, Walter Palmers, Thomas Boardman and some other people in 1875 brought the Holiness movement to England out of which Pentecostal movement emerges.20 for this reason, Charles Cornn report that Pentecostal movement is an extension of the Holiness Revival of the last half of the nineteenth century, as above, those who were baptized by the Holy Ghost were connected with the Holiness Revival or held the same view.
4.1.2 THE WELSH REVIVAL
The revival in Wales in 1904 -1905 was a landmark in the birth of Pentecostalism and the Christian world at large.21 It was not a phenomenon which appeared and faded away without any effect, but which is to be seen in the light of a Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the early 20th century. Because Pentecostal movement involved in the face of the spiritual emptiness, it was quickly embraced by individuals, homes and churches burning on fire with great zeal which led to people experiencing the reality of faithfulness of God’s divine power. A young Welshman, Evan Roberts, who was born in 1878 in Laughor, met God in his prayers. He assisted his father as a coal miner who later became a blacksmith. He prayed for eleven years that God should visit Wales in Revival Power. Roberts received a baptism of the Holy Spirit which took him back to his spiritual experiences and what God was doing in his life, as he gave them keys of receiving the Holy Ghost. The revival which became national news reviewed women who joyfully testified boldly to the saving grace of God in their lives. The Revival team was led by Joseph Jenkins, Joshua Sydney, and Evan Roberts himself conducting evangelistic revival meetings. Churches caught the fire and spirit moved throughout the land in great power. Lives were changed with new excitement about heavenly things. As the revival spread across Wales in late 1904 and early 1905, the community was turned upside down. Crime rate was minimized.
Magistrate in courts had no cases to settle. Alcohol trade was decimated and families experienced an amazing renewal under the power of the Holy Spirit. In 1905, Robert witnessed some challenges. His ministry was attacked and publicly questioned by a minister from Dowlais. Evan Roberts was depressed as a result of this, he became inactive from his evangelistic ministry which led to the fading away of the revival. Welsh revivals brought about the outpouring of the Spirit, power and holiness, which is the spiritual backdrop for the birth of twentieth century Pentecostalism. Thus, from the inception of Pentecostalism in America and Britain, and as people embraced this new movement, it became like a wildfire, as it spread to other parts of the world, Nigeria inclusive. In our next discussion we shall examine Pentecostalism in Nigeria.
4.1.3 HISTORY OF PENTECOSTAL CHURCHES IN NIGERIA
The global account of the history of Pentecostalism which is the next phase of Christianity, according to Bloch Hoell,21 Gee,22 Hollenweger,23 Anderson,24 and Omotoye25 began to appear in 1960 and became popular in 1980s in Nigeria. We have witnessed a phenomenal growth in the establishment of Pentecostal Churches in Nigeria in the 21st Century.
Pentecostalism appears to be a unique phenomenon distinctly separated from other religious movements. It has captured the attention of scholars of sociologists, historians of religion, theologians, policy makers, the media and other wide-ranging publics.26 Paul Gifford describes it as ‘Africans new Christianity and undoubtedly the salient sector of African Christianity today.’27 Ogbu Kalu called it the third response to white cultural dominance over the Church in Africa, the earlier two being Ethiopianism and Aladura of Zionist Churches.28
Matthew Ojo has also examined its origin and development in Western Nigeria with its roots in the university campuses and the work of scripture union.29 Other scholars who investigated into African Pentecostalism are David Martin, who sees it as the largest global shift in the religious market place and of course it is. Bebbington David refers to it as spontaneous popular revival, which is rooted in the community and meetings carefully discerned to promote the gospel.30 Others include Deji Ayegboyin, Michael Ogunewo, Richard Burgress, Anna Ishola and Rotimi Omotoye, etc.31
Pentecostal churches in Nigeria are emerging daily in the nooks and crannies of the country. Phillip Jenkin speculate that Pentecostal and independent churches will soon represent a far large segment of global Christianity, while Harvey Cox confirms this when he says that ‘Pentecostalism is burgeoning everywhere in the world.’32 Pentecostalism which Spittier Russhell asserts to emerge to dominate protestant spirituality33 is a movement in Christianity that argues that every Christian must share the same experience with Christ’s disciples like the day of Pentecost which is the infilling of the Holy Spirit according to Brunner.
Burgess, Hollenweger and Anderson adopted a more inclusive definition by describing it as any African church or movement that stresses the experience of the Spirit and practice of spiritual gifts.32 We agree with the above scholar by including African churches to Pentecostalism. However, its emphasis on the empowerment of the Holy Spirit and display of charismata, glossolalia, prophesy, makes it unique and different from other denominations.35
Pentecostalism could best be defined as a unique experience of baptism in the Holy Spirit in the evidence of speaking in tongues and the manifestation of spiritual gifts. Pentecostalism has been classified into three major groups. The first is the classical Pentecostalism which Leonard Lovett’s refers to as early Pentecostals which public image entails many elements such as emotionalism, fanatism, theological and biblical fundamentalism and apocalyptic eschatology.
Classical Pentecostals believed in the uniqueness of their movement, as they argue that it had its origin in the first century of the Christian era, these early Pentecostal characteristics waned after the first century only to reappear on January 1, 1901 with the spiritual outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Charles F. Parham’s Bethel Bible School of Topeka, Kansas. Classical Pentecostalism therefore denotes churches and denominations that originated in the United States of America at the turn of the century.
Neo-Pentecostalism is the second category. It is a movement in which Pentecostal teachings and practices spilled over into non-Pentecostal churches.37 Larry Christenson, a notable Neo-Pentecotalist writes that, ‘beyond conversion, beyond the assurance of salvation, beyond having the Holy Spirit there is a baptism with the Holy Spirit. Lawrence’s key emphasis is on glossolalia which is an evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit. Torrey defined the third wave, which is a new movement of the Holy Spirit thus:
An operation of the Holy Spirit distinct from the subsequent and additional regeneration work…and impartation of power and the one who receives it is fit for service…not merely for those of the apostles, nor merely for those of the apostolic age but for all that are far off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call as well i.e. it is every believer in every age of church history.39
Torrey’s definition is an all-inclusive definition. It is not limited to a class of people, it include every Christian. This has made his definition of Spirit baptism acceptable to majority of people.
Here are some of the established Pentecostal churches in Nigeria: Church of God’s Mission founded by late archbishop Benson Idahosa in Benin-city, Edo State, Household of God’s Church, being led by Rev. Chris Okotie in Oregun, Lagos, The Redeemed Christian Church of God founded by Pastor Josiah Akindayomi and presently under the leadership of Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, with its International Headquarters at Mowe, Ogun State, The Deeper Life Christian Church founded by Pastor Williams Kumuyi based in Lagos, Rev. Gabriel Oduyemi’s Bethel Ministry of Wonder City, Lekki, Peninsula, Lagos Pastor Patrick Anwuzia’s Zoe Ministries and Pastor Tunde Bakare’s Latter Rain Assembly in Lagos, Rev. Tunde Joda’s Christ Chapel International, Lagos and Bishop Wale Oke’s Sword of the Spirit Church based in Ibadan.40
Others are Timothy Oloyede Opoola of Search the Scriptures Gospel of Christ Ministries (a.k.a. Strong Tower Chapel) Ilorin, Rev. Oyakhilome Believer’s Love World Ministry (a.k.a. Christ Embassy) International, Ikeja, Lagos, New Testament Church based in Ilorin and established by Pastor Moses Rahman Popoola, Mountain of Fire and Miracle founded by Pastor Daniel Kolawole Olukoya with its Headquarter in Lagos, The Synagogue Church of All Nations, established by Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua in Lagos, Rhema Chapel International Ilorin established by Rev. George Adegboye, The Word Assembly being led by Prophet Isaac Omolehin and of course The Living Faith Church (a.k.a. Winners Chapel) founded by Bishop David Olaniyi Oyedepo.41 We cannot exhaust the list of the Pentecostal Churches in Nigeria.
4.2 AFRICAN INTERPRETATION OF PENTECOSTALISM
There had been various questions as to whether African Pentecostalism is indigenous or imported or the combination of both. Pentecostalism is viewed as been transmitted or delivered from the West, particularly from the United States of America that has to do with Azuza Street revivals which spread to other parts of the world. This view holds that the Pentecostal fire flows to other parts of the world like wild fire.
The second argument in favour of African Pentecostalism by scholars is the stress placed on local, spontaneous and contemporaneous development and manifestations of Pentecostalism. Scholars accept the event of Azuza Street in United States of America as the only instance of spiritual event that occurred spontaneously and independently in other parts of the world.42 It is believed that what happened in the United States of America could also be experienced locally, indigenously, and spiritually. These groups of people do not see anything new in the Azuza event and so do not want to believe anyone as a forerunner progenitor or as one setting the pace for others.
There are common features of African Christianity and what happened at Azuza Street mission. These include: prayer, everyone believes that prayer offered to God according to his will brings result such as curing diseases, sicknesses, providing financial prosperity, protection, etc.
Similarities in liturgical revolution worship such as, clapping, singing and dancing were also part of the experiences in Azuza Street Revival. However, if the mode of worship and spiritual experience are the same between African Pentecostalism and Azuza street revival, it means there is a predecessor and has influenced the other.
The third reason given and similar to the two suggested points above is that, scholars do not want to accept that the route of the spectacular spiritual event in other parts of the world. The complexity of African Pentecostalism, its various methodologies and interpretations has opened up new findings into this phenomenon,43 leading to countless numbers of literature on Pentecostalism by Africans. Among these scholars are Cephas Omenyo, Matthew Ojo, Karla Poewe, Ruth Marshall, Kwabena Asamoah-Kwandu, Anderson, Ogbu Kalu and others.
African Pentecostal Churches are Churches founded and governed by black founders, independent of white control. Anderson and Otwang were optimistic that African Pentecostalism is able to adopt and fulfill the religious aspiration and expression of Africans in a remarkable way, adding that Africans have also found in Pentecostalism a place to be at home.44
In further discussion, it was claimed that African Pentecostalism has Africanize Christian Liturgy in a free spontaneous way that does not betray its essential Christian character, and has liberated it from the foreignness of European forms.45 However, Asamoah Gyadu explains that historical emergency of Pentecostalism worldwide has been interpreted to have direct continuity with experience of Charles Fox Parham and William J. Seymour’s Azuza Street movement46 which is the bone of contention. Synal Vinson is of the opinion that even though there are evidences that suggest that some Pentecostals could be traced back to north America, practically not all have the link with western missionary movement.47
Furthermore, Pomerville,48 Paterson49, and Sepulvda50 reject the idea that all Pentecostal movement have direct link with Seymour Azuza Street mission. These scholars believe there is an oversight of other unique origin of Pentecostal outpouring around the world because on the emphasis of Seymour’s Azuza Street mission. Also, it is unacceptable to portray Pentecostalism as an American export, instead it is assumed to be a Holy Spirit led renewal of the church in the context of salvation history.
It is however concluded that, there should be a clear distinction of history and origin of Pentecostalism than the American versions for clarity and global awareness. Albrecht traces the spread of Pentecostalism to Azuza Street mission. He posits:
The news attracted waves of ministers and lay people from numerous traditions and locales around the world. They swarmed upon the mission like bees to a hive then convinced of the message penetrated by the experience and empowered by the Spirit, they disperse carrying the Pentecostal gospel around the world.51
Kalu in his work tagged this religious development, the third response and implosion of the Spirit when he says:
We are witnessing the implosion of a third force, moved by the third person of the trinity in the triple task of re-evangelization, intensification and reconstruction of Christian experience in contemporary Africa.52
To buttress this point, Kalu in another work argues strongly for the uniqueness and peculiarity of African Pentecostalism as it is never related to the Azuza street event and other external influences. To him, Pentecostalism reconstructs African spirituality according to Christian persectives.53 Pentecostalism has largely been coloured as distinctively black culture, highlighting the aspect of black origin thus producing a black form of Christianity.54
According to Anderson, Adogame and Ukha, African instituted churches, as well as Pentecostal and charismatic churches are expressing African Pentecostalism in different form.55 Anderson analyzed the origin of African Pentecostalism seeing the external root as having African features which he links with William Seymour who is of black Origin.56 In his opinion, Africa is known for her religious creativity and spontaneous indigenous character which portrays one of her outstanding features. Anderson holds the view that African Pentecostalism was both indigenous and imported because of its link with Azuza street revival and with the leadership of William Seymour. Roseline Hackett’s assessment of African Pentecostalism is not biased as she reduces tension in her explanation on the use of electronic media which could be a possible reason for transmission and having indirect link with Azuza Street event by listening to various teachings. She asserts that many of the charismatic movements are locally based, but their educated leaders have been to the United States of America having relationships and affiliation with leading American evangelists. Hackett went further to say that electronic medium, powerful messages and a good charisma can attract a large follower and a development of mega-churches.57 However, whatever argument put forward by scholars of African Pentecostalism is generally believed to have a link with Azuza Street mission directly or indirectly. We agree with Ogbu Kalu that African Christianity is unique, but disagrees with him on the fact that African Pentecostalism never had any relationship or influence with Azuza Street Mission.
4.3 HISTORICAL ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE LIVING FAITH CHURCH IN NIGERIA
4.3.1 THE LIFE AND CALL OF BISHOP DAVID OLANIYI OYEDEPO
The founder of the Living Faith Church, Bishop David Oyedepo hailed from Omu -Aran (Odo-Oro) in Irepodun Local Government Area of Kwara State. He was born on 27th September, 1954 in Osogbo, to the family of Abraham and Morenike Oyedepo. Contrary to the popular stories in books and newspapers, Oyedepo for the first time openly debunked the statement that he was born into a Muslim family. He made this known in an interview titled ‘Special’ in The Nations newspaper dated September 27, 2014 during his 60th birthday when he says that:
…there are quite a number of things on the social media which are not true like saying that I was born into a Muslim family, but I chose to disregard social media.
In conclusion, he declares that:
I was born into the church and raised by my grandmother who was a devout Christian. In fact, my first school was Anglican Primary School in the church.58
This statement was confirmed in an interview with him on August 6, 2015 when he repeated the same statement that he had never been a Muslim in his life, although there were rumours he came from a Muslim home. As a child, David Oyedepo decided to live with his grandmother, Rachael Adeyiola Odetundun in Omu-Aran in Kwara State. Rachael Adeyiola made her grandson to attend Morning Prayer meetings at 5am daily by dragging him along half asleep.59 It is the custom of the mission oriented churches to observe early morning prayer meetings to start the day with God. His early involvement in prayers made him participate in religious activities early in life. Oyedepo opines that:
In my very early days the only outing I knew outside my home was the church. I grew up addicted to both God and church.60
On another occasion, the founder of The Living Faith Church states that:
I grew up in a spiritual healthy environment with my grandmother as my first god. She did a good job on me through her philosophical techniques. She taught me the dignity of labour, the futility of depending on Father’s inheritance, the burden of indebtedness through borrowing.61
David Oyedepo described his father as courageous and a hard working man. He went further to say that his father told him as a young boy that his family was known by the ‘agnomen’ of people that made a show of wealth in the corridors of the idle. The name of his father’s compound is Odo-Oro, that is, river of wealth which depicts riches and evidence that the family is well-to-do. David Oyedepo made it clear, that his father was the first to buy a brand new truck in his town. Also, when he lost his business because of a new government policy, he was able to pick up again from the rubbles.67 To him, this was a symbol of courage and diligence. He also described his mother as a responsible woman, industrious, diligent, dutiful, purpose-driven and very religious. He comments that:
Throughout her lifetime, my mother never asked me anything for herself once, rather she was always looking for what to do to add to others. There was no building project my wife and I ever get involved without her giving something towards it.63
Oyedepo’s training by his grandmother added to his success in life and ministry. He had his early education at St. Paul’s Anglican Primary School, Omu-Aran where he passed out in 1967 and proceeded to Government Secondary School, Omu-Aran between 1968 and 1972.64 He was admitted to Kwara State Polytechnic Ilorin, where he studied Architecture and obtained a Higher National Diploma in 1981. In 1999, he had his doctorate degree in Divinity from Honolulu University, United States of America through a distant learning programme. As a result of his contribution to evangelism, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree in the same university in the year 2009.65
Bishop Oyedepo had a personal encounter with Christ at the age of fifteen, through a teacher named Betty Lasher, a member of the Sudan Interior Mission who taught him Christian Religious Knowledge and perceived that he was very good and active in Bible Classes. Oyedepo said his teacher made him to realize that works could not take him to heaven. His teacher succeeded in leading him to Jesus Christ on 19th February, 1969.66 David said he had read the New Testament Bible Which had helped him to cure Tuberculosis in September 1969 which was confirmed during the interview with the Man of God. David grew up to know God early in life through his testimony. As good as it was, this is a rare virtue found in children of his age. However, he did not mention his shortcomings as a child.
At the age of twelve, he said he asked a carpenter to make a rod of Moses for him which he could be use to like Moses to divide the Red Sea and take the people to the promised land.67 He also claimed to have learnt from his grandmother as a child, those things that made a man out of him. One of such things was learning about the dignity of labour which made a life impression on him as a serious child and not a loafer. We assume that these were activities he grew up to know and which caught his attention as a child, as most children repeat what they see, hear and copy elders and their teachers.
As a child, David Oyedepo was fascinated by an elder named Tale Korede who could recite Bible passages in Yoruba language. This attitude prompted him to study the Bible in the same manner. In 1973, while David Oyedepo was preparing to go back to school, an Area Education Officer by name, Mr. Adeoye who had gone to see David’s uncle- Elder Ibiwoye inquired from him if he could teach to relief a teacher of maternity leave. He accepted his offer with Joy because it was another opportunity to evangelize. He spent seventy days in Dumaji, a predominantly Muslim village of about 3km to Shonga, Edu Local Government Area in Kwara State, where he met a teacher by name Abraham Kuranga, knowing that there was no church in this area, he started a fellowship at the entrance porch of the compound where he lived.68 The native language is Nupe. Oyedepo’s friend became his interpreter.
David Oyedepo engaged in weekly programmes and evangelism in the houses of the students he taught. According to him, he was welcomed and well respected by the parents of the student and many were led to Christ. David in his account said a temporary structure was put up for a place of worship after 40 days, while Oyedepo was leaving the village after 70 days, a gift of prophetic lantern was presented to him by one of the elders in the fellowship thus:
Silver and gold we have not, but we give you this lamp. Let the light you brought to our village shine round the world.
The lantern presented to David was believed to be prophetic symbol and to show their love. David functioned as the leader of this small group of worshippers and this was his first official role as the leader in the fellowship. The lantern presented to him was a symbol of light in the midst of darkness. The symbolic lantern is preserved in Oyedepo’s house in Lagos called the Light house in order to retain his memory at Dumaji.70
The story of the Living Faith Church began with his trip to Ilesha to see a Christian friend, Pastor Tunde Aniba. Unfortunately, he did not meet him at home and the Holy Spirit ministered to him to find a place where he could talk to him. He lodged in a Hotel where he had an encounter with God.71
The religious experience lasted for eighteen hours according to him:
I saw a lineup of the afflicted, oppressed, broken, beaten, battered, the blind, the lame and the wretched. I saw all kinds of deformities that I was greatly bewildered. I heard their wailing as filed past me. Heir groaning was so intense that I could almost feel their pains.72
In his encounter, David said he asked God why this suffering as he cried and sobbed. Thus, he said the vision continued again as he heard God speaking to him:
And from the beginning it was not and now, the house has come to liberate the world from all oppression of the devil through the preaching of the world of faith and I am sending you to undertake this task.73
After sobbing for a while, David said he accepted the call of God into the Ministry. The call was contrary to his will which is to give a helping hand in the ministry and be a blessing to others. In analyzing his experience, he divided the liberation mandate he received into four parts. The ‘task’ is interpreted as to liberate mankind from all oppression of the devil. The ‘target’ is the world. The ‘tool’ is through the preaching of the word of faith. The ‘time’ is now. And now the hour has come.74
Bishop Oyedepo’s call is similar to the call of prophet Isaiah who accepted the call of God voluntarily in Isaiah 6:8 ‘And he said ”who shall I send? And who will go for us” and I said, here I am, send me.’ John the Baptist was another person called to preach and prepare way for the Lord. He was called to be a forerunner of Jesus Christ in (Matthew 3:1-11). On May 8, 1981, David Oyedepo shared his vision with his group of friends in Ilorin, sixty-three in number; eighteen out of those friends are members of The Living Faith Church today. All these people referred to above, embarked on prayers to make this vision a reality. The first meeting of the group was held at United Missionary Theological Chapel, Ilorin, Kwara State. Later, the group increased in number and formed what was known as ‘Power House’ prominent among the pioneering members mentioned by bishop Oyedepo in the interview were: Faith Olutayo, who later became the wife of David Oyedepo, David Abioye, who is now the second man in the Ministry, Olatunji Adeyemi, Nathaniel and Charity Ichor at Makurdi, Dr. Olufemi of UCH, Ibadan, and Isaac Oladapo.75
The fellowship known as ‘Faith Liberation Hour’ was inaugurated on 24th May, 1981.76 It was later transformed to a church named the Living Faith Church in September 1983. Regular faith based and fellowships and seminar programmes were held. It is to be noted that many Pentecostal Churches in Nigeria started as House Fellowships. The experience of the commissioning of the Living Faith was similar to that of Cornelius, and Peter in the Acts of the Apostles. Cornelius received a vision to send men to Peter in Joppa, who would open his heart to the gospel. At the same time, peter also had a revelation pointing to the same thing. Bishop David Oyedepo was led by the Holy Spirit to invite Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye of The Redeemed Christian Church of God, who laid hands on him and his wife Faith on September 17, 1983. The ministry was commissioned in September 1983 in Ilorin. Oyedepo recounted the prophetic words spoken by Pastor Adeboye:
The ministry will succeed, whether you support it or not…the glory will be so heavy; but don’t allow the glory to blind your eyes to the rider of the ass, nobody knew where the ass went.77
Oyedepo held on to this prophetic word as reasons for the unlimited growth and strength of the church today. ‘Here we are today, basking in the glory of the…78 This is one of Bishop Oyedepo’s comments as he appreciated God for the growth of the Church.
