RESPONSE TO PASTOR KUMUYI’S “DO NOT ATTACK LEADERS” SERMON
I want to raise a respectful objection to Pastor Kumuyi’s latest admonition on how Christians should relate with their leaders. In his Sunday sermon delivered at the Deeper Life Bible Church Headquarters at Gbagada-Lagos on 2nd June, Kumuyi, the General Superintendent of the church, declared that Christians must obey constituted authorities and shun violence. He then charged them inter alia:
“Don’t attack the president of the country whether in words or in the newspapers or through internet.
“Honour kings; don’t disrespect or dishonour the governors. Don’t disrespect leaders of the community and leaders in the church.
“If we are to honour the governors in the states, how much more the pastors.”
He stated that God demanded Christians to submit to the leadership in the Church, community, country and corporate organisations because, according to his anchor scripture (I Peter 2: 11-25), those in government and other leadership positions derived their authority from God. He averred that such unquestioning submission is what it means to be Christlike. (See full report via References)
Let me start by acknowledging that Kumuyi is right in calling for respect for those in authority and obedience to the laws of the land as the scriptures he quoted teach. In fact, it’s not only those in authority that deserve respect; everybody does as one of the verses he quoted shows:
“Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” – 1 Peter 2:17 (ESV)
We cannot despise anyone if we are walking in godly love. That includes those we disagree with and those who are doing wrong.
(Related: Treat Everyone With Dignity)
But does that mean we do not point out or rebuke evil whether it is in low or high places? I don’t think so! The problem is with the blanket way he used the word, “attack”, above. It is not restricted to doing physical harm (which is a no-no for the believer), but covers criticisms as well.
Leaders, in whatever capacity, are still human and fallible. They make mistakes and when they are accused for these, they may make amends. Sometimes, criticisms help to nip wrong policies in the bud or lead to the abrogation of active ones to prevent the people from suffering their negative consequences..
However, the Bible charges us to speak the truth in love and do everything decently and in order (Ephesians 4:15, 1 Corinthians 14:40). I feel we should not resort to vulgar abuse or incendiary language to make our points. That is why I have a policy of avoiding personal insults and curses in my writing or shared posts.
(Related: Child of God, Your Language on Social Media Matters)
There are different kinds of criticisms, some destructive, others constructive. Destructive criticism tears everyone and everything in sight down. It has no vision for correction and healing. But constructive criticism is informed by a vision of hope and progress. It points out flaws and suggests remedies. It seeks to build bridges and unify, rather than inciting division and violence. We err when we interpret the Scriptures to imply that even constructive criticism is sinful and unChristlike.
Personally, I’ve been a critic of the present government but I usually include a call for prayer and an affirmation of my faith that the troubles we are passing through today as a result of misgovernance shall, as we often say, someday “end in praise”. This is illustrated in these poems I wrote about President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB)’s administration during his first term in office.
I feel that the idea to not attack the president or governors comes from a misapplication of Paul’s admonition in our age. In Paul’s time, the Roman Empire ruled the world. It had an Emperor (His Imperial Majesty) to whom divine powers were ascribed (quite wrongly as we know). His pronouncements were adjudged sacred and disobedience attracted death. His subordinates had wide-ranging powers too which they often exercised in a manner that the life and death of the ordinary people were in their hands. This was the state of affairs in Paul’s time, according to Prof. Henry F. Burton. Governance in Rome came down to the will of the emperor and his counsellors, with the Senate wielding nominal legislative and administrative powers. (Rome in Paul’s Day)
That is not the kind of government we have here. Nigeria is running a form of democracy, at least that is what the books say. Actually, she is a republic. What does this mean? Let’s check out the meaning of a republic and a democracy to find out.
According to one encyclopaedia, “a republic is a state in which all segments of society are enfranchised and in which the state’s power is constitutionally limited. Traditionally a republic is distinguished from a true democracy in that the republic operates through a representative assembly chosen by the citizenry, while in a democracy the populace participates directly in governmental affairs.” [Republic (government)]
Another article explains that, “The republican system of government is that system in which the sovereignty of the state resides in the people. It can be described as a system in which people elect officials to represent them and take political decisions on their behalf.” (The Features of a Republican System of Government)
It is worthy of note that in a republic, the elected leaders are expected to serve the interests of all the people (because there is universal adult suffrage) and can be removed in subsequent elections when they fail to serve those interests. So the leaders in our government, from the president to elected local government officials, are our servants, not the other way round.Citizens need to hold the feet of their leaders to the fire to ensure that they serve well. Click To Tweet
Other features of a republic include the supremacy of the constitution and respect for the rule of law. Does it stand to reason then that when our servants in government disregard the constitution and flagrantly violate the rule of law, we should keep quiet? It is the right of every citizen to challenge malfeasance in government circles and demand accountability from their rulers. Exercising that right through available legal channels is not wrong at all. What is wrong is the foisting of dictatorship on the citizenry and the latter keeping silent and allowing abuse of office, oppression and injustice to go unchecked.
Human beings have a problem of deifying their leaders and oftentimes those in authority encourage it. Someone gets into a position and begins to elevate himself above others to the extent that he brooks no opposition or dissent. This breeds sycophancy which helps evil to fester and multiply.
Christians are called to speak the truth and challenge evil, not to whitewash and condone it. The Scripture must be taken as a whole, not disparately, if we wish to do the right thing and not just play safe and push to God what He has given us the authority to do (as the following Bible verses show).
“Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?” – Psalm 94:16
“Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law?” – Psalm 94:20
“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” – Ephesians 5:11
What can be more evil or worth categorising as darkness than the Fulanisation and Islamisation agenda of PMB’s administration that has seen thousands upon thousands of Nigerians killed across the length and breadth of this country?
