This is a very strange Easter season of lockdown and social distancing. It is thus incumbent on me to preach unity in the greater need of averting disaster.
In the absence of unity among the members, Christians are speaking in scattered tongues – especially in Nigeria of this day and age of Coronavirus.
Like the church at Antioch, the many followers of Christ in this benighted country are seeing all kinds of visions.
Witch-catchers and sundry demon-arresters are today parading themselves as Christian preachers and Pentecostal evangelists.
There are more charlatans on the pulpits of Christianity than there are criminals on the streets and motor-parks of Lagos and Onitsha.
You can sum up the antics of these so-called Christians with one short sentence: The devil finds work.
The early church found its anchor by the salvation of the soul. The Nigerian church mostly preaches material success.
Prosperity is the word.
Every pastor stresses that his “God is not a poor God,” and the name of the game is crass materialism.
There is no greater trading organisation than the church. Imagine some of these so-called churches asking to collect tithes via online transactions in this day and age of the death-dealing Coronavirus, alias Covid-19!
All through history the church flourishes at the worst of times. Nigeria today suits the bill.
Christianity has been commandeered for nefarious reasons by the cream of Nigeria’s wannabes and social climbers.
The man-made churches of today are as wonky as all single proprietorships which more often than not die with the owner, or may be transferred to the wife or “Mummy GO” until fatal fate takes its toll.
There is the need to return Christianity to its sacred roots in unity.
The church should go back to its spiritual moorings in the Bible, to wit, when Christ anointed St. Peter.
The Catholic Church traces its history to Christ’s naming of Peter the Apostle as the rock on which the church is built.
The Catholic Church was the universal faith until 1517 when in Wittenberg, Germany, Martin Luther challenged the Catholic sale of indulgences and the doctrine of salvation by merit.
Henry VIII followed suit in 1534, breaking from Rome for marital-cum-political reasons. Thus was born the Protestant Anglican Communion which got a boost when the Protestant Episcopal Church was founded in the United States in 1789.
John Calvin’s efforts during the 16th Century Reformation movements led to the birth of the Calvinists and ultimately to the founding of the Scotch Presbyterian Church by John Knox in 1560.
The history of the Baptists dates back to John Smyth and the English Separatists of 1609; and later, Roger Williams of Providence in 1638.
The Methodists started out within the Church of England, Rev. John Wesley having founded it in 1738.
The Church of Christ Disciples would in turn challenge the decline of fervor and the factionalizing within Protestantism by carving out yet another faction among evangelical Presbyterians from 1804 to 1832.
Joseph Smith received visions of the Angel Moroni as revealed on the golden tablets of The Book of the Mormons to found the faith of the Mormons in 1827 in New York.
Charles Taze Russell founded the Jehovah’s Witnesses movement in 1870, incorporating the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in 1884; and the church finally adopted the Jehovah’s Witnesses name in 1931.
A major rupture in Christianity occurred in the American cities of Topeka and Los Angeles in 1901 and 1906 when the Pentecostal movement of “speaking in tongues” began as a reaction to the loss of fervor among Methodists and sundry Christians at large. The advent of Pentecostalism has been quite sweeping across the globe.
To take one example of church-founding from nearer home, Samuel Bilewu Joseph (SJB) Oschoffa founded the Celestial Church of Christ in 1947 in the jungles of Porto-Novo after wandering in the forest for three months without food or water. Like the other sects, the Celestial fold has broken into factions since the death of the founder.
The history of the church as summarised here clearly shows that all the other churches in one way or the other were protesting against the Roman Catholic Church, the pristine universal faith.
Even as far back as 1054AD the Orthodox Catholics had broken away from Rome because of intractable doctrinal dissension.
Amid the factionalising, some churches did see the need to come together to form a strong union. The United Church of Christ is a 1957 ecumenical coming together of Calvinists and Lutherans.
The time has come for all Christians to come together, for it is as though now that everybody wants to head his own church, in the manner John Milton wrote in Paradise Lost, to wit,“To reign is worth ambition, though in Hell: Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav’n.”
Every bloke today adorns the toga of Man of God, even when caught with bleeding severed heads of human beings!
Christ is simply seen as the winning brand that can serve as cover for a vast range of practices such as voodoo, juju, magic, grigri, etc.
Now Corona is here and the Christians must perforce unite to fight the disease before it kills everybody, one by one.
That is the gospel according to Maxim in this very strange Easter.