4.3.2 THE SPREAD OF THE LIVING FAITH CHURCH IN NIGERIA
Kuponu and Owoeye gave a brief history of the calling of Bishop David Oyedepo in their earlier works. 79
The church was registered with the corporate affairs commission, the Nigeria government’s agency responsible for the registration of companies and non-profit organizations in Nigeria. Living Faith Church Worldwide International Inc. is an umbrella ministry for other arms, such as: David Oyedepo Ministries International (DOMI), World Mission Agency (WMA), Social Development and Social Services, etc., with the international headquarters of the church located in Canaan land, Ota, Nigeria. From the teachings of the founder, it is gathered that the theology of the church is centered around faith, prosperity and success messages.
He started his ministry with revivals in various churches as it was the order of the day in the 70s to 80s. The ministry was moved to Kaduna on 11th December, 1983, although there were two versions to the movement of the church to Kaduna. The First story stated that the church was established after a revival that took place between 21st and 28th November, 1983. This culminated into a full movement in January 1984, with two workers – Stephen Arosanya and Simeon Imeje. These two men were put in charge of weekly programmes. As at January, 1984, six members attended the Sunday Service while 14 and 22 people were in attendance in February and March respectively. In subsequent services, the regular church members stood at 1,131.
Another version of the story was that the church was established by accident. Bishop Oyedepo was privileged to preach in a Pentecostal church in Kaduna, of which the members of the church were greatly blessed. According to this story, anonymous source claimed that the minister was guilty of inconsistency which led to the division of the church. A group was loyal to the accused Pastor and invited him to lead them while some believed that the group that followed Oyedepo led to the quick growth of the Living Faith Church in Kaduna. Whatever happened, they are of the past which anyone could fall victim. Nevertheless, we are more interested in the success and progress the church is making now.
It was a great commitment for Bishop Oyedepo to shuttle between Ilorin and Kaduna every week. It is interesting to find out that some Pentecostal ministers do not ‘go out for fishing’ but take off their Ministries from other people’s labour and not through evangelism. The Living Faith Church in Kaduna is likely to be one of these churches going by the second version of the story. Following the birth of the Living Faith Church in Kaduna, the ‘spread out’ mandate took off with the first five new churches planted in the northern part of Nigeria namely: Maiduguri, Biu, Mubi, Azare and Bauchi.
Today, the church is found in almost all major cities in the northern state of the country. The Living Faith Church at ES Ramat Close, Ungawan-Rimi, Kaduna was established. The church was assumed to be the largest church in the northern Nigeria then. Bishop Oyedepo left the Church in Kaduna and handed over to Bishop David Abioye who is the next in rank to him. Oyedepo has something peculiar which he hammered almost every time as reasons for the growth of the church:
Ability to pick divine signals through Rhema visions and revelations has been the secret behind every step, move and decision that had led to the great accomplishment of the church.80
According to Bishop Oyedepo, he received specific instructions to hand over the church in Kaduna to Bishop David Abioye in July 1989. He claimed the voice came to him when he was the pastor of Kaduna church. In his own understanding, he knew God was telling him to hand over the church immediately. That has made Bishop Abioye to be in charge of anything that has to do with Administration in Nigeria. As usual, David Oyedepo had always claimed this is the way and manner he hears from God. Although, David Oyedepo said he had deep and personal dislike for the city of Lagos, but he had no choice because of the instruction received to hand over to Bishop Abioye when he did.
Contrary to the reasons given by Bishop Oyedepo, Ojo is of the opinion that Oyedepo moved to Lagos partly because of the increasing Muslim-Christian conflict in Kaduna and northern Nigeria in January. The second reason he gave for the movement of Oyedepo to Lagos was to benefit from the strategic importance of Lagos, Nigeria’s foremost commercial city.81 It has been observed that many ministers preferred to start their ministries in Lagos for no other reason than financial benefits, while the two reasons given by Ojo may not be tenable because the man who goes outside God’s will not succeed. Also, a man who is called must know that he has the support of the one who called him in any situation he finds himself.
In obedience to the voice of God, moving to Lagos was not a difficult task. All necessary arrangements for take-off were completed in two weeks. The movement from Kaduna to Lagos is called ‘Lagos Invasion Project.’ The Living Faith Church Lagos commenced on 24th September, 1989 at no 1a New Era Road, Iyana-Ipaja, Lagos. However, a shift in base of the Living Faith Church from Kaduna to Lagos brought Religious, Political and Socioeconomic development to the Church. As a result of the increase in membership, the church acquired 2.3 hectares of property of an abandoned motel facility on 38, Raji Oba Street, Alimosho, Iyana-Ipaja where the renowned Winner Complex was built. The church grew rapidly from 3,000 to 10,000 in 1994; 10,000 to 19,000 in 1995; 29,000 in 1996 and by 1997 the church received between 35,000- 41,000 people which led to conducting five services every Sunday in 1999 as the congregation increased to 50,000.82
Again, there was another divine instruction received by Bishop Oyedepo and that was to move the church from Alimosho to a new place occupying 530 hectares of land at Km 10, Idi-Iroko Road, Ota, Ogun State. This gave birth to the Faith Tabernacle at Canaan Land, a 50,000 seat auditorium that was claimed them to be the largest single auditorium in Nigeria, but recently the Redeemed Christian Church of God has Erected a bigger auditorium that covers an area of Km 3 by 3 which stands to be the biggest auditorium in Nigeria today. The Living Faith Church was dedicated on September 18, 1999.83 The church is growing all over Nigeria in cities and towns.
The aim of the church is to embark on evangelical mission within and outside Nigeria. Evangelism programmes most times are directed from the headquarters in Ota, with fasting and prayer, local churches has autonomous power to organize evangelism programme as led by the Holy Spirit. Although the church is growing numerically, it is assumed that majority of the members are either from the mainline churches such as: The Baptist, Evangelical Church for Winning All, Anglican, Methodist and African Independent churches such as: Cherubim and Seraphim Church, African Church, etc. it is observed that, in this era of ‘claim it and have it syndrome,’ many people shifted to get rich because of their interest in prosperity, while some claim to prefer a more lively service than the one they are used to. In other to reduce the mass movement from some of these churches, the mainline churches have also proposed new elements and methods of conducting services during worship. This is to reduce the movement of their members especially youths into Pentecostal churches. The Living Faith Church has become a global phenomenon with over 5000 vibrant local churches across the length and breadth of Nigeria, 906 churches in Yoruba land and 600 churches planted on the other five major continents of the earth. Churches that conduct their services in Yoruba especially the African instituted churches now have English Chapels for their youths. In many of the churches, youths are accepted and allowed to organize different programmes that will build them spiritually and socially.
4.3.3 THE BELIEFS AND DOCTRINES OF THE LIVING FAITH CHURCH
The church carries the symbol of a map of the world in form of a globe of which five tongues of fire burn. The five tongues of fire shoot up and resting on the globe. The fire is similar to the fire that rested on the apostles on the day of Pentecost. The fire that came down and rested on the apostles enabled them to receive the Holy Spirit that empowered them to preach the gospel without fear. In this context, the fire on this logo can be said to represent the fire of the Holy Ghost that gives the church power to witness the gospel worldwide. The shield inside the globe represents world of faith. A shield is used as a symbol because of its power to incapacitate, defend, deflect and guard against the arrows of the enemy. The book of Ephesians 6:16 reads: taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of fear, doubt, worry, sickness, poverty, depression, oppression, etc. Members of the Living Faith Church are taught through the word of God to always lift up their shield of faith with which to fight the devil.
The word of faith is the twelve pillars or the commission upon which the liberation mandate is built. In the eighteenth hour vision experienced by David Oyedepo the founder of the Living Faith Church who said that he received the mandate to liberate the world: when the following words came to him ‘but from the beginning, it was not so and the hour has come to liberate the world from all oppression of the devil through the preaching of the word of faith.’ From that moment, it has been the task of the church to preach the word of faith and set the world free from all forms of oppression. The world is the target of the church, certainly, the impact of the Living Faith Church activities are felt everywhere the gospel is taken to.
188.8.131.52 THE BELIEFS AND DOCTRINES
Doctrinal emphasis and practices according to Matthew Ojo is an important element in the Church that gives a better understanding of internal dynamics of the charismatic movement in Nigeria.84 Belief is equally important because they sharply focus reflection of the socio-economic situations of the society. Doctrine is a principle, body of principles, creed or body of teachings of a religious, political or philosophical group presented for acceptance or belief dogma. Christianity as a religion encompasses a wide range of denominations and faith groups and each subscribe to its own set of distinguishing doctrinal positions.85
Slight differences may be noticed in some areas of prophetic interpretations and regulatory religious practices86 as Chris Manus opines that doctrinal emphasis are rooted in a scripture, hence they are intensely biblical.87 Manus is correct because any doctrine not found in the scripture is not biblically based and may mislead the people. The formation of belief and doctrines started from Nicene Creed. The creed emerged out of the church’s struggle with heresies of Gnosticism and Montanism in the last half of the second century. The Gnostics said that Christ never dwelt on this earth in human form,88 while the Montanists taught that Christ’s promise of the comforter had not been fulfilled in the upper room, on Pentecost, but that the coming of the Holy Spirit was now at hand and that the end of the world was near. 89 This was a great time of tremendous crisis, the creed was necessary in order that everybody might know what the church believes to be true Christian doctrine, 90 as against the false heretical teachings of the Gnostics and Montanists.
The creed is the most widely accepted and used as belief statement of a Christian faith. In liturgical churches, it is recited every Sunday as part of the liturgy. It forms mainstream of definitions of Christianity for most Christians.91 It is commonly used by the Roman Catholics, Anglicans and many other Christian groups. Many groups that do not have a tradition of using it in their services nevertheless are committed to the doctrine it teaches.
The following basic Christian beliefs are central to almost all Christian faiths. They are presented as core doctrines of Christianity. A small number of groups who are not within the framework of Christianity may not accept some of these beliefs. It should be noted that slight variances, exceptions and additions to these doctrines can exist within certain faith groups that fall under the broad umbrella of Christianity.
It is important to add that doctrinal development started from the Bible, which is assumed to contain rudimentary doctrinal formation. An example of such development is the church’s central dogma, the doctrine of the trinity. The argument against this doctrine is that going through the scripture the Trinitarian theology of God in the three persons can be explained. There are facts about doctrinal issues that are controversial. The Episcopal authority of bishops canon and creed were original document used in formulating the orthodox confession of the church also known as rule of law.92
The Living Faith Church Mandate contains the following as regards what the church believes: The scripture is the inspired word of God. God is one, but manifested in three persons and Man, his created being. Belief in eternal life, the new birth, water baptism, baptism of the Holy Ghost, sanctification, signs and wonders, divine healing, resurrection of Jesus, the return of our Lord and eternal retribution.93 There is a small pamphlet given to visitors familiarizing them with the tenets of the church. James Cox is of the opinion that religious beliefs articulates and expresses the thoughts, ideas or opinion about unrestricted values which draws to itself the response of people.94 Kuponu admits that belief is an affirmation of divine truth which precedes or is put in action in rituals in such a way that whatever adherent of a religious tradition articulate to himself or herself to others what this unrestricted value is, he is expostulating the integral beliefs of his or her religious tradition. He further argues that belief system holds a unique place within a religious experience, as it helps believers to understand the sacred and human beings, concluding that beliefs cannot stand in isolation as they must be actualized in rituals.95
It is true that development brings progress, but Pentecostals have a different view concerning the Episcopal authority and creed in the history of the church because of the role institutionalizing the life of the spirit.96 Pentecostals believe in sound doctrine but emphasize more on the experience of the Holy Spirit rather than development of doctrines, stressing on the unity of Christians from different churches through spiritual renewal and mission.
There are various views of scholars on doctrine. For instance, to George Lindback,97 doctrine is a part of a larger framework of symbols in the life of the church that actually shape and nourish Christian experience. It can act as a ‘grammar’ of the language and of faith, which assist in guiding the general of worship and witness. In other words, Christian experience cannot be conceived without doctrine.
Jaroslave Pelikan agrees that doctrine encompasses what the church believes, teaches and confesses in prayer, suffering, service and obedience in celebrating and awaiting the coming of the kingdom.98 It is however observed that, doctrinal development does not emanate from judicial decisions of the church governing bodies alone but through the agreement of everyone in a church by the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Doctrine does not only reveal what is already in the scripture but the development explains the biblical revelations. It is not an individual affair but ecclesiastical. It must therefore be preserved through faith (Ephesians 4) which was handed over to the saints as a witness to the truth of the gospel (Jude 3).
Some of the basic Christian beliefs are: There is only one God- Isaiah 43:10; 44:6; John 17:3. God is three in one or trinity- Matthew 3:16; John 14:16; II Corinthians 3:14; John 10:30; I Peter 1:2.God is Omniscience (knowing all things) (Acts 15:18; I John 3:20). God is Omnipotent (All powerful) (Psalm 115:3; Revelation 19:6) God is Sovereign (I Timothy 6:15-16). God is Holy (I Peter 1:15). God is Just or Religious (I Peter 9:9; Psalm 116:5; 145:17, Jeremiah 12:1). God is Love (I John 4:8) God is true (Romans 3:4; John 14:6). God is a Spirit (John 4:24). God is the creator of everything that exist (Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 24:44). God is infinite and eternal (Psalm 90:2, Genesis 21:23; Acts 4:27). God is Immutable (He does not change) (Joshua 1:17; Malachi 3:6; Isaiah 46:9-10). Jesus Christ is God (John1:1; John 14; 10:30-33; 20:28; Colossians 2; Philippians 2:5-8). Jesus Christ became man (Phillipians 2:1-11, 10:30-33; 20:28, Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:8). Jesus is the only way to God the father (John 14:6; Matthew 11:27; Luke 10:22). Man was created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26,27) All have sinned (Romans 3:23;5:12). Death came into the world through Adam (Romans 5: 12-15). Sin separates man from God (Isaiah 59:2). Salvation is a free gift of God (Romans 4:5; 6:3; Ephesians 2:5-9; I John 1:8-10). The Bible is the inspired or God-breath word of God (II Timothy 3:16, II Peter 1:21). Those who reject Christ will go to hell (Revelation 20:11-15; 21:8). There would be a rapture of the church (Matthew 24: 30-36; 40-41; John 14:1-3; I Cor. 15:51-52; I Thessalonians 4:16-17, II Thessalonians 2:1-12).
184.108.40.206 BELIEFS AND PRACTICES OF THE LIVING FAITH CHURCH
Beliefs are the tenets of the faith of the believers of a church, since they constitute the same fundamental basis of the Christian confession.99 It could be a formal statement of a Church’s belief, preached by leaders to the members which became an influence to shape their lives.100 Examples are written and unwritten documents, formal materials including church order, books and pamphlets, bulletins, tracts and magazines. Members often refer to these materials by church leaders as where doctrines are stated and explained. However, it is the individual’s teachings, it could be more of religious activity and behavior than doctrinal statements.101 Kuponu in his paper admits that belief system holds a unique place within a religious experience. He is of the opinion that, it helps believers to understand the object of worship and explains the religious understandings about the sacred and human beings.102 Beliefs of the Living Faith Church are biblically based. Although one cannot rule out the ability of the founder having a deep understanding and faith in the word of God which are revealed in his messages. These revelations are strongly passed to the people with relevance to contemporary issues. The doctrines of the Living Faith Church are anchored on these beliefs. The church explains its creedal formula of twelve principal tenets around what it calls doctrinal pillars. These are: Faith, Word, Supernatural, Holy Spirit, Prosperity, Prayer, Healing, Wisdom, Success, Vision, Consecration and Praise.103
The messages, workshops and seminars being organized by David Oyedepo are centered on these principal themes. These beliefs are documented in books, audiovisual, electronic media (radio, television and the internet).
Apart from the twelve principal tenets the church also believe in the Trinity (God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) (I John 5:7; John 14:28; I Timothy 2:5, John 1:14). Bible references are used to support doctrinal questions as they cannot be answered with treaties and tracts.
In an interview with a member of the Living Faith Church in Ogbomoso, by name James Atanda, He said that the books written by the founder serve as complementary source of the Living Faith Church doctrines focusing on the captured and oppressed. In order to enhance the knowledge of the members, every member is expected to read the Bible daily and grow spiritually, as well as, attend church programmes, such as, Sunday Services, Prayer Meetings and House Fellowships.104
The church believes in one God that manifests himself in three persons: God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost (I John 5:7). God sent Jesus into the world to save man. He was with God the Father from the beginning of the world. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit through the Virgin Mary. He was crucified for man’s sin on the cross, he rose from the dead the third day and ascended to the heaven, sitting at the right hand of God as the high priest and advocate.105
MAN, HIS FALL AND REDEMPTION
In the beginning, the Bible makes it clear that man was created in God’s own image and likeness. Man fell through the sin of Adam. This was why the Son of God was made manifest to destroy the work of the devil, by bringing man to God through redemption. This is done through grace and faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8).106
ETERNAL LIFE AND THE NEW BIRTH
The Living Faith Church believes in repentance according to the word of God which is the first step to salvation.
Living a new life is compulsory for everyone, which is how man can gain everlasting life (John 3:3-5; I John). The generation is crucial to Pauline and Johnine. It was the core teaching of the early apostles. Although, it is an important aspect of Christian teaching, the phenomenon is found among the Pagan cult and in the misery religion in the Greaco-Roman world.107 The Roman Catholics, Protestants and other denominations believe in regeneration. The method of attaining this position as individual may differ.
The church is a place where lives and destinies are shaped. The Living Faith Church believes that the church is an assembly of all persons who have been born again, that is, which is regenerated by the Holy Spirit. Jesus in the parables of the weeds and tares demonstrate the two sets of people (good and bad) occupying the church. The Living Faith Church accepts the Lordship of Christ over the church. Jesus Christ governs the activities of the church in accordance with the word of God (Ephesians 4:15-16).108
Water baptism within Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity according to Stanley Burgess, has taken variety of forms depending on the particular branch of movement being examined. We have baptism by sprinkling or pouring of water. In the Living Faith Church, Baptism is only for those who made personal confession of faith in Christ Jesus. This is followed by water baptism as an outward expression of a personal faith that precedes baptism.
Although, this type of baptism has nothing to do with salvation but some hold the view that it contains some sacrament aspect (a means of grace which makes it more than actual symbol but a means of connecting by faith with greater spiritual reality identifying with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ). The church accepts Baptism by immersion as a direct commandment of the Lord and for those who confess Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Some other people however, say the spiritual meaning is what matters, not the method of symbolizing it.
BAPTISM IN THE HOLY GHOST
There are claims by some Pentecostal and charismatic churches that the book of the Acts of the Apostles separate: new birth, baptism by immersion and baptism in the Holy Ghost.109 We agree with Matthew Ojo that though distinct, the three experiences cannot be separated from this illustration, it is possible to have the new birth, be sanctified and be baptized on the same day.
Baptism in the Holy Ghost is an inner experience which is evidence through the practice of speaking in tongues. Paul Jinadu says that, when a man receives the Holy Ghost, the first sign comes with the evidence to speak in a new language. The Spirit takes over his tongue and enables him to say words that he had never learned.110 The Maranatha Evangelical Christian Ministry added to its doctrinal statement thus:
The baptism of the Holy Ghost is experienced whereby the sanctified believer is empowered by the Holy Ghost for Service. This is evident in the scriptural, universal and uniform sign of the speaking in other tongue as the Spirit gives utterance. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are for believers today.111
A man receives the Holy Ghost as a result of new birth, the evidence of speaking in tongues (Matthew 3:11; John 14:16-17; Acts 1:8). The work of the Holy Ghost is to guide, reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness and of judgment, instruct and empower believers for godly living and service. Berkof asserts that the third person of the Trinity is not necessary because from the very beginning it has not functioned as a power of unity but as a source of confusion. He went further to explain that the risen Christ is transcendent on God’s right hand and the Spirit is the immanent presence of the transcendent and risen Christ. In other words, the Spirit is the Christ in a different dimension. Therefore, to him, this doctrine will not be Trinity but a kind of duality recognizing only God the Father and God the Son.
The doctrine of Trinity should not in any way be difficult to interpret going by what Jesus told his disciples:
But I tell you the truth: this is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of sin and of righteousness and judgment in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me. John 16:7-10.
The Holy Spirit who is the third person of Christ is not a duplication of power or redundant, but a separate and quiet function and a source of power for every believer. Apart from convicting work, people can never see themselves as sinners. Righteous status before God does not depend on good works, but in Christ’s death on the cross. And lastly, the Spirit will reveal the people who refuse to repent and believe in Jesus will share the condemnation of Satan’s defeat.
The Holy Spirit as explained by Jesus will increase our understanding, enlighten us and remain as a source of power to the apostles first and to anyone who believes. The important thing about the third person of Christ is to believe and accept the doctrine. The Living Faith Church being a Pentecostal Church seems not to have any problem in interpreting the Trinity as given by the scripture.
Sanctification is described as an inward experience of holiness. It is the progressive work of grace by which a man having consecrated himself is made holy. The indwelling or inherited depravity is purged, cleansed and the heart is purified. Unlike the new birth which comes through confession and repentance, sanctification commences at the regeneration of continuous process of living a holy life until the consummation of Christ’s return (Hebrews 12:14; I Thessalonians 5:23; II Peter 3:18; II Corinthians 3:18).112 This is the believe of the Living Faith Church as members are charged to conform to Christ’s image and do away with sinful and adamic nature.
SIGNS AND WONDERS
The church believes in signs and wonders as supernatural acts of God. It is an act that is beyond human or scientific phenomenon which cannot be disapproved. Signs and wonders could be experienced through obedience to the word of God. In the Living Faith Church, the following are the accepted list of channels for manifesting signs and wonders: Holy Communion, Laying of Hands to impart the gifts of God, anointing people and object such as clothing materials with oil, feet washing, prophetic utterance, blood sprinkling and divine healing.113
Holy Communion is believed by the church to give sound body and good health. It was first introduced by (Mark 14:22-24). In the book of John 6:55 the Bible says that ‘For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.’ This is interpreted by the church to be the highest form of nutrients needed for sound health and vitality. The church takes Holy Communion regularly because it is believed to release strength, health and longevity if taken with correct spiritual perspective.114 Jesus used the bread and wine to illustrate the liberating power of his death on the cross. It is a misery of God to bring eternal life and immune man from all forms of sicknesses and diseases.
