Recent events have raised the issue, Should the pulpit always avoid politics? It depends on what we mean by “politics;” it demeans the pulpit to use it for partisan politics. But here are ten reasons why I don’t think politics and religion should (or even can) be completely separate:
1) The Word of God has something to say about all of life, beyond just the spiritual.
My long-time pastor, Dr. D. James Kennedy, once noted that the Church of Jesus Christ has always been opposed to abortion—from the very beginning. It still is.
In the last generation, abortion has become a “political” issue. Does that mean, asked Dr. Kennedy, we should now ignore it in the pulpit? No, because the Bible is pro-life.
2) The Bible itself addresses the issue of governing in different texts.
There are biblical books dealing with political rulers—1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, Judges. In Genesis and in Daniel, we see godly men serving well in pagan courts, for the good of all. In Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2, we hear that God has established the civil magistrate, and we are to obey the government. In Exodus, we see Moses rebuking Pharaoh for mistreating the Hebrews.
3) The Scriptures also teach that on occasion, there may be a need for civil disobedience.
When the apostles were commanded to no longer preach the gospel, Peter said that we must obey God rather than man. If there is an either/or, then civil disobedience can be the right path. Many early Christians died for Christ rather than worship the emperor, clearly a false god.
4) Jesus said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Nature abhors a vacuum. Someone will be involved in politics. Why should we abandon our role as citizens? According to Jesus, we have a positive duty to render certain obligation to the state.
5) When the Church does not speak out, evil can fill that void.
Silence in the face of evil can signal assent. We hold up those Christians who went against Hitler and the Nazis as heroes—not the millions who acquiesced to them.
The December 23, 1940 TIME Magazine article called, Religion: German Martyrs, opens: “Not you, Herr Hitler, but God is my Führer. These defiant words of Pastor Martin Niemoller were echoed by millions of Germans. And Hitler raged: ‘It is Niemoller or I.'”
6) The Church is called to be salt and light. Salt preserves and prevents decay.
Christians in society should help prevent corruption. As goes the pulpit, so goes the nation.
7) We pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
That doesn’t mean we should try and force the kingdom of God by use of the sword. When “Christians” did that in times past, we are still apologizing for it, as in the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Salem Witchcraft trials. But it does mean that Christians can apply biblical principles to government that result in good for all of us. And to be sure, someone’s morality is always being legislated. It is not a question of “if,” but of “what” and of “whose.”
Christians bless everybody when we properly apply our faith to politics.
Our Constitution was an outgrowth of the biblical concept of covenant. University of Houston Professor Dr. Donald S. Lutz, author of The Origins of American Constitutionalism, said that Americans “invented modern Constitutionalism and bequeathed it to the world.” And where did we get it? Says Lutz: “The American constitutional tradition derives in much of its form and content from the Judeo-Christian tradition as interpreted by the radical Protestant sects to which belonged so many of the original European settlers in British North America.”
9) Politics may be the calling of some in the congregation. Therefore, ministers should encourage political involvement that is motivated by the desire to serve.
When the Member of Parliament William Wilberforce was converted in the 1780s, he sought counsel from Rev. John Newton, an ex-slave-trader. Should he leave politics and pursue the ministry? Newton advised him to stay because maybe God could use him where he was.
Wilberforce’s crusade to free the slaves in the British Empire took him 50 years and was a direct outgrowth of his faith in Christ. I shudder to think if one of today’s “no politics” ministers had counseled the young reborn Wilberforce. We might still have legal slavery in the Western world.
10) Religion and morality are “indispensable supports to our political prosperity.”
So said Washington in his Farewell Address. John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” This was in a day when about 99% of the Americans were professing Christians. And on it goes.
I remember when I once interviewed former Secretary of Education William Bennett, who said, “Does anybody really have a worry that the United States is becoming overly pious? That our young people have dedicated too much of their lives to prayer, that teenagers in this country are preoccupied with thoughts of eternity?” In short, our problem today is not too much Christian influence on society, but not enough.
