Some years ago, a younger friend of mine was dragged by friends to one of Redeemed Church’s monthly Holy Ghost nights. She told my spouse and me about how she heard with “my own ears” when Pastor Adeboye asked for a certain number of people to hands up – the congregation knelt down to pray and had eyes shut as is common in Christian churches – if they can donate a million Naira each. I was stunned when she said what and WHO she saw with her hands up as she did not close her eyes and looked up: a certain former minister!
Now, the revelation of “Christians” donating a billion Naira each is beyond staggering revelation. No wonder, houses of worship have grown by leaps and bounds in direct proportion to looting at the top and misery at the bottom of the social scale.
When one of those great essayists of Nigeria’s Guardian of the 1980s wrote Religion as Entrepreneurship or a title close to that, it was only Late Idahosa, Obadare and a few others under whom the germination of Nigeria’s brand of religion as entrepreneurship started. These days, things have really taken flight. A tradesman who works around our house was listing the jobs by his siblings and he saved – apparently – the best for the last: “my brother owns a church”.
Polyanna, where are you?
The sweet little Polly of the eponymous Polyanna, though a mere sub-teen who would later bring a whole community together from the poisoned situation created by her “Aunt Poly”, told the pastor in her small American town’s church when the little girl met him laboring over one of his sermons in which he had always kowtowed to “Aunt Polly” who owned most of the community: “nobody owns a church”!
Needless to say that Karl Malden’s ‘Pastor’ became a firebrand from that and began to preach The Word.
Now, check out Femi Aribisala’s piece:
This essay first appeared as Richest Man in the World in http://www.vanguardngr.com
Recently, a friend took me to the jewel-in-the-crown of the Redeemed Christian Church of God; a glitzy parish called “City of David” in Victoria Island, Lagos. Displayed resplendently on a wall in the church-office is a design of their current building project; a 14 storey architectural extravaganza titled “Trinity Towers.”
Is Redeemed still a church or is it now essentially a business concern? The Trinity Towers project shows the lines are now totally blurred. Jesus warns: “No one can serve two masters. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matthew 6:24). Nevertheless, this Tower of Babylon being built with church funds is designed both for the worship of God and for the worship of money.
The project is an appeal to crass commercialism; a blatant celebration of wealth. In this poverty-stricken Nigeria, the foundation of the building alone is expected to cost over 2 billion naira. Side-by-side with a 5,000 seat auditorium for church services are high-brow restaurants, cafeterias, indoor swimming pools, cinema halls, gymnasiums, retail shops, games arcades, lawn tennis courts, relaxation spots, and a helipad as the crowning glory. Of what relevance is all this “supermarket” in a church?
A church-member, overwhelmed by the grandeur of it all, buttonholed me in the hallway. I did not know him from Adam, nevertheless, he held me hostage as he waxed lyrical about how the Redeemed Church was, to use his words: “taking over.” “We have already got the vice-presidency,” he said. (The vice-president of Nigeria is now a Redeemed pastor). “Next we will get the presidency,” he continued; “and then we will get DSTV;” (a South African satellite television network).
The anointing for this pride of life flows right from the top. The General Overseer of the Redeemed Church is Pastor Adeboye. A few years ago, he decided he needed a billion naira without which his “work of God” could not be done. So he confounded the Christian faith by establishing a “millionaire’s club.” To be a member, you had to hand over a million naira to him in Jesus’ name.
Thereafter, he upped the ante by calling for a “billionaire’s club.” He announced that he would be building an auditorium that can only be described as “fantabulous.” It would be a ginormous three kilometers in length and three kilometers in breadth. This project is clearly more designed to get Adeboye into the Guinness Book of World Records than it is to get the members of Redeemed into the kingdom of God.
Declared Adeboye on that occasion: “We need 1 billion naira from ten people. If you are one of them, please see my personal Secretary after we finish today.” Who are those likely to have this kind of money to give in the Nigeria of today except those who have cornered public funds? Thereafter, an announcer sought to know the members of the church who were “willing to join hands with our Father in the Lord to build a new auditorium to God’s glory.”
Vanity upon vanity
The proposed auditorium is not to the glory of God. The proposed auditorium is to the glory of Adeboye. Adeboye’s project is reminiscent of Saul’s, who built a monument to himself. (1 Samuel 15:12). Nowhere in the entire New Testament was money ever collected for putting up a building. Money was only collected for the poor. The temple of God is no longer a physical building. The temple of God is now Jesus Christ.
Pastor Adeboye is getting increasingly carried away by vanity. I have a tape of a question-and-answer session he had with his church-workers a number of years ago in which he boasted that the time would soon come when, before anybody could aspire to be president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he would first have to talk to Redeemed Church. Nothing in the scriptures can be construed as suggesting this as one of the stated objectives of Jesus Christ.
A Redeemed church-member told me of another meeting he attended captioned: “A Day Out with the G.O.” It was a dinner for financial sponsors of one of the annual “Holy Ghost Festivals.” Pastor Adeboye boasted tongue-in-cheek on that occasion that the time would soon come when the Queen of England would plead to join Redeemed in order to work as an usherette. The audience reportedly responded with wild applause and shouts of “Amen.”
SUNDAY, AUGUST 16, 2015. 7:35 p.m. [GMT]