We were warned by St. Paul about Pentecostalism and its perversion of true faith. In his second Letter to Timothy, chapter 4, verses 3 and 4, Paul says: “For the time is coming when people will no longer endure sound doctrine, but in their eagerness to hear what is new they will accumulate for themselves teachers after their own liking. And they will abandon the truths to hear myths.”
Is this not happening already? Is the world not tired of sound doctrines? Are “powerful” men and women not fighting themselves, trying to abolish, change and modify sound doctrines? Are we not always thirsty for new things, new ways, and new innovations; even when they harm us and destroy the earth? Do we not run after pastors who say what we want to hear and not what God wants to say – pastors who are entertainers, motivational speakers, rhymes masters and savage lords? Christians are now abandoning the truth of the Gospel to hear and spread conspiracy theories. Pastors have become deciphers of conspiracy theories, neglecting the truths of the Gospel to a defiant generation.
Pentecostalism is the lure of the new age. By Pentecostalism, I refer to a new and defective movement in Christianity that places emphasis on peripheral-religiosity, spiritualism, emotionalism and syncretism. Pentecostalism is a mixture of many things. The movement is marked by an overwhelming emphasis on externalities such as speaking in tongues, healing, prophesying, deliverance, visions, dreams and revelatory interpretations. While these religious experiences are not the problem in themselves, the deceits and emotionalism displayed in many ministries deny them the authenticity of such gifts of the Holy Spirit. There is so much misinterpretation, trickery and falsehood on its hype of miracles, healing and the use of spiritual gifts.
Pentecostalism is thriving in our times. The reasons are obvious; a faulty understanding of religion, the desire for false freedom, the hunger for modern-day innovations, and dissentions from hallowed authorities, the dictatorship of relativism, the enthronement of individualism, the craze for emotionalism, distaste for truth, an increasing demand for falsehood, an overwhelming gullibility of contemporary, folks and many more.
More so, the soul of Pentecostalism is solidly resting on the reformists’ heresy of: Sola Fide, Sola Scriptura and Sola Gratia. At the very foundation of Pentecostalism is the deception that members especially leaders, know and speak the mind of God. As such, God is being subjected to human whims, caprices and plots. Individual’s feelings about God and religious experiences become dogmas for the congregation who is at the mercy of the pastor’s ministration. In Pentecostalism, God is at the mercy of man. God becomes a tool or an instrument in the hands of his creatures.
Much of what is professed in Pentecostalism are subjective inclinations, personal idiosyncrasies and individual judgements. The centeredness on the “religious individual” and his/her interpretation of religious experiences disqualifies Pentecostalism as an authentic religion. That is why there is so much confusion in the Christian faith today; so much chaos in the body of Christ. We claim to serve the same God yet we do not speak with the same voice. God has been domesticated and men (or their stomachs) have become “gods” (Philippians 3:18-19).
Since there are no unified doctrines or any deposit of faith to refer to, men play God through Pentecostalism. The Holy Book which should be a guide, path and light has been mauled, violated, desecrated and continually misinterpreted. Since there is no history, theology, liturgy or sacred traditions to fall upon, “Pentecostal pastors” are continuously inventing their own truths in agreement with modern trends, vogue and civilisations. Unlike true religion, (where the Truth remains forever) their “own truths” are conditional, situational, contemporary and expiring.
The lust for Pentecostalism is the thirst for unguided innovations which is the bane of humanity. Unfortunately, youths are the most freaked. Oh! Where is happening? Where is it bobbling now? What church is in vogue? Where is the pastor freaky freaky? Shamefully, this is what religion has been reduced to. The effects of this perversion are always here with us.
So, what are we to do in these challenging times? St. Paul instructs us again, “Be always prudent, put up with suffering, give yourself to your work of preaching the Gospel, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5).
Dear Christian, Dear Catholic, Dear Youth, KNOW YOUR FAITH! Remain in your Church. Be prudent, ask questions, think-through the sermons/lectures of your pastors, and the instructions he/she dishes out. Don’t just swallow them. I am not saying you should become a doubter or a bitter critic of your pastor. No! But submit what he/she tells you to critical reasoning. Rather than celebrating externalities, serve God from the depth of your being. Be spiritual! Be Christian in all you do.
Finally, be like Christ- He is the perfect example- “let us fix our eyes only on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2).
God bless you.
By Victor Akinwale IBIYEMI, July 2020.
Rev. Fr. Victor Akinwale Ibiyemi is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Ondo, Ondo State, Nigeria. He is currently Secretary to the Catholic Bishop of Ondo Diocese.