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The Church, The Tithe, And Daddy Freeze By Paul Eri
-The Church, The Tithe, And Daddy Freeze
have followed with certain bated interest the ongoing controversies in the public domain in the Nigerian landscape about tithing in the church. I have waited with anticipation, hoping that one of our so-called exalted “Men of God” for the love of Christ and all that is holy and true will stand and declare the truth as the scriptures made it clear as it pertains to the new testament church. The stand of many of these General Overseers is that, Daddy Freeze whose declaration wants to take away a huge chunk of the church revenue and pour sand into “our gari” lack the spiritual platform and accreditation to speak as an oracle of God.
Assuming Freeze lacks the credential to speak as an oracle of God, my question is: why is it that those who do are not coming out with scriptural arsenal needed to dispute his claim rather than advancing sentimental counter-punch and psychological manipulation to discredit him and further confuse the sheep? It is my fervent belief and unshakeable conviction that this issue would have not even become the focus of many of these men of God if it was not about money.
Over the years, especially in recent times, every modern church has found a way to make the issue of tithe a major doctrinal teaching, particularly among the Pentecostal movement. This is so because of this simple fact if the church must have the financial resources it needs, financial giving must cease to be a thing of personal choice, but something of a compulsion. And one of the ways in which churches compel members to give is the unending preaching of tithing based on Malachi 3:8-11 and its accompanying pronouncement of woes and curses for non-compliance.
But if the truth be told, this scriptural basis for tithing in the New Testament church, which is founded on the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Apostles, is a wrong application of the scripture. Giving of tithe, or tithe payment as some will like to code it, is not applicable to the church. Abraham, the first man to practise tithing in the Bible gave tithe out of his plunders of war (Genesis 14). And the commandment of tithing as a requirement of the law is something done to support the Levites and it was specified to be given in agricultural produce (Numbers 18:25-27, Deut 14:22-23). Christ spoke about tithe to rebuke the Pharisees and the Scribes for their hypocritical behaviors as seen in Matthew 23:23 (without no reference to money) and not as teaching on something that is required of His followers. The Apostles and the early church never emphasized the payment of tithe because it was a requirement of the law and Christ who mentored and taught them for three and a half years never made it part of what is required under the dispensation of grace. This is very instructive considering the fact that Peter declared before the council in Jerusalem this famous words, “ for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). So I believe if it is something required as a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, Peter would have taught it to the church in his days.
So if Christ the Chief Cornerstone of the church, the Apostles and the early church fathers whose teachings formed the doctrinal foundation of the church never emphasized the doctrine of tithing, why has it become the most important focus of most churches today? The answers lie in 1 Timothy 6:10 which says “for the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows”. The love of money has so become the main focus of the Pentecostal fold in Nigeria and in most part of the world today that salvation of souls which is our primary assignment has taken the backseat while tithing and financial giving has taken the center stage, so any teaching of the Bible that can be used to extort money from the people of God is being exploited to the fullest. This has become so bad that many pastors are now preaching tithing as a form of stipulated requirement for the salvation of your soul. Yes, the Bible talks about tithing, but not in the context in which the church is preaching about it today. Neither is tithing a requirement for believers in Christ. Giving, on the other hand, is what we are counseled to do and to do it joyfully either with your one, ten or hundred percent, do it with joy, not as a matter of compulsion or manipulative gimmicks of any pastor.
The desire for “filthy lucre” by most pastors in today’s churches has blinded them to the reality of the damage this manipulative teaching of tithing and giving is doing to the true gospel of salvation that we have been called to preach as believers and the attendant moral and spiritual decay it brings. It is for this reason that the church in Nigeria, that should normally be a place of honesty, morally principled individuals and people of integrity has become a den of robbers, winebibbers and whore mongers. On top of this is the myriads of false prophecies of miracle breakthroughs and prosperity from year to year which never materialize. The quest for wealth and materialism has become so bad in the church that practically every church has become an extension of the corrupt political class who uses the church for their selfish political gain. The lie that Satan could not sell to Jesus on worldly enrichment is what many of these so-called oracles of God have accepted without a second thought. It is like the Nigerian common man can not catch a break, for, between the political leaders who are never concerned with their daily struggles and the religious leaders whose mindset is all about fleecing the sheep, the average Nigerian is like the Israelites of the time of Moses who found themselves between Pharaoh and the Red Sea.
