By Emmanuel OLOWODOLA
I GET distressed by many things written on the pages of newspapers on varied subjects spanning politics, the economy, education, relationships, religion and others. Often, I feel so agitated that I have felt the need to respond, even though I have very rarely done so.
But Pastor Amoda’s attack on tithing and Pastor E.A Adeboye on the pages of a national newspaper cannot go unresponded to for so many reasons. These reasons, I will expound in this article as systematically as I can. Broadly speaking, I intend to make four major points of response to Pastor Amoda.
Ordinarily, I would have just sent a personal response to Pastor Amoda. But what about the hundreds of thousands who have read and who will still read his three-part article? How do we address the enormous misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the Bible contained therein.
How do we help the reading public to line up with God’s demand in this all important ordinance of the Church? How do we prevent the enemy (Satan) from using Pastor Amoda’s innocent but absolutely wrong claims to undermine the great end time, last days thrust of the gospel that should bring in unprecedented harvest of souls into the kingdom just before Christ’s return.
I think it is important here to let the readers know that I am NOT, have NEVER BEEN and have NO plans presently to become a member of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. Neither have I had the privilege to see Pastor E.A Adeboye one-on-one before.
So my response to Pastor Amoda is NOT about defending RCCG or Pastor Adeboye, rather it is about defending the truth of the Bible, the gospel of Jesus, and crucial Biblical principles that his article has assaulted! I do, however, state clearly that I think in spite of its numerous challenges owing to its probably unparalleled growth, the RCCG is one of the greatest denomination in the world today! And it has been mightily used by Jesus to bring multitudes to God’s kingdom; secondly, I hold Pastor E.A Adeboye to be one of the fathers of the gospel/Pentecostal movement in the world today. And that exactly leads to the first plank of my response to his article.
“Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph” (1Samuel 1 :20).
David spoke the above words when he heard about the death of Saul. David felt the death of Saul was such a terrible thing that should not be told around in Gath or published in Askelon. Both Gath and Askelon were enemy territories. Saul, meanwhile, did not leave a great legacy behind that should deserve such reverence. He had made 21 or 22 attempts on David’s life, he had disobeyed God severally; he had consorted with witches and mediums and the sprit of God had departed from him! Yet David felt he deserved reverence.
It is completely wrong for Pastor Amoda to lambast one of the fathers of the gospel/pentecostal movement on the pages of a national newspaper over Church doctrine or policy. That does not in anyway endanger the Salvation or Eternity of the members of that church or Christians in general. “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves”(Thessalonians 5: 12 & 13).
If Pastor Amoda felt very strongly on issues of internal church policies of such a highly esteemed man of God and one of our fathers in the gospel, he should have written personally to him. Or at the least, indicate his concerns about such policies publicly and use the medium to demand for a sure, certain and effective medium to get his views across to him in private. After all, the policy or policies in question are not of such nature as to lure RCCG members in particular or the Christian community in general to eternal damnation or undermine their spiritual life in anyway.
Like the scripture which I quoted above indicates, I think Pastor Amoda and any other Pastor in gospel circles should “esteem” Pastor E.A Adeboye “very highly” in love “for their work sake”. The work God has used him to do shows he qualifies along other frontline fathers for this kind of respect. “Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me”(1Corinthians 4:15 & 16).
*It is clear from the above verses that RCCG members may have ten thousand instructors in Christ like (Pastor Amoda and my humble self), yet RCCG members do not have many fathers. Just like the Apostle Paul claim to be the father of the Corinthian church, Pastor E.A Adeboye is clearly the father of RCCG. It follows therefore that just as the Corinthians were told to be followers of their father-Apostle Paul, RCCG members should also follow their spiritual father, Pastor E.A Adeboye.
It is fundamentally wrong for any of the ten thousand instructors in Christ to challenge, usurp, undermine the instructions and by implication the authority of a church.
It is not compulsory to come to God, but once you choose to come, then you must believe. In the same vein, it is not compulsory to be a member of RCCG; but once you willingly and of your own volition choose to become a member there, then some things become a MUST for you. After all there are thousands of other churches that one may join. Most importantly, we must note for the umpteenth time, that these are not instructions that jeopardize members’ salvation, eternity or spiritual life.
*“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit your selves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you”(Hebrews 13:17). The key phrase I want to emphasize in this verse is “as they that must give account”(emphasis mine). Clearly it is Pastor E. A. Adeboye that serves today as the leader of RCCG. He is the one that will give account to God about his actions and inactions during his tenure as G .O. (General Overseer) of RCCG.
Since his instructions about tithe was to his members and not to the general Christian community which would have included Pastor Amoda’s church, it is wrong for any outsider to have meddled in what was an internal policv that did not in anv way threaten the members of that person or other Christians. Pasto Adeboye will give an account to God about his leadership of RCCG.
Not me, not Pastor Amoda. I will give account for the people I lead and Pastor Amoda will give account for his “Gospel Intercession Mission”. Period. The next scripture to which I turn hits the nail on the head and drives the point home succinctly. “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: fpr God is able to make him stand. But why dost thou judge thy brother? Or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? For we shall stand before the judgment seat of Christ. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God”(Romans 14:4,10&12).
