Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The future of Pentecostalism in Nigeria

It is clear that Pentecostalism as the driving force of Christian revival in Nigeria has been fraught with misrepresentations and human frailties. Many church planters had used the identity of Pentecostalism to mobilise followers and attract immense financial resources to themselves. Some, on the other hand, had used it to build a body of radical Christians who are less concerned about the affairs of the world. In this category,
however, are very few churches. We noted that a good number of large Christian Pentecostal assemblies in Nigeria today are more concerned about life here on earth with little attention to the hereafter. The shift in the focus from heaven-bound indoctrination to prosperity on earth may not be unconnected with the globalization of capitalism and western values, which have had a tremendous impact on the consciousness of the Pentecostal pastors in the country.

The future of Pentecostalism in Nigeria is dependent on the effectiveness or otherwise of the Pentecostal churches in attending to the spiritual and physical needs of their flocks. Many are in church today because they either desire relief from the socio-economic miseries of their existence or deliverance from some demonic forces. The Pentecostal churches that wish to remain relevant beyond the present era are those presently investing in the tutorship of their followers regarding the eternal value of Christian virtues, not on miracles and mundane rewards, but on immortal existence beyond the physical one.

What becomes of Pentecostalism cannot be divorced from the forces of post-modernism which apparently have held sway in virtually all areas of human endeavour, in which there is no absolutism but relativism, and truth is regarded as an opinion that can be challenged. It is these forces that have continued to influence religion with their syncretic perspectives. The visible syncretism and apostasy that seem to pervade some Pentecostal assemblies in the country, if history is a good guide, would end up the way its forebears ended– cast into oblivion. Since the demise of Pastor Oschoffa of the Celestial Church of Christ, this institution, which had grown to world acclaim, soon became dismembered in the face of seemingly interminable crises. Primate Olabayo of the Evangelical Church of Yahweh (of the Taborah Fame) who launched himself to prominence through his yearly predictions and his claim to the possession of the Holy Spirit, has since vanished off the scene since late1990s as a result of his confinement to a wheel chair. Time will legitimise or delegitimise the Pentecostal pastors and their ministries, on the basis of their sincerity to the cause they profess. Until that happens, the two-faces of pentecostalism – Holy Spirit-filled, and demon-inspired – may still continue to blossom.

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