The church has become so corrupt in Nigeria that the idea is that go and make money in whatever way you can (either legal or illegal), in a godly way or by sinful means, it does not matter, as long as you bring your ten percent, God will bless you. I have always said with no iota of reservation and not minding whose horse is gored, that the malady of corruption, greed and selfishness which afflict the political class of Nigeria has become an integral part of the Nigerian churches. The church is as much the problem of the poor masses in Nigeria as well as the political leadership. The church that is supposed to be a place of compassion, love and upholder of godly truth has become a place of darkness, lust and greed, where the anointing of God is readily available for sale as long as you can pay the price. The church has seriously departed from that path of straight and narrow to follow that broad and wide way.
The Nigerian “church-scape” has become a place where our General Overseers are more concerned with the number of private jets they could acquire than the number of people in their congregation who could feed their families or comfortably take care of their household needs. The competition to see who can buy the fastest and latest jet is more important to them than the emasculating and crushing poverty of their teeming members. And for those who will be quick to defend the lavish and opulent lifestyle of these “Men of God”, my question to you is this: was there no golden chariot in the days of Jesus, why then did He entered Jerusalem on an ass? Paul despite his numerous missionary journeys never owned a single seafaring ship, rather he worked to support himself rather than become a burden on those he ministered the gospel to. Our General Overseers have become so wise and more important in their own eyes than Jesus our perfect example who lived a modest life, or the Apostles and the early church fathers who did not sought earthly riches and wealth, but sold all they had to feed the poor and meet the needs of those who lack within the church.
Things are like this because the church has replaced the standard of God with the standard of man (Isa 55:8-9). The church has replaced the biblical standard of value system and success with the standard of the world which bare no relevance whatsoever with the things of God. Things are like this because of the departure of the church from the teaching of the wholesome truth of Christ to the flaky prosperity gospel which is focused majorly on material riches and wealth. This dangerous teaching unshackles many church leaders from any form of restraint and moderation on their desire for recognition, the pursuit of wealth and replaces it with greed, lust and lack of any sense of accountability whatsoever.
And the sad truth is that most Nigerian Pentecostal ministries are run on the premise of lack of accountability. There is little or no accountability whatsoever, the leaders of such churches are all in all and they can get away with anything. This lack of accountability is what has given birth to present uproar on the issue of tithing that Daddy Freeze has raised. So instead of our General Overseers seeing the issues that Freeze has raised on tithing as an attack on their personalities and lifestyle, they should embrace it as a way the Lord wants to use to call them to order and correct them.
The idea that if you do not tithe you will be under a curse based on Malachi 3 is a manipulative teaching that do not live up to scriptural sound teaching when examined in the light of the balanced word of God. According to Romans 8:1-2, “there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death”. In the same token Galatians 3:13 says “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us…” So how can those who live under the law of grace by the power of the Holy Spirit still be under the curse of a Mosaic law that Christ had died and redeemed us from? If anyone is under any curse it is those who still give tithe in accordance with Galatians 3:10. Do not get me wrong, give your ten percent if you feel like, but give it as a free will offering as a believer in Christ (that is what I have been doing for over a decade now), not as a man observing the Mosaic laws. The Bible says that we should study to show ourselves approved, is it that those eminent pastors of ours who are defending their churches manipulative teaching on tithing are biblically ignorant or they just refuse to teach the truth that Christ declared can make us free.