BELIEF IN PROPHECY
The church believes in prophecy. Bishop Oyedepo, the founder of the church is indeed a prophet. The prophet is thus the one who speaks in the sense of proclaiming, or the one who speaks for i.e. in the name of God.115 Prophecy could reveal secrets of the heart and could be spontaneous revelation. The Biblical terminology is broad enough to include any message that a prophet received from the Lord. It must be noted that prophecy could come in a variety of forms: visions, dreams, audible voice, ecstatic trances and probably most often the Spirit brings word to the heart or mouth of a prophet.116
A prophet is invited, summoned and impelled by God. Prophecy is given as a source of courage, consolation and for the general benefit of the Christian community ‘But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort (I Cor. 4:3-40). In the Living Faith Church, every word from the altar is taken as a prophecy.
Members testify to this and hold on to any word spoken by the servant of God and it has always been claimed to come to pass. Any prophecy that is therefore not rooted in the word of God is not accepted in the church. Furthermore, a prophet is an authoritative figure held in high regard by people, but abuses are bound to set in. there is the need to establish regulations that would control the office (I Cor. 11:4; 14:29-30). This is not to say that prophets or prophetesses are not respected in the congregation, members could consult them privately or collectively for spiritual guidance.
It is God’s divine plan to heal; the church has been given the power to heal through the name of Jesus Christ. Some other people disagree with this and claim that although Jesus healed all manner of diseases, it is not the same today because they believe it may be due to the sovereign will of God.
It must be noted that whether healing is gradual or immediate, God through his mercy has the power to heal, a benefit every child of God enjoys including the Living Faith Church. The church however believes in divine healing which is a natural process of recovery from all manner of sickness, diseases and restoration. Churches are concerned about healing and are dedicated to see that their members have good health. 117 causes of sickness and diseases are categorized into four namely: naturalistic causes, abnormal, diseases whose causes are inexplicable (classified as an etiology and pathogenesis) e.g. psychometric diseases and sicknesses that originated from God as a result of sin. 118 As listed above, causes of diseases and sicknesses vary and so are the method applied in treating them.
The Christ Apostolic Church make use of ‘Omi Adura’ why Celestial Church of Christ believes in the use of ‘green water’ which is said to have power to produce nausea, vomiting and purging both physical and spiritual fault 119 When sicknesses and diseases defy orthodox treatment, most times many resolve to prayer. Whether or not healing takes place with the use of drugs, it is because God is involved and he must be appreciated. 120
Healing through water and other means is controversial in the sense that some Pentecostal churches do not accept this method of healing, but follow the practice of Jesus Christ and the apostles’ method of healing through prayers and deliverance. The Living Faith Church is not left out as one of the churches that believe in instant miracles, especially when it has to do with healing. There is restoration of total health to members through prayer of faith, laying of hands, anointing of oil and all other New Testament provisions. 121
THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST:
The Living Faith Church accepts the Biblical teaching of the end and the second coming of Christ. The church’s belief in the resurrection is that we are indivisible-units-a body animated by a soul and our hope for the life beyond is based on our relationship with God and the continuing power of God to recreate us beyond death with appropriate and identifiable resurrection bodies. Man’s disobedience separated him from God with death penalty.
God has made a provision of bringing man back to himself with the hope of a new life hereafter. In resurrection, victory is won. Christianity from the beginning was a historical religion and thus emphasized the historical life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. All the four gospel writers emphasized the empty tombs. Apostle Paul gave the literally witness of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15).
The naturalistic approach to resurrection is that once you are dead you are dead. Life is viewed as a physical process whereby death is the absolute end. Another approach to resurrection is natural or innate immorality. The primitive view is that man believes that in his body there is a spirit which at death departs and becomes a ghost. 122 Plato’s opinion is that death is not real, the soul does not die. Holding this view, Socrates, who had prepared himself for execution, welcomed death as a friend. 123
THE CHURCH AND THE WORD OF GOD
The Living Faith Church is a word believing people. Every member accept the gospel and rest on it as a source of hope and comfort. These are some of his writings as contained in the mandate book:
I believe that the Bible is the most dependable and reliable text of all times on all issues of life; It is the most valuable print volume on the whole wide world; The oldest yet the most current; The most ancient yet the best seller of all times; Consists mainly on sublime ‘authors’ yet the most widely quoted all texts on the earth; Its principles still rule most of the civilized world today and its laws make up most of the contents of all legal systems worldwide.
LAYING OF HANDS TO IMPACT THE GIFT OF GOD
The Living Faith Church has some other practices worth discussing as part of their doctrinal beliefs. Several figurative and literal meaning for laying of hands are found in both Old and New Testament. When the hand of the Lord is spoken of as being on someone, this usually refers to God’s blessing and empowerment. The laying of hand could be for ordination and commission. Moses for example, publicly confirmed his endorsement of Joshua as a new leader while laying hands on (Numbers 27: 18-19).
Keith Mattingly argues as he unfolds (Number 27:23) that Joshua was filled with the Spirit of God through the hands of Moses, adding that this action confirms the presence of God. 124 The act of practiced in the New Testament, and also common in the Living Faith Church as an impartation. Impartation service could be called ritual or transfer of anointing. They are performed services or special programmes in the church. The efficacy of this action or ritual is noticed as people testify to their different experiences. Unlike the Yoruba religion, where emphasis on repetitive actions is put forward to ensure ritual potency 125 laying of hands is done once at a time and with great result.
In impartation service, grace or anointing is transferred from the minister unto another person. For example, Paul wrote the church in Rome. I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gifts to make you strong (Romans 1:11-12). Deuteronmy 34:9 talks about the laying of hands on Joshua by Moses.
The most characteristic ritual in Winners Chapel involves anointing oil. Anointing oil is used in the scripture as a sign of consecration (Exodus 28:41) the head is anointed with oil (Matthew 6:17), the sick is anointed for healing. Aaron’s family was anointed in (Exodus 30:30-31), Samuel anointed Saul. In Winner Chapel, all these are put into practice with the conviction that anointing carries a transfer of unction.
According to David Oyedepo, this is the most magnetic form of impartation. The Bishop cited the privilege of sleeping on a bed, which a great man of God had slept on. The Lord told Oyedepo that Hagins baton has been passed to him and he has received Copeland’s by sleeping on a bed once slept on by Copeland. At night, he claimed he saw a decaying hand eaten up by worms. That night, God told him he was entering into a new realm of anointing and he received anointing for financial breakthrough.
The pouring of the oil upon a man’s head, according to Bishop Oyedepo signifies the release of the anointing. To him the oil is not just a mere symbol or a religious doctrine but as expressed in (1 Samuel 16:13). It is God’s plan and ordination to bring people into the reality of power as his children. Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David and he was empowered, Samuel then went to Ramah.
On the use of the anointing oil, Tunde Bakare of the Latter Rain Assembly in a publication of the News Magazine strongly opposed the statement of Bishop Oyedepo. According to him, anointing oil is not the symbol of the Holy Spirit but the life of God in the bottle. 126 Tunde Bakare said it is heresy and that Oyedepo was taking advantage of the people. However, Oyedepo’s theology of life of God in the bottle is not stated anywhere in the Bible, perhaps this was a revelation he received.
Bishop Oyedepo emphasized that the subject of anointing oil is seemingly unpopular but it is a powerful instrument that has produced terrific mind blowing result in the church. He went further to explain that it is the spirit of God, mysteriously packaged in the oil and designed to communicate the power of God bodily. Oyedepo sees anointing oil as the power of God in tangible form, placed in the hand of man to make an open show of the devil, it is what it takes to get out of every grace, it is God’s wisdom for oil man’s rescue, and the all-purpose drug for all ailments of life. Bishop Oyedepo adds that:
The anointing oil is the might of God, as no gate can close against it. Rather, every gate lifts up at its appearance. It is what it takes to be absolutely free from satanic afflictions, as it destroys all discomforts of life… The anointing oil carries very mysterious virtue. Through the anointing oil channel, the finger of God is brought to bear on our human limitations…127
Through various examples, the founder of The Living Faith Church confirms the authenticity of the use of anointing oil in the Bible, as having its roots in the Old and New Testaments and in the writing of James to the body of Christ.
And he called unto him the twelve and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits…And they went out, and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many devils and anointed with oil many that were sick (Mark 6:7, 12).
Another quotation taken from the book of James is:
Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord (James 5:14).
Oyedepo continues in his explanation that, the anointing oil is a medium through which the Holy Spirit is involved to intervene on man’s behalf; it communicates the personality of the Spirit of God, as it goes into manifestation whenever it is applied. He continues by saying that:
The anointing oil is God’s instrument of his ability. It will give a man or any object upon which it is poured immunity against any form of evil. It is able tp smoothen every roughness on the road to one’s destiny, raise any dying business, resurrect any collapsing career, and reverse any ancestral curse…128
The use of the oil breaks the yoke of slavery and there are practical dimension of the anointing such as, anointing for bottle, conquest, wealth enthronement and restoration. The oil also has the power to promote and likewise guarantees freedom.
It may not be generally accepted by everyone that anointing oil is the life of God in the bottle and that it is the wisdom of God. The general belief is that anointing oil is the substance in which the power of the Holy Spirit is released to fulfill the will of God in man. On the other hand, the life of God is the nature of God. Saul the king of Israel was anointed yet he misbehaved, meaning that, a man may be anointed and he will not do what is good or expected of him. It is the word of God that gives the life of God. Secondly, the Bible tells us that Jesus is the power and wisdom of God. If Jesus is the power and wisdom of God, anointing oil cannot be power and wisdom of God.
Bishop Oyedepo taught that anointing oil should not be seen as ordinary olive oil but something that contains mysterious virtuous. He concludes by summarizing the significance of the anointing oil.
1. It changes men’s status (1 Samuel 10:1-3)
2. It brings favour (1 Samuel 10:4)
3. It turns a man into another man (Psalm 30:5)
4. It is a sign producer (1 Samuel 10:7)
5. It restores that which is lost (Psalm 30:5)
6. It heals sicknesses and diseases (James 13-15)
7. It works on things too (Exodus 30:26-27)
Washing of feet or Maundy is a religious rite observed by some Christian denominations during the Christian Holy Week called ‘Maundy Thursday’ (John 13:1-17). Feet washing is not new in the Bible. It is an accepted ordinance and a way to show generosity to one another before entering each other’s house because of dust.129 The host provides water for his guest to clean his feet. Examples of passages pointing to these acts in the Bible are Genesis 18:4: Let me bring some water for you to wash your feet…(19:2)…Sirs, I am here to serve you. Please come to my house. You can wash your feet and spend the night… (24:32)…Laban unloaded the camels and gave them straw and fodder. Then he brought water for Abraham’s servant and his men to wash their feet. (43:24) The servant took the brother into the house. He gave them water so that they could wash their feet.
In 1 Samuel 25:41, Abigail humbled herself and washed the feet of David’s servant sent to her. In John 12, Mary of Bethany anointed Jesus’ feet undoubtedly in appreciation for bringing Lazarus her brother back to life and also in preparation for his death and burial. She poured a costly fragrance on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. In (1 Timothy 5:10) Paul wrote to Timothy telling him the category of women qualified to be enlisted as widows. In addition to this, he said that such women must be well known for their good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting themselves to all kinds of good deeds.
The washing of the saint’s feet was done by the primitive church to show piety, submission and humility. The practice continued after the death of the apostles. This practice was done in the Milan church (AD 380), it was mentioned by the council of Elvira (AD 300), Tertullian (145-220), and Augustine (AD 400).130
FEET WASHING IN THE LIVING FAITH CHURCH
Feet washing is done in The Living Faith Church, it is not peculiar to this church alone as popularly believed. The Anglicans and the Catholics are in conformity with this practice of Jesus Christ. In The Living Faith Church, this practice is regarded as a misery born out of love of God for man. It is a cleansing misery to restore the dominion of the saints and a medium through which all the missing part in Christ are restored (John 13:13-17).131 Washing of feet is assumed to take away impurities and a point of contact with the spirit, soul and body is assured.
Feet washing in the Living Faith Church is a quarterly programme derived from the book of (John 13:5-17) where Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. The action of Jesus was deliberate to emphasize a lesson of humility, get rid of self exhortation among his disciples to be willing to perform the lowest service for each other and to prefer others in honour than to your own interest but also to the interest of others… (Philippians 2:1-7). Apart from this, Jesus also intended to set forth the principle of selfless service that was to be exemplified on the cross. This account is found in the gospel of John alone.
Feet washing in The Living Faith Church has become a doctrine of feet treatment in order to get to high places and dominion, a medium through which all the ‘missing parts’ in it are restored, empower for supernatural victory, confer redemptive dignity, guarantees delivery or redemptive heritage, impact unspeakable joy as well as healing sicknesses and disease. The exercise carried out by the church is to redeem the domain that was lost in the first Adam as emphasized by the church.
A prayer of consecration is offered on bowls of water. Everyone is made to sit down, as they sing praises to take their turn for the feet washing. The stewards in charge wash and wipe the people’s feet with a towel. Many have testified to the act of feet washing as it has affected them in terms of healing, giving birth to children, promotion etc.
FEET WASHING IN THE ANGLICAN CHURCH
In the traditional Anglican church feet washing is done as an act of obedience and humble service to God. The book of (John 13:1-17) which is the reference point is often quoted where Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. Verses 14-15 read;
I, your Lord and Teacher, have just washed your feet. You, then should wash one another’s feet. I have set an example for you, so that you will do just what I have done for you.
Feet washing is part of the rubrics of the Anglican church that comes up every last Thursday of the month. The service begins with the Eucharist; it is done while reading the gospel while the celebrant and those whose feet are to be washed take their places at the singing of the gradual and the minister removes his garment, takes a bowl, jug and goes to those whose feet are to be washed as they sit where they may be seen. The group of those whose feet are to be washed should represent men and women, old and young. The gospel of John 13:1-30; verses 4-12 should be dramatized.132
After the washing of the feet the priest declares thus: Lord you have declared your will and the congregation will respond: that we should faithfully keep your commandments. The Priest will say again: you have commanded us to love, the congregation will respond: as you have loved us. The priest will say: Lord in your mercy, the congregation will respond again: hear our prayer. The priest then pray for the people in the following manner:
Most loving Lord, you stooped to wash the feet of your disciples, accept this our act of obedience and humble service, wash us clean from all sins and teach us to serve you in the least of your brothers and sister to the glory of the father who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit one God, forever and ever. All will respond to the prayer by saying Amen.133
FEET WASHING IN THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
The Roman Catholic Church practices the ritual of feet washing on Holy and great Thursday.134 The service is directed by the Bishop washing the feet of the Priest. Other members of the church take their turn in an orderly manner to where their feet will be washed.135 After the reading of the Psalms and litany is recited, the Bishop prays:
The deacon reads the account in the gospel of John, while the clergy performs the roles of Christ and his apostles as each action is chanted by the deacon. The deacon stops when the dialogue between Jesus and Peter begins. The senior ranking clergyman among those whose feet are being washed speaks the words of Jesus. The Bishop concludes the reading of the gospel, after which he says another prayer and sprinkles all of those present with water that was used for the foot washing. The procession then returns to the church and the final dismissal is given.136
FEET WASHING IN METHODIST CHURCH NIGERIA
Feet washing in the Methodist Church Nigeria is done on special periods like Maundy Thursday of Holy Week, the night before Good Friday. This practice is part of the Holy Communion Service that brings to the remembrance Jesus’ Last Supper before His arrest.137 Those who wish to take part in foot washing are seated to both close to bowls of water with towels around them. The people take their turn for the feet washing as the church or chorister sing or may choose to be silent during the service.138
In this chapter, we have examined the origin of Pentecostalism and the History of Pentecostal churches in Nigeria with reference to some popularly known churches in Nigeria. The historical, origin and development of the Living Faith Church was given due consideration. Also, the life and call of Bishop David Oyedepo was adequately appraised through personal interview with the founder, more facts were revealed clearing some misconceptions about the founder and the church. The work left no stone unturned as it delved into the beliefs and doctrines of the church which is believed brought the church to limelight with thousands of Nigerians as members.
NOTES AND REFERENCES
1. I. Adeleye, ‘Christian Missionary Work and Change in North-East Yoruba land’ In Orita viii/Ibadan 127.
2. S. Erivwo, A History of Christianity in Nigeria. The Urhobo, Isoko and Itsekiri (Ibadan: Daystar Press, 1979), 27.
3. J.A. Omoyajowo (ed) et al Makers of the Church in Nigeria (1842-1947) Lagos: CSS Bookshops Ltd 1995), xi.
4. E.A. Ayandele, The Missionary Impact of Modern Nigeria (1842-1914) A Political and Social Analysis (London: Longman Group Ltd 1991), 3.
5. R.W. Omotoye, ‘The Yoruba Language as a means of communicating and understanding the Bible’ In Alore Journal of the Humanities, vol. 13, 2003,173.
6. R.W. Omotoye, Inaugural Lecture presented at the University of Ilorin titled: ‘Christianity as a catalyst for socio-economic and political change in Yoruba land, Nigeria: An account of a Church Historian.’ Thursday 25th June, 2015.
7. R.W. Omotoye, ‘Inter-Religious Dialogue as a panacea for National development in Nigeria.’ In Centrepoint Journal (Humanities Edition), Vol. 15, No.1, 2017.
8. R.W. Omotoye, ‘Inter-Religious Dialogue as a panacea for National development in Nigeria.’ In Centrepoint Journal (Humanities Edition), Vol. 15, No.1, 2017.
9. J. Baur, 2000 Years of Christianity in Africa: An African Church History. (2nd Revised Edition) (Nairobi: Paulines Publications Africa, 1994), 111.
10. Peter Falk, The Growth of the Church in Africa. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979). 124.
11. J.A. Omoyajowo, Cherubim and Seraphim: The History of an African Independent Church, (Lagos: Nok Publishers International, 1982), xiv also Turner, ‘Typology for African Religious Movement’ Journal of Religion In Africa, (O.U.P. 1964), 17.
12. Stanley M. Burgess, (ed) Encyclopedia of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity, (New York: Routledge Taylor and Francis Group, 1980), 362.
13. D. Tarr Transe, ‘Pentecostalism in Context: Essay in Honour of William W. Menzies’ In Immanence and the Imagine Pentecostal Academy : In W. Ma & R. Menzies (eds) (Sheffield: Sheffield Academy Press, 1997), 192-222.
14. Stanley M. Burgess, (ed), 36.
15. J. Nelson, For Such a Time as This: The Story of Bishop William J. Seymour and the Azuza Street Revival: A search for Pentecostal Root. (Unpublished Ph.D Thesis submitted to the University of Birmingham, 1981), 221. Also, Matthews A. Ojo, The End Time Army (Treton: African Press, 2006). 10.
16. Nils Bloch-Hoel, The Pentecostal Movement (London: Allen and Unwin, 1964), 87.
17. Moses O. Oladeji, Understanding the Pentecostal Movement. (Ibadan: Bounty Press Ltd, 2005), 16.
18. Morton T. Kelsy, Tongues Speaking: An Experiment in Spiritual Experience. (London: Longman, 1965), 58.
19. F.D. Brunner, A theology of the Holy Spirit (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdman’s Publishers, 1980), 41.
20. Klaude Kendrick, The Pentecostal Movement: Hopes and Hazards (New York: Christian Century, 1963), 608-610.
21. M. Bloch Hoenn, The Pentecostal Movement: Its Origin, Development and Distinctive Character. (London: Allen and Unwin, 1964), 87.
22. D. Gee, Wind and Flame. (London: Health, 1987), 141.
23. W.J. Hollowenger, The Pentecostals. (London: SCM Press, 1972), 130.
24. A. Anderson, An Introduction to Pentecostalism (Cambridge: University Press, 2014), 42.
25. R.W. Omotoye, ‘Communication and the Universality of the Gospel in Yoruba land’ Ade P. Dopamu (ed. et al) In Science and Religion in the service of the Humanity, Ilorin Local Society Initiatives (LSI) 2006, 42.
26. Afe Adogame, (ed) Who is Afraid of the Holy Ghost? Pentecostalism and Globalization in Africa and Beyond. (Ibadan: African World Press, 2011), xi.
27. Paul Gilfod, African Christianity: Its Public Role. (London: Hurst and Company, 1998), 333.
28. O. Kalu, ‘The Third Response: Pentecostalism and the Reconstruction of Christian Experience in Africa’. (1970-1995) In Journal of African Christian Thought 1, 2, 1998, 3.
29. Matthew A. Ojo, The End-Time Army Charismatic Movement in Modern Nigeria. (Treton: African Press, 2006) 27-30.
30. David Bebbington, Evangelism in Modern Britain: A History from 1930s to 1980s (London: Unwin, 1989), 116.
31. R.W. Omotoye and E.O. Opoola, ‘The Church and National Development: A case Study of the Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel) in Nigeria’. www.cesnur.org/2012nigeriahtm. Accessed 15/14/2010.
32. Harvey Cox, Fire from Heaven: The rise of Pentecostal Spirituality and reshaping of Religion in the 21st Century (Reading: M.A. Addison-Wesley, 1995), 4, also, Philip Jenkins, The Next Christendom: A coming Global Christianity (New York: Oxford, 2007), 8-9.
33. Spittler Russell, ‘The Pentecostal Views’ In Donald and Alexander (ed) (Christian Groove: Intervasity Press, 1988), 133-134.
34. Richard Burgess, Nigeria’s Christian Revolution: The Civil War Revival on its Pentecostal Progeny: (1967-2006)(Carlisle: Paternoster, 2008), 6.
35. Stephen Hunt, ‘The New Black Pentecostal Churches in Britain,’ paper presented at Cesnur 14th International Conference Riga, Latvia, August 29-31, 2000, 3.
36. Leonard Lovett, ‘Perspective on Black Origins of the Contemporary Movement’ The journal of Interdenominational Center, Vol.1, Fall: 1973), 39.
37. Anthony A. Hoekema, The Holy Spirit Baptism (Grand Rapids; Eerdmans, 1972), 9.
38. Laurence Christenson, Speaking in Tongues and its Significance for the Church. (Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship, 1958), 37.
39. R.A. Torrey, The Baptist with the Holy Spirit. (New York: Chicago: Fleming H. Revell, 1895), 5-6.
40. R.W. Omotoye and E.O. Opoola, ‘The Church and National Development: A Case Study of the Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel) in Nigeria’ www.cesnur.org/2012nigeriahtm accessed on 9/10/2013.
41. R.W. Omotoye and E.O. Opoola. www.cesnur.org/2012nigeriahtm Accessed on 9/10/2013.
42. Afe Adogame, (ed), 18.
43. D.T. Adalumolekun, ‘Religious Interaction Among the Akoko of Nigeria’ In European Scientific Journal August Edition (ESJ) European Scientific Institute, 2012, Vol. 8 No. 18.
