A Tiny Indicator Of Charismatic Influence…

This post has been updated, expanded and re-posted here.  Just fyi.

Aftermath

(source)

So in the StrangeFire aftermath, one of the complaints that has been lodged at the conference and the whole cessationist case is that we always grab the “low hanging fruit” on the fringe of the movement as some sort of normative representation of the movement as a whole.  We’re told that we grab absurd examples and try to pass them off as some sort of example of the mainstream.  The level-headed folks are the obvious mainstream representatives, and the entranced glossolalaholics and Fletch-clone healers are the fringe, right?

fletch_healing(source)

This argument has always made me puzzled since it’s so horribly obvious to me that the theologically absurd charismatic church of 20,000 obviously has far more influence in the movement and “on the street” than the theologically restrained charismatic church of 2,000 (and that’s being generous since the theologically absurd churches aren’t just bigger, but far more numerous).

So, I thought to myself, how can I give some sort of objective measure of influence? How can we say who is mainstream and who is fringe? Then I had an idea. Its not a great idea, but an idea none the less. I’m going to look at online presence in  the form of Twitter reach (as measured by followers) as a general indicator of just how many people are paying attention to whom. Continue reading

Charismatic Primer 12 – Global Megachurches By Continent – Africa

Although I’ve spent a majority of my posts looking at the megachurches in the United States, there are a whole lot of significant churches outside of the United States and there’s an alarming trend among them.  I’m going to take a look at a few of the largest, most influential churches in all of Africa, based on the list I’ve found here and personal research (and attendance numbers that don’t have a link are taken from the aforementioned list).  Here’s the top 10 largest churches in Africa:

1. Deeper Life Christian Ministry – Lagos, Nigeria – pastored by W.F. Kumuyi

1a, Claimed attendance of 120,000 and largest church on the continent (and 3rd largest in the world).  Also, that pages shows that their pastor is friends with notable false teacher C. Peter Wagner, and they apparently are involved with a network of over 500 churches in the city of Lagos, 5,000 more in Nigeria, and 3,000 more throughout Africa.  Just for those of you who are math challenged, that means that Deeper Life Christian Ministry claims to have direct impact on at least 8,500 churches in Africa.

1b. Their doctrinal statement shows that they’re thoroughly Pentecostal (doctrine of subsequence and doctrine of initial evidence) and point 12 also shows that they’re a prosperity gospel church.

1c.  Their conference center has held conferences on things like Secret of Success, Prosperity & Triumphant Living, (October 18-20, 2002).

1d.  They explicitly teach a prosperity gospel here, as well as publishing prosperity gospel literature on their publishing label.

1e.  In their church history, they claim that their pastor has healed people of cancer and HIV “and those healing have been medically attested to”.  Documentation PLEASE!  In Nigeria, where the HIV/AIDS rate is in the mid double digits,

I’d dare suggest that the pastor is simply lying through his teeth.  If he had ever *verifiably* healed anyone of AIDS, it would be all over every news service on planet earth and their church would be growing by 120,000 people a month.

General Idea – Overt Prosperity Gospel Church

2.  Jesus Celebration Center – Mombasa, Kenya – pastored by Dr. Wilfred Lai

2a. Their claimed membership is 15,000 with a weekly attendance of four times that much, seeing that their sanctuary seats 30,000 people!

2b.  Jesus Celebration Center is a plant from the Redeemed Gospel Church, which apparently has planted over 1,000 churches in Africa.

2c.  Though their website doesn’t have much actual information to tell one where they stand, they do have a school of ministry that offers very tell-tale courses: Blood Covenant, Believer’s Authority, Christ the Healer, Principles of Anointing, etc. and they offer  further education in Prophets and Prophesy, God’s Generals, The Blood Covenant, and The Apostolic Ministry.

It’s worth remembering that the doctrine of “Blood Covenant” comes from E.W. Kenyon, teacher of Kenneth Hagin.  I talk a little about the idea here and link a copy of Kenyon’s book.

The fact that their school of ministry offers the courses they do basically tells you that these guys may not be an overt prosperity gospel church, but they definitely would not condemn the prosperity gospel (and I’d bet my bottom dollar that Jesus Celebration Center has a whole lot of prosperity gospel running unchecked in the church).