In the year of the Lord 2017, when most Nigerians are living their own version of hell on earth, when our young men and women are being auctioned off in modern slavery in Libya, when many are dying in the desert and on the high seas of North Africa in an effort to cross to Europe with the hope for a better life, all our GOs could find time to defend and argue about is the issue of monetary giving to the church which someone is undermining. I am sorry to say this, but I will say it anyway, the truth is that the focus of many Nigerian pastors and church leaders have since ceased from being a model of Christ love and compassion, rather they have become more focused on representing their own interest. The unfortunate thing is that many of them feel they are beyond correction from those who lack the public visibility they have or the elongated years of ministry experience they have. But let me remind them of the story of Eli and Samuel in the Bible.
Daddy Freeze has stirred the hornet nest, he is like the young Samuel sent to deliver a very difficult message to the old prophet Eli, a man with the highest religious position in the land. Whether these “men of God” will hear and change is a different story. But let me say this, it is better these men of God change now, and return to their first love because this is still a family affair, after all, Daddy Freeze is a Christian like us. The historical viewpoint of the Bible has established one fact: when the people of God refuse correction from in-house, God uses the Gentiles to bring about the needed correction and repentance.
The Christ-like mind and character of compassion, mercy and love is gradually dying in the lives of many of our so-called “men of God”. The erudite scholar and Nigerian literary legend Wole Soyinka said, “the man died in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny”, in the same token the mind of Christ is dying in you as a pastor, bishop, or GO if you are more concerned with building personal mansions in all the major cities of the world while the majority of your members cannot pay their monthly house rent. Christ mindset is dying in you if as a minister of the gospel you are focused on increasing your fleet of private jets and luxurious cars while most of your members can not even buy a bicycle. Christ mind is dying in you as a GO, while you and your family eat sumptuous food, while those you are leading like Lazarus are scavenging for crumbs from your rich table to get a meal a day. Christ is dying in you, if you send your own children to the best schools in the world while your members could not even afford the school fees of the schools you build with their tithe and offering. Christ character and mindset is dying in you if while you as a minister outfit yourself in custom made designer suits while your members walk around in second-hand rags. The indictment of Matthew 25:41-46 is definitely upon most of the churches dotting the landscape of Nigeria and their leaders.
If you disagree with this remember the admonitions of 2 Timothy 3:1-5, 4:1-5 and 1 John 2:18-19. I will counsel you to be like the Berean Christians who do not just believe what Paul was saying at face value, but decided to search the scriptures for themselves to establish the truth of his word. For the unfortunate truth is that, most Nigerian Christians have in a kind of way turn their pastors to their God, for when it comes to believing the Bible and what the pastor is saying, nine out of ten will rather believe their pastors. There is a form of dogmatic inebriation that has clouded the mind of many that is making it very hard for them to truly sift the truth from personal revelations and psychological manipulations. But let me make something clear to you, no Pastor, Bishop, Archbishop or General Overseer died for anybody. We are all bought and redeemed by the shed blood of Jesus Christ and to Him and His word alone should we be faithful and obedient. But for those “men of God”, remember, “the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God”…( 1 Peter 4:17), and I am sure it will definitely start from the pulpit.
Ateke Tom, As The New Amanyanabo of Okochiri Town
-A former militant leader, Ateke Tom, has been crowned Amanyanabo of Okochiri town in Wakirike , Rivers state.
The coronation was marked by traditional dances, traditional rites and musical displays.
Thousands of Okrika people witnessed the event.
Governor Nyesom Wike was among personalities at the event held in Okochiri, Okrika Local government area on Saturday.
Other prominent Rivers citizens were were Chief Kenneth Kobani, Secretary to the Rivers State Government, Chief Chidi Wihioka, Elder statesman Chief Emma Anyanwu, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, former Minister of Transport, Rt. Hon. Evans Bipi and Rt. Hon. Adams Dabotorudima, Hon. Wellington Granville.
In his remark, Wike advised the newly crowned monarch against being used to disunite the people of Okrika town and to further establish himself as an agent of unity and progress.