44. G.A. Oshitelu, History of Aladura Independent Cultures 1918-1940: An Interpretation (Ibadan: Hope Publications, 2007), 80.
45. Asamoah-Gyadu, 10.
46. Vinson Synan, The Holiness Pentecostal Tradition: Charismatic Movement in the 20th Century, 2nd Edition (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 58.
47. Gary B. McGee, ‘Pentecostal Phenomena and Revivals in India: Indications for Indigenous leadership’; International Bulletin of Missionary Research, Vol. 20, 3 1996, 112-117.
48. Paul Pormeville, The Third First in Missions: A Pentecostal contribution to Mission Theology (Peabody: M.A. Hendrickson Publishers, 1985), 68.
49. Douglas Peterson, Not by Might nor by Power: A Pentecostal Theological of Social Concern in Latin America (Calisle: Routledge, 1996), 96.
50. Juan Sepulveda, ‘Pentecostalism as Popular Religiosity’ In International Review of Mission Vol. 78. (January, 1989), 80-88.
51. Daniel E. Albrecht, Rites in the Spirit: A Ritual Approach to Pentecostal and Charismatic Spirituality. (Sheffield: Sheffield Academy Press, 1999), 30.
52. O. Kalu, ‘The Third Response: Pentecostalism and the Reconstruction of Christian Experience in Africa’ 1970-1995. Journal of African Christian Thought 1,2, 1998, 3 – 16.
53. O. Kalu, ‘Preserving World View: Pentecostalism in the African Map of the Universe in Pneuma’ The Journal of Society for Pentecostal Studies 24, 2fall 2002, 110-137.
54. Cephas Narh Omenyo, Pentecostal Outside the Pentecostalism. (Zoetermeer: Boekencentrum, 2006), 89.
55. Afe Adogame and Asonzeh Ukah, ‘Viewing a Masquarade from Different Sport, Conceptual Reflections on Globalization and Pentecostalism Within Religious Studies’ In Who is Afraid of the Holy Ghost? Afe Adogame (ed) 25.
56. Alan Anderson, ‘The Gospel and Culture in Pentecostal Mission in the Third World’, Missionalia, 27/2, 1999, 221.
57. Roseline Hackett, ‘Charismatic Pentecostal Appropriation of Media Technologies in Nigeria and Ghana’, Journal of Religion in Africa, 28/3 258-277.
58. The Nation Newspaper Saturday, September 27, 2014, 18.
59. The Mandate Operational Manual of the Living Faith Church Worldwide a.k.a. Winners Chapel International (Ota, Dominion Publishing House, 2012), 434.
60. The Winners Magazine: The Liberation at 25, May 2006, 7.
61. The Winners Magazine, 2006, 4.
62. The Mandate Operational Manual, 439.
63. The Mandate Operational Manual, 440.
64. The Nigerian Compass Newspaper, Saturday, May 2, 2009, 22.
65. The Nigerian Compass, 22, Also, The Mandate Operational Manual, 441-442.
66. The Nigerian Compass Newspaper, 22.
67. The Nigerian Compass Newspaper, 35.
68. Personal Interview with Bishop Oyedepo, August 6, 2015.
69. The Mandate Operational Manual, 445.
70. Personal Interview with Bishop Oyedepo, August 6, 2015.
71. The Mandate Operational Manual, 15.
72. The Mandate Operational Manual, 16.
73. The Mandate Operational Manual, 16.
74. The Mandate Operational Manual, 17.
75. Personal Interview with Bishop Oyedepo, August 6, 2015.
76. The Mandate Operational Manual, 18.
77. Matthew Ojo, End-Time Army, 168.
78. The Mandate Operational Manual, 20.
79. S.A. Owoeye, ‘Solution to Poverty: Oyedepo’s Prophetic and Healing Mission in Nigeria’ No 1 & 2, Vol. 2 In Journal of Religion and African Culture, Akungba Akoko, (Ibadan: Daystar Press, December 2006), 59.
80. The Mandate Operational Manual, 26.
81. Matthew Ojo, End Time Army, 168.
82. The Mandate Operational Manual, 29.
83. The Winners World Covenant University, Landmark of the Millennium December 2002, 12-43.
84. Matthew Ojo, End Time Army, 191.
85. christianity.about.com/01christiandoctrines. Accessed on 10/4/12.
86. Matthew A. Ojo, End Time Army, 191.
87. Chris U. Manus ‘The Use and Role of the Bible in Three New Religious Movements in Nigeria.’ In Jose Krasowed (ed) The Interpretation of the Bible, J3COT Supplement series 289. (Sheffield 1998), 1805-1825.
88. B.K. Kuiper, The Church in History (Grand Rapids: W.M.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1988), 16.
89. B.K. Kuiper, 16.
90. B.K. Kuiper, 16.
91. K. Rahner, Consideration on the Development Dogma: Theological Investigations. (New York: K. Smyth Trans 1982), 3-10.
92. Stanley M. Burgess, Encyclopedia of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity. (London: Routedge 2006), 146.
93. Living Faith Church Bulletin, Welcome to Faith Tabernacle.
94. James Cox, Expressing the Sacred: An Introduction to Phenomenology of Religion (Harare: University of Zimbabwe Publication, 1992), 115.
95. S.I. Kuponu, The Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel) Nigeria: Pentecostalism Gospel and Social Change in Nigeria, 2007. An Unpublished Ph.D Dissertation, 76.
96. Stanley M. Burgess, 146.
97. Stanley M. Burgess, 146.
98. J. Pelkon, Development of Christian Doctrine: Some Historical Prolegomena. (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1985), 170.
99. J.A. Omoyajowo, 87.
100. J.D.Y. Peel, Aladura: A Religious Movement Among the Yoruba, (London: Oxford University Press 1968), 114
101. J.D.Y. Peel, 114.
102. S.I. Kuponu, 263.
103. The Mandate Operational Manual, 90.
104. Personal Interview with Mr. James Atanda, Living Faith Church, Ogbomoso. December 6, 2013.
105. The Mandate Operational Manual, 90.
106. The Mandate Operational Manual, 90.
107. Bruce M. Metzger, The New Testament, Its Background Growth and Content (London: Longman, 1965), 67 – 69.
108. The Mandate Operational Manual, 90
109. Matthew A. Ojo, 199.
110. Paul Jinadu, Power from on High (New York: Longman 1982), 43.
111. Maranatha Evangelical Christian Ministry: Aims, Objectives and Doctrinal Beliefs, 2. www.mbc95.org>ourbeliefs.
112. The Mandate Operational Manual,90.
113. The Mandate Operational Manual,90.
114. The Mandate Operational Manual,90.
115. C.S. Keener, Gift and Giver: The Holy of Today. (Grand Rapids: Michigan Baker Academic 2004), 120.
116. Deji Ayegboyin, ‘Heal the Sick and Cast Out Demons: The Response of the Aladura’, An article in Edinburgh Review of Theology and Religion. Studies in World Christianity. Alistair Kee (ed) Vol. 10, part 2, 23.
117. Deji Ayegboyin, 235-236.
118. Deji Ayegboyin, 235-236.
119. Graham Dow and Traver Stammers, ‘Christian Healing: What Can We Believe’ In Earnest Lucas (ed) (London: Lynx Communications 1997). 38 – 40.
120. The Mandate Operational Manual, 92.
121. J.P. Newport, Layman’s Library of Christian Doctrine (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1978), 150.
122. J.P. Newport, 150.
123. J.P. Newport, 146-147.
124. Keith Mattingly, The Significance of Joshua Reception of the Laying of Hands in Numbers 27: 12-23. Andrews University Seminary Studies, (39) (2) Andrews University Press 2001, 191-208.
125. S.I. Kuponu, 265.
126. The News Magazine, November 23, 2009, 3
127. The Mandate Operational Manual, 148.
128. The Mandate Operational Manual, 148.
129. The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments; and other Rites and Ceremonies of the church according to the use of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), 134.
130. The Book of Common Prayer, 134.
131. The Book of Common Prayer, 134
132. The Book of Common Prayer, 134.
133. The Book of Common Prayer, 134.
134. Feet Washing. en.m.wikipedia
135. Feet Washing. en.m.wikipedia
136. Feet Washing. en.m.wikipedia
137. Feet Washing. www.interpretermagazine.org>to-be-un…
138. Discipleship Ministries. https://www.umcdiscipleship.org>a-se…
5.0 THE IMPACT OF THE CHURCH ON NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
5.1 RELIGIOUS IMPACT
This Chapter attempts to examine the contribution of the Living Faith Church to Nation development in Nigeria. The Church came to limelight when Nigerians were passing through socio-economic problems such as, economic depression, poverty, unemployment, corruption, sicknesses etc.1 The Living Faith Church’s theology is both material and spiritual with a promise of hope to the hopeless in exhortation, divine healing and establishment of schools and provision of schools and some socio-economic infrastructures, thereby leading to a large fellowship.2
Bishop Oyedepo saw himself as an apostle who received the mandate to preach the good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to the captives and set free the oppressed of his generation. Much emphasis is placed on success and prosperity gospel while in the United States of America in 1987. ‘Arise, go and make my people’ it is not surprising to have messages, such as:
Success is our birthright, if you won’t succeed go to another church when your shoe is opening its mouth (developing holes). I will tell you to go to the next church, no dead is permitted here, prosperity is my heritage; financial hardship is an insult to your identity; your location, your position, your kingdom. Marriages don’t collapse here. Nobody is stagnanting here; you are not a biological coincidence. We are rich here, Winners Chapel provides supernatural financial, social, spiritual, marital, academic and business take off.3
These are messages often preached in the Living Faith Church as a source of encouragement and motivation to members of the Curch to lift up their faith in their daily lives. A member of the Church once said, what a man hears, says and the company he keeps affects his total life. She was emphatic that no negative pronouncement is made in the Living Faith Church; and added that, messages are drawn out of faith and success with the belief that, anyone who keys into it will succeed. In the various books written by him, there are testimonies of miraculous healings coupled with the ability to take away poverty through the application of anointing oil.4
At Shiloh programmes in Ota, members always testified to miracles received from God as a result of the prayer of Bishop Oyedepo as claimed to be healed from all manner of deformities, blindness, cancer, HIV/AID etc.5 The researcher witnessed one of those instances in August 2015 at Ota. Many with diverse problems came to see Bishop Oyedepo. He prayed for the sick and anointed them, while many with financial problems were screened before giving financial support. Many people from other religions and denominations often join such annual and local programmes because of various testimonies they heard from people.
Dada quoted David Oyedepo saying that, one of the principal consequences of sin was poverty. This is why when God came, He included it into his programme to restore the dignity of wealth back to humanity. Man became naked and fell, but now that he has entered righteousness, should he remain naked? No but to be clothed with glory of God. That is why the Bible says, He became poor that we through his poverty night be made rich.6
The teaching of prosperity gospel by Bishop David Oyedepo, no doubt has in conclusion contributed to the prospect of the church. His teaching emphasized a state of well-being in spirit and body, why it is also the ability to use God’s power to meet every need of man; stressing that prosperity makes man to enjoy a life of plenty and fulfillment.
5.2 WORD OF FAITH BIBLE INSTITUTE
The Word of Faith Bible Institute (WOFBI) is a training arm of a seminary of the Living Faith Church worldwide. It was established on September 1986 in fulfillment of the mandate given to David Oyedepo. God said to him, ‘I will through his ministry raise the foundation of many other ministries’. WOFBI is a seminary where men and women are prepared for God to do exploits.7
The idea of having a seminary for those who are ready to go into the ministry started with the mission churches. For example, the Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso which was established in 1898, United Missionary Church of Africa Theological Seminary, Ilorin, established in 1956, Christ Apostolic Church Theological Seminary, Ile-Ife, established in 1979, Ajayi Crowther Theological College, Abeokuta, 2009, Immanuel College of Theology, Ibadan, 1958, Archbishop Vinning Theological College, Akure, 1917, Babajide Christ Apostolic Church Seminary, Ilesa, etc
These institutions of training have been extended to the African Independent Churches and Pentecostal Churches. Almost every church has a Bible School. For example, the Cherubim and Seraphim trains her Pastors at Moses Orimolade Theological College, Ilorin while Christ Apostolic Church trains her Pastors at Babajide Christ Apostolic Seminary, Ilesa. The Living Faith Bible Institute is said to be a training school for ‘kingdom soldiers’.8
The school graduated men and women from other Christian ministries, armed forces, entrepreneurs, managers and directors of organizations, career men and women, business men and women, skilled and unskilled and professionals.9 The institution offers three major courses namely: the basic certificate course, leadership certificate course and leadership diploma course. Courses offered include the Word Ministry family, Faith success, Purpose and Pursuit, Prayer and Prosperity.10
5.3 POLITICAL IMPACT
Religion and politics are vital institutions to mankind. Both of them interact and affect the society at different levels.11 Churches and individuals relate to political issues differently and that determines their level of involvement in political matters. This has brought division in the body of Christ, why some church leaders have taken it upon themselves to find out what is the Bible’s injunction on this.12 Whatever happens, it is generally believed that the church has role to play, socially, politically and economically in addition to her prophetic function as ordained by God, the church speaks when there is any negative occurrence such as, dwindling economy or corruption.13 At such times, the church through her preaching is seen standing in the gap to help the nation from collapsing.14
Muli suggested that, the church should not be separated from politics or political organizations in the sense that, the church has a role to play through her prayers, preaching , teaching and writing.15 According to Orji in his work, he buttress the fact that Paul regarded the rulers as God’s ordained servants, while his paramount concern was that these rulers should carry out their duties in the society.16 Also, Paul encourages the church to pray for those in government so that we may live a quiet and peaceful life with reverence toward God and with proper conduct. (1Timothy 1-2).
In Romans 13:1, we can see the stance of Paul towards the state authorities because no authority exists without God’s permission and the existing authorities have been put there by God’. We agree with Orji in his work on justification for separation of church and state on the response of Jesus to the Pharisees and Herodians17 who wanted to pin him down on whether it is against the law to pay taxes to the Roman Emperor (Mark 12:13-17). Jesus knowing their deceitfulness of heart told them in verse 17 ‘pay to the Emperor what belongs to the Emperor, and to God what belongs to God.’
Orji makes it clear that Jesus was making a distinction between secular and spiritual matters, Jesus was not teaching non-involvement in governance or total exclusion from secular affairs, but emphasizes responsible and godly involvement in both secular and spiritual matters.18
Orji quoting Ogbuagu, highlights the good deed of the church in caring for the people through the message of Jesus Christ. He also reminds us of the practical positive changes and contribution of the church in time past to make the world a better place.19 Among other things mentioned are the abolition of slave trade, prison reforms, establishment of schools and health centres, fighting against anti-christian practices, such as worship of ‘gods’, ritual killing, human sacrifice, killing of twins, control of crime and crime related activities.20
Still on the political impact of the church, the interaction of Christian association of Nigeria (CAN) and Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) and the government is obvious. Both CAN and PFN are forces to be reckoned with socially and politically for the role they play in Nigeria. In 1993, Asaju reported that, the late Bishop Benson Idahosa who was then the President of PFN invited the then political aspirants to a public debate to declare their manifestoes as it affects Christian interest. He further explained that, Chief M.K.O. Abiola of Social Democratic Party a Muslim, responded to Idahosa’s questions promising to protect Christian political interest if he became the President.21
Asaju concluded by embracing a totalitarian adoption of the role and influence of religion in a religiously pluralist society like Nigeria can be problematic, and can cause religious misunderstanding and physical clashes between adherents of contending faiths as we had in the past. Christian should have strong moral influence for righteousness in order to preserve the society from decay. The church should seek for justice and righteousness in all areas and speak to defend the poor and the needy.22
The Rt. Rev. (Dr.) Solomon Olaniyi Amusan, the Diocesan Bishop of Oke-Ogun Diocese of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) noted that politics could be decent and worthwhile, if properly practiced. He enjoins the church to venture into politics, and remove the notoriety that had hitherto characterized it. He also charged the church to make a conscious effort to change people’s attitude to good governance.23 Also, the Retired Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie of Lagos Catholic Diocese and Retired Anglican Bishop, Bolanle Gbonigi, former President, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, the present President Christian Association of Nigeria and others whose voices are scarcely heard in the Newspapers, had contributed and spoken on behalf of the poor in the past.
Bishop David Oyedepo’s interest is also seen in political matters. It was clear that he supported Jonathan in the 2015 election, it is evident that he is concerned about political issues of the country. He was one of the four Christian leaders invited to pray for President Yar’Adua when he was sick and kept at Aso Rock before his untimely death. The prayer of the church for the nation, preaching, teaching and writing of books must have contributed to the political development of the country.
Shortly before his 60th birthday, Bishop Oyedepo spoke during a Press Conference at the Covenant University, urging Christians to decide their leaders through the good use of the ballot box in the forthcoming election.
I believe that the church should have impact on the society. We Christians should have impact on the world. Joseph in the Bible participated in politics, and so did several other biblical figures. The church and its members have a right to participate in politics, Christians have a right to be involved in voting. We as Christians have the scriptural right to choose our leaders and get involved in politics so, I call upon all Christians to take part in voting come 2015 elections.
With the words of Bishop Oyedepo tasking Christians to come out enmasse to choose their leaders by using their voting rights is an indication that, he is a good citizen of this country.
5.4 THE LIVING FAITH CHURCH AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Efforts of the Christian missionaries in the 19th century in various denominations aided socio-economic development.25 In the health care system, attempts were made to establish medical hospitals in order to cater for missionaries and their converts.26 Omotoye opines that Christian missionaries brought improvement in the economic fortunes of the Christians in the area of agriculture with the introduction of new cash crops such as, cocoa and cashew. He added that, this benefited church organizations and individuals as they took up the challenge, which improved their economic viability and stability.27
All these were introduced by the missionaries for no other reason than to improve the standard of living by providing a source of income and to eradicate poverty within the church. In a further development, what could help the people according to Omotoye is the introduction of co-operative societies among church members to boost their economic lives through their savings.
On this note, the Living Faith Church has a place for socio-economic development through the global humanitarian services established with the mandate to serve as the ARK. The church is allowed to perform the following functions: a rescue mission to mankind, a mission to the hurting world, a mission to helpless, engaging in various life line rescue initiatives such as in War and natural disaster areas, water borne-diseases and other endemics conflicts resolutions across Africa, education Aids in form of bursary awards/scholarships, building of mission schools and vocational centres in areas of needs. The church considers the ARK as a biblical concept of system employed to save this generation as it considers high rate of global poverty, drought and diseases. The Living Faith Church engage in humanitarian services for it is believed to be a way of leading to the Lord which guarantees multiplied returns. Quoting from the book of Proverbs 19:17, 28:29; Psalm 41:1-3 and 1Timothy 6:17-19 respectively.
He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord, and that which he hath given will he pay him again (Proverbs 19:17).
The humanitarian services in the Living Faith Church are believed to keep the lines of supplies opened:
He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse (Proverbs 28:27).
The church is convinced it secure the health of any person, institution or organization. Using a supporting verse in the Bible:
Blessed is he that considereth poor; the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord will preserve him, and keep him alive….The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness. (Psalm 41:1-3).
The security and the future of all are considered by the church through humanitarian services, with words of encouragement by Paul:
Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the Living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; …ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life (1Timothy 6:17-19).
These verses above form the basic foundation for humanitarian services of the Living Faith Church. It is seen as challenges facing the church at large and which must be tackled.
Therefore, in discharging this mandate the church encourages entrepreneurs and gives motivation through her messages, workshop and seminars members are equipped to develop their talents and abilities. In an interview with the founder, Bishop Oyedepo, he said that the church staff strength is well above two thousand in Nigeria and 16,000 across the nations as at 2015.28
Unemployment in Nigeria is on the increase. To solve some of these problems, the Living Faith Church provides jobs, while scholarships are usually provided by Bishop Oyedepo for indigent students at all levels. From all indications, the church has demonstrated its love to the poor and destitute by providing food and clothing on a regular basis to people.
ECOBANK, OTA, OGUN STATE
DIAMOND MOBILE BANK, OTA, OGUN STATE.
PETROL FILLING STATION, OTA, OGUN STATE.
BAKERY, OTA, OGUN STATE.
CAMP MARKET, OTA, OGUN STATE.
CANAAN RESTAURANT, OTA, OGUN STATE.
DOMINION PUBLISHING HOUSE, OTA, OGUN STATE.
5.5 THE LIVING FAITH CHURCH AND EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
The importance of education to national development cannot be over emphasized. Globally, it is accepted to be a vital part of human development, because it promotes awareness, political stability, technological and scientific advancement.29 Education therefore, can be used as a tool for fostering and sustaining socio-economic prosperity and the survival of a nation and the world in general.
Various definitions of education have been given by scholars. Jekayinfa says, it is a lifelong process aimed at imparting skills needed to live a meaningful life.30 Fafunwa holds the view that education is to produce an individual who is honest, respectable, skilled, co-operative and who would conform to social order of the day. Jekayinfa added that no study of history of education in Africa is complete without adequate knowledge of traditional education which was prevalent in Africa before the arrival of Christianity and Islam.31 He went further to give educational objectives as follows:
1. to develop a child’s talents and physical skills;
2. to develop character;
3. to inculcate respect for elders and those in position of authority;
4. to develop intellectual skills;
5. to acquire specific vocational training and to develop a healthy attitude towards honest labour;
6. to develop a sense of belonging and participate actively in family and community affairs; and
7. to understand, appreciates and promotes cultural heritage of the community at large.32
Present educational system can learn from the traditional education, though, we are in the area of science and technology. Traditional education system has not lost its strength and values that can promote confidence and cultural heritage. Over the past century, Pentecostal churches have established institutions of Higher Education worldwide. It started the training of ministers, professionals, and graduate education was included later. The first Pentecostal Bible School was established in 1901, in Topeka, Kansas33 while ten more Bible Schools were established in 1914 according to Hittenberger.34
Eavey’s value for education is because it is a process of change undergone by human beings as they interact with their environments. Western education was introduced to Nigeria by the Christian missionaries in the 19th century. It was a strategy adopted to win converts into Christian religion and to equip converts with the ability to read the Bible and write. The training institution was to produce school masters who would turn out to be catechists, deacons and priests. The limitation of this system of education provided did not meet the social and material needs of the converts and did not adequately prepare them for various walks of life.36
Omotoye in his paper, ‘Christianity, Education and Development in Yorubaland’ elucidated the fact that the establishment of schools was a major policy of various missions in Yorubaland and a method used to bring converts into various mission.37 He quoted Ade Ajayi thus:
The school was the chief method of evangelization used by Samuel Ajayi Crowther. He introduced Christian mission into new places by getting rulers and elders interested in the idea of having a school of their own. And Crowther usually asked the senior missionary at each station to give his chief attention to the schools.38
This method of conversion adopted helped in establishing schools at all levels in cities and towns. Different churches and individuals now have their private schools. It is noticed that, the number of sub-standard schools with unqualified teachers is on the increase because school business has become a lucrative business in Nigeria.
