CYBERJOURNAL FOR PENTECOSTAL-CHARISMATIC RESEARCH #16
The Prosperity Gospel in Nigeria: A Re-Examination of the Concept, Its Impact, and an
by Dr. George O. Folarin
The “prosperity gospel” is common in Nigeria.1 Some scholars hold that this teaching is responsible for the rapid expansion of charismatic denominations2 and that it has influenced the messages and practices of older denominations in the country.3 This indicates that the prosperity gospel should be taken seriously, and that demonizing it can be counter-productive to the church.
A recent survey shows that while many claim that the prosperity gospel is bad, they demonstrate remarkable ignorance of the meaning of the concept.4 This article therefore re-examines the concept of the prosperity gospel, its impact on evangelical denominations in Nigeria, and provides an assessment of the concept, as it is presently used. The article ends with recommendations on re-formulating the concept.
2.0 The Concept of the “Prosperity Gospel” in Nigeria
Most respondents to the recent survey simply define the prosperity gospel as “the gospel that promises only financial break-through,” or “the preaching that does not address the concern of salvation from sin but only emphasizes that God will make everyone materially rich.” Some others define it as “the gospel that people should accumulate material things.” Yet others define it as “the gospel that defines poverty as sin.” Two points sum up these definitions: It is exclusively financial, and it neglects the spiritual well-being of the people.
The definitions above suggest that non-prosperity preachers formulated the definitions, and that they are derogatory and misleading. Prosperity preachers would not define their own theology so negatively. This explains why many of those that legitimately belong to the category refuse to identify with the term.5 There is hardly any Christian denomination that does not preach salvation from sin. Also, there are an insignificant number of denominations that interpret poverty as sin.6 Most preachers of the prosperity gospel overwhelmingly reject this view of poverty.7 It is therefore unwarranted to derive the interpretation of a concept from the view of an insignificant minority of the group.
Some scholars have admitted that there are other elements to the prosperity gospel than financial success. Danny McCain points out that the prosperity gospel concerns “health and wealth.”8 Ken L. Sarles states that the gospel of prosperity consists of healing from sickness, casting out of demons, and deliverance from material poverty.9 These two commentators, among others, assume however that salvation from sin and concern for spiritual growth is not an element of the prosperity gospel. In another article, I question the allegation that the prosperity gospel excludes concern for spiritual growth:
The greatest challenge … is how to interpret … the testimonies of salvation from sin that are sometimes given in the ministries of certain prosperity preachers if salvation from sin is entirely absent from their messages … The second problem is how to interpret statements in the articles of faith of prosperity gospel denominations that human beings are sinners in need of the salvation that is only available in Jesus Christ by exercise of faith. The third problem is what to make of invitations to salvation from sin that are found in the messages of prosperity gospel preachers …10
In the light of the points above, it is more justifiable to accuse preachers of the prosperity gospel of not placing enough emphasis on the spiritual growth of their audience than to accuse them of completely neglecting the issue.
Sermons and books of prosperity gospel ministers (and the tenets of their ministries) reveal that spiritual growth is also a concern of their gospel. This agrees with prosperity preachers’ application of 3 John 2, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” (KJV), to healing from sickness, and matters of spiritual growth. They also apply Matthew 6:33, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you,” to all forms of prosperity. Preachers of prosperity are of the view that other prosperities are dependent on the “prosperity of the soul.” They sometimes refer to their gospel of prosperity as the “[w]holistic gospel.” 11
From the forgoing, we see that the prosperity gospel is the teaching that the solutions to people’s problems of sin, sickness, poverty, and demon oppression are in Jesus Christ. Many Charismatics even believe that these blessings are fully available to all Christians now.
The recent survey on the prosperity gospel in Nigeria further shows the following things:
a. Charismatics are moving towards specialization in ministry. While the Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) and Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) major on healing, Living Faith Church (LFC) and the Church of God Mission International (CGMI) concentrate on financial break-through, and Mountain of Fire and Miracles (MFM) focuses on exorcism.
b. No single denomination equally develops all the elements of the prosperity gospel.
c. Every denomination researched except MFM combines at least three elements of the prosperity gospel. Concern for conversion and spiritual growth is basic to the other two.
d. Every charismatic denomination (or movement) has provision for the spiritual growth of its members. Emphasis on spiritual growth may however not be adequate.12
A major problem with the prosperity gospel as presently practiced in Nigeria is that it is not fully delivering on its promises. There are still many sincere Christians who are financially poor, sick, and/or demon oppressed. For Christians who believe in the truth of Scripture, the fault cannot be with God and his promises. It must be the interpretations that prosperity gospel preachers use to justify the theology that are wrong. Some Christians tend to believe that in the attempt to provide answers to the existence of evil on earth despite belief in an all-powerful and all-good God, preachers of prosperity have sometimes ended up creating a truncated gospel of salvation.
