Pastor E.A Adeboye is one of, if not the most respected clergy man in Nigeria. With his
conservative safari suits, bow ties and thin leather strapped
wristwatches that face inward, he cuts a very sombre figure, kinda like
your father’s uncle who comes to your house and says, ‘You must be born again or you’ll go to hell fire; salvation is worth more than earthly desires…’
He’s also the one of the most successful in this part of the world.
His Redeemed Christian Church of God outlets/parishes number in their thousands across all regions of Nigeria.
The mission statement of the church states that it wants to be available within every five-minute walk anywhere in Nigeria.
And they’ve done well in that regard; you can scarcely go anywhere within the country and not spot a RCCG parish.
This success has translated into billions of dollars in revenue for
the church and by extension the ‘General Overseer’. One does not
begrudge him, and them, their success. The See of Peter would be proud
of this African version of retail Christianity.
What is worrying for me, is the consistent gospel of intolerance and backwardness that he preaches ever so casually.
Latest to come forth from his pulpit is a video clip of him
admonishing his congregants to be wary of marriages by the way of social
media. In his words, ‘If you get a wife by the Facebook, you will lose her by the YouTube.’
Now this is not me arguing over the validity of his assertion. People
have married each other after meeting on social media; in the same vein
people have committed crimes through social media.
In fact, no thanks to Nigerian celebs like Tiwa Savage and Tonto Dikeh, marriages have been dissolved on YouTube no less.
The inability, or worse still, the refusal for Pastor Adeboye’s
ministry to embrace anything short of his own tunnel vision is what is
troubling for young people who live in today’s ever changing world.
Blanket fiats like this may have worked in the ’60s and ’70s. But as
Pastor Adeboye has seen through his own kids that are not exactly toeing
the same path as he, those rules can no longer apply.
Living those rules is dangerous for young people. We simply cannot
afford to be narrow minded as the respected man of God. We live in a
world where we’re going to collaborate, work with and marry people with
whom we found on social media.
We live in a world that has been made smaller by globalization and
that’s what we have to deal with. At 75 years old, Pastor Adeboye seems
not to get it. Or does he?
I think he does. But he belongs to the age and craft of people who
demonize ‘modernization’. The television set was referred to as a
‘devil’s box’ by another of Adeboye’s contemporaries, Pastor Kumuyi of Deeper Life Ministry. Ironically, all Deeper Life churches tune into their satellite channel to watch Kumuyi preach nowadays.
Also ironic is the fact that RCCG relies heavily on Facebook and
YouTube to spread their gospel. If it’s that useful, then it certainly
can be useful for other things (Plus it’s even funny that while Facebook
marriages are proscribed by Daddy G.O., tithes and offering by online
transfers are encouraged. El-Oh-El).
It was convenient for Pastor Adeboye to base this logic of his on the
‘sayings of his forefathers’. It is hilarious for a man who directs
millions of people not to follow the religion of their forefathers, to
now resort to an ancient epigram to drive his point home. Imagine
quoting Oduduwa baba agboniregun on the very holy pulpit of Redemption Camp. The sacrilege!
Selective demonization of modernization is a creed that we cannot
afford nor ignore. Young Nigerians are already disadvantaged by default.
To survive in today’s world, we must disregard religious leaders who
are not understanding it.