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OPINION: Persecution Against The Church of Christ in Nigeria: Prophet T. B. Joshua A Case Study

By Prof. R. A. Ipinyomi

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Recent survey shows that Christians in Nigeria remain the most persecuted religious group. This persecution takes many forms. Persecution can be defined as any hostility experienced as a result of identification with Jesus Christ. It could be emotional torture and disowning of believers by their husbands, parents or guardians, risk of imprisonment, loss of home and assets, physical torture, rape and even death as a result of their faith. In Nigeria and in some parts of Asia we have Boko Haram or ISIS openly waging wars against Christians, burning their Church buildings, killing pastors, suiciding bombing, stealing students from Christian schools,etc.

At the global level the trends show that countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East are intensifying persecution against Christians, and perhaps the most vulnerable are Christian women, who often face double persecution for faith and gender. The early missionaries that came to Africa suffered great martyrdom from the traditional worshippers, apart from being shipwrecked or killed by mosquitoes or wild animals. But they successfully laid the Christian foundation in Nigeria and other parts of Africa upon which we can continue to build.

Prophet T. B. Joshua, a world reknown televangelist has continued to receive attacks physically, some by negative publications in the internet; even many of his today friends, fans and regular worshippers had once attacked him in words and published prints. This is the same T. B. Joshua who has been ranked as the 13th most famous prophet in history. The group that worked on that assignment, www.Ranker.com, claimed to have gathered opinions from over 250 million respondents worldwide. Any group who may doubt this published opinion should conduct indepent survey globally. To be fair to T. B. JOSHUA, we must acknowledge a few of his numerous achievements, including, (a) overcoming illiteracy to becoming a great philosopher of all time, (b) healing by word only, by touching, water, stickers, etc, (3) simple but effective great teachings, (4) big heart in giving and generousity, (5) establishment of the Emmanuel.tv that is serving as his vehicle of Religeoius propagation, (6) ability to draw great weekly crowds to Nigeria and hence putting Nigeria on the world map, (7) raising disciples that are now prophets, evangelists, or other church administration on their own, etc.

He is the President of the Synagogue Church of All Nations,  (SCOAN), and has successfully executed crusades in South America, Asia, Western Europe, Australia sub region, Africa, Israel in the Middle East. The type and class of health recovery miracles in one of his  international crusades, or on a typical Sunday worship in SCOAN Lagos Nigeria, is beyond the record of a standard Teaching Hospital in a year.  Hence he is attracting miracle seekers, people looking for the second coming of Jesus.  Unfortunately  many others  are attacking him from the secular world, people already making fortunes and living large on public infirmities and shortcomings.

The recent persecution, especially eruption of a sudden opposition to the the Nazareth meeting, or some ladies claiming they were raped or unspoken other negative words again T. B. Joshua, such episodes are just the tip of the iceberg. The real opposition is deeprooted and still biblical. Apostle Paul told us in 2 Timothy 3:12 that “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in union with Christ Jesus will be persecuted”. This is because this world and God are in opposition. If one is a friend of this world that person is automatically God’s enemy (James 4:4). Hence any serious Christian courting the world’s favour or running to be some celebrity, or trying to avoid persecution by being friends of governments, must think twice and not lose the race set before him. The race is not that of having fat bank account, building the largest congregation, the highest number worship places (some commentators call such places business centres), or some physical parameters. It is preaching Christ with power and authority in the spirit.  It is not by humman schemes in planning, but to trust and obey the unfailing Word of Christ. That which is flesh is flesh and what is spirit is spirit. The flesh will return to dust and end there whilst the spirit is eternal.

Peradventure suffering because of sins and suffering persecution may be confused in some people’s mind. If a Christian sins he or she may lose the anointing, like Saul or Samson. Even when they repent (like David did) willful sin has a lasting punishment on the individuals and the Church. Therefore we can advise people not to pay diverted attention to aledged accusation levied against a prophet because the Holy  Bible is complete and sufficient to live by or to access each prophet. Like Gamaliel (Acts 5: 33-39) we advise that each person claiming to be a prophet should be left alone. If what they are doing is of human origin it will disappear but if it is from God you cannot defeat them. Leave Prophet T. B. Joshua alone therefore.

Some others are burdened by what the Bible predicts about emergence of false prophets in later days. Jesus taught His disciples to expect false prophet and how to identify them. For example in Matthew 24:11 & 24 Jesus said, “Many false prophets will appear to deceive many people. They will perform great miracles and wonders in order to deceive God’s chosen people if possible”. Apostle Peter reenforced this teaching in 2 Peter 2:1 when he said, “False prophets and false teachers will appear among you. They will bring in destructive, untrue doctrines, and will deny Jesus who redeemed them. They will bring sudden destruction upon themselves”. John, another apostle, advised us in 1 John 4:1 that, “Do not believe all who claim to have the Spirit but test them”.  At the end according to Revelation 19: 20, “The beast was taken prisioner together with the false prophet”. Also Revelation 20:10, “The Devil was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur where the beast and the false prophet were already thrown”. Each Bible student must endeavour to study the Bible and let the spirit do His job of teaching and illumination.

The fact that the Bible teaches about appearance of false prophets or false teachers does not justify Church persecution or the persecution of individual Christian or prophet. Leave them alone, just as we advocate you leave others who think they have nothing to do with Jesus alone. In fact under the Religeoius freedom nobody has the right to persecute others because of their chosen faith, except they should commit other offenses against the common law. Hence and whereas we are not expecting the Nigeria  society to suddenly begin some praise singing  for T. B. Joshua, or indeed pastors from any of the Churches in Nigeria, rather they should be judged by their work and the scripture, if at all. But Jesus will ask you at the end that, “Who appoints you a judge over the Church of Christ?”. Leave them alone.

By Prof. R. A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria


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