“Of all religions, Christianity is the most materialistic. And religion is the greatest predator on man”. (Pope St. Malachys)
THE Church is not just a superstructure or building for Christian public worship. It is the Body of Christ- a universal ecumenical collectivity of Salvation Armies dedicated to professing, evangelising and possessing the “Spirit of the Word” of God through Jesus Christ. The élan and verve of the Church is hallmarked by the move of the Holy Spirit and Divine afflatus with Christ as its primus interpares.
The Church has come along way. After the ascension of Christ, the disciples and other converts formed the Christian group-followers of Christ. There were other religious groups, but Christians were particularly hand-picked for persecution and oppression by the Roman authorities. This culminated in the dispersal of Christians.
The Sanguinary proclivities of Roman Emperors was visited upon the Christians. In 64 A.D. a great fire burnt Rome and Emperor Nero attributed the fire to Christian heresies, thereby justifying his wanton persecution. The persecution gained ascendancy under Nero’s successors, Emperor Domitian who reigned from 81 A.D. to 180 A.D. and Emperor Diocletian.
A profoundly historic decision was taken in 47 A.D. by the Christian Council of Jerusalem. It was that non- Jews (gentiles) who were Christians need not to practise Jewish mores, customs and traditions. It was explicitly articulated that Christianity is not a Jewish religion and that the basic condition for the Christian’s faith is a belief in Jesus Christ” as the author and finisher of our faith. This singular decision cosmopolitanised Christianity.
In 306 A.D. “Constantine” was made Emperor of Rome. He fought many wars, notably the war against Emperor Maxentus. He won the war after he had received an apocalyptic afflatus, visions of the cross and a divine call to fight in the name of Jesus Christ. He subserviently kow-towed and they stopped Christians persecution in 325 A.D. He called all Christians groups together in 330 A.D. under the auspices of the Christians Council of Jerusalem (The Conference of Nicae). This ultimately gave birth to the Roman Catholic Church. Arguably, in fulfillment of the prophecy of Jesus Christ in Matthew Chapter 16:18, “Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it”.
The Roman Catholic Church was universalised and its doctrine’s of the infallibility of the Pope became prevalent. The Catholic Church compromised monarchical absolutism, state terrorism and oppression in return for its own protection and growth. The despotism of the papacy, its unscriptural heathenistic practices, its being used by the Roman government to carry out the persecution of the faithful, papal dogmas and its surrogacy in the perpetuation of yahoo-like weird practices stimulated pockets of dissenters.
The Bible scholar and staunch advocate of religious puritanism, E.G. White, said in his book: The Great Controversy that “Amidst the gloom that settled upon the earth during the long period of papal supremacy the light of the truth could not wholly be extinguished. In every age there were witnesses for God. Men who cherished faith in Christ as the only mediator between God and man, who held the Bible as the only rule of life, and who hallowed the true Sabbath. How much the Earth owes to these men posterity will never know. They were branded as heretics, their motives impugned, their characters maligned, their writings suppressed, misinterpreted, or mutilated. Yet, they stood firm in its purity, as a sacred heritage for the generations to come”.
The Waldeneses were one of the first known religious groups to resist papal dominion and its popish apostasy. They resisted even under torrents of persecution and the fiercest tempest of opposition. Many later joined in The Great Declaration “that the church of Rome is the apostate Babylon of the apocalypse. The efforts of the Waldeneses watered the seed of the Reformation to its luxurious growth. It produced John Wycliffe, Martins Luther, Jerome and others who suffered all things for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Wycliffe heralded the commencement of the reformation, not only in England, but for all Christendom. He remains the morning-star of the reformation. He stood up against the monks and taught the distinctive doctrines of Protestantism- Salvation through faith in Christ and the sole infallibility of the scriptures and not the Pope.
This flame of Protestantism gained conflagrational accentuation and its tentacles engulfed virtually all nations of the earth. The foundation of Catholicism was inveterately shaken. God raised men who were monumentally instrumental to spreading the reformation Protestantism. Huss and Jerome in Bohemia, Luther in Germany’s Withemberg and Augsburg, Uric Zwingle in Swiss Basel, Eck, Zurich, Baden and Oecolampadia, the French Lefevre in Meux, Netherlands Menno Simons, Sweden, Olaf and Laurentius Perri. Farel in Switzerland and many others around the world.
But its aftermath was the dynamic liberalisation of Christianity and formation of other sects, notably the Lutherans, Wesleyans, Methodists, Anglicans, the Baptist and the Adventists. In more recent times, the gains of reformation Protestantism has graduated into Pentecostalism, and through it, the great commission of taking the gospel through evangelism to the ends of the world is being fulfilled.
Today, the church has virtually won the battle against papal dominance and state persecution, but it has fallen into a self-induced spiritual asphyxiation, doctrinal imbroglio, ecumenical stultification, sensationalism, ungodly proliferation and mammonism. The church is in its darkest hour of growth reminiscent of the Babylonish era and hypocritical wantonness of Sodom and Gomorra.