3.0 Influences of the Prosperity Gospel on Non-Pentecostal Evangelical Denominations
The concern of this section is three-fold: To identify the effect of the prosperity gospel on evangelical denominations, to discover the ways evangelical churches are coping with the problem, and to assess the effectiveness of the measures taken by the evangelical denominations. Two denominations used as case studies were the Nigerian Baptist Convention (NBC), and the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA).
An obvious effect of prosperity theology on evangelical churches is that it has attracted many members of their denominations to prosperity preaching ministries (or churches). This was the case in both the Nigerian Baptist Convention (NBC) where 63.27% and the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA) where 75% of the research subjects indicated that their denominations lost members to prosperity gospel preaching ministries.13
Emmanuel Ogunyanju, B.C. Akosa, T. Eko, and some others observe that prosperity theology is largely responsible for populating charismatic churches.14 One reason for this drift could be the similarity in the concerns expressed in the prosperity gospel and in the African worldview.15 From time immemorial, Africans have being longing for freedom from sickness, demon oppression, and poverty. This is clear in their tales, stories, proverbs, prayers, sacrifices, and wishes. Another reason is that although evangelical denominations condemn the solution of traditional religions to man’s existential problems, they fail to provide workable alternatives. Early evangelical denominations interpreted every sickness as either psychological or medically pathological. They operated a closed system that had little or no provision for the spiritual and miraculous.16 Charismatic movements claim to provide Christian answers in their theology of prosperity to these problems. Again, evangelical denominations initially played down the intense suffering of the poor in Africa. As they did in the apartheid South Africa, evangelical churches at times supported the cause of the rich at the expense of the poor. On the other hand, Charismatics encourage the poor.
For Christians in traditional churches where there has been no provision to deal with the problems identified above, three options are available. The first is to do nothing, and watch the situation hopelessly. Some people call this “fatalism.” Akin Bola-John calls this teaching, “Kamuology.”17 The second is for church members to supplement Christian faith with the traditional cult. This is syncretism. Imasogie Osadolor finds this solution being used by some church members in Africa.18 The third option is for church members to go to other churches for Christian solutions to their problems. There they learn what has come to be known as “warfare prayer.” Many, including members of evangelical denominations, chose this third option.
Evangelical and other traditional denominations respond to the loss of their members to charismatic churches with hostility and/or adaptability. More than 50% of respondents from NBC and ECWA indicate that their denominations were initially hostile to the prosperity gospel and to their members visiting prosperity gospel programs. They discredited the prosperity gospel in order to prevent other members of their denominations from leaving. At this stage, theology became an instrument of propaganda. African Christian preachers and theologians of traditional denominations either intentionally or unintentionally demonized the prosperity gospel. At other times, members of evangelical churches that visited programs on prosperity were openly criticized (and even expelled). This forced many members who were not planning to permanently leave their traditional churches out to the waiting hands of charismatic churches. After some time, many evangelical churches began to tolerate charismatic practices, including preaching the prosperity gospel. Today, the attitude of many evangelical churches to elements of the prosperity gospel is enthusiastic, even though their churches are still hostile to the term, “prosperity gospel.”19
Three (of the four) elements of the prosperity gospel were tested to find out if they now exist to significant degrees in NBC and ECWA. The fourth element, salvation from sin and concerns of spiritual growth, was not included as a test item because NBC and ECWA have always emphasized this point. Overwhelmingly, responses from Baptist ministers show that churches of NBC have, over the past 15 years, incorporated the other three elements of prosperity into their practice. Most Baptist churches now have groups that are engaged in warfare prayer for the sick (61.22%), the demon oppressed (67.35%), and against poverty (71.43%). Responses from ministers of ECWA indicate that ECWA is still a bit resistant to elements of the prosperity gospel. Only two elements of the prosperity gospel have significantly made inroads into the denomination. Prayer for material prosperity of members is now common in the church (55.56%). Some assemblies of ECWA have also established groups of “prayer warriors” to pray for the sick (according to 33.33% of ECWA respondents. 22.22% said this is not true). The leadership of ECWA still largely rejects the practice of exorcism in the denomination, even though some young pastors encourage it.20
A conclusion from the presentation above is that churches of the NBC have adapted further than churches of ECWA to the prosperity gospel by incorporating all its elements into their worship practice. It is most likely therefore that the Baptist denomination will be able to retain her members better, and win more adherents.