While congratulating the Traditional Ruler for his successful coronation as the King of Okochiri, Wike lauded the people of the town for installing a traditional ruler who fought for them.
The governor assured the people of Okrika Town that his administration will continue to deliver on projects in the area.
He noted that the process for the recognition of the traditional ruler, which includes presentation of a certificate of recognition will be done at the appropriate time.
The governor said:”Let me on behalf of the Government and people of Rivers State congratulate King Ateke Michael Tom, Amanyanabo of Okochiri Kingdom. With what you have seen here today, it is a clear testimony that you are loved by your people.
“That is why it is good for each and everyone of us to defend the interest of our people at any given time , so that your people will honour you at the appropriate time. Today, because of what you have done for this kingdom, the people have called you back home to come and be their new king.
“I want to proclaim by the Special Grace of God and by the powers conferred on me as the Rivers State Governor, Government of Rivers State will recognise this Amanyanabo of Okochiri town. What that means is that we will invite you to Government House, so that we present to you certificate of recognition”.
Former Minister of Transport and Chairman of the occasion, Dr. Abiye Precious Sekibo, advised other ex-Nigeria Delta agitators to emulate the new monarch in maintaining peace in their various domains.
OPINION: What Good Governance Is Not
– Do Nigerians really know what good governance is not?
Accountability, responsibility, service, transparency, participation, equity are characteristics of good governance which everyone knows already but not everyone knows what good governance is not and that is why Nigeria is still at the level it is today. Good governance is found evident in some part of the world but can it be found in Nigeria?
Good governance is not about ethnicity, if it were to be so, there shouldn’t be any state government owing workers salary, there should be world class infrastructures in every state and our health care system would not be backward. In a country with about 250 different ethnic groups, Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa being the largest, none of our present leaders representing this groups can be tagged as a good leader. I remember when I was home and Governor Abiola Ajimobi was going for a second term in Oyo State, all over the papers were pictures of the Mokola Flyover bridge and Ojoo roundabout which were obviously his only achievement regarding infrastructures in the state. Oyo state has to be one of the dirtiest in the country and the brown roofs are not helping matters, now is Governor Abiola Ajimobi not a Yoruba man? And did that qualify him as a good governor? Even the igbos who are chanting “Biafra”, ” Divide the country” need to be reminded of the number of kleptocrats they have as leaders. Even Kanu, former IPOB leader used the group money to further his own cause, stomach infrastructure included.
Good governance is not about religion, if it were, where is the change promised us by PMB? Impoverishment? Even though Nigeria is out of recession it is yet to alleviate the suffering of the masses. Karl Marx said “Religion is the opium of the people”. Religion has so blind folded us that when time calls for us to exercise our franchise, we still vote based on the religion of the candidate and yet our vampire kleptocratic leaders belong to one of the three majorly practised religion in Nigeria, Christianity, Islam and traditional religion. These three religion frowns on stealing it is in fact a sin in the bible and the sharia law judgement would be to cut the hand of an offender. Lying have become an habits of our leaders, they lie to win an election with so many propagandas thrown at us but the aftermath of the election is a stealing spree.
Religion and ethnicity are the major tools used to get to us in Nigeria, we forget that biases and subjectivism shouldn’t be the hallmark where good governance is concerned but objectivism and pragmatism. I am a Yoruba but I didn’t chose to be one, my creator deemed it fit, so also everyone one of us, so why do we let this vampire leaders, politicians use it to divide us. We need to stand in one voice irrespective of our religion or ethnicity and demand for accountability, service, transparency from our Government. Do our vampire Government know what they want? The answer is yes, what they want is steal as much as they can from the masses to enrich themselves while they leave the masses arguing and ranting about ethnicity and religion. Do our leaders also cry? Yes they do, but that is when they are not getting their share of the national cake, they don’t weep for the masses as they have no atom of empathy in them.
Forget ethnicity and forget religion as they donot define good governance. I stand corrected.
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