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*Dr. Tunde Bakare – Pastor, Prophet, or Politician
( The Role of Religious Leaders and Political Activism in Nigeria )
By Rev. Dr. C. Kingston Ekeke
Recently, Dr. Tunde Bakare, Pastor of Latter Rain Ministries and Convener of Save Nigeria Group (SNG), in one of his sermons that has gone viral on the Internet, called for a change of government in Nigeria. He also called on President Goodluck Jonathan to resign and currently attacking the President’s wife, Mrs. Dame Patience Jonathan. As a result of his utterances against the presidency, Tunde Bakare the pastor and his political activism are being questioned by many. In fact, many see Pastor Tunde's political activism as awkward. Millions of Nigerians tend to distinguish political activism from religious activism. And this is due to various interpretations of Scripture regarding God’s Call. I think the erroneous views and convoluted biblical interpretation regarding those ordained to Ministry are as a result of improper exegesis of Scripture and misunderstanding of the subject of ‘God’s Call,’ or ‘The Call of God.’ ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Pastor Tunde Bakare
The call of God is not always associated with leading a Church or religious organization. It’s not even about salvation or being called to the work of Ministry as priest, pastor, or bishop. The call of God is a call to purpose and destiny. It is a call that moves the “Called” and society from success to significance.
If the Bible is studied very carefully, one will notice that God called different people to various activities and assignments – some to be Wise Counselors (Daniel), as Leaders (Joseph, Moses, Joshua), as Kings (David, Solomon), as Military Warriors (Joshua, Samson, Deborah, Jehoshaphat), as Missionaries (Abraham, Paul), as Judges (Deborah, Gideon), as kingdom Builders (Jesus), as Revolutionaries (Jesus), as Pro-creators (Adam &Eve ), and off-course many were called to be Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Bible Teachers. If you study the Call of some of these folks - Adam & Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Jonah, Deborah, Gideon, Samson, Ruth, Esther, David, Nehemiah, Jehoshaphat, Isaiah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, John the Baptist, Jesus, Apostles, Paul, etc., you will notice that they all were called by God to carry out different assignments. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Holy Bible
Throughout the history of mankind and even in our present time, true prophets of God and genuine spiritual leaders had always denounced sin, wickedness, and injustice – not per say by political activism but by calling the political leaders of nations to rule in the fear of God and work to provide a just and fair society.
During the prophetic ministry of Isaiah who reigned during the time of Kings Uzziah, Jotham and Hezekiah, you will read that those kings were extremely wicked kings with exception of King Hezekiah, who ruled with the fear of God. Kings Uzziah and Jotham abused the power of their office and led the people astray. They crushed the poor for their own profit.
First, Prophet Isaiah challenged the rebellious people of Jerusalem and gullible Judah to repent of their sins and turn to God. He called on the people to clean up their acts. Isaiah denounced Judah for her idolatry and immorality and called for national repentance, prayer, and fasting.
Second, Prophet Isaiah rebuked the kings and rulers for their social injustice and called on the politicians to restore a just and fair society otherwise God’s judgment and destruction would come suddenly. Third, Prophet Isaiah believed that God has something to say about Judah’s foreign policy and as God’s representative and ambassador to the Kings of Judah - Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah; he warned them about entering into an unholy alliance with Assyria.
Biblical history records Moses as Israel’s greatest leader and prophet. The Bible teaches that only John the Baptist and Jesus were greater than Moses (Matthew 11:11; Hebrew 3). He was a heroic leader and his greatest leadership legacy was that he delivered the Israelites from oppression and slavery in the hands of Pharaoh, King of Egypt. He also gave them the laws that form the foundation of every nation today - social, dietary, religious, moral, and civic.
Joshua, Moses protégée, not only spied the Land of Canaan and believed that Israel could conquer it, but he led the Israelites into conquering the fortified Land of Canaan, a Land flowing with milk and honey. Jesus was called and sent to bring light to the dying world and to lay down his life for Kingdom’s sake. Jesus ministry was whole – teaching, preaching, healing, social, economic and political. Jesus spoke to the political (Sadducees) and religious elites (Pharisees) of his day more than he preached and taught the Scriptures. Prophet Isaiah prophesized 750 years before Jesus was born, “For to us a son is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace, there is will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this” - Isaiah 6:6-7. Nehemiah left gave up his comfortable and wealthy position in Persia, and returned to his fractured nation and rallied against all forces of opposition to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. This is what most Nigerians in Diaspora should be thinking doing if not soon before Nigeria disintegrates and falls apart.
Micaiah, a valiant and solitary prophet was not intimidated, but challenged the established religious and political order of his time. Without favor or fear, he delivered unpalatable messages to the nation when all the prophets during his time were lying to King Ahab to seek his favor. Prophet Micaiah spoke the truth without caring whose ox was gored. Rev. Billy Graham did not pastor or erect any Church, yet he spread the Gospel around the world and became perhaps the greatest evangelist of our time. He met and advised many world leaders during his evangelistic ministry.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. could have sat comfortably as a pastor of any Church in America during the 60’s, but gave that up to answer the ‘Call of God,’ the ‘Call of his People,’ and of their unfortunate ‘Circumstances’ and through his prophetic ministry, his powerful oratory and courageous leadership, he freed an entire nation from hate, bigotry and self-destruction that gave millions freedom and hope around the world. The problem in our society today is that many people entering into Ministry – i.e., are being ordained as priests, pastors, or spiritual leaders through the back door without any calling, commissioning, and preparation. Without a divine call, commissioning and adequate preparation, which includes – training and mentorship, a person cannot be a leader that God uses. Unfortunately, most of those already serving as pastors, priests, bishops, etc., are there mostly for riches, material gain, and fame. Consequently, the messages that are proclaimed and promulgated over the airways and byways are sometimes totally inconsistent with the teaching of the Holy Scriptures. In fact, what we hear nowadays are pragmatic psychological philosophies and metaphysical teachings to attaining success or solving spiritual problems rather than a sound exposition of God’s Word.