Joseph Mamman, a lecturer in Christian Religion at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria,21 and a senior minister in the Roman Catholic Church, once said that when the Catholics introduced elements of the prosperity gospel into their services, many of the members that they lost to prosperity gospel ministries returned to the Catholic Church. This claim inspired the next aspect of this research. Computation of responses shows that Baptist ministers split into two equal parts when asked if the church, after introducing elements of the prosperity gospel into its ministry, was able to reclaim the people lost to charismatic groups: 30.61% agreed that the church reclaimed them, while another 30.61% denied that they were ever reclaimed. The remainder volunteered no response. While 25% of ECWA ministers agreed that their church reclaimed those whom they lost, 37.50% denied that they were ever reclaimed. The explanation of the discrepancy observed between the experience of the Catholics and evangelicals in reclaiming deserters to their churches could be in the level of freedom that each denomination allows her youth groups. The Catholics appear to encourage charismatic activities among its youths more than either the Baptist or ECWA churches.
4.0 Assessment of the Prosperity Gospel
One way to evaluate the prosperity gospel is to apply traditional theological categories to it as Ken L. Sarles does.22 Another approach is to take up specific issues with the gospel and examine their conformity with the Scriptures without forcing them into traditional theological categories. This section follows the second approach.
The prosperity gospel grapples with the vital issue of how the all-loving (Ephesians 1: 6, 7; 2: 7-9; Titus 2: 11 cf. Luke 1: 54, 72, 78; Romans 15: 9; 9: 16, 18), all-holy (Exodus 15: 11; Isaiah 57: 15 cf. Job 34: 10; Isaiah 6: 5; Habakkuk 1: 13), all-just, and all-powerful God (Job 42: 2; Matthew 19: 26; Luke 1: 57) can co-exist, as he does in the world, with evil. The prosperity gospel explains that God never created chaos, pain, suffering, and death. It points out that they came into the world as consequences of sin. Since the prosperity gospel argues that God is all loving, all-powerful, holy, and just, it concludes that God did make provision to remove all forms of evil from the world in the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ. The prosperity gospel points out that when Christ dealt with sin by way of atonement, he also dealt with the consequences of sin like poverty and death. The prosperity gospel therefore concludes that it is the right of all believers in Christ to enjoy the fullness of God’s spiritual and physical blessings in the here and now.
The theology of prosperity is best located in the context of the Kingdom program of God. Although the term “Kingdom of God” does not occur in the Old Testament,23 the concept of God as king or as ruler exists at least in the Psalms and Prophets (e.g. Psalms 23:28; 103:19; 145:11; Obadiah 21; Daniel 6:26). The Old Testament regards the Kingship of God as his rule, first over Israel, and then over the whole world.24 But as time passed, the establishment of the Kingdom of God that guarantees wholeness of person did not occur. Richardson states, “… the frequent triumph of evildoers and the misery of the righteous often made the fundamental Jewish conviction difficult to sustain.”25
The prophets explained the riddle by positing that a time was coming when God would re-assert his authority over all through the coming Messiah. This Messiah would set up God’s Kingdom primarily for the Jews, but Gentiles would also participate in its blessings.26 Two views of God’s Kingdom are therefore found in the Old Testament. One is that God has always been in control of the whole world. Even Gentiles are instruments in his hand. The other is that God is the ruler of Israel, and that he will one day make the Gentiles serve Israel under the Messiah. At this time, he will remove all evil from the world.
In the inter-testament period, the expression, “Kingdom of heaven” began to appear. At this period, the term “… denoted the decisive intervention of God, ardently expected by Israel to restore … (God’s) peoples’ fortunes and liberate them from the power of their enemies.”27 The Jews viewed the Kingdom in nationalistic and materialist terms. They reckoned that there would be no pain, suffering or poverty in the Kingdom.
