Someone at my work recently left a bunch of booklets on my table for people to read. They were the Rhapsody of Realities, an 80 page daily devotional booklet based on the Ministry of Chris and Anita Oyakhilome, a married pastor and pastrix who are heavily involved in the African pentecostal movement. As I find anything to do with theology and religion intriguing, and being only nominally aware of who this man is, I took it home with me and gave it a read. It didn’t take long to discover that this man is a word-faith, prosperity gospel heretic who essentially has created an empire of fleecing the flock. To get some context, pastor Chris Oyakhilome makes his home base in Nigeria, a country of 170 million people and the 7th most populous country in the world. In Nigeria, over 100 million people live in crushing poverty, making less than 1 dollar a day. Conversely, Pastor Chris himself is the second richest pastor in Nigeria and one of the richest pastors in the world, having a personal net worth of over 50 million dollars. There are many issues of finance that we could discuss, how he raises money off he poorest if the poor; trading coins for false hope, but I wanted to address something he said on page 40 of the December 2011 edition.
“The reason Jesus came is to give us another kind of life-eternal life, the God-life. When you’re born again, you become a partaker of this new and glorious life. This is the very life of God. It is the very essence of divinity. This is the life Jesus has given us in abundance. In 1 John 5:11, the Apostle John let us know that anyone who has received Jesus as Lord has this life. When you’re born again you have the same life that Jesus had in its fullness. This life is sickness-proof, disease-proof, poverty-proof and failure-proof. It is a life of glory, victory, success and excellence.
Religion would have us believe we can only receive this life when we get to heaven, but that’s not true. The Bible makes it clear that you received this life the moment you received Jesus as Lord of your life (John 1:12-13). Man in all his natural intelligence, goodness and kindness is nothing before the Lord, until he receives this glorious life in him. You can become a partaker of this glorious, supernatural life right now by asking Jesus to be the Lord of your life. When you receive this life, it doesn’t matter for how long you may have suffered with ulcers, cancer, paralysis, HIV or diabetes, you will be healed! Every wound in your body that has defied medication will close up! Nothing of the devil can stay in you once you embrace the transcendent life that’s in Christ Jesus”
There are a couple things of note here and a lot we could talk about, such as the elevation of mankind, the near deification of the saved, the distortion of man’s natural state, and the really bad use of scripture proof texts. [go and read John 1;12-13, it is laughable how he uses it] But what I wanted to focus on is the equation of salvation with deliverance from physical travails. To be more precise, his conclusions which are ‘If you are not wealthy and wealthy, you are not saved and your sins are not forgiven, as health and wealth is the evidence of true regeneration and faith.’
As it were, we are left to wonder, If “Nothing of the devil can stay in you once you embrace the transcendent life that’s in Christ Jesus”, and the things of the devil are defined as cancer, AIDS and poverty, is not the only logical, rational conclusion that those who are in poverty [all 100 million in Nigeria], anyone who is is HIV positive [3.4 million also in Nigeria] plus untold millions of people with other illness, have not embraced the life in Christ? Chris says “When you’re born again you have the same life that Jesus had in its fullness. This life is sickness-proof, disease-proof, poverty-proof and failure-proof. ” Is not the only logical, rational conclusion that can be reached is that if you are not sickness-proof or poverty-proof, you are not born again? What a damnable thing to say! Poverty and disease have ravaged the southern continent, with some countries having up to 80% of their populations living in poverty [Burundi] or having a fifth of their population HIV positive [South Africa]. In the midst of this comes a man who preys on people’s fears, hope and emotions by directly connecting the gospel of Jesus Christ with their very will to live and and tells them “If you get saved you will have the God-life and will be rich and healthy.”
I don’t see any other way to understand what he is saying, and of course that naturally leads me to wonder how then should we view the apostles of Jesus who were martyred? How about Paul, who endured hardships, sickness, thorns in the flesh, stonings, imprisonment, abandonment, beatings, shipwrecks, and eventually had his head cut off? Is this the life Paul lived? Was Paul’s life one that was “sickness-proof, disease-proof, poverty-proof and failure-proof”? Seeing as how Paul’s life was not one of health and wealth, aren’t we forced to conclude that he did not receive Jesus as Lord of his life?
And so what happens to those who hear this message, believe it, and then come to the tragic understanding that its not true? What happens to those who believe the message of the Gospel and then watch fellow believers around them die of their diseases? Instead of finding contentment and peace in their salvation and eternal security they are left to conclude that they were never saved, as they did not incur those blessings. What of the people struggling to scrape together enough to survive? The ones who are forced to conclude that their faith is not real- that it is nothing but an illusion because Jesus didn’t die for those who make less than a dollar a day? How many people walk away from the faith because this man abused Christ and his gospel and whored him out to the highest bidder?
How can you be saved by grace and faith alone if your salvation is contingent on your accumulation of prosperity? On your body’s ability to produce immunities? With such a perversion of regeneration, justification and sanctification, how can this not be a land rife with hopelessness, disillusionment and despair for anyone believing this message? How can this be anything other than the careful, purposeful, systematic annihilation of the faith of millions of people?
That is not Christianity. That is not the Gospel. This man is not a Pastor. This man is not a Christian.
And I say all that truth, in love.