The World Mission Agency under the Living Faith Church has contributed greatly to the development of education in Nigeria. The founder of the Living Faith Church, Bishop Oyedepo claimed he received a mandate for education, when he states that:
The master plan of Canaanland is divine, it is received within a five day vision in an hotel room in London…while seeking the face of the Lord, he began apportioning the land and two major sections were allotted for education….This shall be called ‘Moriah’. He said, ‘what is Moriah?’ I asked. He answered it is the altar of sacrifice where the foundation is laid for the future. And this shall be called Hebron. ‘Hebron?’ I queried, and he said ‘that is the University, the birth place of kings and queens.39
The Living Faith Church went to establishing of schools early with the aim to develop and lift mankind, to ignite God given potentials deposited in people of all races and nations alike. The church added to its credit a conglomerate of nursery, primary, secondary and university institutions. The network of nursery and primary schools known as Kingdom Heritage Model Schools were started in 2002 across the cities of Nigeria and other African nations. While the secondary school section is named Faith Academy established in October 25th, 1999 at Ota, Ogun State. The first University of the church was founded on 21st October 2002 and named Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State while the second was Landmark University, Omu-Aran. It was established on 11th March 2011. The first set of graduates convocated in the former University in 2004 while the latter was 2014.
In an interview conducted with the then Head Teacher of Heritage Nursery and Primary School, Ilorin in person of Mrs. Adewuyi Kemi, she explained that the school operates like other nursery and primary schools in the state. According to her, she said that the church is tasked with responsibility of bringing pupils with a proof of academic excellence and spiritual prowess, training them to be cultured and behave well in the society. Apart from class activities, the school engages in extra-curricular activities, such as quiz, debates and sporting activities with other schools. Special classes exist to teach Christian moral values as a medium to preach Christ to pupils. Children from other religions are not exempted since there is no provision to teach other religions.
Mrs. Ogundipe Folorunsho, the Head Teacher of Kingdom Heritage School (KHS) Gaa-Imam, Ilorin was also interviewed. The KHS was established in October 22, 2012 with pupils in nursery, reception up to primary five. The school has eleven teachers at the time of visit. Mrs. Ogundipe made it known that the school has a central body controlling the educational system known as Education Commission (EC), whose work is to:
i. monitor the academic performance of pupils for each region;
ii. inspect the record of work and work done which was on during the visit, and
iii. to set a unified examination for Kingdom Heritage Schools in Nigeria.
Mrs. Ogundipe rated the school high because of reports of good performance of KHS pupils who left the school to other schools, as they were given double promotion in their new schools based on their academic performance. Among other reasons, Mrs. Ogundipe said that, the purpose of establishing schools by the Living Faith Church is training highly ranked spiritually conscious leaders who will bring honour and dignity to their fatherland and the universe as well as fulfilling the plan of God for their lives.
The founder of the Living Faith Church, Bishop Oyedepo, who is also the Chancellor of Covenant University, gave three missions of the University as follows:
1. to raise a new generation of leaders who will provide the new much needed qualitative leadership for Africa and the world at large.
2. the liberation of mankind via the vehicle of higher education and promotion of university education relevant to societal needs and goals; and
3. to train graduates who are mentally resourceful, intellectually equipped, entrepreneurially self dependent, futuristically visionary and responsibility sensitive.40
The three missions of university education given by Bishop Oyedepo are similar to the Nigerian National Policy on Education of 1998 revised edition as given by Fabunmi Martins in an interview with Kehinde Adio in the Nigeria Tribune dated 19th June, 2008; analyzing the aims and objectives of Nigerian education as follows:
1. the inculcation of National consciousness and unity;
2. the inculcation of the right type of values and attitudes for the survival of the individual and the Nigerian society;
3. the training of the mind in the understanding of the world around;
4. the acquisition of appropriate skills and the development of mental, physical and social abilities and competences as equipment for the individual to live in and contribute to development of his or her society; hence, the quality of instruction at all levels has to be oriented towards inculcating the following values:
5. respect for the worth and dignity of the individuals;
6. faith in man’s ability to make rational decision;
7. moral and spiritual principle in inter-personal and human relations;
8. shared responsibility for the common good of the society;
9. promotion of the physical, emotion and psychological development of all children;
10. acquisition of competences necessary for self-reliance, while the Nigerian philosophy of education is based on:
11. the development of individual into a sound and effective citizen;
12. the full integration of the individual into the community; and
13. the provision of equal access to educational opportunities for all citizens of the country at primary, secondary and tertiary level is both inside and outside the former school system.41
In order for the philosophy to be in harmony with Nigeria’s national goals, education has to be geared towards self-realization, better human leadership individual and national efficiency, effective citizenship, national efficiency, national unity, as well as towards social, cultural, economic, political, scientific and technological progress, he added.
Martins Fabunmi emphasizes that the division of education institutions is to expand the frontiers of knowledge and transform the society into a better place through innovation. No society is static. The social, political, economic and technological changes are imminent in every society; the educated system has to grow in line with these changes. Hence, the need for curriculum reviews, adjustment and evaluation of educational plans.
It is obvious that the Living Faith Church is contributing immensely to national development in Nigeria in the area of education. The establishment of schools has shown that, it provides employment to a reasonable number of people, especially the youths who are roaming the streets of the country. The University has also complemented the efforts of Federal and State governments in providing admission to many applicants who are seeking admission to universities in Nigeria. The Chancellor, Bishop Oyedepo said that there are students from eight different nations studying in both universities with students from thirty states in Nigeria.42
It has also reduced unemployment by giving jobs to those who are jobless. We believe that missionary orientation of the schools would minimize cultism and moral decadence in the Nigerian universities still went on rampage some months ago. Bowen University, Iwo was reportedly closed indefinitely in March 2014 as students of the institution were said to have gone on rampage, after they received news of a proposed fee increase. The aggrieved students claimed that they lacked basic amenities and were subjected to stringent rules within the campus.
Students of Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo demonstrated on February 12, 2012 following the death of Abu Elvis Paul who was hospitalized in the school clinic as a result of headache and the medical personnel on ground refused his transfer to a better hospital in time. The students believed the refusal was due to lack of ambulance to convey the student to the hospital in town. Apart from this, the students also complained of series of neglect by the school authorities. In the course of the riot, policemen were invited to calm down the situation. A female student fainted as a result of the tear gas shot at them. Living Faith Universities need to take cognizance of the situation in various campuses. Few students should be admitted within their limited resources to avert rampages. If private institutions could benefit from Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND), this would help them to have more infrastructures that would aid teaching and learning. It will also assist the private universities to contribute to the advancement of research and national development, as opined by Professor Abdullateef Usman, the Acting Vice-Chancellor, Fountain University, Osogbo.44
In providing quality education for the citizenry, the Living Faith Church’s vision and mission are speaking the mind of the Federal Government of Nigeria. This was made known by the former President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, ably represented by Professor Ruquayyatu Rufai former Minister of Education, in the presentation of awards to winners of 2007 and 2008 overall best good performance in some states for their outstanding achievements, in the implementation of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme in Nigeria.
In the address of the former President, he condemned the poor quality of graduates turned out yearly from both basic and tertiary institutions, recognized education as a veritable tool for waging war against poverty, diseases and various socio-cultural and political challenges bedeviling the nation. He stressed that, the government would redouble its efforts in evolving education policies that could serve as catalyst for other sectors of the economy.45
President Buhari also made some declarations on education. He called for vigorous efforts on education which is germane in a world driven by new technology. He encouraged parents to be serious about education and see that their children are educated.46 In other to bring this to reality, the President decided to embark on the following: Recruitment of 500,000 unemployed graduates and National Certificate of Education holders as teachers; there was a plan to offer free education to science technology students via cash transfer programme which he said would be done in phases; also to encourage school pupils, President Buhari promised to provide one meal per day for all primary pupils.47
Afe Babalola, who was the Guest Lecturer, at Bells University of Technology, Ota, Ogun State expressed himself on what quality of education should be. While delivering his lecture, he said that the University lecturers should be motivated so that the nation can get the best from them. He argued that Universities are expected to generate ideas that will propel a nation to the desired destination of the citizens. He posited that it was not supposed to maintain that the University Lecturers and Professors be engaged in their primary assignments of teaching and research work which will help to solve societal problems. He opined that when lecturers abandoned their primary assignments, this he said could lead to stagnation and retrogression of the society.
Therefore, to avoid the societal decadence, many people have advanced arguments for the motivation of University lecturers.48 The Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Afe Babalola, on the issue of motivation said that more could still be achieved through improved welfare packages. He suggested that any university lecturer that failed to come up with any worthwhile research finding within seven years should first have his salary reduced to half by the university authorities, and that, if after a given period of time the fellows still could not prove his mettle through research he could be disengaged.49 This opinion sounds perfect but funds are needed to motivate the lecturers. He therefore, commended the private universities, such as, Covenant and Landmark Universities for their efforts in minimizing educational problems in the country.
Covenant and Landmark Universities as well funded with good and enough facilities that are not over stretched because they do not admit more students than they can cater for. The lecturers are not only challenged they are also given opportunities to put their skill to use. Covenant and Landmark Universities are not bogged down by unnecessary bureaucracy, so decision make it easy, this is not to say that these Universities do not have their shortcomings, and common to all private universities.
One of the problems encounter by parents and their children or wards is the ever increasing tuition fees. We must not forget that to manage and maintain a standard university in the prevailing economic situation is capital intensive. This account for the rationale behind high tuition and other fees in the private universities which do not show any sign of coming down, and restraint for eligible students whose parents cannot cope with an outrageous school fees.50 Another challenge of private universities is in the area of staffing. Many of the private universities rely on part-time and sabbatical staff lecturers.51 In fact, there are times these universities do not have regular academic staff, where lecturers are available, they are young graduates who are not Ph.D holders, which is against the minimum appointed of NUC in the public universities.52
We can therefore say that, the qualification of lecturers may affect the students and their performance. Besides, other things that can affect the quality of education are infrastructural facilities and the quality of programmes accepted by the university commission. Since there are requirements laid down by the NUC; it is noticed that most courses offered in these universities do not meet up with the accreditation criteria.
Overpopulation of students is becoming an issue in Public universities with limited facilities. This has open doors for a lot of vices such as examination malpractices, cultism and other vices have also affected the teaching and learning.53
Gaining admission into Public universities is competitive, which had led many students to seek admission in private universities, because the criteria for admission in private universities are not all that difficult, reducing the standard of education in tertiary institutions.
Private Universities have contributed to the absorption of students that would have been roaming the streets and getting involved in criminal acts. These universities complement the effort of public universities. If properly monitored by the NUC, they would contribute through the graduates of various universities to the national development. To achieve a better result, there should be an agreement and partnership between the two to move the country forward.54
The Living Faith Church makes education a priority, a place of learning and maintaining moral uprightness. With these excellent objectives of contributing to nation development, Bishop Oyedepo emphasizes the importance of education as the only enduring legacy that can be acquired by any society because it brings enlightenment, changes orientation and new cultures imbibed by the people.55 He sees education as more important that any temporary relief material being distributed as support to any group of people because those things are temporary.
It is understandable that no nation can develop without sound education nor develop beyond its level of education. The government should pay more attention to the growth of the nation, using their available resources in educating and empowering the youths which is the key for future development. However, it is pathetic to find out that many private universities are too expensive for the common man in Nigeria. On this note, Tunde Bakare of the Latter Rain Assembly comments:
…if these universities are missionary endeavour they should always have a human face to the extent that pastors laboring in such ministries should enjoy some benefits, scholarships for their children because they labour side by side.56
From the above statement, it is obvious that many of these private universities are not meant for the poor. On the other hand, to avoid substandard institutions since there is no support from the Federal or State Government, it is likely to be a bit expensive. However, it is note-worthy that; the students are brought up in a conducive learning environment producing God fearing and good students. Welfare packages are provided which may likely reduce engagement of students in cultism as we have in many public universities.
The provision of education by the Living Faith Church has contributed beyond any reasonable doubt to national development because of invaluable benefits derived by the people. The aim of Christian missionaries according to Fafunwa was to convert the heathen to Christianity through education. Apart from spiritual and moral teaching and all round learning and research work is now available in various fields of learning as stipulated in the curricular ranging from Science and Technology, Humanities, Education, Business and Social Sciences, Agriculture, Engineering and Medicine. In view of this, many students had graduated from both Covenant and Landmark Universities with different degrees. Apart from moral and patriotism, the Living Faith Church did not compromise the standard of education provided.
EDUCATION COMMISSION (EC)
LIVING FAITH CHURCH WORLDWIDE, INC
SOME OF THE KINGDOM HERITAGE MODEL SCHOOLS IN NIGERIA
S/NO. STATE LOCATIONS YEAR OF ESTABLISHMENT
1. Ekiti Ado-Ekiti 2009
2. Ondo Ikare 2011
3. Kogi Lokoja 2009
4. Kogi Ajaokuta 2011
5. ” Idah 2011
6. ” Okene 2011
7. ” Ankpa 2011
8. ” Kabba 2011
9. ” Egbe 2014
10. ” Anyigba 2014
11. ” Isanlu 2002
12. Kwara Bacita 2002
13. ” Ilorin 2011
14. ” Landmark 2011
15. ” Offa 2011
16. ” Sango, Ilorin 2011
17. ” Erin-Ile 2011
18. Lagos Lagos 2003
19. ” Canaanland 2003
20. ” Ogba 2009
21. ” Ojodu 2010
22. ” Ikorodu 2010
23. ” Badagry 2010
24. ” Irawo 2014
25. ” Epe 2014
26. ” Sango-Ota 2010
27. ” Abeokuta 2010
28. ” Ijebu-Ode 2011
29. ” Quarry Road 2013
30. ” Ilaro 2014
31. Ondo Akure 2009
32. ” Ondo Town 2010
33. ” Okitipupa 2011
34. Osun Ile-Ife 2007
35. ” Osogbo 2009
36. ” Ede 2014
37. ” Ilesa 2014
38. Oyo Ibadan 2002
39. ” Challenge, Ibadan 2011
40. ” Apata 2011
41. ” Eleyele 2011
42. ” Ogbomosho 2011
EDUCATION COMMISSION (EC)
LIVING FAITH CHURCH WORLDWIDE, INC
SOME OF THE FAITH ACADEMY SCHOOLS IN NIGERIA
S/N LOCATION YEAR OF ESTABLISHMENT STATUS
1. KOGI 2011 BOARDING SCHOOL
2. KWARA 2010 DAY SCHOOL
3. LAGOS 1999 BOARDING SCHOOL
4. LAGOS 2010 DAY SCHOOL
5. LAGOS 2010 DAY SCHOOL
6. LAGOS 2014 DAY SCHOOL
7. ONDO 2010 DAY SCHOOL
5.5 THE ROLE OF MEDIA
The Living Faith Church is adequately making good use of the media in the media in the promotion of its ideas57, maximally like other prominent Pentecostal Churches, such as the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Deeper Life Bible Church, Church of God Mission, others are The Household of God’s Church, Mountain of Fire and Miracles, The Synagogue of All Nations, Latter Rain Assembly, Christ Embassy and a host of others. These churches are making good use of the media in the promotion of the gospels.
One is not in doubt that the proliferation of Christian programmes on radio and television has contributed to the growth of Christianity.58 Omotoye also quoted Don Akhilomen that the effect of television as modern advancement in the field of science and technology has contributed to the spread of the gospel. In the past, the mainline churches are not involved in media activities but concentrated more on educational development. For example, the Baptist, Anglican, Christ Apostolic Church, Evangelical Church for Winning All, etc. However, in the middle of the twentieth century the case of electronic media has become a prominent means of evangelism.60 The church reach out to the world through the use of printed materials such as books, magazines, bulletins and pamphlets, audio and audio-visual aids and through personal contacts.61
The use of media in the spread of the gospel cannot be over- emphasized. Bishop Oyedepo declared that, before he got to certain places, his books have already spoken for him, Since the International headquarters of the church is based in Ota which is close to Lagos, where many daily newspapers and magazines are based, it is easy to read about the church events and programmes in the daily papers. Advertisements of in-coming events of the church and regular events are also seen on the internet about the church.62
The church introduced the use of Satellite in the annual Shiloh programmes few years ago. The members worldwide are encouraged to stay at their various local stations to watch the programmes. In other words, it has reduced travelling on Nigerian roads and congestion at the international headquarters in Sango Ota when such programmes are held. Handbills and posters of different qualities and shapes are seen daily in villages and towns advertising some programmes of the church. CDS and recorded cassettes, songs and drama staged by the church are sold at annual conventions and local churches at reduced prices. All these, are ways of promoting the name of the church and Christianity in general. There is also the African Gospel Invasion Programme (AGIP) established in 1994. This programme is to propagate the gospel and establish the Living Faith Church in other countries in West Africa and beyond.
According to Ojo, the church’s membership grew to about 10,000 in Accra and Tema in 2003.63 He went further to say that:
There is a burgeoning trade and exchange of Pentecostal products such as recorded audio and video cassettes; home video films on religious themes, religious songs on cassettes and CDS devotions literatures etc mostly produced in Nigeria and distributed widely in the West African sub-region. These products, founds in homes, offices, and bookstores, provide a continuous flow of Nigeria Pentecostal culture into other West Africa countries; hence they have become tangible resources for a new religion.64
Pentecostal Churches in Nigeria have become international, promoting Christianity and the name of Nigeria abroad. Churches under the African Gospel Invasion Programme (AGIP), has increased to about thirty African countries,65 with subsequent increase in membership. In fact, this brought about the purchase of an aircraft to facilitate and ease transportation to other countries. Although, Oyedepo’s effort in this regard has been criticized by people as extravagant because there are many people who are hungry and unemployed in the church. A report in the News Magazine also marked down Oyedepo for living in opulence because of this acquisition of a private jet.66
The Living Faith Church is seen as having a strong theological techniques for the proclamation of the gospel. However, her restoration of the religious life of the people within and outside Nigeria can not be over emphasized. Youths have been gainfully employed in the church as Pastors, teachers, drivers etc. In conclusion, we suggest that prosperity teaching be given less emphasis while salvation message takes prominence to encourage spiritual growth. It is also necessary that education which has been a vital dimension of Pentecostal churches should be made available at affordable rate as part of humanitarian services to Nigerians.
5.6 MEDICAL SERVICES
Medical work was just as vast as the spread of Christianity in Nigeria. Thus, the mission work had great impact upon the targeted societies. Before the advent of Pentecostalism in Nigeria, there had been evidence of divine healing among the mission oriented and Aladura Churches. The newly established Christian ministries, such as, the Deeper Life Bible Church, Redeemed Christian Church of God, Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministry and others emphasized healing in the name of Jesus Christ, as they distributed handbills, appear on television and the radio to propagate the gospel.
In the course of this work, Dr. Adebanjo of Landmark University Medical Centre, Omu-Aran made it known that the original vision of Bishop Oyedepo was to establish a hospital like that of (ECWA), Baptist and Catholic missions which gave birth to Gilead Hospital. This he said would offer the University community and the environs quality health services at their finger tips without going too far. Unfortunately, Gilead Hospital never saw the broad daylight because of its cancellation on the account of registration with the government, since then, the church decided to operate hospitals at school levels known as medical centres at both campuses.68
The vision of the ministry is to be a leading world class mission University health provider that promises to provide the best care at an affordable price, with a slogan ‘World Class Health For World Class People’.69 The medical centre took off on April 20th, 2011 with 17 beds, 32 staff and 3 doctors. The new edifice, Landmark Medical Centre was commissioned on 22nd November, 2013. The well equipped medical centre has 115 bed spaces with different specialties, 30 nurses from different departments and qualified doctors as at the time of visit on 9th June, 2016.70
The medical centre operates health post centre, opened to outsiders at Omu-Aran for those who cannot come to the University premises. The out-patients are well taken care of as buses are made available to convey patients back to town in order to avoid stress. Dr. Adebanjo was proud to say that within the few years of commencement, the medical centre has become a referral hospital. Also, at the time of visit, there were 50 patients on admission and no case of death was mentioned.
The mission of having a medical centre is to promote and preserve the health status and will being of the University community and environ through efficient and compassionate delivery of quality health care to staff and students as and the community as a whole, through continuous improvement in the quality of the care and services provided.71 Dr. Adebanjo proved beyond any reasonable doubt that services provided at the medical centre are relatively cheap compare to other places. For instance, the faith card is N250.00, delivery N5,000, X-ray – N1,500, PCV Test is N200 etc. Apart from this, the medical centre has been able to assist the poor who were sick and could not pay the hospital bill in the community including staff and students. Below are the departments within the medical centre:
2. Laboratory made up of: Chemical Pathology, Hematology, Microbiology and Blood Banking
4. Medicals which is made up of:
(a) General practice
(c) General surgery
(e) Obstetrics and Gynaecology
(f) Maxillofacial surgery
(i) Ear, Nose and Throat
5. Radiology Department with Digital X-Ray, Mammography, CT Scan, 3D Color Doppler, ECG
6. Physician Therapy: Physiotherapy
9. Accident and Emergency (A & E)
11. Central Sterilizing Unit
12. Family Planning
13. Immunization and Child Survival
14. Intensive Care Unit
15. Modular theatre Unit (2 major suites and a minor attached to A & E)
16. General Outpatient etc.72
The Living Faith Church has clinics in most of the churches. Emergency and minor ailments are treated by doctors and nurses who are members of the church. Churches which do not operate big medical centres also have clinics and maternity homes. For example, the Redeemed Christian Church of God has traditional birth attendant which was initiated by Josiah Akindayomi’s wife, the founder of the Redeemed Christian Church.