John the Baptist introduced the Kingdom of God theme to his audience. He emphasized at least three things in his preaching: It would come with divine judgment; its king would be the Jesus that he (John the Baptist) introduced as the long awaited Messiah; and whoever wanted to participate in the Kingdom would need to repent and work according to the principles of the Kingdom. John the Baptist was, however, disappointed that Jesus did not conform to his expectation of the coming ruler of God’s Kingdom (cf. Matthew 11:2ff). He obviously did not know that there are different aspects to the program of the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God.
In explaining the concept of God’s Kingdom, Jesus added and corrected certain points. One, the Kingdom is characterized with saving activities. Two, the Kingdom started in the person and ministry of the Messiah, Jesus (Matthew 12: 28). Presently, Christ is reigning in the hearts of his followers. Three, even though the Kingdom has started, it has not reached its culmination (Matthew 6:10). One implication of this is that the coming to earth of Jesus has introduced a new dimension to the reign of God.28
It is in the context of the Kingdom of God that the prosperity gospel makes sense. The healing activities of Jesus (and especially exorcism) and his pronouncement of forgiveness of sin are indications that the long awaited Kingdom has gradually started to manifest among people (Luke 11:20; Matthew 11:21f; cf. Mark 2:1-12). By delegating the power of deliverance to his followers (e.g. Luke 10:1ff) and by endowing the church with the gifts of healing and casting out of demons (1 Corinthians 12), Jesus shows that the Kingdom that started in a new way with his coming to earth is continuing. Ladd comments,
The redemptive rule of God has now invaded the realm of Satan to deliver men from the power of evil. In the exorcism of demons, Jesus asserted the presence and power of the Kingdom (Matthew 12:28) … The mission of the disciples in the name and power of Christ in casting out demons meant the overthrow of Satan’s power. Thus Jesus could say that the Kingdom of God was present in the midst of men (Luke 17:21).29
It is therefore true that deliverance in all its ramifications is a blessing of the new age. This is one way to interpret Jesus’ use of Isaiah 61:1-2 in Luke 4:18-19. The prosperity gospel, in its current form, however, fails to distinguish the scope of the blessings available to believers between the incipient and the futuristic aspects of the Kingdom. This failure has led the prosperity gospel to promise full healing and deliverance in the present age, and to ignore the many calls to costly discipleship (cf. Luke 9: 23-27). God delivers, but selectively, in the now. When the Kingdom culminates, there will be no sickness, no demons to oppress or possess, and no poverty (cf Revelation 21). The answer to the question whether God can and will heal all situations and believers is positive. The time for such is however not yet.30
The prosperity gospel has put God back at the center of human experience by positing God as more than adequate to meet all the needs of Africans. It has significantly reduced the number of those who patronize African traditional religions for solutions to their problems. Again, it has led to the numerical growth of Christianity in Africa. Its contribution to the renewal of spirituality in Africa needs further study. Respondents to my research indicate that the prosperity gospel has made Christianity spiritually weaker. But this is not the conclusion of Abamfo Atiemo. He is of the view that it has led to the revival of Christian spirituality in Ghana.31
The prosperity gospel, as it stands, however, has serious weaknesses. Some of these are theological. These weaknesses are the results of the faulty hermeneutical procedure that prosperity preachers adopt. Many of them never attended standard theological schools that could help them approach Bible interpretation more systematically. Unfortunately, many of them also never passed through good Sunday School classes that could have helped them in their formative years. Worse still, many prosperity preachers never underwent discipleship training after conversion. If they had been discipled, a fair grasp of biblical theology would have influenced their formulation of prosperity theology.
Nearly all the Bible texts used to prove the prosperity gospel are interpreted out of context, and the interpretations are not faithful to the grammar of the texts. For example, prosperity preachers interpret 3 John 2, which is only a general greeting, as approval to accumulate wealth. They also interpret 2 Corinthians 8:9 as a promise of financial prosperity. Paul would not have encouraged the Corinthians to amass wealth when he himself never did (1 Corinthians 4:11). The prosperity gospel may be right that “Christ is the answer to all problems,” but it fails to demonstrate this through a responsible interpretation of the texts used to teach it. Worse still, theologians in traditional denominations do not reach out to Charismatics in dialogue, but in hostility.
