Some years ago, possibly 2005, I saw the Kaduna-based psalmist and homilist, Chris Delvan, at the Abuja Airport. I greeted him. He was warm, and reflected some charms that I hadn’t noticed in his pulpit persona before then. He invited me to a meeting at Transcorp Hilton, where he was scheduled to minister along with Pastor Tunde Bakare. I attended. In my opinion, the first remarkable statement he made at that solemn meeting was; “Muslims leave their shoes at the doors of mosques, while Christians leave our minds at the doors of churches.”
Recently, the profundity of his statement dawned on me afresh. I was in Lagos, and attended a church of an old pastor friend. The guest Bishop, while blessing the Communion, poured the Wine on the ground asking the land of Lagos to vomit the blessings of God’s people it had swallowed.
Why is it that many preachers are introducing rites of African Traditional Religion to Christian teaching and practice? Why are various forms of religious scams increasing alarmingly, and yet, the ecclesiastical class is seemingly not waving the red flag?
The answer is simple. We are becoming unmindful of the admonition of Jude: “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” We think Christianity is not compatible with critical thinking. We think the basic principles of critical thinking were gotten from devil’s toolbox. Some of us have long concluded that we can’t be rational and be spiritual at the same time. Thankfully, there is nothing in Scripture that vaguely suggests stupidity is the root of Bible-based spirituality.
Bible-based spirituality is not for infirm minds, it is also not the exclusive preserve of great minds. We don’t have to be at the verge of departing from reality to be Christ-like. Cultivating our intellectual acumen to its peak is not a spiritual disservice. It does not make us blind to treasuries of divine knowledge, or necessarily lead to baseless rationalisation of revealed truths. As followers of Christ, it is the arrogance and perversity of knowledge that we should guard against, not its acquisition.
There is similarity between the formation of sedimentary rocks and the entrenching of falsity in churches. They are both gradual and incremental. When the devil wants to mislead God’s people from the path of truth, he seeks to make us “open minded”, tolerant to little, little errors. Tolerating distorted truth is not a mark of spiritual sophistication. We consider it spiritually incorrect to point out sediments of error in emerging Christian thoughts and practices, because, we have embraced phoney liberalism.
We can be rational and be receivers of divine revelation. The critical mind is not toxic to divine wisdom, or incapable of receiving, retaining, and expressing divinely communicated truths. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be asked to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”
Superstitions fuel the high level religiosity, and low spiritual intelligence that mark many Nigerian Christians. Sadly, we are seeing its downsides. We build “Christian schools” and they become Faculty of Devil’s Moral, where the spirit of Babylon influences the worldview of God’s children. As part of our Samaritan contribution to making the world a better place, we build hospitals, but they are managed by the principles of cold capitalism. We run crash Bible School programmes that breed greedy religious entrepreneurs, instead of fiery ministers of the Gospel driven by God’s love.
If we keep leaving our minds at the doors of churches and uncritically accept all we hear, very soon many Nigerian churches may become hotbeds of apostasy, the synagogue of Balaam, and the throne of Jezebel. We can’t curtail the spirit of Nimrod, if we are not Paul-like in our quest for spiritual enlightenment. Remember, his “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.”
Omozuwa, Gabriel Osamwonyi