Dangerous Localized Christianity in view of "Miracle-Working Prophet" in Southern Africa
By CCD contributor: Liu Yanyue, September 07, 2016 00:09 AM
From the recent news, a South African pastor is reported for doing extreme spiritual acts as a fake disguise of God's miraculous power. The pastor laid a gigantic sound equipment on top of a female believer in order to reveal "God's miraculous power" to the crowd. Though the female believer has passed out due to the heavy weight, the pastor brushed it off as her being "not faithful enough" so has suffered death. How ridiculous is such act!
However, the abovementioned example is never an isolated case.
Christian faith, though centered around the Gospel,indeed has certain elements of religion that can deliver comfort to one's soul.
From these extreme cases, we can understand several characteristics of dangerously and radically localized Christian faith:
1. Weird rituals
In South Africa, some pastoral leaders will command female believers to bring forth their underwear for "purifying ritual". Some even command believers to eat up pieces of their underwear.
Some leaders require believers to eat grass for the purpose of "purifying one's soul to re-connect to God"
3. Evil acts
Some leaders claim that they have certain godly power to turn subjects into food and thus command believers to drink up petroleum.
4. Unethical Trading
Some leaders organize miracle gathering to sell so-called "anointed" objects for their own financial gains
5. Demonized world
Some leaders create a world of fantasy in order to idolize themselves as godly figures who can chase out demons.
6. Power manipulation
As leaders build up its fame among their followers, brainwashing work is prevalent in order for believers to blindly follow the instruction of the leaders. Some leaders in South Africa even ride on believers' back as horses or ask believers to strip themselves and lie on the ground for leaders to literally kick demons out of their bodies. As they authority comes to question them, they still insist on doing "God's will "through all these ridiculous acts.
Hence, the abovementioned characteristics are common among folk religions or dangerous localized Christian religion. Such extreme distortion is also common in other religions as vividly portrayed in the Indian movie "Oh My God".
As we dwell deeper into such issue, a combination of factors namely, leaders' manipulation, charm of religious rituals and people's foolishness has contributed to the prevalence of such folk religion at our time. Luckily, our hope resides in the bible and the Gospel. Through Christ's teaching and guidance, believers will definitely break free from such spiritual trap in order to encounter truth.
Such forms of religious distortion and manipulation has already occurred at Medieval Age, thus precluding the breakthrough of renaissance, enlightenment eras as well as the religious reforming movement against the corrupt church structures at that time.
During my recent visit to my hometown, I encountered a cult group called "the way of life" that organizes meetings to let people purely cry over one's sins to press for God's miraculous signs from God. Such groups indeed have lead believers further away from the truth but fall in a trap of religious bondage.
History has proven that Christianity is prone to be distorted, manipulated and misrepresented. Roger Olson mentions in his book The Story of Christian Theology that Christianity manages to bypass potential miserable fates of being distorted or misrepresented due to the solid foundation laid by a group of highly knowledgeable and civilized pioneers of faith at the early church's time.
Though such extreme case of the South African pastor may not happen to us, we should definitely be aware of such danger that might poison our church. Our foundation of faith is built upon Jesus Christ and his teaching. Thus, we should strive for deepening our understanding in his word and taking root in his promise. We should also invest in our younger generation in their exposure of historical awareness and healthy value inculcation to expand their pool of knowledge in order to avoid the trap of religious bondage.
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