This article by a Zambian pastor and blogger, entitled “Nigerian Religious Junk”, is a fascinating but damning indictment of a certain brand of African Christianity. The author is writing about a wider trend and doesn’t name names. However, people concerned about TB Joshua and the Synagogue Church of All Nations will be familiar with much of what he describes.
He argues that this new African ‘junk’ Christianity is a potent blend of the prosperity gospel of US megachurches and some of the less wholesome aspects of traditional African religions and culture. Some of the features of this new African christianity:
“They exalt the personality of their founding father, who is still alive somewhere in Nigeria (or elsewhere) and is treated with the aura of a state president or paramount chief.”
“It is all about image and power. This “man of God” claims to hear the voice of God and proceeds to minister to you accordingly. If you do not obey him you are resisting the ministry of God into your life.”
And he says this about the parallels with traditional African religions:
“Just as the witchdoctor appealed to us by inviting us to see him for spiritual protection or when we were struggling with bad luck, childlessness, joblessness, illness, failure to attract a suitor for marriage or to rise in a job or get a contract, etc., these pastors do precisely the same thing. So-called prophetic utterances are made which explain why all this is happening, holy water or oil is prayed over and dispensed, and some money is extracted from the persons seeking help.
The motivating factor is not reconciliation with God through Christ but rather “deliverance” from perceived evil and to be blessed through the supernatural powers that “the man of God” possesses. Let’s face it: this is our African traditional religions coming into the church through the back door.”
It’s worth reading the full post. For us as Europeans, with limited knowledge of African culture and religion, it is valuable to have an African viewpoint that shows the bigger picture. Some of those who defend SCOAN put certain dubious elements of SCOAN life down to cultural differences, saying it’s the “African way” of doing things. This article is reassuring; it shows that while the SCOAN way may be one African way of doing things, it is certainly not the only African way.