2d.  Their “Bishop” hears direct, propositional messages from God (read paragraph 1 here) and they teach their congregation to do so here.

General Idea – Subtle Prosperity Gospel Church

3. Living Faith Church – Lagos, Nigeria – pastored by David Oyedepo (http://davidoyedepoministries.org/)

3a.  Claimed attendance of 50,000

3b.  They claim to run a network of 300 churches in Nigeria.

3c.  They’re an overt prosperity gospel preaching church, and they don’t exactly hide it.

3d.  To give an example of the sheer breadth of doctrinal confusion here, read this crazy document that is a hybrid of Calvinism, Arminianism, Spiritual Warfare and Prosperity Gospel.

3e.  It may be of interest that David Oyedepo is also apparently worth over $150 million.  I’m guessing that’s abnormal for Nigeria, seeing that having a worth of $150 million is abnormal for Beverly Hills.  That tends to suggest that he’s a prosperity preacher.

3f.  Here’s David Oyedepo being asked if his private jet (1 of 4) is used only for ministry:

David on Jet.

General Idea – Overt Prosperity Gospel Church

4. Apostolic Church – Lagos, Nigeria

4a.  This is a church conference, not an individual church, but it’s worth recognizing that the Apostolic Church in Nigeria is so huge that their convention center seats 100,000 people; it’s the largest capacity religious building on planet earth.

4b.  Having worked in the Apostolic Church, I can confidently say that the range of “acceptable” in the apostolic church definitely includes prosperity gospel, though the denomination does not have the prosperity gospel as part of any statement of faith and would even include elements in it that would rebut the prosperity gospel.  The spectrum of “orthodoxy” is both wide and unregulated (though the Apostolic church proudly teaches the doctrines of subsequence and initial evidence, as well as having contemporary apostles…and not in the “little a” sense that the Reformed Charismatics talk about).

It’s also the denomination where I was introduced to demon sniffing; the ability to tell what kind of demon was assaulting a person based on the smell one encounters in a room/scenario/etc.

The Apostolic Church isn’t exactly known for it’s meticulous handling of scripture, and it’s tremendously influential in Nigeria.

General Idea – Prosperity Gospel friendly denomination

5.  Rhema Bible Church North – Johannesburg, South Africa – pastored by Ray McCauley

5a.  Rhema is a church with a claimed attendance of 45,000 people (read the Ray McCauley bio here).

5b.  Their doctrinal statement teaches the doctrines of subsequence and initial evidence, physical healing in the atonement, Satan is behind all bad things (temptation, sickness, etc.), and open egalitarianism (seeing that every one of these churches has husband & wife “co-pastors”) which makes it pretty clear that these guys are a “signs and wonders” church that doesn’t care so much about exegesis as it does about excitement.

5c.  They have a series of studies here that include things like positive confession, as well as prosperity gospel.

5d.  Ray McCauley is the president of the International Federation of Christian Churches, a “signs and wonders” charismatic fellowship of churches in South Africa that includes 374 member churches (359 of which are in South Africa).

5E.  The church bookstore sells Benny Hinn, Kenneth Hagin, and Creflo Dollar.  ‘Nuff said.

General Idea – Overt Prosperity Gospel Church.

6.  Redeemed Christian Church of God – Lagos, Nigeria – pastored by Enoch Adeboye.

6a. I could do a whole lot of research, but I’ll just cut to the chase and point my readers to their doctrinal statement: tongues is the evidence of the filling of the Spirit, Satan is the cause of all sickness, physical healing is promised in the atonement, and “touch not the Lord’s anointed” (i.e. – anyone who ever disagrees with or challenges the pastor is a workman of Satan…this teaching is a distinctive mark of word-faith churches).

That’s 50% prosperity theology (health without the wealth), but I’d be really surprised if the “wealth” part doesn’t tend to show up together.  Churches who preach that “it’s God’s will that you be healthy” don’t usually have any sort of solid reason to not preach “It’s God’s will that you be financially blessed”.  Health tends to precede wealth, but those two are almost always found together.

6b.  For some more in depth content, one can check out their Sunday School outline for the year (paying attention to their lessons on the Holy Spirit, the anointing, healing, etc.) or dig through all 900 of their discipleship lessons (some of which include prosperity gospel issues).

6c.  The church apparerntly has around 40,000+ attenders, but claims to have connections with churches in 9 countries and hold revival services that draw a half million people.