The traditional birth attendant is an important aspect of Yoruba traditional health care delivery. He maintained that it is a professional health care offered by elderly women who live in rural areas where modern hospitals are not available. Apart from the Redeemed Church, Christ Apostolic Church and Cherubim and Seraphim Church are well known for operating the traditional clinics. Some women prefer to attend these clinics because of the prayer being offered by the religious institutions who believe spiritual forces could work against a peaceful delivery. Other missions that operate hospitals include: Catholic Church: Wesley Guild Hospital, Ibadan ; Ilesa, Iyi Enu Hospital Close Onitsha established by the Church missionary society, Seventh Day Hospital at Ile-Ife by the Seventh Day Adventist Mission.73 Others are Baptist Mission, Baptist Hospital, Ogbomoso now Bowen Teaching Hospital, the Sudan Interior mIssion now known as Evangelical Church for Winning All established Egbe Hospital.
In the treatment given to staff by the Living Faith Church is categorized into three groups:
a. Poor health which arises from natural causes is said to attract 5% subsidy;
b. Poor health which arises from occupational exposure and hazards attract 100% subsidy;
c. While poor health which arises from unauthorized activities involving indulgence that are inimical to good health, such as exposure to allergies, self medication, will not attract any subsidy.
According to this policy, medical treatment is given on the basis of merit and the council’s discretion on treatment is final in any case. The interpretation of this policy is that medical treatment is not 100% free. The missionaries gave free medical treatment to people at a time when orthodox medicine was not popular and it was free. This was because the health of the people they came to convert was paramount to the missionaries.
On the issue of health, some Pastors of the Living Faith Church levied an allegation against Bishop Oyedepo for his insensitivity to welfare issues. For example, Akan Ikenna a former Pastor complained that, for 2½years he had been in and out of court to compel Oyedepo to pay his salary; when he obtained injuries in auto crash on August 6, 2005 along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Ikenna. Sunday and Abiye who were fatally wounded in auto crashes while on official duties for the church as claimed, were bitter about the treatment given to them by the church.
These men of God were to have been unceremoniously relieved of their appointments when it was discovered that they had become useless to the church. Egboime Martins and Dickson resigned from Benin Branch of the Church after 32 years of service; Bolu Martins and Dickson Olorunda of Ibadan and Warri Diocese respectively. Pastor Nathaniel, the then Secretary disproved these allegation, but expected these Pastors to go through the right process. However, one cannot condemn the church out rightly if the people involved did not follow the due process, again if the aggrieved persons fall into the third category of medical assistance, it is not likely they receive any medical attention.
LANDMARK UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTRE, OMU-ARAN
The impact of the Living Faith Church on national development will not be complete if the agricultural programme of the ministry is left out. The agricultural programme of the church is based on mandate, supported from the Deuteronomy 11:12 ‘it is a land the Lord your God cares for: the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.’ The land God cares for is a land God waters by himself without the help of man and a land that received God’s blessings.’To the end of the year’ means: He gives the land, rain and other blessings needed throughout each season. In other words, Israel in the Promised Land would depend on God for its fertility. This was why it was regarded as a land flowing with milk and honey.
On the other hand, this verse could be interpreted thus: Canaan is a mountainous country which could only be watered by rain from heaven on which it absolutely depended for its crops. Hence, it is a land on which as long as God’s people were faithful, the eyes of God would always be on their land to supply at each successive season the useful conditions of productiveness.
Landmark University is envisioned to be such a land of unlimited possibilities offering limitless opportunities of breaking new grounds. The vision has speed up the University with a decision to be a leading world class University, by spreading an agrarian revolution on the African continent through the exploration of hidden treasures in the mother earth thereby restoring dignity of the black race.76 Here is the farm mandate below:
1. To lead an agrarian revolution by
– Exploring the hidden treasures in the land
– Uncovering treasures in the midst of trash
– Empowering destinies for maximum impact
– Raising an army of reformers and secondly
2. To improve the standard of living of the contact populace by providing qualitative, quantitative and affordable staple and processed food.77
Bishop Oyedepo – the visioner’s clarion call is to till the land to:
– Feed the poor;
– Clothe the naked
– Shelter the homeless and;
– Restore dignity to mankind
Bishop Oyedepo is of opinion that, it is possible to achieve these aims because of streams and rivers flowing everywhere the heavy down pour of rain year in year out, with good soil, he maintained that there is no reason to be hungry. This mandate on agriculture kicked off on February 2010.78
The farm began in 2010 with poultry production of seven thousand dressed chicken for consumption every 2 years and later increased to ten thousand daily. The church through agricultural department in 2016 planted.
Maize – 109.3 hectares to feed as poultry feed
Soy beans – 22 hectares
Cassava – 64 hectares for Garri and flour
Jatropha – 54 hectares for biodiesel, ceiling material and ointment, etc
Teak – 10 hectares
Animal Production – Poultry (Broilers and layers)
Cows and Snailery are produced for consumption
The university in expanding its agricultural programme, has acquired hectares of land in various places for farming.
1. Commercial farm (Omu Aran) 302 hectares of land
2. Eleyin Farm – 352 hectares of land
3. Agbonda farm – 550 hectares of land and,
4. Ijan – Agbele inclusive
In the farm unit, 1,594 chickens, both frozen and roasted are produced weekly. Layers unit produce 318 crates of egg daily at the time of visit. The Farm Manager – Elder James said that by December 2016, they have a target of 1,000 cages of egg per week because of the cages for layers that was about to be installed by the end of June 2016. The feed mill unit produces 10 tons of feed by week and a small fraction of it is sold to nearby farmers. In the fishery unit, 350 fishes are either freshly smoked or produced for sale weekly. Products from the farm are on high demand from places like Abuja, Lokoja, Omu-Aran, Ilorin and Ota.
There are one hundred and ten workers on the farm everyday as at 9th November, 2016. Students from other universities are always on the farm for industrial training. The Elder James because the goal is to feed Africa. It is however believed that through agriculture, the church is contributing to social-development in feeding and creating job opportunities.
The global growth and impact of Pentecostalism has been significant enough to justify claims of a new reformation and warrant identification as perhaps the most successful social movement of the century.79 The Living Faith Church could be counted as one of the most successful Pentecostal churches of our time and is globally recognized. It is based on this understanding that the church operates with the cognizance of Jesus Christ as the Head, and seek among other things to secure the posterity of the commission, keep to the doctrines, values, ministerial ethics and ensure uniformity of standard in all facets of its commission.80
In spite of success and contribution recorded by the Living Faith Church, there are challenges. The first challenge that could create fear in this ministry is who is going to take over the leadership after the demise of the founder. Although, the Apostolic succession procedure do not mention any family member to take over as President of the ministry after the Bishop Oyedepo’s demise, but the Mandate reads:
By application therefore, the President of the church can emerge from any part of the world as long as standard are upheld, but the International Headquarters remains domiciled in Nigeria.
The question then is, ‘Will the Mandate be followed especially when the children are there? Bishop Oyedepo realized this when he said, if he was asked about his greatest concern he would say:
People, people, many people with hearts too deep to uncover, though too obscure to discern…hypocrisy, eye service, double dealing, deception, name it, the list is endless…81
God also in the creation story has problems with man in (Genesis 6:5-6) when he said, ‘The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain, and because of this God decided to wipe them out. We can see fear of unknown in founder’s statement. As the church grows, one would expect more crises because of the population and struggle for position. Continuity of vision is likely to create another problem as a new leader could have a different vision, focus to effective management of the ministry by his calling. However, the inauguration of various committees appointed to oversee various departments in the church may likely help in the administration of the church, capable hands are employed and delegation of power brought about organized and good performance in all units with orderliness, discipline and high level of spirituality.
Succession in the Living Faith Church may not have much problem if members follow the operation manual of the church that stipulates the process of succession. The Manual reads:
In case the President of the church decides to resign based on personal, physical health, social reasons, or in case of old age, the incumbent president is required to nominate a succession as soon as they attain the age of seventy five. The nominee is grafted into the council and deployed to the office of the President.82
The Living Faith Church from the look of things has an organized structure that could prevent internal conflict. The Mandate also states that:
The President of the Commission is expected to nominate the next President, in case of rejection of the nominee, into the apostolic office, the existing President is allowed to nominate another person where the second nominee is not accepted, the Board of Trustees takes full responsibility for installation of the new President.83
Transfer of Pastors in the church is another concern. Transfer is frequent and very disturbing. This does not give room for Pastors and their families to settle down in a place. A Pastor who claimed anonymity complained that his children attended thirteen primary schools in six years. He added that when Bishop Oyedepo visited him outside Nigeria, and saw his congregation. He called his name and said the Pastor would rebel immediately he was transferred. According to the information gathered some Pastors refused to be transferred on the ground that they had labor to have a large congregation where money is not a problem again and could not see why they should hand over to another Pastor.
In 2004, George Adjemann, the head of Ghana Branch, Winners Chapel, resisted a new posting to Ibadan after recording a huge success in his church where money was rolling in.84 His case was followed by a massive transfer of key ministers and non-graduate ministers were sacked. Dapo Olutayo who was an in-law to Bishop Oyedepo and then the Bishop of Abuja Diocese refused to be transferred to Port-Harcourt. On this account, he left to start his own church opposite Winners Chapel and absorbed some of the sacked Pastors.
Another major challenge has to do with high cost of education at all levels. It is unfortunate that some of the private schools owned by the mission are too expensive because many church members could afford to send their children to the living faith academy schools or either the universities. It is observed that schools in Nigeria according to omotoye have become business enterprise among the major Pentecostal churches which are not within the reach of common people. The question now is what these parents would benefit from the church where they worship and pay compulsory pay their tithes.
Another area of concern is the new message of prosperity that has replaced messages like ‘holiness, sanctification etc’. Not too many of the youths are interested in such teachings again. Oyedepo himself has said poverty is a curse, therefore, every member of this church wants to be rich. Generally in Nigeria today, the teaching of prosperity messages has increased the level of corruption, kidnapping, rituals, bribery and other socio vices in Nigeria in the name of getting rich. Omotoye in his work cited the example of Lawrence Agada, a cashier at Lagos Sheraton hotel and towers who was arrested for stealing 40 million naira from his employers and brought the money to Christ embassy, pastored by Chris oyakhilome 86.Another person was Dipo Kehinde of eko international bank who stole 39 million naira from his employer and also gave 10 million to Christ embassy as seed offering as he was expecting the money to double the amount he invested.87
This issue of wanting to become rich is more pathetic when some even steal from the church. Igboin Benson in his paper ‘Gehazim: an ethical appraisal of corruption in religious and political situations in Nigeria’ cited an example of how some pastors in Akoko, Ondo state assaulted themselves because of greed and mismanagement of church fund. He added that some church deacons and other workers in an undisclosed Pentecostal church in Ibadan inflated contract for personal gains.88
From the above examples it is clear that the fear of God is not in the church and secondly many do not understand the teaching of prosperity gospel. Too much emphasis on prosperity messages has opened doors for uncontrollable evils in the society.
NOTES AND REFERENCES
1. R.W. Omotoye and E.O. Opoola, The Church and National Development: A case study of the Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel) in Nigeria. (Cesnur) Centre for Studies on New Religion. www.cesnur.org.
2. Rotimi Williams Omotoye and Elizabeth Opoola, The Church and National Development (cesnur).
3. J.K. Asamoah-Gyadu: African Charismatic Current Development within Independence Indigenous Pentecostalism in Ghana: Paul Gilford (ed) (Accra, African Christian Press nd), 57 -58.
4. S.A. Owoeye, ‘Solution to Poverty: Oyedepo’s Prophetic and Healing Mission in Nigeria’ In the Journal of Religion and African Culture (JORMI), Published by the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies , Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Nigeria, Vol. 1& 2, December 2000, 59.
5. R.W. Omotoye and E.O. Opoola, The Church and National Development, (cesnur) 9.
6. O.A. Dada, Prosperity Gospel In Nigerian Context: A Medium of Social Transformation, Or an impetus for Delusion’ in Orital Ibadan Journal of Religious Studies Volume xxxvi/1-2 June and December 2004, 96.
7. The Mandate Operational Manual, 344.
8. The Mandate Operational Manual, 344.
9. The Mandate Operational Manual, 344.
10. The Mandate Operational Manual, 406.
11. A. Ekwenife, ‘Politics and Religious Intolerance: The Nigeria Solution’ In Religious and Politics in Nigeria, R.A. Abubakar (eds) (np) NASR, 1993, 111.
12. Orji D. Orji, The Role of the Churches in Combating Corruption Among Political Leaders in Anambra State, Nigeria. A thesis submitted to the Depatment of Religion and Cultural Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, March 2011, 96.
13. Orji D. Orji, 96.
14. Orji D. Orji, 96.
15. A Muli, ‘The Church in the arena of Politics’ In Manuals for Teachers of Christian Religious Knowledge. J.A. Ilori (ed) (JOS CARPRO Media, 1999), 540.
16. Orji D. Orji, 92.
17. Orji D. Orji, 92.
18. Orji D. Orji, 92.
19. Orji D. Orji, 93.
20. C. Ogbuagu, ‘The Church: A Caring Community’ In E. Amucheazi, C. Ogbuagu and I. Oleru. Moving Nigeria to Greatness: Some Thought, (Enugu: M. Cajec Publications, 1999),
21. D.F. Asaju, ‘Globalization, Politicization of Religion and Religious Networking: The case of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria’ In Who is Afraid of the Holy Ghost: Pentecostal and Glabalization in Africa and Beyond. Afe Adogame (ed) (New Jersey: African World Press, 2011), 190 -191.
22. D.F. Asaju, 191.
23. The Nigerian Tribune, Thursday May 27, 2010, 24.
24. The Nation, Saturday, September 20, 2014, 4.
25. R. W. Omotoye, ‘Christianity as a catalyst for Socio-Economic and Political Change in Yorubaland, Nigeria: An Account of a Church Historian’ An Inaugural Lecture delivered at the Univeristy of Ilorin, Ilorin, on Thursday June 25, 2015, 33.
26. R.W. Omotoye, Inaugural Lecture, 33.
27. R.W. Omotoye, Inaugural Lecture, 33.
28. Personal Interview with Bishop David Oyedepo, August 2015.
29. T. L. Ojibara and B.L. Ojibara, ‘Towards Teachers Professionalism and Productivity in Nigeria’ Fagbayele E.O. (et al) Ilorin, Hay Tee Communications Int, 2000, 147.
30. J.O.O. Abiri and Jekayinfa (eds) Perspectives on the History of Education In Nigeria (Revised Edition) (Ibadan, Eniola – Jay Communications, Inc. 2008), 5.
31. A.B. Fafunwa, History of Education in Nigeria (London: George Allen and Unwin 1974), 15.
32. A.B. Fafunwa, 57.
33. Christian Assemblies International, History of the Pentecostal Movement: https://www.cai.org;bible-studies;his… Accessed 13/6/2017.
34. Hittenberger Jerry, Towards a Philosophy of Education Pneuma 23, 2011, 2.
35. C.B. Eavey, History of Christian Education (Chicago: Moody Bible Institute, 1978), 7.
36. E.A. Ayandele, The Missionary Impact on Modern Nigeria (1842-1914) (London, Longman Group Ltd, 1966), 286.
37. R.W. Omotoye, ‘Christianity, Education and Development in Yorubaland’ In African Journal of Education Studies I(AJES) Vol. 1 No. 1, Botswana, University of Botswana, Botswana, 2003, 127.
38. R.W. Omotoye, 127.
39. The Mandate Operational Manual, 350-357.
40. The Mandate Operational Manual, 357.
41. The Nigerian Tribune, June 19, 2008, 32.
42. Personal Interview with Bishop Oyedepo August, 2015 at Ota Covenant University.
43. R.W. Omotoye and E.O. Opoola, (cesnur) www.cesnur.org/2012/nigeria.htm Accessed on 10/4/2013.
44. A. Usman, Acting Vice-Chancellor, Fountain University, Osogbo. ‘Private Universities deserve to benefit in TETFUND’ – Daily Trust Newspaper, 2016. https://www.dailytrust.com.ng.
45. The Nigerian Tribune, Thusrday, May 27, 2010, 25.
46. Premium Times Nigeria www.premiumtimes.org.com;topnews, 2017.
47. President Buhari’s Renovation on Education www.vanguardngr.com>news, December 22, 2015.
48. The Nigerian Tribune, June 19, 2008, 26.
49. The Nigerian Tribune, June 19, 2008, 26.
50. T.O. Ajadi, ‘Private Universities in Nigeria the Challenges Ahead’ American Journal of Scientific Research ISSN 1450-223x Issue 7 resourcedat.com>uploads 2011/10 15-24, 22. Accessed 15/6/17.
51. T.O. Ajadi, 22.
52. T.O. Ajadi, 22.
53. T.O. Ajadi, 23.
54. T.O. Ajadi, 23.
55. Personal Interview with Bishop Oyedepo, August 2015.
56. The News Watch Magazine, Vol. 33 No. 20 November 23, 2009, 24.
57. R.W. Omotoye and E.O. Opoola, (cesnur) www.cesnur.org/2012/nigeria.htm Accessed on 10/4/2013.
58. Glifford, Ghana’s Christianity: Pentecostal in Globalizing Africa Economy (Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2004), 59.
59. R.W. Omotoye, ‘Christianity and Education; A case study of Christian Missionary Universities in Nigeria in the 21st Century in R.A. Raji’ et al (eds) In Religion Governance and Development in the 21st Century. A Publication of the Nigeria Association for the study of Religions, Ilorin 2006, 148.
60. A. A. Ajayi, ‘Dynamics of Growth in Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries in Yorubaland, 1989 – 2006’, An unpublished Ph.D Thesis submitted to the Department of Religious Studies, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, 153.
61. A. A.Ajayi, 163.
62. R.W. Omotoye and E.O. Opoola, (cesnur) www.cesnur.org/2012/nigeria.htm Accessed on 10/4/2013.
63. M.A. Ojo, Inaugural Lecture Series 227 titled ‘of Saints and Sinners: Pentecostalism and Paradox of Social Transformation in Modern Nigeria’, (Obafemi Awolowo Ile-Ife: University Press, 2010), 4.
64. M.A. Ojo, 39.
65. Winners Profile, http://www.winnerschapel.com/profile/default.htm. Accessed on 07/08/2010.
66. News Watch Magazine June 7, 2010, 12-17.
67. R. W. Omotoye, ‘Divine Healing: A Phenomenon of Challenge to the Mainline Churches in Yorubaland’ In Journal of Arabic and Religious Studies (JARS) Department of Religions, University of Ilorin, Ilorin, 1999, 64.
68. A personal interview with Dr. Adebanjo, a medical doctor at Landmark Medical Centre, Omu-Aran June 9, 2016.
69. A personal interview with Dr. Adebanjo, a medical doctor at Landmark Medical Centre, Omu-Aran June 9, 2016.
70. A personal interview with Dr. Adebanjo, a medical doctor at Landmark Medical Centre, Omu-Aran June 9, 2016.
71. Landmark University Medical Centre flier (LUMC) (ND NP).
72. Landmark University Medical Centre flier (LUMC) (ND NP).
73. A. O. George, ‘The Role of Yoruba Traditional Birth Attendants in Global Health Care’ In Sola Akinrinade, Modupe Kolawole, Ibiyemi Mojola and David O. Ogungbile (ed), Locating the Local in the Global: Voices on a Globalized Nigeria, Ile-Ife, Nigeria: Faculty of Arts, O.A. U., 2004, 121-125.
74. The Commission: Administrative Policy Handbook of the Living Faith Church Worldwide March 2003 (APH), 192.
75. News Watch Magazine. June 7, 2010, 12 – 17.
76. Landmark University Flier.
77. Landmark University Flier
78. Landmark University Flier
79. P. Jerkins, The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), 7 – 8.
80. The Mandate Operational Manual, 10.
81. The Mandate Operational Manual, 259.
82. The Mandate Operational Manual, 262.
83. The Mandate Operational Manual, 261.
84. The News Watch Magazine June 7, 2011, 14.
85. R.W. Omotoye, A Critical Examination of the Activities of Pentecostal Church in National Development in Nigeria www.cesnur.org./2010. Accessed 1/7/2017.
86. R. W. Omotoye, www.cesnur.org./2010. Accessed 1/7/17.
87. R. W. Omotoye, www.cesnur.org./2010. Accessed 1/7/17.
88. Benson Igboin, ‘Ethical Appraisal of Corruption in Religious and Political Situations in Nigeria’ In Biblical Studies and Corruption in Africa. S.O. Abogunrin et al (eds) Ibadan, 2007, 157.
6.0 SUMMARY, CONCLUSION, CONTRIBUTION TO KNOWLEDGE AND RECOMMENDATIONS.
Several ordinances and pronouncements law addressed the economic life of God’s people, which are time-bound cultural applications of unchanging oral principles. While these law were not directed to us indirectly, the underlying moral principles do.1 The economic section of the Bible especially The Old Testament helps us to understand the unchanging principles structure upon which the biblical teaching on wealth and poverty rest.2 For example, God warned the people against accumulation of wealth which should not be the central focus of their lives but rather, a resource to make life better for themselves and others.3 These ageless laws have been guiding Christians today.
The Israelites were reminded of the cancellation of debts on the Sabbath year, a ban on assess to humanitarianism in view of the approaching Sabbath year (Deuteronomy 15:1-3).
At the end of every seven years thou shall make a release. And this is manner of the release: Every creditor that lendeth out unto his neighbor shall release…
The reversion of property in the year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25: 8 – 34), the freeing of slaves in the year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25: 35-55), and the continuation of gleaming rights during the Sabbath year among other economic regulations.4
Further to this, is the reaction of the prophets against all forms of injustice, to the poor, greedy landlords, land grabbers, money lenders.5 God’s people were therefore, charged to practice true religion instead of having ceremonies (Isaiah 58: 6-7), Prophet Amos spoke on behalf of God on bringing judgement to those who trample upon the poor, cheating with dishonest scales and buying the poor and the needy for a pair of sandals (Amos 2:7-8; 5, 6).6 However, possession or lack of material goods is not commended or condemned in the scripture rather economic laws were made not to bring equality but promote justice, protect and correct distortions in the paradigm of labour being a means to meet material goods.
From our understanding, Jesus maintained a balanced ethical teaching on wealth and poverty, a more reason why these two concepts manifested in his life throughout his ministry. He was born in a manger to a low class parent whose father was a carpenter (Luke 2:7; Matthew 13:15). Joseph and Mary could not afford a lamb for purification ceremony and brought two pigeons to the temple (Luke 2:24). Perhaps his background, during his earthly ministry made him to identify with the people he came to save: the poor, sinners, prostitutes, orphans, widows and other social and economic outcasts, and always on the move from one place to the other. No wonder, he told the man that wanted to follow him in (Matthew 8:20) that foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nest, but the son of Man has nowhere to lay his head. Jesus’ attitude of constant borrowing and multiplication of food, and on using other’s apartment to meet with his disciples, and a borrowed tomb was an indication of his low estate.