Jesus did not submit slavishly to evil authority. He didn’t engage with arms but with words, and to deprive us of that today is to leave us bereft of any chance of effecting change or even the emotional satisfaction of adding our two cents to important national conversations. Check out the powerful rhetoric that Jesus used against the religious leaders of his day from this passage in the book of Matthew.
Matthew 23:13-29, 34
“13. But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
“14. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation..
“15. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
“16. Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor!
“17. Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?
“18. And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.
“19. Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?
“20. Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon.
“21. And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein.
“22. And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.
(Related: A Mind of Her Own I)
“23. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
“24. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
“25. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
“26. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
“27. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.
“28. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
“29. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,
“33. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?”
Such powerful denunciations, similar to those made by the Old Testament prophets against kings, false prophets and evildoers in general! On one occasion, he sent what might be considered a caustic message to King Herod.
“31. The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee.
“32. And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.
“33. Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.”
Paul himself challenged Peter, one of the Twelve, when he erred.
“11. But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong.
“12. When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile believers, who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision.
“13. As a result, other Jewish believers followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.
“14. When I saw that they were not following the truth of the gospel message, I said to Peter in front of all the others, ‘Since you, a Jew by birth, have discarded the Jewish laws and are living like a Gentile, why are you now trying to make these Gentiles follow the Jewish traditions?”‘ – (NLT)
(Related: A Mind of Her Own II)
Examples of Error by Christian Leaders
For those who feel that questioning our leaders is wrong, a few reminders are appropriate. I will draw these reminders from Church matters since these are closest to us as Christians.
a) Some decades ago, Deeper Life members were taught that the television is the devil’s box. According to Tunde Bakare, who was a member of the church between 1978 and 1983, that was why he left the church. In his words:
“One day, while I was ministering and a brother was interpreting, I was giving example of ‘faith cometh by hearing and hearing the word of God’ and I said, ‘Supposing you go to a supermarket to buy soap, you might not know what soap to buy but because you watched the advertisement of Joy soap on television, then you would look for Joy soap because you have been hearing about it.’ And my interpreter said: ‘If you have been watching the devil’s box…’
“I told him I didn’t say devil’s box but television, and he repeated the devil’s box and Brother Kumuyi was behind us. I said I didn’t say devil’s box and that the normal interpretation is amu ohun mu aworan, (the box that captures both the voice and the visuals). Anyway, he still said what he said. The following Sunday, Brother Kumuyi came up with what he called ‘Sunday Exaltation’; he said that even if you repair television, you are a child of the devil. Then I took my Bible and left.”
Many accepted that teaching without further inquiry or reflection, but today the Deeper Life Bible Church has a TV station.
b) Many Christians have been taught by prosperity preachers that it is their right to be wealthy and Christians struggle to have all the fine things of life in excess as a result, but in a Facebook live video he made in reaction to the death of world-renowned evangelist, Billy Graham, Benny Hinn (one of the most notable prosperity preachers of this generation) had this to say about the prosperity gospel:
“… I think some have gone to the extreme with it sadly, and it’s not God’s word what is taught, and I think I’m as guilty as others. Sometimes you go a little farther than you really need to go and then God brings you back to normality and reality.
“When I was younger I was influenced by the preachers who taught whatever they taught. But as I’ve lived longer, I’m thinking, ‘Wait a minute, you know this doesn’t fit totally with the Bible and it doesn’t fit with the reality.’ So what is prosperity? No lack. …
“Did Elijah the prophet have a car? No. Did not even have a bicycle. He had no lack … Did Jesus drive a car or live in a mansion? No. He had no lack. How about the apostles? None lacked among them. Today, the idea is abundance and palatial homes and cars and bank accounts. The focus is wrong … It’s so wrong.”
Hinn further said that he no longer flies private jets, and that he is not worth $40 million as has been rumoured.
“We all sadly make the mistake of thinking that, ‘Well this is what God wants,’ and God says ‘No, that’s not what I want.’ It’s time to live biblically. You know it all comes down to one thing. Do we love Jesus, yes or no? If we love Jesus then it’s all about Jesus. If we don’t love Jesus then it’s about other things.”
c) Sometime ago, internationally acclaimed TV preacher, pastor and writer, Joyce Meyer, posted a video on Instagram (attached below) in which she recanted some of her earlier views on prosperity and faith, because they “got out of balance” with what the Bible actually teaches on the subjects. Hear her:
“I’m glad for what I learned about prosperity, but it got out of balance. I’m glad for what I learned about faith, but it got out of balance.
“.. every time someone had problems it was ‘cause they didn’t have enough faith. If you got sick, you didn’t have enough faith. If your child died, you didn’t have enough faith … Well, that’s not right.
“There’s nowhere in the Bible where we’re promised that we’ll never have any trouble. I don’t care how much faith you’ve got, you’re not gonna avoid ever having trouble in your life.”
Christlikeness ought to be the goal and desire of every believer but it does not come from picking Bible verses and applying them out of context. Jesus is the Word of God (John 1:1). We must take that Word as a whole. That is why every Christian must study the Word deeply for themselves and not be spoonfed and possibly misled by their spiritual superiors.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” – 2 Timothy 2:15We are the light of the world but when light is hidden, it cannot dispel darkness. Click To Tweet
The apostles showed a lot of courage and preached even when it was in direct violation of the authorities’ commands.
“27. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them,
“28. Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.
“29. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”
So must we speak against the encroaching darkness in our time!
The scriptures used in this post are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible except where otherwise stated.
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References (In The Order They Are Cited In The Post)
Joyce Meyer’s Instagram Video on Her Changed Views on Prosperity and Faith
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