By Obadiah Mailafia
IN his novel, The Brothers Karamazov, nineteenth century Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky evokes a scene in the sixteenth century provincial Spanish city of Seville, where Jesus Christ returns and is confronted by The Grand Inquisitor. He is immediately recognised by the throng who flock to him in droves. Many are healed. A child is raised from the dead merely on encountering His shadow. The drama draws the attention of the local prelates. Jesus Christ is immediately arrested and thrown into a prison cell. In the middle of the night the Grand Inquisitor visits him. He has only one grouse: “Why have you come to hinder us?”
The Grand Inquisitor explains to our Lord that, centuries ago, they had taken over the mantle from Him. The sheep preferred bread and circuses, with freedom from guilt. Everything had been handed over to the Hierarchy. He threatened that he would have to burn Him on the stakes. Jesus says not a word. He merely casts a magnetic smile upon him; kissing the Grand Inquisitor on the cheeks before walking away.
The moral of Dostoevsky’s tale is that the spirit of Anti-Christ is deeply embedded in the church itself. Were Jesus Christ to come back to earth today, the most ferocious opposition he would face would be from the church.
The philosopher and mystic Vladimir Sergeyevich Soloviev (1853-1900), was a compatriot, friend and contemporary of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s. Soloviev had a prophetic vision of the unity of the universal body of Christ. Even though he was Orthodox, some Catholics – prominently Cardinal Giacomo Biffi of Milan – regard him as one of their own; comparing him to the venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman of England.
Soloviev wrote a famous essay on the coming Anti-Christ whom he describes as a religious man of great genius and uncommon charisma — a spiritualist and miracle-worker – who will also be a closet devil-worshipper: “He believed in Good, but the All Seeing Eye of the Eternal knew that this man would bow down before the power of Evil as soon as it would offer him a bribe — not by deception of the senses and the lower passions, not even by the superior bait of power, but only by his own immeasurable self-love.”
Soloviev prophesied that, in the last days, men and women will go to church not to worship the One True God, but to be entertained with wonders and miracles. Through devious craftiness, the Anti-Christ will deceive many that he is a man of peace, while, in reality he will be a bloodthirsty hound from the pits of hell. In those dark times, the Holy Spirit would have departed from the church and men and women will be free to eat each other and indulge in unspeakable orgies. The powers of the earth, including the Hierarchy and the clerisy, will abolish the true Gospel, replacing it with a new world religion.
What Dostoevsky and Soloviev prophesied long ago is becoming a reality today. An evangelical Christian seer from America recently posted a video that went viral. He made the shocking statement that it is the churches in Nigeria that have made Boko Haram and the rampaging Fulani militias possible. By preaching the false gospel of success, prophesy and miracles, our churches have become like the church in Laodicea – neither cold nor hot – only fit to be spewed out.
There are all sorts of prayer houses in Nigeria today that call themselves “churches” led by “pastors” that are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They have fed fat on tithes taken from poorest of the poor, including starving widows. Most of their powers are not from God but from Lucifer himself. The American seer maintains that these churches and pastors, by their false teachings, have invoked demons from the pits of hell manifesting as Boko Haram and Fulani militia killers. He warns that things will only get worse until there is genuine repentance in the church.
Through the power of magnetism, people attract to themselves that which they are in spirit. The greatest evil, in the world, in my opinion, is fake prophets masquerading as children of light to mislead the faithful. It does not matter if they know the Holy Bible inside-out, perform miracles, prophesy and do works of wonder. Satan can do all those things. Ye shall know them by their fruits: lack of love, arrogance, lust for money and unrighteous living. St. Augustine taught that humility is the mark of Christ. Today, Jesus is being re-crucified in the church. He stands at the door, weeping. The overpowering stench inside would not let him in.
The church needs to return to its first love which Paul the Apostle describes as “the fruits of the spirit”: holiness, righteousness, loving-kindness, gentleness, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, goodness and faith.
Today, the spirit of the Anti-Christ is spreading its evil wings across the world. People have become lovers of self rather than lovers of God – wicked and deceitful murderers and thieves. As the new electoral cycle begins in our country, politicians will be engaging in ritual sacrifice of babies and young virgins in their bid for power and glory. Religious and ethnic violence will be orchestrated as an opportunity to harvest tons of human blood. A Mallam recently taught that the blood of righteous Christians is the most potent for achieving result.
In Northern Nigeria, no land permit is granted these days for the building of churches. The Christian community at Bayero University Kano, a federal-owned institution, for example, have never been able to build a chapel for decades. They have had to use one of the lecture theatres on campus for regular Sunday worship. On one of such Sundays in April 2012, terrorists descended on worshippers, randomly killing 15 and wounding dozens more. The victims included professors, students, women, children, families.
In April this year, after killing 2 young catholic priests and 17 worshippers at a dawn mass in a Benue village, Fulani militias were videoed dancing and singing triumphantly in the cassocks of the priests and choristers’ uniforms. The height of sacrilege!
According to an American survey, nearly a million Christians have been killed for their faith in the past decade alone. In February 2015, 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians working in the oil fields of Libya were rounded up by terrorists and beheaded. The sky in Cairo and Alexandria, we are told became darkly overcast like a nuclear mushroom cloud. In Pakistan, Indonesia and India; in most of the Arab world, Christian communities that have existed since Apostolic times are relentlessly under siege. Until recently, it was illegal to even operate a church in Saudi Arabia.
Going forward, the body of Christ in Nigeria must repent for the idolatry, arrogance and materialism. We must return to the one true Gospel; worshipping the Lord in truth and righteousness. We must also create an Ecumenical Council with powers to vet all churches to ensure that those who are practising shamanism in the name of Christianity are irrevocably excommunicated.
In a glorious spring day in April 1945, a young German theologian and pastor by name of Dietrich Bonhoeffer was woken up at dawn to face death by hanging. He had been imprisoned for his role in the plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Before going to the gallows he knelt down and prayed; comforting his fellow-prisoners rather than being comforted — a priest forever of the Order of Melchizedek. His last words were: “This is the end – for me, the beginning of life.”
Martyrdom is a rare privilege. The blood of the holy martyrs has always watered the earth on which the church grows. But we are not to court. And we are to love even those who revile and persecute us, while embracing our Muslim brethren as fellow-children of God.