What the hell's going on in Church?
Recently, Elaine Cunningham, deaconess of the Anglican Church and principal of St. Hugh’s High School, was the guest preacher at the 30th anniversary appreciation service for Rev Beverly Noble McDonald of the St. Philip’s Church, Whitfield Town.
In this engaging sermon, Cunningham related how she went to a church and the pastor was described as the lord of lords and king of kings or something to that effect.
To ascribe such lofty titles to even a man of God is dangerous. We have observed Rastafarians assign such titles to Haile Selassie of Ethiopia and the danger was that Selassie was not a perfect ruler of Ethiopia.
To credit a pastor with such honour is akin to idolatry and the pastor should not accept such praise.
By idolatry I mean to worship the creature rather than the Creator God.
Idolatry is the human taking the place of and replacing God.
From time immemorial, persons have worshipped the sun, moon, stars and other aspects of nature.
There was also emperor worship and worship of ancestors.
There is reference to idolatry in the account of Rachel stealing her father's household gods (Gen. 31: 19).
During the Hebrews' long enslavement in Egypt, they fell into idolatry. God is always displeased with such sinning.
It is an affront to God’s honour, authority, power and deserved homage. It is an attempt at the finite to be seen as equal with the infinite.
He who brought everything into being cannot be on the same level as those who were created.
Sadly, it was the night before Cunningham’s sermon that I was watching a local ‘prophet’ as he was healing someone of sickle cell disease. This programme was using special effects to enhance belief in the healing. As such, there was a flow of arrows (similar to that indicating the flow of electricity) from the body of the ‘prophet’ to the person being healed. In addition, when the ‘prophet’ touched the person there were sparks flying due to special effects. What the hell's going on in church?
In some churches, there is no emphasis on critical thinking, of analysing cogently and being able to discern right from wrong. There is no effort to ensure that lifestyle matches what is said from the lips. It is just a show.
It seems that some persons are prostituting the gospel. In Acts 8: 9-24 when Simon the Sorcerer or Simon the Magician, who was a religious figure and a convert to Christianity, saw miracles done through Peter, he desired to purchase that spiritual gift.
Simon wanted it so he could be a showman and make money. Similarly, some people feel that the power of the Holy Spirit is not adequate for healing and other marvellous works of God and so they believe they have to help out God and help Christians to understand the power of God.
There are some who would say that these persons are fundamentalists but fundamentalists should be persons who uphold the core message of Christianity. It ought to be a commitment to the essence of the religious faith. However, those who want to be called fundamentalists are not adhering to the principles of Christianity but are preaching another gospel.
Furthermore, we need to realise that because a local congregation engages in such practice it does not mean it is a widespread belief or practice in other churches located at other places.
Thank God there is Beverly Noble McDonald who literally walks among and with the people in order to speak for God and on behalf of God and to tell God of their concerns. She is in solidarity with the people so that they experience a little heaven down here.
- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.