Sunday, November 6, 2016 7:43 pm
By Ademola Adegbamigbe
The Bishop of the Living Faith Church worldwide, Dr David Oyedepo, has been a butt of snide remarks on social media because of his threat against critics of the high fees he charges at Covenant University.
Critics of his position argue that it is wrong to say that a church policy cannot be criticised or that a university which should be a market place of ideas cannot be subjected to public scrutiny. Worse still, threatening critics with pestilence was what attracted flaks most!
Trouble started when Oyedepo appealed to those criticising the school fees charged by Covenant University to desist to avoid incurring the wrath of God.
Oyedepo, in a telecast to a pre-Shiloh 2016 Convention gathering of the church monitored via satellite in Jos on Saturday, according to a Vanguard report, said the critics were acting in ignorance and risked incurring the wrath of God.
He said one of such critic, according to the report, smitten with a strange plague of chronic mouth odour over the act only received spiritual pardon following his confession and “my intervention before he was restored to dignity”.
Bishop Oyedepo explained that the issue of school fees paid by students of the university was a godly agenda “to meet the demands of raising godly children in an environment conducive for learning.” He said such criticisms were products of ignorance as what students pay could not be compared with what obtained elsewhere that lacked facilities.
“The school fees has Gods approval and is in accordance with the quality of facilities provided by the university in meeting the educational needs of the nation,” he said. He added in that report that the church in its pioneering role in pushing the frontiers of education with excellence had concluded plans to establish offshore universities. The cleric said a fully automated Bible press by the church had been completed and would be launched soon.
A commentator, Olufunke Phillips, argued that the issue is not the fees. In her words, Oyedepo “can actually charge whatever. If his members are willing to keep putting in their widow’s mite as offering yet they can’t afford to send their kids to the church’s school, nobody can help their own brand of stupidity. The issue is the threats. God ordained the school fees so if you criticize it… so so and so will happen to you. Mr Man, sit down. Sit all the way down my friend. Tell that to people that don’t have working brain cells. Only you will lock people up with the keys of hell. Only you will slap people in the name of Jesus. Only you will still give them mouth odour because they dare to criticize you. Nonsense! The God of Jesus is different from the god of Oyedepo. Don’t even argue it. This god that only gets people to obey him and do his will by threats, intimidation and inducing fear…”
To Olumide Iyanda, publisher of QED, an Internet medium, “God does not fix school fees.” However, Afolabi Gambari reacted with humour, warning critics: “Touch not God’s own citadel of higher learning, lest pestilence swarm on you like locusts do maize farm.”
Ayo Abdul argued: “By the time our men of God finished dealing with churches/Christianity more people will find Christianity unattractive….that is why we need to keep speaking out any time they say what misrepresents Almighty God (without disrespecting them), When they erred, they preach grace instead of apologising BUT when others erred, the start commanding God’s wrath. To Jesse Bay, Oyedepo is a business man pure and simple.
Femi Afolaby Snow said “God has noting absolutely noting to do with school fees, is Oyedepo listening to himself, how does he even dream at night? I don’t understand, and some people will open their mouth and defend him, religion is imprisonment of the mind.
Remmy Onalaja showed some apprehension that very soon, God will begin to share Matric Numbers! Adesanya Ajao thanked God that when “I attended missionary school, He had not started fixing school fees, or how could my mother have been able to afford such a divinely fixed rate, being a widow? Or probably, we have a brand new God now!” Shehu Babatunde, on the other hand, quoted MATHEW 19v 21 to 24: Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth…
Olaniyan Kayode Emmanuel also added: “I am sure so many people at the helms of affair in all Universities owned by CHURCHES must have passed through Missionary schools including Baba Oyedepo by paying little or nothing at all…Why is it so difficult nowadays to send your children to a school owned and governed by a church. God dey.”
However, Nzemeke Bridget Esuakpor maintained: “You people should be careful with your words! That was not what Papa said and I was there too when he said it. He Never said anything like that! Lord have mercy!
Another commentator who did not want his name mentioned because of threat of mouth odour argued that church policies can be criticised. Otherwise, there would not have been reformation or Pentecostalism of Oyedepo’s brand in the first place.
The Protestant Reformation, according to Wikipedia, was a schism from the Roman Catholic Church initiated by Martin Luther and continued by John Calvin, Huldrych Zwingli, and other early Protestant Reformers in 16th century Europe.
Another critic who did not want fire and brimstone to locate his address argued that Christianity in Nigeria has its own historical dialectics where thesis brings up an antithesis and this gives rise to thesis again. In other words, a movement rises to react to what it perceives as a wrong church policy. Then a new movement comes up. The dialectics of Christianity in Nigeria goes thus: The evangelicals rose from what they called the lethargy of the Orthodox churches (they did not preach hell enough and were too worldly). Then the evangelicals became too Spartan and ascetic so much that poverty was associated with piety!
It continues: “Although there had been significant earlier attempts to reform the Roman Catholic Church before Luther – such as those of Jan Hus, Peter Waldo, and John Wycliffe – Martin Luther is widely acknowledged to have started the Reformation with his 1517 work The Ninety-Five Theses. Luther began by criticizing the selling of indulgences (confession and forgiveness of sins), insisting that the Pope had no authority over purgatory and that the Catholic doctrine of the merits of the saints had no foundation in the gospel. The Protestant position, however, would come to incorporate doctrinal changes such as sola scriptura and sola fide. The core motivation behind these changes was theological, though many other factors played a part, including the rise of nationalism, the Western Schism that eroded faith in the Papacy, the perceived corruption of the Roman Curia, the impact of humanism, and the new learning of the Renaissance that questioned much traditional thought.”
Another critic who did not want fire and brimstone to locate his address argued that Christianity in Nigeria has its own historical dialectics where thesis brings up an antithesis and this gives rise to thesis again. In other words, a movement rises to react to what it perceives as a wrong church policy. Then a new movement comes up. The dialectics of Christianity in Nigeria goes thus: The evangelicals rose from what they called the lethargy of the Orthodox churches (they did not preach hell enough and were too worldly).
Then the evangelicals became too Spartan and ascetic so much that poverty was associated with piety! Consequently, the late Bishop Benson Idahosa, founder, Church of God Mission International with headquarters in Benin City, came with a doctrine of “my God is not a God of poverty.” David Oyedepo’s movement also, after “receiving a vision to liberate people from oppression of poverty” at his hotel room, is a reaction to the old order when the pair of trousers of evangelicals would be about half a kilometre to their ankles.