Monday, 31 October 2011

Nigeria: The spectacular gospel of Mammon

To believe the unbelievable

It is difficult to appreciate the honest and truthful propagation of the gospel in Nigeria in the context of the unconventional places of worship called churches all around the place.

In a country where a majority are in thrall of the supernatural and bound by the incredulity of the superstitious, it would appear the religiously savvy have found a ready customer base and market for a set of products that range from a message, through the spectacular and a form of rampant hedonism sold off as signs of prosperity.

In a recently broadcast television documentary on Channel 4 in the UK, Seyi Rhodes in Unreported World reported on The Making Of … Nigeria’s Millionaire Preachers [1], showcasing the rather different Dr. Sign Fireman who unexpectedly appears rather casually than in the usual well-tailored suit.

The spectacle of enticement

A healthy sense of scepticism and discretion is required whilst viewing this show but the message is clear, dreadful seriousness envelops the congregation as exorcisms take place to amazement and incredulity, the supposedly possessed responding to commands like automatons until they are set free.

The earnest aspiration of most is for a prosperous life exemplified in materialistic shows of wealth as in the testimony of the pastor of a branch of Dr. Sign Fireman’s hydra-headed organisation called the Perfect Christianity Ministry whose rise from rags to untold riches included 3 cars, designer suits and gold wristwatches.

The message is no doubt perfect, it is about enticement as Dr. Fireman proffered at one of the lectures to his coterie of junior minister pastors of the branches, the packaging appears to be everything but the real essence of Christianity and as for if it is a ministry, it as much as ministers to some need.

Itching ears

In Apostle Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he identified that kind of ministry in these words, “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. ” (NIV) II Tim 4:3 [2]

There is nothing wrong with the quest and desire for prosperity but that basic longing appears to have been hijacked and converted into the mantra of filthy lucre, all the words for gospel truth are used to present another gospel where Mammon is god and the worship is broadly entertainment.

This level of perversion might in the end begin a new type of Puritanism just as it proliferates splinter groups that call themselves churches all with the view of ministering to the needs of the people by first catering to the seemingly greedy machinations of the cult of personality that passes for presiding over a congregation.

Who are these people?

At the end of the documentary, you had to ask where Dr. Sign Fireman came from, what are his antecedents, what is his history and did he get his name by deed poll?

Beyond that, it is difficult to see the difference between the workings of the Italian mafia and these deceptively interesting church organisations with their heavies, entourages, security and “bling.”

As for yellow being all around the place, I am wont to believe it is more the homage to some Yellow god in some grotto yet to be accessed by civilisation than an affectation borne from childhood lending to the claim of being a yellow freak.

One must not however contemn those who have been caught by this spectacle, it serves a purpose almost as nefarious as it could be considered sinister but there is no scriptural foundation for the burial of Satan, no matter how contrived the interpretation offered to loosen the purse strings of the sad to say seriously taken and gullible lot that participated in this travesty.

Sources

[1] 4oD – Channel 4 – Unreported World - The Making Of … Nigeria’s Millionaire Preachers

[2] Bible.cc – II Timothy 4:3

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