Jesus struck a balance demonstrating a great wealth, constantly found associating with religious leaders, such as, the scribes, Sadducees, Sahendrin, Pharisees, and Joseph of Arimathea. Jesus did not only witnessed to the who is who in the community, people like the young ruler, (Matthew 19: 16-24) tax collectors, the Levites and Zacchaeus but ate with them and attended public parties and feasts (Luke 11:37; 14:1`-6) (Luke 5:29-32; John 2:1-11) also receiving costly gifts from the rich.7
Jesus is seen experiencing both wealth and poverty, as said earlier, he did not support or favour any of these two concepts in practice and teaching. Jesus chose to be poor so that he could minister to them and declared that poor people will not seize to be in the land. He associated with the rich and portrayed that wealth is not sinful. Two things are inherently necessary; one is to attend to the needs to the poor. Proverbs 21:13 says:
Whoever stops his ears at the cry of the poor, he will also cry out, but shall not be heard.
Also in Psalm 41:1
How blessed is he who considers the helpless; the Lord will deliver him in a day of trouble.
From these two verses, God is interested in the poor, on the other hand, it is dangerous to neglect the poor. Secondly, as good as wealth is, it could be a hindrance to the kingdom. Jesus said in (Mark 10:25) ‘It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God’ having seen the attitude of that rich man who could not part with his possessions.
The evil of corruption associated with dependence on material possessions, desires for and pursuit of wealth often leads to spiritual slavery. This work is therefore, channeled to seek the ethical teachings of Jesus Christ in relation to wealth. The Living Faith Church – our case study – is one of the churches that promote the prosperity gospel, anything short of this is a curse and dehumanizing. This is not the teaching of Christ per se, even in trying to lift everyone’s mind positively, the religious belief have impact on economic life of individuals which is geared towards capitalism.
The idea of getting rich by all means encouraged wrong acquisition of wealth and exploitation of the poor. Although, possession of wealth is good as individual has the right to acquire property, prominence must be given to the Jesus’ ethical teachings on wealth and poverty as well as a more balanced spiritual growth to avoid unnecessary accumulation of wealth. This work therefore, uphold the concept of stewardship for correct use of resources which hands on the principles of Jesus’ ethical teaching to help the poor and avoid accumulation of wealth.
Prosperity theology is viewed from different persepectives by individuals and denominations. It is either supported or rejected. The underline factor of Christians’ obligation towards material possessions and wealth should be humility and faithfulness. This context must be understood that all we possess belongs to God (Psalm 24:1) says: ‘The earth is theLord’s and the fullness thereof…’ We must manage them with care. A Christian status must not be measured in terms of wealth or possession or be held unto as security of life. God’s counsel must be sougnt in managing of wealth and resources to filfil hispurpose in advancing the course of Christ in one’s local church, and practical contribution to the needs of others. Christians who are rich must not see themselves as being rich but managers of God’s resources; be generous, ready to share and be rich in good works.
Jesus did not condemn riches outrightly but was emphatical about the perils of wealth, with flings more on the negative side for example, 1Timothy 6: 9-10 contains the warnings of Paul concerning accumulation of wealth ‘But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare …’ This is because many are not capable of hadling money as they think, which has brought problems to their lives.
James in his letter to the church draws this conclusion, wealth he says is a dangerous trap which is capable of sending anyone to hell; wealth could make the owner myopic to spiritual things, bring ephemeral joy, loss and everlasting sorrow. He therefore advised his readers to be careful with wealth not to hoard wealth, cheat others and be careful about living in luxury and self indulgence. However, as Christians, we have the duty to be faithful to God pertaining to financial stewardship. We must also the fact that poverty can not be totally eradicated. The wealthy and the poor will co-exist in every society.
6.3 CONTRIBUTION TO KNOWLEDGE
Our position in this study is a contribution to the scholarly answer to some controversial issues concerning prosperity theology. As a result, we have examined this theology by looking through the ethical teachings of Jesus Christ in relation to prosperity gospel using the Living Faith Church as our example. In this development, we have been able to establish the fact through the life and teachings of Jesus that he never advocated for wealth nor condemn poverty instead he taught selfless sacrifice and love for others. A close study about prosperity shows that man is open to more danger (Hosea 13:6; Deuteronomy 31:20, 32:15; Jeremiah 5:7, Deuteronomy 8:10-18) these scriptures reveal the danger of prosperity while 2Chronicles 32:25, Job 12:5, Ecclesiastes 7:14; Hosea 4:7, etc. These verses talk about the pride of prosperity and Revelation 3:17; Ezekiel 10:49; Jeremiah 5:28, Deuteronomy 32:15; Psalm 17:10 warns about perils of worldliness.
In the parable of the shrewd Manager in (Luke 16:13-15), Jesus makes it clear how little respect he has for the pursuit of material prosperity or wealth. The Bible warns against pursuing of wealth unnecessarily, leaders in the church are to avoid giving their hearts to wealth, (Hebrews 13:5) ‘keep yourself free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you; The love of money leads to all kinds of evil as we have in (1Timothy 6:10). Jesus therefore warned, ‘Watch Out, be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions’ (Luke 12:15). Jesus placed more emphasis on the things of the kingdom as against accumulation of wealth when he says ‘Do not store up your treasure for yourself on earth…’ (Matthew 6:19). The irreconcilable contradictions between prosperity teaching and the gospel of Christ can be summarized thus: Jesus saw the rich as afflicted ‘Woe to you who are rich’ (Luke 6:24). He made the poor his primary focus of his ministry (Luke 4:18; Isaiah 61:1, 2). Jesus described wealth in several negative ways: perishing, deceiving and distracting, endangering and no one can serve God and Mammon. Despite the overall negative flavor of Christ’s words about wealth, the actions and words of Jesus do contain positive perspectives. These perspectives serve as a reminder that the material world is good.8
The Bible says we will not seize to have poor, then some other people must be better off to help the poor. Bishop Oyedepo made it clear that poverty is not a sign of righteousness but a curse. There is a contradiction; the poor in the land are not cursed for example, Lazarus. What the Bible is saying is that, there would always be a need to help one another.
Although, poverty has been admitted as unpreventable to man as non-manufacturing countries turn out very little while, there is a positive growth rate and the ability to sustain life is shrinking.9 With the understanding of the word ‘covenant’, according to Bishop Oyedepo our society can come out of poverty to experience plenty. The Living Faith Church in conjunction with other Pentecostal churches can initiate inspirational or enlightening memorandum of understanding on economic co-operation with the government in improving the living conditions of the people. This has direct prospects to palliate or deaden poverty concurrently by increasing employment opportunities and labour productivity.
Assisting farmers to raise farm income as many of them are poor is a core anti-poverty creating opportunities for self-sustaining and avenue to basic services will automatically reduce poverty.
Giving financial assistance is a confirmation of social security through co-operatives and microloansm, in other words, frequently providing the less priviledged with money will enable them to pay tuition fees, raise a manageable number of children going to school, child malnutrition will be reduced to the bearest minimum and there will be an increase in economic activities. The church can make the society and individual prosperous by adding ‘works to their faith’ in form of education and skill acquisition. This will prepare youths for both academic and trade skills. Skills acquisition and empowerment such as, trades, plumbing, electrician, well-drilling, farming, mechanical skills, carpentry, etc are needed in large number in our society to reduce poverty.
Women education and empowerment is an important area of discussion with respect to development and economy. This will give a chance to generate income, and an opportunity for development within the household and in the society. Encouraging female participation will reduce poverty and enhance sustainable economic growth.
In order to fight poverty and live a prosperous life, Christians must not resign to fate by living a fatalistic life that is accepting that poverty cannot be prevented therefore, those affected must continue o live like that. The church must not be passive but encourage the government to free herself from the rich nations, as a basic condition for economic and social change. Teachings that promise freedom from poverty, a life time of prosperity and imitation of materialistic lifestyle reveals cultural conformity and liberation theology instead of biblical injunctions. Affluence from our study endangers, hinders directions and purpose of life that does not promote spiritual maturity but spiritual bankruptcy.
Prosperity teaching by faith teachers has not been able to end suffering. We have a view through this study and as taught by Christ that the requirements needed for a fulfilled and prosperous life is contentment. (Deuteronomy 15:11) that says the poor shall not cease in the land is an indication that not everybody will be rich. Suffice here to say again that, poverty may not last for a lifetime, it may come but contentment will be a great gain at such a time.
Based on the findings of this research work we recommend the followings:
1. Jesus placed more value on the soul of man than material possessions;
2. It is not morally wrong to be rich but accumulation of wealth has not eternal value;
3. Greediness should be avoided because wealth is worthless in the day of wrath but righteousness delivers from death;
4. Anyone that will follow Jesus must be ready to forsake everyone else;
5. Wealth is good but could be a hindrance to repentance and acceptance of the gospel;
6. Money is worth making if it is going to be used as an instrument to set others free;
7. Prosperity teaching should include the reality of suffering, pain and poverty into their theology;
8. Christians are encouraged to seek divine intervention in their problems and avoid manipulation;
9. Pleasure or happiness is not derived from prosperity or money but in having a good relationship with God;
10. Money won’t make anyone rich. Money gets into the hands of those who are well to do or wealthy in spirit and soul. Money therefore will come when all essential things are in place;
11. Money without the wealth of the soul is a multiplication of sorrows and regrets. Only God makes man prosperous without adding sorrow to it;
12. It is not fundamentally wrong to be prosperous and live big, what is fundamentally wrong is to exploit the wealth and the innocent for personal gains;
13. As faith Pastors emphasize faith and belief, we must also teach the production of goods and services to sustain wealth;
14. Prosperity teachers should correct the wrong interpretation of Proverbs 13:22, ‘the wealth of the wicked is laid up for the righteous’ which is a major doctrine in prosperity proponents. There is a contradiction in the principle of God’s nature of justice which will not allow God to do such things;
15. Religious dialogue should be encouraged between the traditional theology, scholars and teacher of prosperity gospel. This could be done through the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Universities;
16. Evangelical and theological institutions should admit and train significant number of ministers of other denominations in other to have better understanding about each other’s beliefs and doctrines;
17. Scholars should objectively study the teachings of other denominations to minimize criticism;
18. Christian ministers should balance their message of trials with words of hope and prayer in time of crisis, especially where people are poor and persecuted;
19. Prosperity proponents must understand that prosperity does not only come when we give but when we know the usage of money and discipline ourselves to abide by them;
20. The place of giving cannot be over-emphasized, it is just one of the many laws. On its own, it will fail to make anyone sustainably rich;
21. All ministers of the gospel must always make Jesus the centre of their teaching and encourage patience and perseverance in other to receive from God;
22. Poverty should not be seen as a sign of spiritual failure nor prosperity embraced as spiritual favour;
23. The rich Christians should emphasize the need for compassion, empathy and kindness toward those who have suffered unexpected of unfortunate circumstances that bring poverty or need;
24. The church should practice communal living as it was done in the early church;
25. The issues of health and tuition fees should be revisited by the Living Faith Church so that all members, children;
26. The church should discourage income to make some living in mansions while the tithe payers in the church for food on the street, there should be equitable distribution of food material to a satisfactory level if not among 100% members;
27. The Living Faith Church should develop on ecumenical sense among other group of Christians, relating well and working together for the expansion of God’s kingdom at all levels. The church can make an important contribution ecumenically in relation to proposal for a new internal Economic order accepted by the United Nations organizations; and
28. The ecumenical contribution to this proposal must be directed toward the creation of greater international solidarity, through which the struggle against poverty can be carried out at all levels and not only among the poor countries. Forces must be joined with other churches who believe that poverty must be wiped out from the church (world) to build a more fraternal human society.
NOTES AND REFERENCES
1. David W. Jones, While did Jesus Teach about Wealth and Poverty. Intersectproject.org;faithandeconomical…2016. Accessed on 3/7/17.
2. David W. Jones, While did Jesus Teach about Wealth and Poverty. Intersectproject.org;faithandeconomical…2016. Accessed on 3/7/17.
3. George P. Liacopulos, Church and Society: Orthodox Christian Perspectives, Past Experiences, And Modern Challenges (Wood Dale, IL: Somerset Hall Press 2007), 88.
4. David W. Jones, While did Jesus Teach about Wealth and Poverty. Intersectproject.org;faithandeconomical…2016. Accessed on 3/7/17.
5. William O. Ondari, Poverty and Wealth. University of Eastern Africa, Baraton, Eldoret, Kenya. Prepared for the 28th International Faith Learning Seminar held in Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo, Ogun State, Nigeria, June 17-29, 2001. Christintheclassroom.org;vol.28.
6. David W. Jones, While did Jesus Teach about Wealth and Poverty. Intersectproject.org;faithandeconomical…2016. Accessed on 3/7/17.
7. David W. Jones, While did Jesus Teach about Wealth and Poverty. Intersectproject.org;faithandeconomical…2016. Accessed on 3/7/17.
8. Jesus’ Attitude Towards Earthly Riches – Meditations and Prayers in the orthodox. www.fatherseny.comjesus’attitude.
9. Poverty Reduction-Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/povertyreduction.
NAME POSITION TOWN
1. Bishop David Oyedepo Founder, LFC Ota
2. Olarinoye Joseph Pastor Port-Harcourt
3. Adewuyi Kemi Head Teacher, LF
Heritage School, Offa
4. Deacon Omotosho S.O. Member Ilorin
5. Deaconess Ayorinde Member Ilorin
6. Adeoye, E.O. Member Ilorin
7. Pastor Olawumi Member Ilorin
8. Pastor Timothy Olaniyan State Pastor Ilorin
9. Mrs. Ogundipe, F.B. Head Teacher, Gaa-Imam Ilorin
10. James Atanda Member Ogbomoso
11. Pastor Nat Yemi Executive Secretary Ibadan
12. Isaac Bolorunduro Member Lokoja
13. Deborah Akinwumi Member Omu-Aran
14. Edward Oyejide Member Offa
15. Elder James Farm Manager Landmark University,
16. Dr. Adebanjo Medical Director Landmark University,
17. Dr. John Izerebe Director of Farms Landmark University,
18. Mr. Joseph F. Poultry Manager Landmark University,
19. Oluyemisi Soetan Computer Operator Ilorin
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Bruce, F.F. The Gospel of John Basingstoke: Pickering and Inglis, 1983.
Bruce, M. Metzger The New Testament, Its Background Growth and Content London: Longman, 1965.
Brunner,F.D. A theology of the Holy Spirit Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdman’s Publishers, 1980.
Burgess, Richard Nigeria’s Christian Revolution: The Civil War Revival on its Pentecostal Progeny: (1967-2006) Carlisle: Paternoster, 2008.
Burgess, Stanley M. (ed) Encyclopedia of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity, New York: Routledge Taylor and Francis Group, 1980.
Burgress, S.M. (ed) Encyclopedia of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity New York: Routledge Taylor and Francis Group, 2006.
Charles, Foster Kent and Jeremiah, Whipple Jenks Jesus’ Principles of Living New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1927.
Christenson, Laurence Speaking in Tongues and its Significance for the Church. Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship, 1958.
Conner, Kelvin J. The Foundations of Christian Doctrine England: Sovereign World International, 1988.
Copeland, Gloria God’s Will for Prosperity Tulsa: Harrison House, 1978.
Cox, Harvey Fire from Heaven: The rise of Pentecostal Spirituality and reshaping of Religion in the 21st Century Reading: M.A. Addison-Wesley, 1995.
Cox, James Expressing the Sacred: An Introduction to Phenomenology of Religion Harare: University of Zimbabwe Publication, 1992.
Craig, S. Keener Matthew (Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1997.
Cunningham, R.B. ‘Principles and Procedures of Responsible Giving’ In Resources Unlimited, William L. Hendricks (ed) Stewardship Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1972.
Dag, Heward-Mills, Unbeatable Prosperity. Accra: Parchment House, 2000.
Devries, Simion J. 1Kings, Waco: Word, 1985.
Donald Hay, A. Economics Today: A Christian Critique Oxford: AbeBooks 1991.
Donald, A. Hay Economics Today: A Christian critique Oxford: Apollos, 1991.
Dorr, Donal Option for the Poor: A Hundred Years of Catholic Social Teaching Orbis Books: Revised Edition, September 1, 1992.
Dow, Graham and Stammers, Traver ‘Christian Healing: What Can We Believe’ In Earnest Lucas (ed) London: Lynx Communications 1997.
Dow, Graham and Stammers, Traver. Christian Healing: What can we Believe in Earnest Lucas (ed) London: Lynx Communications, 1997.
Duncan-Jones, Richard Money and Government in the Roman Empire, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
Dzuragba, Akpenpuun An Introduction to Sociology of Religion Ibadan: John Archers, 2009.
Eavey, C.B. History of Christian Education Chicago: Moody Bible Institute, 1978.
Edward, Pousson Spreading the Flame. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992.
Emmette, Weir J. ‘The Poor and Powerless: A Response to R.J. Coggins’ In Expository Times 100, Rowman & Littlefield Independent Publishers: 1988.
Erivwo, S. A History of Christianity in Nigeria. The Urhobo, Isoko and Itsekiri Ibadan: Daystar Press, 1979.
Escobar, Samuel ‘The Gospel and the Poor’ In Vinay Samuel and Chris Sugden (eds), Evangelism and the Poor: A Third Word Study Guide, rev. ed., Oxford: Regnum, 1983.
Eyre, S.D. Defeating the Dragon of the World: Resisting the Seduction of False Values Downers Grove, Il: Intervarsity Press, 1986.
Fafunwa, A.B. History of Education in Nigeria London: George Allen and Unwin 1974.
Falk, Peter The Growth of the Church in Africa. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979.
Farmer, William R. ‘The Economic Basis of the Qumran Community’ In Theologische Zeitschrift, 1995.
Fee, Gordon D. and Douglas, Staurt How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982.
Fulton, J. Sheen Foot Print in a Darkened Forest New York: Meredith Press, 1967.
Fulton, J. Sheen Foot Print in a Darkened Forest. New York: Meredith Press, 1967.
Gee, D. Wind and Flame. London: Health, 1987.
Gilford,Paul African Christianity: Its Public Role. London: Hurst and Company, 1998.
Gillingham, Sue ‘The Poor in the Psalms’ In Expository Times 100, Rowman & Littlefield Independent Publishers: 1988.
Glifford, Paul Ghana’s Christianity: Pentecostal in Globalizing Africa Economy Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2004.
Gnuse, Robert G. ‘You Shall Not Steal: Community and Property’ In Biblical Tradition, Maryknoll: Obis, 1985.
Gonzalez, J. L. Poverty and Ecclesiology: Nineteenth Century Evangelicals in the Light of Liberation Theology College Ville, Minn: Liturgical Press, 1992.
Gonzalez, Justol L. Faith and Wealth: A History of Early Christian Ideas on the Origin, Significance, and Use of Money. New York: Harper ; Row Publishers, 1990.
Grace so Amazing Foundation, The Word for Today, August/September Edition Lagos: GSAF Publication 2014.
Green, J. Leo ‘The Place of Material Things in the Purpose of God and Life of Man’ In Resources Unlimited. Williams L. Hendricks (ed) Kentucky: Steward Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1972
Green, J. Leo ‘The Place of Material Things in the Purpose of God and the life of man’ In Resources unlimited. Williams Hendricks (ed) Kentucky: Steward of Southern Baptist Convention, 1972.
Guinan, Michael D. (trans) Gospel Essays in Biblical Theology, Chicago: Franciscan, (rev. ed), 1977.
H.G.M. Williamson, ‘The Old Testament and the Material World’, Evangelical Quarterly 57: 1985.
Haenchen,Earnest The Acts of the Apostles Oxford: Blackwell 1971.
Hagins, Kenneth E. The Midas Touch: A Balanced Approach to Biblical Prosperity. Tulsa: Faith Library Publications, 2000.
Hagins, Kenneth E. The Midas Touch: A Balanced Approach to Biblical Prosperity Tulsa: Faith Library Publications, 2000.
Hamel, Gildas Poverty and Charity in Roman Palestine, First Three Centuries CE, Oxford: University of California, 1990.
Hamilton, V. The Book of Genesis, Vol. 2, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1990.
Hands A.R., Charities and Social Aid in Greece and Rome Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1968.
Harrison, Everett F. Interpreting Acts: The Expanding Church, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986.
Hartley, John E. Leviticus Dallas: Word 1992.
Hegel, Martin Property and Riches in the Early Church, Philadelphia: Fortress, 1974.
Hoekema, Anthony A. The Holy Spirit Baptism Grand Rapids; Eerdmans, 1972.
Hoenn, M. Bloch The Pentecostal Movement: Its Origin, Development and Distinctive Character. London: Allen and Unwin, 1964.
Hollander, Harm W. ‘The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs’, In M. de Jonge (ed), Outside the Old Testament, 71 – 91 Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985.
Hollowenger, W.J. The Pentecostals. London: SCM Press, 1972.
Hoppe, L.J. Being Poor, Wilmington: Glazier, 1957.
Horalambos, M. (et al). Sociology: Themes and Perspectives Sough: University Tutorial Press, 1980.
Jenkins, Philip The Next Christendom: A coming Global Christianity New York: Oxford, 2007.
Jerkins, P. The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
Jinadu, Paul Power from on High New York: Longman 1982.
Jinadu, Paul. Power from on High. New York: Longman, 1982.
Johnson, L.D. An Introduction to the Bible Nashville: Convention Press Centre, 1969.
Johnson, Luke T. The Acts of the Apostles, Collegeville: Liturgical, 1992.
Keener, C.S. Gift and Giver: The Holy of Today. Grand Rapids: Michigan Baker Academic 2004.
Kelsy, Morton T. Tongues Speaking: An Experiment in Spiritual Experience. London: Longman, 1965.
Kendrick, Klaude The Pentecostal Movement: Hopes and Hazards New York: Christian Century, 1963.
Kendrick, Klaunde The Pentecostal Movement: Hopes and Hazards. New York: Christian Century, 1963.
Krodel, Gerhard Acts, Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1986.
Kuiper, B.K. The Church in History Grand Rapids: W.M.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1988.
Kweku Saa, James. The Finger of God: Let Heaven Answer. Accra: Design Solution. 1999.
Larkin, William J. Jr, Acts Leicester: IVP, 1995.
Laws, Sophie A Commentary on the Epistle of James, London: Black, 1980.
Liacopulos, George P. Church and Society: Orthodox Christian Perspectives, Past Experiences, And Modern Challenges Wood Dale, IL: Somerset Hall Press 2007.
Matthew, B. How to become Rich: Conquer Poverty for Yourself. Accra: The Author, 2005.
Mattingly, Keith The Significance of Joshua Reception of the Laying of Hands in Numbers 27: 12-23. Andrews University Seminary Studies, (39) (2) Andrews University Press 2001.
McPolin, James ‘Psalms as Prayer of the Poor’ In Kelvin J. Catheart and John F. Healey (eds), Back to the Sources: Biblical and Near Eastern Studies, Dublin: Glendale, 1989.
Muli A., ‘The Church in the arena of Politics’ In Manuals for Teachers of Christian Religious Knowledge. J.A. Ilori (ed) JOS CARPRO Media, 1999.
Mullin R., The Wealth of Christians Exeter: Paternoster Press, 1983.
Mullin, Redmond The Wealth of Christians Exeter: Patermoster Press Ltd, 1983.
Newport, J.P. Layman’s Library of Christian Doctrine Nashville: Broadman Press, 1978.
North, Robert Sociology of the Biblical Jubilee, Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute 1954.
Ojibara, T. L. and Ojibara, B.L. ‘Towards Teachers Professionalism and Productivity in Nigeria’ Fagbayele E.O. (et al) Ilorin, Hay Tee Communications Int, 2000.
Ojo, Matthews A. The End Time Army Treton: African Press, 2006.
Oladeji, Moses O. Understanding the Pentecostal Movement. Ibadan: Bounty Press Ltd, 2005.
Omenyo, Cephas Nath Pentecostal Outside the Pentecostalism. Zoetermeer: Boekencentrum, 2006.
Omoyajowo, J.A. (ed) et al Makers of the Church in Nigeria (1842-1947) Lagos: CSS Bookshops Ltd 1995), xi.
Omoyajowo, J.A. Cherubim and Seraphim: The History of an African Independent Church, Lagos: Nok Publishers International, 1982.
Oshitelu, G.A. History of Aladura Independent Cultures 1918-1940: An Interpretation Ibadan: Hope Publications, 2007.
Oyedepo, D.O. Possessing Your Possessions. Lagos: Dominion Publishing House, 1997.
Oyedepo, David Anointing for Exploits. Lagos: Dominion Publishing House, 2006.
Oyedepo, David Success System Ikeja: Dominion Publishing House, 2006.
Oyedepo, David Understanding Financial Prosperity. Lagos: Dominion Publishing House, 2006.
Oyedepo, David Winning the War Against Poverty Lagos: Dominion Publishing House, 2006.
Parsons, T. (Trans), Max Weber: The Protestant Ethics and Spirit of Capitalism New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1958.
Peabody, Francis Greenwood Jesus Christ and the Social Question New York: Grosset and Dunlap Publishers, 1966.
Peel, J.D.Y. Aladura: A Religious Movement Among the Yoruba, London: Oxford University Press 1968.
Pelkon, J. Development of Christian Doctrine: Some Historical Prolegomena. (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1985), 170.
Peterson, Douglas Not by Might nor by Power: A Pentecostal Theological of Social Concern in Latin America (Calisle: Routledge, 1996.
Pobee, John S. Who are the Poor? The Beatitudes as a call to community Geneva: WCC Publications, 1987.
Pormeville, Paul The Third First in Missions: A Pentecostal contribution to Mission Theology Peabody: M.A. Hendrickson Publishers, 1985.
Rahner, K. Consideration on the Development Dogma: Theological Investigations. New York: K. Smyth Trans 1982.
Richard Scheef L. Jr. Stewardship in the Old Testament, Steward in Contemporary Theology, T.K. Thompson (ed) New York: Association Press, 1960.
Richard, Hay S.B. The Moral Vision of the New Testament: Community, Cross, New Creation; A Contemporary Introduction of New Testament Ethics. Harper San Francisco: Harper Collins Publishers, 1996.
Richard, J. Foster Money, Sex and Power: The Challenge of the Disciplined Life. New York: Harper and Row, 1965.
Rolston, Holmes ‘Paul’s Philosophy of Stewardship’: In Contemporary Theology. T.K. Thompson (ed) Richmond: John Knox Press, 1946.
Ronald Siders, Rich Christian in an Age of Hunger, (20th edition) (London:
Russell, Spittler ‘The Pentecostal Views’ In Donald and Alexander (ed) Christian Groove: Intervasity Press, 1988.
Sadler, G.W. A Century in Nigeria. Tennessee: Broadman Press, 1950.
Schmidt, Thomas Hostility to Wealth in the Synoptic Gospels Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1987.
Seccomber, David ‘Possessions and the Poor’ In Luke – Acts Linz Journal for the Study of the New Testament 1983.
Sider’s, S. A History of Christianity in an Age of Hunger, 20th Anniversary Edition. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1997.
Stassen, Glem H. ; Gushee, David P. Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in contemporary context. Downer Grove, Illinois: IVP Academics 2002.
Synan, Vinson The Holiness Pentecostal Tradition: Charismatic Movement in the 20th Century, 2nd Edition Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997.
Talbert, Charles H. Reading Acts, New York: Crossroad, 1987.
The Commission: Administrative Policy Handbook of the Living Faith Church Worldwide March 2003.
The Mandate Operational Manual of the Living Faith Church Worldwide a.k.a. Winners Chapel International Ota, Dominion Publishing House, 2012.
The Word for Today. Ivar Kreuger: Genius and Swindler, New York: Alfred A. Knopf 1960.
Thurston, Bonnie V. Spiritual Life in the Early Church, Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993.
Tondeur, Keith What Jesus said about Money and Possession (London: Monarch Books, 1998), 29.
Torrey, R.A. The Baptist with the Holy Spirit. New York: Chicago: Fleming H. Revell, 1895.
Transe, D. Tarr ‘Pentecostalism in Context: Essay in Honour of William W. Menzies’ In Immanence and the Imagine Pentecostal Academy : In W. Ma ; R. Menzies (eds) Sheffield: Sheffield Academy Press, 1997.
Vanderkam, James C. The Dead Sea Scrolls Grand Rapids: Eerdsman), 1994.
Verhey, Allen The Great Reversal: Ethics and the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984.
W.A. Criswell, Acts: An Exposition, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978.
Wallace, Hadrill Andrew (ed) Patronage in Ancient Society,London: Routledge, 1989.
Wenham, David The Parables of Jesus Pictures of Revolution London: Hodder and Stoughton.
Wenham, G.J. Genesis 2, Vol. 5, Waco: Word, 1987.
Wenham, Gordon The Book of Leviticus, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979.
Westbrook, Raymond. Property and the Family in Biblical Law N.P. Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd, 1991.
Wheeler, Sondra Ely Wealth as Peril and Obligation, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995.
Whybray, R. N. Ecclesiates, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989.
Wright, C. Walking in the Ways of the Lord: The Ethical Authority of the Old Testament Leicester: IVP, 1995.
Young, R.A. Healing the Earth, Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 1994.
Yunaja, M.A. Pentecostalism: Challenges in East and South Asia in the Globalization of Pentecostalism: A religion made to Travel. Oxford: Regnum Books International, 1999.
JOURNALS, THESES, DISSERTATION AND LONG ESSAY
A National Broadcast by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on Saturday January 7, 2012. Also, Sunday Tribune January 8, 2012.
A personal interview with Dr. Adebanjo, a medical doctor at Landmark Medical Centre, Omu-Aran June 9, 2016.
Abogunrin, S.O. ‘Jesus pronouncement in Wealth in the context of Health and Wealth Gospel in Nigeria’, In Biblical Studies and Corruption, S.O. Abogunrin (ed), Ibadan, NABIS, 2007.
Adamolekun, D.T. ‘Religious Interaction Among the Akoko of Nigeria’ In European Scientific Journal August Edition (ESJ) European Scientific Institute, 2012.
Adeleye, I. ‘Christian Missionary Work and Change in North-East Yoruba land’ In Orita viii/Ibadan.
Adogame, Afe and Ukah, Asonzeh ‘Viewing a Masquarade from Different Sport, Conceptual Reflections on Globalization and Pentecostalism Within Religious Studies’ In Who is Afraid of the Holy Ghost? Afe Adogame (ed).
Ajayi, A. A. ‘Dynamics of Growth in Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries in Yorubaland, 1989 – 2006’, An unpublished Ph.D Thesis submitted to the Department of Religious Studies, University of Ibadan, Ibadan.
Akanmidu, R.A. In his Inaugural Lecture delivered at University of Ilorin, Ilorin titled: Poverty Alleviation Programmes and the Politics of Ethical Despair in Nigeria. Thursday, February 26, 2004.
An Interview with Bishop David Oyedepo – Founder, the Living Faith Headquarters Church, Sango-Ota, Ogun State, August 2015.
An Interview with Pastor Olaniyan, the then State Pastor of the Living Faith Church, Ilorin, Kwara State July 13, 2015.
An Interview with the Punch Newspaper granted by Bishop David Oyedepo on May 24, 2014.
Anderson, Alan ‘The Gospel and Culture in Pentecostal Mission in the Third World’, Missionalia, 27/2, 1999.
Asaju, D.F. ‘Globalization, Politicization of Religion and Religious Networking: The case of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria’ In Who is Afraid of the Holy Ghost: Pentecostal and Globalization in Africa and Beyond. Afe Adogame (ed) New Jersey: African World Press, 2011.
Asaju, Dapo The Ethical and Theological Study of the Concept of Materialism in Christianity and Yoruba Indigenous Religion. An unpublished Ph.D Thesis submitted to the Department of Religions, University of Ilorin, Ilorin.
Ayegboyin, D. ‘A Re-thinking of Prosperity Teaching in the New Pentecostal Churches in Nigeria’ in Black Theology, Vol. 4: Issue 1: January 2006, University of Ibadan.
Ayegboyin, Deji ‘Heal the Sick and Cast Out Demons: The Response of the Aladura’, An article in Edinburgh Review of Theology and Religion. Studies in World Christianity. Alistair Kee (ed).
Ballard, Bruce ‘On the Sin of Usury: A Biblical Economic Ethics’ Christian Scholars’ Review, 24: 1994.
Clines, David J.A. ‘The Theme of the Pentateuch’, In Journal of the America Oriental Society, Sheffield: 1989.
Dada, O.A. Prosperity Gospel In Nigerian Context: A Medium of Social Transformation, Or an impetus for Delusion’ in Orital Ibadan Journal of Religious Studies Volume xxxvi/1-2 June and December 2004.
Dow, Graham and Stammers, Traver ‘Christian Healing: What Can We Believe’ In Earnest Lucas (ed) London: Lynx Communications 1997.
Ekwenife, A. ‘Politics and Religious Intolerance: The Nigeria Solution’ In Religious and Politics in Nigeria, R.A. Abubakar (eds) (np) NASR, 1993.
Escobar, Samuel ‘The Gospel and the Poor’ In Vinay Samuel and Chris Sugden (eds), Evangelism and the Poor: A Third Word Study Guide, rev. ed., Oxford: Regnum, 1983.
Farmer, William R. ‘The Economic Basis of the Qumran Community’ In Theologische Zeitschrift, 1995.
Flusser, David ‘Blessed are the Poor in the Spirit’ In Israel Exploration Journal 10, 1960.
George, A. O. ‘The Role of Yoruba Traditional Birth Attendants in Global Health Care’ In Sola Akinrinade, Modupe Kolawole, Ibiyemi Mojola and David O. Ogungbile (ed), Locating the Local in the Global: Voices on a Globalized Nigeria, Ile-Ife, Nigeria: Faculty of Arts, O.A. U., 2004.
Gillingham, Sue ‘The Poor in the Psalms’ In Expository Times 100, Rowman ; Littlefield Independent Publishers: 1988.
Gowan, Donald E. ‘Wealth and Poverty in the Old Testament: The case of the Widow, the Orphan and the Sojourner’, Interpretation (Int) 41:1987.
Green, J. Leo ‘The Place of Material Things in the Purpose of God and the life of man’ In Resources unlimited. Williams Hendricks (ed) Kentucky: Steward of Southern Baptist Convention, 1972.
Green, J.L. ‘The Place of Material Things in the Purpose of God and Life of Man’ In Resources Unlimited. Williams L. Hendricks (ed) (Kentucky: Steward Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1972.
Hackett, Roseline ‘Charismatic Pentecostal Appropriation of Media Technologies in Nigeria and Ghana’, Journal of Religion in Africa.
Hill, Judith L. ‘Theology of Prosperity: A New Testament Perspective’ In African Journal of Theology, 28.1, Fate 3 2009.
Hoening, Sidney, B. ‘Sabbatical Years and the Year of Jubilee’, Jewish Quarterly Review 59.
Hollander, Harm W. ‘The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs’, In M. de Jonge (ed), Outside the Old Testament, 71 – 91 Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985.
Hunt, Stephen ‘The New Black Pentecostal Churches in Britain,’ paper presented at Cesnur 14th International Conference Riga, Latvia, August 29-31, 2000.
Igboin, Benson ‘Ethical Appraisal of Corruption in Religious and Political Situations in Nigeria’ In Biblical Studies and Corruption in Africa. S.O. Abogunrin et al (eds) Ibadan, 2007.
Kalu, O. ‘Preserving World View: Pentecostalism in the African Map of the Universe in Pneuma’ The Journal of Society for Pentecostal Studies 24, 2fall 2002.
Kalu, O. ‘The Third Response: Pentecostalism and the Reconstruction of Christian Experience in Africa’. (1970-1995) In Journal of African Christian Thought 1, 2, 1998.
Kuponu, S.I. The Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel) Nigeria: Pentecostalism Gospel and Social Change in Nigeria, 2007. An Unpublished Ph.D Dissertation.
Landmark University Medical Centre flier (LUMC) (ND NP).
Living Faith Church Bulletin, Welcome to Faith Tabernacle.
Lovemore, Togarasel ‘The Pentecostal Gospel in African Context of Poverty’: An Appraisal in Exchange Bulletin of the Third World Christian Literature. Vol.40:4, 2011.
Lovett, Leonard ‘Perspective on Black Origins of the Contemporary Movement’ The journal of Interdenominational Center, Vol.1, Fall: 1973.
Manus, Chris U. ‘The Use and Role of the Bible in Three New Religious Movements in Nigeria.’ In Jose Krasowed (ed) The Interpretation of the Bible, J3COT Supplement series 289. Sheffield 1998, 1805-1825.
Mattingly, Keith The Significance of Joshua Reception of the Laying of Hands in Numbers 27: 12-23. Andrews University Seminary Studies, (39) (2) Andrews University Press 2001.
McGee, Gary B. ‘Pentecostal Phenomena and Revivals in India: Indications for Indigenous leadership’; International Bulletin of Missionary Research, Vol. 20, 3 1996.
McPolin, James ‘Psalms as Prayer of the Poor’ In Kelvin J. Catheart and John F. Healey (eds), Back to the Sources: Biblical and Near Eastern Studies, Dublin: Glendale, 1989.
Nelson, J. For Such a Time as This: The Story of Bishop William J. Seymour and the Azuza Street Revival: A search for Pentecostal Root. Unpublished Ph.D Thesis submitted to the University of Birmingham, 1981.
Nihinlola, Emiola ‘Between Prosperity and Spirituality: A Theological Examination of the Perspective of the Church in the 21st Century African Society’ Ogbomoso Journal of Theology Vol. xi December 2006.
Ogbuagu, C. ‘The Church: A Caring Community’ In E. Amucheazi, C. Ogbuagu and I. Oleru. Moving Nigeria to Greatness: Some Thought, Enugu: M. Cajec Publications, 1999.
Ojo, M.A. Inaugural Lecture Series 227 titled ‘of Saints and Sinners: Pentecostalism and Paradox of Social Transformation in Modern Nigeria’, Obafemi Awolowo Ile-Ife: University Press, 2010.
Omotoye, R. W. ‘Christianity as a catalyst for Socio-Economic and Political Change in Yorubaland, Nigeria: An Account of a Church Historian’ An Inaugural Lecture delivered at the Univeristy of Ilorin, Ilorin, on Thursday June 25, 2015.
Omotoye, R. W. ‘Divine Healing: A Phenomenon of Challenge to the Mainline Churches in Yorubaland’ In Journal of Arabic and Religious Studies (JARS) Department of Religions, University of Ilorin, Ilorin, 1999.
Omotoye, R.W. ‘Christianity and Education; A case study of Christian Missionary Universities in Nigeria in the 21st Century in R.A. Raji’ et al (eds) In Religion Governance and Development in the 21st Century. A Publication of the Nigeria Association for the study of Religions, Ilorin 2006.
Omotoye, R.W. ‘Christianity, Education and Development in Yorubaland’ In African Journal of Education Studies I(AJES) Vol. 1 No. 1, Botswana, University of Botswana, Botswana, 2003.
Omotoye, R.W. ‘Communication and the Universality of the Gospel in Yoruba land’ Ade P. Dopamu (ed. et al) In Science and Religion in the service of the Humanity, Ilorin Local Society Initiatives (LSI) 2006.
Omotoye, R.W. ‘Inter-Religious Dialogue as a panacea for National development in Nigeria.’ In Centrepoint Journal (Humanities Edition), Vol. 15, No.1, 2017.
Omotoye, R.W. ‘The Yoruba Language as a means of communicating and understanding the Bible’ In Alore Journal of the Humanities, vol. 13, 2003.
Omotoye, R.W. Inaugural Lecture presented at the University of Ilorin titled: ‘Christianity as a catalyst for socio-economic and political change in Yoruba land, Nigeria: An account of a Church Historian.’ Thursday 25th June, 2015.
Orji, D. Orji The Role of the Churches in Combating Corruption Among Political Leaders in Anambra State, Nigeria. A thesis submitted to the Department of Religion and Cultural Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, March 2011.
Owoeye, S.A. ‘Solution to Poverty: Oyedepo’s Prophetic and Healing Mission in Nigeria’ In the Journal of Religion and African Culture (JORMI), Published by the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies , Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Nigeria, Vol. 1& 2, December 2000.
Oyedokun, Isaiah Temilade An Attitude of Christians Towards Wealth and its Effects on Members of Ilorin West Baptist Association. A Long Essay submitted to the Faculty of Theological Studies of the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the Award of Bachelor of Theological Degree. June, 2012.
Oyetade, M.O. ‘Sound Health in 3 John 2 and its Implications for the 21st Century Pastor in Nigeria’ A Paper presented at the Second International Conference organized by the Faculty of Arts, Benue State University, Makurdi, Nigeria. July 21 -24, 2014.
Personal Interview with Bishop Oyedepo, August 6, 2015.
Personal Interview with Mr. James Atanda, Living Faith Church, Ogbomoso. December 6, 2013.
Russell, Spittler ‘The Pentecostal Views’ In Donald and Alexander (ed) Christian Groove: Intervasity Press, 1988.
Sarles, Ken L. ‘A Theological Evaluation of Prosperity Gospel’ Bibliothelo Sacra.
Sepulveda, Juan ‘Pentecostalism as Popular Religiosity’ In International Review of Mission Vol. 78. January, 1989.
Tarr. D. (Trans) ‘Pentecostalism in Context: Essay in Honour of William W. Menzies’ In Immanence and the Imagine Pentecostal Academy : In W. Ma & R. Menzies (eds) Sheffield: Sheffield Academy Press, 1997.
The Winners World Covenant University, Landmark of the Millennium December 2002.
Turner, H. W. ‘Typology for African Religious Movement’ Journal of Religion In Africa, O.U.P. 1964.
Waldow, Von and Eberhard, H. ‘Social Responsibility and Social Structure in Early Israel’ Catholic Biblical Quarterly Vol. 32: 1970.
Wariboko, Nimi ‘Pentecostal Paradigms of National Economic Prosperity in Africa: Pentecostalism and Prosperity, the Socio-Economic of the Global Charismatic Movement’ in Katherine Attanasi and Amos Young (eds) (New York: Palgrav Macmillam 2012.
Weir, J. Emmette ‘The Poor and Powerless: A Response to R.J. Coggins’ In Expository Times 100, Rowman & Littlefield Independent Publishers: 1988.
Williamson, H.G.M. ‘The Old Testament and the Material World’, Evangelical Quarterly 57: 1985.
Wright, Addison G. ‘The Widow’s Mite; Praise or Lament? – A Matter of Context’, Catholic Biblical Quarterly.
Wright, C.J.H. ‘What Happened Every Seven Years in Israel? Old Testament Sabbatical Institutions for Land, Debt and Slaves’ Evangelical Quarterly.
DICTIONARIES, COMMENTARIES AND ENCYCLOPEDIAS
Akinson, D.J. (eds) New Dictionary of Christian Ethics and Pastoral Theology: Downers Grove: Illinois, Intervarsity Press, 1995.
Benson Commentary, Luke 12:13-15 biblehub.com
Blomberg, Craig L. The New American Commentary, Matthew: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of the Holy Scripture.
Bromiley, Geoffrey 14 (eds) The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1980.
Burgess, Stanley M. (ed) Encyclopedia of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity, New York: Routledge Taylor and Francis Group, 1980.
Demaray, B. Beacon Bible Commentary. Missioury: Beacon Hill Press, 1965.
Elwell, W.A. (ed) Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Carlisle Columbia: Baker Books 1999.
Ferguson, Sinclair B. (eds). New Dictionary of Theology. Illinois: Inter-vars in Press.
Harman B. Notan. The Interpreter’s Bible . Nashville: Abington Press, 1981.
Henry, Matthew. A Commentary of the Holy Bible, Volume 1. Edinburgh: Marshall Brothers Limited, n.d.
Johnson, L.D. An Introduction to the Bible (Nashville: Convention Press Centre, 1969.
Laws, Sophie A Commentary on the Epistle of James, London: Black, 1980.
Macculloch, J.A. Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, xii James Hastings (ed) New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1951.
MacLaren’s Expositions – Luke 12:13 Commentaries…www.biblehub.com
Marshall, Howard Tyndale New Testament Commentaries Leicester: Intervarsity Press 1988.
Media Evangelism Encyclopedia of Religion Glazier (ed) London: Routledge 2007.
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