General Idea – Signs & Wonders Church.

7.  United Family International Church – Harare, Zimbabwe – pastored by Emmanuel Makandiwa

7a.  United Family International Church is a church of around 35,000+ that has 13 other satellite campuses.

7b.  They have prophecy and miracle testimonies on their church website, here and here and here.

7c.  The church is run by a prophet and a prophetess.

7d.  They have banking details on their website for those who want to give “seed offerings”.

7e.  The church has no doctrinal statement, but if you look on the right side of the website, there’s a link to Emmanuel Makandiwa’s Facebook page.  Goldmine of craziness and bizarre quotes.

General Idea – Signs & Wonders Church; the main thrust of their ministry is divine miracles and healing.

8.  Christian Revival Centre – Bloemfontein, South Africa – pastored by At Boshoff

8a.  The name should be a give away, their statement of faith definitely is: modern apostles (the full “five-fold ministry” stuff), healing in the atonement, and “touch not the Lord’s anointed”.

8b.  They have 3 campuses (Bloemfontein, Pretoria, and Johannesburg), two of which have 5,000+ seat auditoriums, all three of which a combined attendance exceeding 33,000+ and 11 weekly services.

8c.  They host conferences which include main speakers like Brian Houston (Hillsongs Australia), Ray McCauley (#5) and Peter Pretorious (who apparently has led 9 milion people to the Lord in Africa…has anyone ever done the math of all the “conversions” in Africa?  Between the churches listed here and all the itinerant “evangelists” who go to Africa, apparently every single person in Africa has been converted…twice…)

8d.  Speaking of Ray McCauley, At Boshoff is also on the executive board of the International Federation of Christian Churches, and seeing that McCauley is a prosperity preacher, it’s almost guaranteed that At Boshoff is too.

8e.  The Christian Revival Center oversees a church network that includes 38 churches, 27 of which are in South Africa.

General Idea – Subtle Prosperity Gospel Church.

9.  Word of Life Church – Ajamimogha Warri, Nigeria – Pastored by Ayo Oritsejafor.

9a.  At the time of my research, the church website that was located here is totally down.  That made for difficult research.

9b.  What I do know is that this is the church and their attendance is claimed to be 30,000+:

Word of Life Nigeria.

9c.  I also know (as does everyone else) that Ayo Oritsejafor is one of the famous Nigerian pastors who has a $4.9 million private jet.  That’s difficult to understand for a person who lives in a country where most people live off less than $1 per day, and kinda makes him look like a prosperity preacher.

9d.  On Ayo Oritsejafor’s old Facebook page, he posted his prophetic declarations for 2012:

2012 Prophetic Declarations

1. In 2012, you will shine twelve times better than your equals and you will rule in the midst of your enemies. [Rev 12:1-8]

2. In 2012, you have been lifted twelve times higher, you are the head and not the tail. You are on top and not beneath. You are above and not below. [1 Chron 24:12]

3. In 2012, God has added twelve times value to your life. You are blessed and highly favoured. [1 Chron 25:19]

4. In 2012, Your strength is renewed to fight and win every battle. [Exodus 15:27]

5. In 2012, Because of the altar of peace that you carry, nothing will be missing and nothing will be broken. [Exodus 24:4-5]

6. In 2012, God has given you a token that will shut the mouth of your opposition, return the enchantment of your enemies and stop the advancement of your competitors. [Numbers 17:2-3,10]

7. In 2012, Every prayer of faith that you pray at this altar will be answered by fire twelve times faster. [1 Kings 12:31-32]

8. In 2012, Any issue in your life that has lasted for up to twelve years has been given a mandate from God to expire. [Mark 5:25-29]

9. In the name of Jesus, in this year 2012, you will sit down and rule in the midst of your enemies. [Matt 19:28-29]

10. In 2012, I pronounce upon your live Talitha-cumi in the name of Jesus. Whatever is dying in your life is revived, whatever is dead receives life. [Mark 5:35-42]

11. In 2012, in the name of Jesus you have received divine wisdom as a weapon of war. Rule in the midst of your enemies. [Luke 2:42-43]

12. In 2012, the Pharoah you saw yesterday, you will see no more because God hsd caught him in a supernatural net. You are released to rule in the midst of your enemies. [Ezekiel 32:1-3]

9e.  Ayo Oritsejafor’s new Facebook page has more brain melting eisegesis and scripture twisting.