Without slips of prolixity, Jesus Christ spelt out archetypal formats which church men or clerics must keep to enable them be worthy of the “Divine Call” and to remain as vessels of light and honour unto salvation. He prophetically said: “No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon”. This didactic message, amongst others, has been consigned to the oubliette of immorality, greed, quest for material abundance by any means, covetousness, adultery, fornication and lack of fear of God amongst the royal priesthood.
The ecclesiastical paradigms of righteousness, Godliness, faith, humility, patience and meekness have been compromised. Every clergyman now wants to live a life of sumptuousness, monetary wantoness, sensational debauchery and arrogance. This has led to the wanton proliferation of churches for material gains. The bible warns in the first epistle of Saint Paul to Timothy, Chapter 6 verses 10-14 “But thou O men of God flee these things (mammonism) and follow after righteousness, fight the good fight of faith, lay hold of eternal life where thou art also called and has professed a good profession before many witnesses. That thou keep this commandments without spot unrebukable until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ”.
If gold should rust what will iron do? If green leaves should burn what will dry leaves do? asked the poet. Mammon and Beezeelbub have taken total control of the House of God from where the great judgment will start. The men of God are saying like the hedonistic and Sybaritic lotos-eaters by Lord Tennyson “We will return no more; our Island home is far beyond the waves; we will no longer roam. Let us swear on oath and keep it with an equal mind. In the hallow lotus-land to live and be reclined on hills like gods together, careless of mankind”.
How can one explain the flamboyant revelry and salaciousness of our so-called men of God who live in state-of-the-art Houses, drive customized cars and wear Saint Michael’s gold rimmed shoes under the guise of “My God is not a poor God”, for goodness sake where lies the justification for these teratoid moral standards? We all know salvation is a personal thing, but those who claim to have had a divine call to lead us the flock into salvation should set better standards. They should preach the gospel with their life styles other than empty verbalizations and sanctimonious pontifications. We need more orphanages, gospel vans, hospitals and more aggressive evangelization in the rural areas. Juju men, witches and wizards and the wicked should not be left out of the salvation bandwagon. If they, the clerics truly believe and are out to serve GOD in truth and in spirit they should not be psychologically paranoid with material things. Shakespeare said “What touches us ourselves, should be last served”. The Pentecostal Bishops, Archbishops and Pastors are the supreme culprits in this quest for material abundance and acquisition of empty titles.
Scriptural texts copiously abound in the bible to show that, these are the end times and the clerics have very onerous spiritual responsibility to lead the heathens back to GOD. Let them collectively shun mammonism and declare a war against sin to enable them maximize the numerical turn-out unto the train of salvation. They should stop the fanciful interpretation of the gospel to suit their selfish purpose, for the word is spirit and it is life.
Nobody is saying that the clergy or men of God have no right to material possessions. But that it should not be an end in itself. Their attitude towards material or worldly things should be Christ-like and submerged in humility. Jesus Christ the insignia and standard bearer of their calling was selected and delivered through a humble family, born in a stable, lived and shared the grief and agony of the poor, had no properties he could call his own and died with humble and total submission to the will of his Father – God Almighty.
The church must have a societal relevance. We cannot profess a mountainous faith and possess a molehill demonstration of our faith. Christians must begin to see the crucified Christ in their fellow men and act out of love for each other instead of the doctrine of “everybody to himself and GOD for us all”. All our actions must have a functional salvational base vis-a-vis our society. Society is bad because Christians are bad; if we practice one bit of our faith society will change for the better. Especially, those who claim to have been called by God. There will be Christianity in action a reflection of “pragmatic Christianism” – which is, by the Grace of God the only path to salvation.
The church must remain pure all embracingly, and shun meretricious earthly power struggles and strives through polities. People who suggest that the church should be in polities have no scriptural foundation to back up their claims. A sacerdotalism that borders on strictly the ceremonial could be accepted, but not what they are doing now. We must keep the Christian body “select” unto salvation.
Finally, it is said that the greatest form of prayers is to give the Almighty GOD His glory through praises and thanksgiving, that is why i have written this piece. The Chinese sage said “Little things are but little things, when put in the right places they go along way”.I have strong hopes for mankind like E.G. WHITE and believe very optimistically that if Christians and the Clergy walk aright in Jesus Name – the great controversy will be ended. Sin and sinner will be no more. The entire universe will be clean- One pulse of harmony and gladness, throughout the realms of illimitable space. From the minutest atom to the greatest world, all things, animate and inanimate, in their sun shadowed beauty and perfect joy, will declare that GOD is “Love”. WHAT IS THE GENERIC FAITH OF THE CHURCH IN THE LIGHT OF THE HORRENDOUS BOKO-HARAM’S ESCHATOLOGICAL ATTACKS?
BOBSON GBINIJE a social critic, wrote from Warri, Delta State. [myad]