The manner in which charismatic bodies teach the prosperity gospel can be dangerous. It over-estimates Satan and his power and at times the teaching approaches dualism. Such a teaching can produce bondage instead of deliverance. Again, this wrongly relieves men of responsibility for their sins, and their problems. All the blame is now shifted to the devil and his agents. Overemphasizing material prosperity endangers the great traditional themes like love of God, sacrifice of Jesus, and grace.
One major area of conflict with prosperity gospel is the inclusion of physical healing in Isaiah 53. There appears to be a general scholarly agreement that the primary reference of Isaiah 53 is to spiritual sickness. The problem is that Jesus quoted it in Matthew 8:17 to justify physical healing. One expectation of the Messiah in Jesus’ time was that the Messiah would set free the oppressed when he arrived.32
The prosperity gospel is mistaken in thinking that God has decreed that every believer in every generation will equally succeed in financial wealth. Financial success is relative. Jesus barely had what he needed (cf. Matthew 8:20; 17:24-27). The gospel of prosperity is also mistaken to deny God the right to act as he wishes. The teaching that people can command God to do anything is the case in point here. 33
There are other criticisms of the prosperity gospel, but the ones identified above are enough to show that the theology needs reformulating to make it conform more to the Scripture. The discussion above also shows that it contains some salient truths that should be affirmed.
This paper has intentionally left out discussing the most important aspect of the prosperity gospel: deliverance from sin and spiritual growth. This is because evangelical theologians do not dispute that this blessing is available now to the church. It is only necessary to advise charismatic bodies to put due emphasis on these great Christian doctrines.
The prosperity gospel needs to incorporate the reality of Christian suffering into its theology. It also needs to respect the sovereignty of God. While it should continue to encourage Christians to seek divine intervention to their problems, it should avoid manipulating them.
It is necessary to set up avenues for religious dialogue between scholars of traditional theology and teachers of the prosperity gospel. Such dialogue will succeed only in an atmosphere of mutual respect. It is necessary for all sides to the dialogue to know that no one side has all the truth, and that we are all in the process of learning. The Christian Association of Nigeria and the universities are in a good position to encourage such dialogue. The average denominational theological institution is unfortunately too partisan to encourage genuine dialogue.
Traditional theological schools should offer courses on charismatic churches. There are many important aspects of charismatic theology that other Christian theologians have not known. More than a single course is needed to understand charismatic bodies appreciably. Pentecostal and charismatic Bible schools should also encourage the study of traditional Christian theology. This will open them up to further understanding of theology and systematic and critical ways of interpreting the Bible. Evangelical and Pentecostal theological institutions should admit and train a significant number of ministers of other denominations. Various seminaries should regularly organize conferences, and short courses to exchange ideas with others. Scholars should objectively study the teachings of other denominations before they criticize them. Even where people disagree, criticism should be in love, and with good intention.
Finally, Christians (especially clergymen and counselors) should, to an extent, be ministers of prosperity. They should delicately balance their message of trial of faith with words of hope and prayer for divine intervention in times of crisis.
1 In a survey that I carried out in July and August 2005 with masters and doctoral degree students and graduates of the Nigeria Baptist Theological Seminary in Ogbomoso, and the United Missionary Church of Africa Theological College in Ilorin, 126 (65.63%) non-Pentecostal respondents stated that the prosperity gospel was very common, and 66 (22%) of non-Pentecostal respondents held that it was common. All the survey reports in this paper came from the project.
2 Danny McCain, “The Church in Africa in the Twenty-First Century: Characteristics, Challenges and Opportunities,” http://www.iics.com/p7ni.htm; B.C. Akosa, “The Pentecostal Concept of Salvation: A Study of Pentecostal Churches with Particular Reference to Three Churches in the Plateau.” (MA thesis, University of Jos, Nigeria, 1987); T. Eko, “Neo-Pentecostal Movements in Jos: 1980-1990.” (MA thesis, University of Jos, Nigeria, 1991). In the survey referred to in note 1, more than 78% of non-Pentecostal respondents indicated that the prosperity gospel has led to the numerical growth of the church in Nigeria. More than 71% Pentecostal respondents also agreed with the verdict. Most respondents from both categories agreed, however, that the prosperity gospel has made the church in Nigeria spiritually weaker. The percentage of the non-Pentecostal respondents that holds that the prosperity gospel has made the church spiritually weaker is above 45% (as against the 31.25% respondents that reject the idea). Most Pentecostal respondents (53.12% as against 18.75%) concur that the prosperity gospel is making the church in Nigeria spiritually weak. 96 Pentecostals and 192 non-Pentecostals took part in the research. Others whose percentages are not reflected in this report were undecided in their response.