General Idea – Subtle Prosperity Gospel Church.

10.  The Lord’s Chosen Charismatic Revival Church – Lagos, NIgeria – pastored by Lazarus Muoka.

10a.  The name is “Charismatic Revival Church”, and theirabout” page makes things pretty clear: “inexplicable but true and startling miracles are witnessed everyday in our fellowship. Both curable and incurable diseases such as, HIV, Cancer, Diabetes, etc. have been cured and testimonies abound from the mouths of those who have been liberated from demonic bondages.”  The three hyper-links in the middle of that page lead to fuller disclosure on how they expect every real church to be exactly like the church in the book of Acts (i.e. tons of signs and wonders, tongues everywhere, etc.).

10b.  The church apparently has at least 30,000 attenders, but they also oversee a network of 222 churches in 77 countries.

10c.  Not to be outdone by any other church, The Lord’s Chosen Charismatic Revival Church has received a commission to “take the world by signs and wonders” and reach ten billion souls (which they recognize is more people than are in the world, so it will take more than 1 generation).

10d. They don’t have a doctrinal statement at all, but they do have a testimonies page here with a sub-page of their “blessing” testimonies (which include financial blessings in response to seed offerings) here and here and here…and a another sub-page for people healed of bedwetting and frequent urination.  Just when you’d thought you’d heard everything…(I already anticipate the stupid jokes about “laying on of hands” with that last one and want to cut you all off at the pass.  Don’t do it.)

General Idea – Signs & Wonders Church.

Those are the top ten most largest/most influential churches in Africa that I’ve found, and they’re all signs & wonders churches, and most are overtly prosperity gospel churches.  The top 5 churches on that list are larger than Lakewood Church in Houston (Joel Osteen), so they’re highly influential in their countries.  It’s also worth noting that those 10 churches have direct contact/influence with the 10,000 or so churches in their various networks.

There are even more huge signs & wonders/prosperity gospel churches that are 20,000+ in attendance.  Some of them are:

1.  Christ Embassy – Lagos, Nigeria – pastored by Chris Oyakhilome (30,000+ attendees)

2.  Doxa Deo – Johannesburg, South Africa – pastored by Alan Platt (30,000+ attendees & 19 extension campuses)

3.  Christian Life Church – Kampala, Uganda – pastored by Jackson Senyonga (22,000+ attendees)

4.  Light House Chapel – Accra, Nige Ghana – pastored by Dag Heward-Mills (20,000+ attendees & 35 extension campuses)

5.  Mountain of Fire and Miracles – Lagos, Nigeria – pastored by Daniel Kolawole Olukoya (20,000+ attendees)

6.  Dunamis International Gospel Center – Abuja, Nigeria – pastored by Paul Enenche (20,000+ attendees)

So, there’s not a whole lot to say.

Africa is drowning in prosperity gospel heretics and signs & wonders churches; the prosperity gospel is the face of Christianity in Africa…far more than I ever anticipated before I started this research.  It’s absolutely disgusting, and the influential churches in the west need to take out the axe and start clearing up shop.

Forget the atheists.  There’s a few thousand of them and they’re not worth wasting time on.  They’ve proven to be a total waste of time, every time…

bill-nye-the-f-bomb-guy

Forget 99% of Western apologetics.  Who CARES about who’s debating another biology/zoology/whatever professor turned atheist/darwinist crusader?  I’d dare suggest that the debates that need to be done have already be done fifteen times over again.  Let’s give all our apologists a holiday and send in someone who will settle the issues at hand

chuck-norris.

Forget social projects…well, no.  Don’t abandon them.  Just include the real gospel when you hand out food/blankets/whatever…and that includes telling what the gospel isn’t.

The most pressing need of the western church is to toss the demonic hydra of the prosperity gospel, as well as the whole Signs & Wonders movement, in the theological trash can.  That means the reformed charismatics need to take their stand against the prosperity gospel and do a whole lot more than make a few youtube videos or drop passing references in sermons.  The signs & wonders false teachers need to be called out as the charlatans they are, rebutted in pulpits and print, and run out of town.

Yes, this is making me very angry.

Until Next Time,

Lyndon “It’s time to grind up the golden calf” Unger