I am all for challenging anyone, no matter how highly placed who teaches doctrines or advocates policies that constitutes error and is capable of derailing people and endangering their eternity. But where this is clearly not the case, we should focus on our own God-given assignment, and concentrate on how we will give account of our own stewardship to God. We must run our own race. We cannot be running and at the same time be umpires of that race. Yes let us challenge with everything we have anyone who denies the death and resurrection of Christ; or denies the atonement; or denies the reality of man’s sinfulness and need for salvation; or denies the need to be “born again” as Jesus Himself taught in John3:3. Yes let us challenge with all our being anybody who says there is nothing like sexual immorality, and that fornication and adultery do not matter; who denies infallibility of the scripture; who denies the second coming of Christ or the resurrection of the dead; and other salient doctrines of scripture tha
t determine whether men are saved or damned eternally.
But outside of these salvation- derailing areas, we must learn to mind our own work and assignment. We must resist the temptation to meddle in other people’s assignment. We must realise that giving an account to God about our own stewardship is a very humbling, fearful and sacred undertaking. We complicate things for ourselves when we add other people’s accounting to God to our own.
*“I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do your service” (2Corinthians 11 :8).
Finally, under this second point, if Pastor Adeboye and RCCGdecide to rob members whom they deem committed, faithful and financially responsible to do service to members whom they deemnot to be committed, faithful and responsible financially, that is RCCG’s business. And pray, which church will RCCG rob to do service to its own members who refuse to be financially responsible in their church. Yes Paul robbed other churches to render service to the Corinthian church.
But if ALL members of RCCG refuse to tithe, which church will Pastor Adeboye rob to render service to them. Is it the Anglican Church, or the Methodist Church or the Roman Catholic Church? Or let us come nearer home to the Pentecost family. Is it the Foursquare Gospel Church. The Assemblies of God Church, Winners Chapel or even Pastor Amoda’s Gospel Intercession Mission?
Now let us face it, if the church Paul robbed to render service to financially irresponsible Corinthian church had no financial responsible members, how will Apostle Paul get anything to rob from them?
If some members did not tithe, how will RCCG have been able to purchase the Redemption Camp land and expand it almost on an annual basis. If the RCCG decides that those who do not contribute financially to the commonwealth will not be allowed to draw from the commonwealth, so be it.
If some members do not tithe, how will RCCG be able tl purchase land and build thousands of churches out of which non-tithing members intend to wed. We must not forget that churches generally wed members or children of members. And that church membership generally requires some period of time. Why then should somebody who has been a member of a church for possibly several years and who in that period has not been financially involved in the church want to draw from the church? If RCCG decides that this is unChristian and unacceptable, so be it.
If RCCG concludes that financially irresponsible members do not deserve to be set aside and ordained into spiritual leadership positions, nobody has a right to question that.
How can anybody who is contemptuous of the cardinal policies of an organisation, lead in that organisation? In the spiritual, it is clear that bad followers cannot make good leaders. The scripture we examined earlier in Hebrew 13: 17 says:”Obey them that have the rule over you and submit yourselves” .
Amoda’s Gospel Intercession Mission have requirements people must meet before they are set aside for leadership in their church. It is only in the animal kingdom, in the jungle or zoo that leaders emerge without any stipulated requirement. A convert from, say Pastor Chris Okotie’s Household of God church can not just walk into Pastor Amoda’s church and be ordained or put in leadership position simply because as Pastor Amoda erroneously claims, he or she has been ordained kings and priests in Christ.
Secondly, and this is most unfortunate, Pastor Amoda inadvertently is encouraging rebellion amongst the flock God has given to another man to nurture and to give an account for. In I Samuel 15:23, the Bible declares rebellion to be equivalent to the sin of witchcraft.
Beyond the arguments of my first two major points which have not addressed whether tithe is biblical or not, or whether it is merely an old testament Judahistic relic, we now zero in on the subject of tithe itself and what the Bible has to say about it.
Pastor John Amoda’s entire foundation is faulty and false. So it follows that the entire structure he built thereon in his three-part series is a collapsed building already. Nothing is more false and shows the most perplexing ignorance of the Bible than Pastor Amoda’s often repeated claim that tithing is a creation of the law of Moses. And his equally erroneous assertion that since Christians are no longer under the law of Moses, tithing as a relic of Old Testament Judaism should never be mentioned amongst Christians who have received the grace of Jesus.
The first recorded tithe in scripture was paid by Abraham who was not only the father of the Jews but also the father of New Testament Christians whom Pastor Amoda so strenuously want to yank off the ordinance of tithing.
“And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29).
The New Living Translation of the above verse says: “You are the true children of Abraham”, while the Good News Bible translation says: “You are the descendants of Abraham”.
It is instructive to note that Abraham paid tithe 430 years before the law of Moses was qiven.
And he blessed him, and said: ”Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth and blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. AND HE GAVE HIM TITHES OF ALL.” Genesis 11: 18-20 (emphasis mine).
Here, 430 years before the law was given to Moses on Mount Sinai and subsequent requirement of the law that followed, Abraham the Father of Faith paid tithe. The earlier verse we quoted from Galatians3:29 says Christians are heirs according to the promise. Now this promise is the promise God made to Abraham of salvation by
Rev. Olowodola writes from Lagos.