3 This will be discussed in detail below.
4 See endnote 1 above.
5 An interesting argument took place at one “Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria” meeting in Enugu when a preacher who preaches the prosperity gospel violently rejected the accusation that he preaches a prosperity gospel. It is rare to find ministers and ministries that accept the classification.
6 One of the few that have gone to the extreme of calling poverty “sin against the atonement” is David Oyedepo. See his book, Covenant Wealth (Lagos: Dominion House, 1992).
7 People like Joseph Oladapo and Sunday Popoola are more cautious. See Dada Oyinloye, “AMillionaire through Jesus: 2 Corinthians 8:9 from the Perspective of Some Nigerian Prosperity Preachers,” African Journal of Biblical Studies, 16: 1 (April 2001), 85-87. Cf. Joseph Taiwo Oladapo, Beholding the Riches of Christ (Lagos: Living Spirit Publications, 1998); Sunday A. Popoola, Prosperity: God’s Will for You (Ibadan: Word Communication Press 1985). John Okwudiri Obineche points out that “the Church of God Mission International” does not view poverty as a sin, but the church holds, “it does not come from God,” See “The Growth of Charismatic Movements in Benin City: A Case Study of the Church of God Mission International,” an unpublished MTh thesis submitted to the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso, Nigeria, 1996. 73-74.
8 Danny McCain, “Prosperity: A Biblical Perspective,” African Journal of Biblical Studies, 15: 2 (October 2000), 60. His criticism of the prosperity gospel only focuses on material blessing.
9 Ken L. Sarles, “A Theological Evaluation of the Prosperity Gospel,” Bibliotheca Sacra, 143: 572 (October-December 1986), 333-336.
10 G.O. Folarin, draft article on “Contemporary State of the Prosperity Gospel in Nigeria,” 5.The present article continues where the former stops. Bishop David Oyedepo, in an Internet article at the beginning of 2004, said that “Winners Chapel” in Lagos has “had massive salvation of souls in their hundreds and thousands at a time! We have also witnessed signs, wonders and miracles of all kinds.” http://www.winnerscanaanland.org/whatsnew.htm Note that he differentiates “salvation of souls” from other miracles.
11 Alfred O. Itiowe, the founder of “The Old Path Revival Commission,” Enugu, frequently uses this term.
12 G.O. Folarin. The denominations he researched are Living Faith, Redeemed Christian Church of God, Church of God Mission International, Christ Apostolic Church, Mountain of Fire and Miracles, and Deeper Life Bible Church.
13 G.O. Folarin, research carried out between July and August 2005 on prosperity gospel in Nigeria.
14 Emmanuel A. Ogunyanju, “Proliferation of Indigenous Independent Churches and its Impact on Orthodox Churches in Kwara State” (A PhD Dissertation, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria, 1994); B.C. Akosa, “The Pentecostal Concept of Salvation: A Study of Pentecostal Churches with Particular Reference to Three Churches in the Plateau,” T. Eko, “Neo-Pentecostal Movements in Jos: 1980-1990.”
15 Faith J. Lugazia, “Charismatic Movements and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania,” Charismatic Renewal in Africa: A Challenge for African Christianity, edited by Mika Vahakangas and Andrew A. Kyomo (Nairobi: ACTON Publishers, 2003), p. 50.
16 See the experience of Ken Baker in Liberia, “Power Encounter and Church Planting,” Evangelical Missions Quarterly, 26: 3 (1990), 386-312. Deliverance from demonic oppression also forms the theme of the 19 articles contributed by various writers in a book edited by Peter Wagner, Engaging the Enemy (Benin City: Matthew Christian Bookshop, 2000).
17 Akin Bola-John used this term in a preaching in CAC Shepherd Chapel, Zaria in 1994. He coined it from the Yoruba word, Kamu, which means to accept ones fate without attempting to change it. “Kamuology” is the teaching that one should resign his life to fate.
18 See Imasogie Osadolor, Guidelines for Christian Theology in Africa (Ibadan: University Press, 1986).
19 The response of many to my research from NBC that their denomination is now “enthusiastic” about elements of the prosperity gospel took me unaware. ECWA is however still largely hostile to it. Respondents from the two denominations agree that their denominations still oppose the term “prosperity gospel.” This could be because the term has been demonized or is wrongly defined.
