The Lagos chairman of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Apostle Enyinnaya Okwuonu has described the recent move by the Redeemed Christian Church of God to ban external preachers from ministering in any of its parishes as a step in the right direction.
He however said he was speaking in his private capacity and not the official position of the PFN.
According to him, the RCCG must have taken the decision, to protect people in its care as a result of the preponderance of fake pastors and prophets.
Body of Christ
The Lagos PFN chairman debunked the insinuation that the move would affect the unity of the Body of Christ.
He said, “Their concern is genuine. Look at what is flying about T.B. Joshua. There are many false prophets. Some of these people are friends of the RCCG parishes scattered around.
“Some of the parishes are independent of what happens at the headquarters and sometimes could be used to spread some of these strange doctrines we hear these days.
“So I think it is important that they are now saying their parishes must not invite people from outside the church to stand on their pulpits. I have seen people who go through the small parishes to entrench their new belief system. This has to be curtailed.”
On our guards
Okwuonu said the Lagos PFN is also working at ensuring that not just anybody is allowed to use its platform. “Before the RCCG directive, we are on our guards and we try to check those we give access to our platform.
“Personally, there are pastors I won’t allow to preach in our local church because I know their antecedents. It is important to safeguard the flock given to us. The Bible encourages us to safeguard the flock in our care.”
He explained that no parent will allow their children to eat in the name of love or unity.
“You can’t allow your child to eat anyhow. That you want to be on good terms with your neighbours does not mean you allow your child to eat their food if you know they will give your child poison. You will want to protect your child by all means. And that does not mean you won’t be on good terms with your neighbour.
“It is just trying to protect the flock. That you don’t eat your neighbour’s food does not mean you disagree with such neighbour. There are certain programmes I will not expose our people to. There are some people we are going to delist from our register going forward because we can no longer afford to condone peddlers of wrong doctrines and those who want to put the church in disrepute.
“It is not about the crowd it is about righteousness, holiness and the truth of the word of God. We can’t afford to sacrifice any of these things for fame, money and acceptance.”
Bishop Olaleye: Cut the erring finger
In this reaction, the Presiding Bishop of the Pentecostal Assembly, Abraham Olaleye believes the decision does not sit well with the doctrines of the Bible.
“In the first place, the body of Christ is one according to Ephesians Chapter 4v1-10. We serve One God, One Lord, and are baptised in One baptism. If it gets to a point that a denomination is now saying it would not allow preachers from other denominations, it simply means that the denomination is cutting itself from the Body of Christ. This should not be encouraged.”
He said however that what RCCG ought to have done is to identify pastors it thinks are not preaching acceptable doctrine according to them and place a ban on them.
“I think a general ban on preachers from outside their denomination is sending a wrong signal. It is only cults that do such a thing. People who are in a cult don’t allow outside influence. But then, if the church feels strongly that it would not want to expose its members to strange doctrines as it were, it should simply identify pastors with such tendencies and ban them. I don’t support the general ban”
He noted that the ban could be interpreted in two ways: It could be that the church does not want its members to be exposed to certain truths that are not being preached within the RCCG or that it does not want to be exposed to errors that are flying around. Only the church can tell why it is placing a general ban on external preachers
Bad news for the Church
But an itinerant minister, Dr Segun Oshinage believes the decision of the RCCG does not help ecumenical causes. “First I think the church has a right to implement such a policy. We can’t stop them and nobody should begrudge them. They have their reasons. But I think the decision will further polarise the body of Christ.
“We are talking about the unity of the body of Christ. I am just wondering how we can promote unity if a denomination is saying it won’t allow pastors from other denominations to minister in their church. That to me is against the unity we are trying to promote.
Oshinaga who is Chief Executive Officer of Leadership Plus and convener of the Mentorship Masterclass posits further, “As far as I’m concerned, the RCCG decision is bad news for the body of Christ especially because the General Overseer of the Church, Pastor Enoch Adeboye is one of the founding fathers of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria.”
RCCG is able
A pastor in the RCCG, Lanre Ojeola said the directive is a welcome development.
According to him, the RCCG has enough human resources to meet the spiritual needs of its members. “We don’t need external ministers to come and minister in the church. There is no kind of pastor and potential that you cannot get within the church.”