Despite the proliferation of churches in Nigeria, religious hypocrisy, ignorance, and illiteracy abound – rituals, divination, astrology, sorcery, witchcraft, magic, and all manners of evil and satanic worship still exist. Most of the parishioners are gullible and put up with unbiblical teachings. Christians are supposed to be the salt and light of the world, but today, they are worse than worldly people - greed, hatred, corruption, idolatry, jealousy and envy run rampant. So therefore what we see in Nigeria today are adulterous religious systems and satanic religious leaders that parade themselves as the moral authorities in our society and yet the nation suffers from all kinds of satanic violence, evil, and wickedness.
Nigeria’s religious leaders have woefully failed in their divine duties and mandate to rebuke sin and wickedness in high places. How can any true man or woman of God live comfortably in a nation in crisis, where Boko-Haram Jihadists have the audacity to kill innocent citizens in places of worship and then our political and religious leaders don’t have the courage to condemn these satanic and senseless killings? How could any pastor or true prophet of God live in a country with endemic government corruption, looting and embezzlement of public funds and would not speak out; where political leaders are ruling without vision and taking the nation from hope to hopelessness and from strength to weakness.
Rather, the religious leaders compromise their calling to rebuke sin, evil, wickedness and injustice. They also contaminate themselves with the devil and engage in corrupt practices of their shrines, secret occults and their pagan priests. And their lukewarm attitude is so evident and reflective in our culture, attitudes, mannerism and ways of life, which are mostly pompous of voodoo, juju, witchcraft, sorcery, spirits, mediums and all manners of demonic powers. Studies show that more than 70% of Nigerian Christians attend church services every Sunday and sit under so-called men of God and miracle workers and yet rituals, divination, astrology, sorcery, witchcraft, magic, and all manners of evil and satanic worship remain rampant in Nigeria. Greed, hatred, corruption, idolatry, jealousy and envy continue to flourish in the society. The Word of God is His presence and where there is genuine presence of God, evil, unrighteousness and ungodliness cannot be in abundance as it is in our society today. What I am observing in this generation is moral bankruptcy, biblical ignorance and satanic spiritual capitalism. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: A Christian Church service
The likes of Pastor Tunde Bakare are needed in a nation where democracy has become demo-crazy; where the nation's democracy is masqueraded in military, autocratic, and authoritarian feudalistic system. The political democratic culture in Nigeria is also a political impenitent and impunity which works against peace, unity, progress, and hinders godly and bare genuine folks from political participation. And so, there is need for genuine spiritual and prophetic leaders to speak the Word of the LORD and against wickedness and injustice in all of its ramifications. And such persons deserve to be encouraged.
If I should advise Pastor Tunde Bakare, is for him to use his powerful rhetoric and spotlight to condemn the jihadist and murderous activities of Boko Haram. His silence on the militant sect is suspicious. Pastor Bakare should also use his political activism to galvanize the opposition parties (ACN, CPC, APGA, ANPP, etc., to form a formidable alliance or political party in Nigeria. One hundred political parties in Nigeria do not make sense at all. In fact it is insane and for any of those political parties including mushroom ones hoping to win national election or beat PDP is a wishful thinking and dead dream. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: People gather to view ThisDay Newspaper Jabi - Abuja office building heavily damaged by Boko Haram suicide bomb attack.
Pastor Tunde Bakare should seek to offer solutions to the government and engage in advisory role and special duties such as peace, conflict resolution treaties, interfaith kinds of work, etc., rather than continue to criticize the government. If he wants to be remembered as a moral leader, he should desist from desperately seeking political office. But if he continues to engage and meddle in politics and lash out on the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria the way he’s doing, he is probably confused about his Call and divine obligations as pastor. He should then resign as pastor of Latter Rain Ministries, or declare himself as a prophetic leader or focus squarely as a politician.
Finally, I always find it amusing and frankly ignorant, when Southerners criticize religious leaders that participate in politics. Northerners do not distinguish politics from religion. In fact the two are inseparable. Alhaji Buhari is a military man as well as and an ardent Muslim fanatic running to be president of Nigeria and yet Southerners have not criticized his religious fanaticism and military background but have the audacity to criticize Pastor Bakare, who by the way was trained as a lawyer before God called him into ministry.
Psalm 14:1-3, says “The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none that does good. The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any that act wisely, that seek after God. They have all gone astray, they are all alike corrupt; there is none that does good, no, not one. One day, God will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent He will frustrate” (1 Corinthians 1:19 - NIV).
Rev. Dr. C. Kingston Ekeke is a public theologian, author, and leadership scholar. He is the president of Leadership Wisdom Institute.
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