20 This is from the finding of my survey on the prosperity gospel in Nigeria. See Osaretin Ekhtor, “Pentecostal / Charismatic Influences on Some Baptist Doctrinal Expressions: A Case Study of Benin City” (MDiv Thesis, Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso, 1997). Osaretin makes two interesting conclusions. The first is that Baptist churches in Benin now have deliverance services. The other is that the influence of the charismatic churches does not affect the doctrines of the Baptists. One wonders if practice is not built on theory. If the practice of charismatic churches has influenced the worship of Baptist churches, it must have also influenced the church in the way her old doctrines are now re-interpreted; Steve A.A. Tinuoya, “Pentecostalism and Baptist Churches in Ogbomoso” (MDiv Thesis, Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso, 1999), Tinuoya observes that at the time he wrote, 58% of Baptist churches in Nigeria had started to practice deliverance services, (p. 50). While the educated and the youths support the introduction of charismatic practices into Baptist churches, the old and the uneducated members reject it. Rev. Raheem of ECWA Youth Center, Ilorin, is involved in deliverance ministry.
21 This is from a casual discussion with Rev. Fr. Dr. Joseph Mamman in Zarian in 1998. He is a Cardinal.
22 Ken L. Sarles, 337-350.
23 T.N.O. Quarcoopome, The Synoptic Gospels (Ibadan: African Universities Press, 1985), 92; D.J. Gwamna, “The Kingdom of God in the Teaching of Jesus: Lessons for the Nigerian Nation,” Journal of Christian Religion and Education, 4: 1 (2000), 81.
24 Alan Richardson, “Kingdom of God,” A Theological Word Book of the Bible (New York: Collier Books, 1950), 119.
25 Richardson, 120.
26 H.N. Ridderbos, “Kingdom of God / Kingdom of Heaven,” New Bible Dictionary, 2nd edition, edited by J.D. Douglas (London: IVP, 1962), 656. Dispensationalists still hold the position that God will set up a literal one-thousand-year kingdom under Jesus Christ primarily for the Jews.
27 Ridderbos, 656.
28 Richardson, 121; Gwamna, 82.
29 G.E. Ladd, “Kingdom of Christ / God / Heaven,” Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, edited by Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984), 609.
30 R. F. Hurding, “Healing,” New Dictionary of Christian Ethics and Pastoral Theology, edited by D.J. Atkinson et al. (Leicester: IVP, 1995). The observation of Atkinson is strikingly similar to mine. Dispensationalists hold to a “theology of suffering” or “theology of the cross.” Charismatics hold to “triumphalism,” or a “theology of glory.” B.B. Warfield represents the extreme view of dispensationalism. He claims that the miraculous exclusively belonged to the Apostolic age. He rules out all forms of the miraculous in the present. Triumphalists, on the other hand, see healing as the birthright of Christians. Hurding rightly concludes, “an emphasis on inaugurated eschatology ideally attempts to hold these two theologies together … within the now, and the ‘not yet’ …, healing … is seen as a foretaste of a final consummation when the victory of Christ … is realized in bodily resurrection …”, 433-434.
31 Abamfo Atiemo, “Deliverance in Charismatic Churches in Ghana,” Trinity Journal of Church and Theology, 4:2 (December 1994 - January 1995), 46-47. He, however, observes that the prosperity gospel “can produce weak, wavering, and dependent Christians whose growth may be stifled” 47.
32 Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove: IVP, 1993). He comments on Matthew 8:17, “In context Isaiah 53:4 emphasizes particularly healing from the ravages of sin (53:5-6; cf. Hosea 14:4, etc.), as some other Christian writers noted (1 Peter 2:24-25). But given Isaiah’s emphasis on physical restoration in messianic era (35:5-6) and the connection between physical and spiritual healing in Jewish tradition (cf. also Isaiah 33:24), it makes good sense that Matthew also finds the nuance of physical healing here. Jesus inaugurates the messianic era, making some of its benefits available even in advance of the cross,” 67-68.
33 Sarles comments, “In the prosperity movement, man has become the ruler and God the servant. In its shift away from theocentrism the prosperity gospel has reached the dead end of anthropocentrism,” 343.