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Recently, popular OAP, Ifedayo Olarinde otherwise known as Daddy Freeze made news headlines for the uproar he caused in the Christian community on his controversial claims on some Christian doctrines and his outright disagreement with some apex Nigerian church leaders. This led to him being blasted, criticised, and threatened by most of these pastors. Amidst the fracas, one cannot help but deduce that the major bone of contention is the issue of Tithing and how often or frequently it should be done.
Nigeria is a paradox by all ramifications. A nation where the sentiments of religion and region reign supreme. Christianity is a religion that has several obligations and responsibilities. Christians generally observe these religious rites dutifully as a demonstration of their faith in God as well as to satisfy their individual aspirations.
Down through the ages, Christians are taught that God’s blessing can be accessed through various means. In Nigeria today, the subject of prosperity seems to be a pivotal point which is being promoted almost to the total neglect of other scriptural themes. This emphasis on prosperity appears to be more pronounced within the Pentecostal circles than it is in the mainline churches.
Very few people know that the controversy on Tithes in Nigeria is coming exactly 500 years after a major controversy in Western Christendom. This controversy saw the emergence of the Protestant churches from within the Roman Catholic Church. It has been exactly 503 years since Martin Luther nailed the very controversial 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in his home city of Wittenberg, Germany.
The substance of his discussion in the theses was his protestation of the collecting of indulgence (forgiveness money) from people in his community. The Catholic couriers, who were doing this on behalf of the Papacy, were urging people to give money to the Church and in return, they would be absolved of their sins. They also promised that their long-dead relatives, who were in purgatory, would be let into heaven the moment the monies hit the bottom of the sack of the couriers. Luther, on his part, argued that the Catholic Church by doing this was proposing another way to redemption in Christ.
This brings us back to the main argument of Tithes. Tithing in itself is based on personal decisions and reasons, but when it comes to Nigeria and Christianity in Nigeria, Tithes have taken a whole new dimension. Daddy Freeze in his claims, expressly passed the message that Tithing is wrong in all ramifications, but many prominent Nigerian pastors have opposed him.
These pastors have been accused of being money minded and not preaching pure Gospel. In Nigeria, many Pentecostal pastors lead a flamboyant lifestyle. Their churches are attractive in structure and style. Some of the churches are structured in very tasteful, aesthetic architectural technology.
Money is therefore needed to run and maintain the church structures and the many personnel employed to work within the church, including the pastor’s lifestyle. Added to this is the fact that many Pentecostal churches have established kindergarten, primary, and secondary schools. They have gone ahead in recent times to establish universities. All these need money to be taken care of.
Therefore, tithing and seed sowing has become a necessity in numerous churches in Nigeria. The mainline churches are not an exception. Some of them are fast imitating the Pentecostals in tithing and seed sowing. These churches believe that God identifies with and blesses Christians who faithfully keep their own part of the covenant for blessings.
It is disturbing, to say the least, to hear Christian ministers, many of them have been in ministry for decades, espouse a concept of Christians ‘paying’ tithes. The verb to ‘pay’ connotes obligation: an action that must be carried out else some punitive reaction will follow. Unfortunately, the word ‘pay’ is not used at all in relation to tithing in the Bible. The only place where people were obligated to pay a tithe is in the Old Testament, under a Jewish system of administration that required leaders of worship in the temple in those days to be provided with tithes for sustenance.
This was the point stressed in Malachi 3:8-12. Unfortunately, it is this scripture that has become a central tenet for Christian churches today. The New Testament, which is the Christian manual, does not stipulate tithing for Christians. Neither does it suggest anywhere that Christians are to ‘pay’ a tithe. This was what Daddy Freeze was trying to draw reference to in his messages thereby incurring the wrath of these pastors.
Popular pastors like Bishop David Oyedepo, Pastor Paul Enenche, and Pastor David Ibiyeomie are advocates of Tithing. Some pastors have even gone as far as laying curses on their members who do not honor the notion of punctual tithing and offerings despite being aware of the fact that these Tithes are only used to enrich their personal pockets.
Nigeria is currently going through a period of depression and turmoil. But it is worthy to note that a majority of these pastors have deliberately kept mute to the happenings in Nigeria. They hardly speak out against Christians that are being slaughtered on a daily basis, against intimidations by the Nigerian Government and they hardly ever contribute to matters of National Development.
They back off from speaking out because they don’t want to become sacrificial offerings in the hands of greedy brutes in power. They are wary of the terrain already taken over by thugs in expensive suits. They are afraid of a country that devours its inhabitants; and a murky and tempestuous political terrain that snuffs out life before time. And they withdraw into their shells or play to the gallery with them because they don’t want to get caught in the storm. They only come out to protest when matters that directly involve their questionable sources of income are brought to the fore such as the recent CAMA Bill put together by the Federal Government of Nigeria and the incessant criticisms from Daddy Freeze and other activists alike.
Pastors and Christianity in Nigeria need to be closely reviewed. Nigerians already have a lot of issues at hand and what these Pastors are doing in the name of religion should be closely scrutinised and put in check.
Finally, and in reality, it’s pertinent to comprehend the truth that the Eternal Creator of the universe which organised religion including Christianity mistakes to be God does not require Tithes and financial gratification to bless humans. The Earth belongs to the Eternal Creator of mankind and the Supreme did not create humans for them to work or earning a living and then return 10% of their earnings to the Supreme Being.
Man in search of the Eternal Creator of the universe created Organised Religion which is basically on the foundation of doctrine and dogma of a particular faith, and does not in any way represent the will of the Eternal Creator.
Tithe is just an ancient religious obligation of the Abrahamic religion of Judaism and had long be done away with by the Jewish people.
However, it’s unfortunate that Africans generally, and Nigerian Pastors particularly are so engrossed in it because of the economic benefits accruing to them from tithing.
AFRICA DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK