By Deji Yesufu
During the course of the past week, an online news medium published a story saying that David Oyedepo, the presiding Bishop of the Living Faith Churches, worldwide, had opened a new housing estate. The photo, which is attached to this article, showed a smiling Oyedepo with pictures of the housing estate that had scores of houses already finished, waiting for their lucky occupants to have them. As of the time of writing this article, David Oyedepo is said to be the third richest pastor in the world. He is clearly the richest pastor in Africa and his wealth continues to increase. Some have tried to estimate his riches to be no less than $150M; however David Oyedepo waves such reports away. He states confidently that he is a lot wealthier than those reports state. David Oyedepo, some would say, is a picture of a blessed man.
In this article, which would be the first of a series that I hope to write, I want to paint a picture or a portrait of a man whom God has blessed. But for my readers to appreciate such a painting, they would need to have a mind picture of a man God has not blessed. I would be arguing in this article that David Oyedepo is not a man blessed by God. In actual fact, Oyedepo is a man under the curse of heaven and I hope to prove this thesis from the Bible. I think this discussion is quite important because Oyedepo is a role model for many pastors in Nigeria and around the world. Perhaps if they know what the Bible says about him, they would look elsewhere for role models.
Jim Bakker was an America pastor who led a similar kind of ministry that David Oyedepo leads today. Bakker built the Heritage Village in the United States of America. It is a masterpiece of architecture. People who have been there say that the amusement park in that estate comes with its own artificial sky. Because America is a nation where people adhere to laws, Bakker soon ran foul of the laws of the land and was put in Prison. In his book, “Prosperity and the Coming Apocalypse”, Bakker explained that while in prison he had enough time to read the Bible and he came to one conclusion while reading the New Testament: Jesus Christ and his disciples said nothing good about money. In the appendix of the book, Bakker quotes all the passages in the gospels where Jesus mentioned money and they were all negative statements. When Bakker was released from prison, the first book he wrote was titled “I was Wrong”. In this book, he renounced the kind of “gospel” message he had preached up until that time.
David Oyedepo and all who practice his kind of ministry would have to look elsewhere, beside the Bible, to find an example of rich pastors. They would have to invent another gospel, crucify another Jesus and possess another spirit to be able to live the kind of lifestyle that they are living today. The tragedy of our time is that Oyedepo is the goal in ministry for many pastors in Nigeria and thus the need for this timely warning: David Oyedepo is not an example of a blessed Christian.
When I call David Oyedepo an accursed man, many people would regard such a statement as uncharitable. Perhaps we should look at the testimony of the Bible also. Paul the apostle also contended with a similar situation in his time. Paul suddenly learnt that the region of Galatia, where he had once visited on missions, had come under a “new” kind of gospel. Hear Paul:
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: if anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed…” Galatians 1:6-9.
The point the apostle is making is very clear. He is saying in effect that no one can come up today with a new kind of Christianity and be presenting riches as proof of his ministry. He would need first to point into the Bible to show us one pastor that was rich – talk less of being stupendously rich like David Oyedepo. He would need to point into history and show us one pastor that was as rich as Oyedepo is. If this cannot happen, we would have to come to the conclusion, as Paul has also suggested in his epistle, that Oyedepo is preaching an accursed gospel and thus he is a cursed person and not a Christian at all.
I am willing to accept that this article is a very controversial one and that many would not agree with my conclusions in it. It is at such a point that I call every well meaning Christian to examine the claims that I have made here and those that I would be making in subsequent articles. It can only be one of two thing; there can be no middle ground here: it is either I am cursed and Oyedepo is blessed (truly), or I am blessed and Oyedepo is cursed. There can be no middle ground about this. We must at a time like these stand with Joshua, Elijah and Jesus and say: Choose you this day whom you would serve; if the God of the Bible is one who has called you to serve him with money as goal then serve Baal. However, if the God of the Bible has called us in Christ to serve him with heaven as goal, then serve him. No one can however serve God and mammon.
David Oyedepo is a not a picture of a blessed Christian; he is a picture of a cursed Christian. And everyone who practice his kind of religion is heading to an eternity without God, without Christ.
Note:Opinions expressed on TheNigerian do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the organisation.