Right of reply By GODSWILL IYOKE
Sorry for this delayed rejoined to your article on ‘Corruption and the Church’, which I consider as yet another of the many undeserved bashings against the church. This has become the pastime of many writers, who selectively and randomly take on the church. This is despite the fact that the church has distinguished herself in the service of humanity. Well, this is perhaps because the church is considered as a simple, self-effacing, mild, meek and lowly institution.
As a senior member of God’s Power House on earth, I consider it an honour and sacred duty to draw attention to outright misconceptions, untruths, distortions and acts of wickedness against the church, that often inspire such assaults. Ironically, the assaults are either from or facilitated by members or friends of the church, who ought to be her ambassadors.
Your article proceeded from a grievous misconception of construing pastors and an significant aspect of their activities as the church. Beside pastors, the church is constituted by four others: apostles, prophets, evangelists and teachers. Although each of these ministers often carries on the functions of the other offices, they constitute distinct offices and functions within the entire Body of Christ. Thus, evaluation of the church without considering her entire constituences and activities, as is the common practice, lacks integrity? The tendency has been to see the work of the church from a very parochial and insignificant aspect of what pastors do and to use that as basis to unfairly adjudge the entire church.
An unbiased assessment of the church and pastors would show that they have been effective and critical in facilitating and driving development globally and nationally. At a time of decaying, dying or compromised social infrastructures the church (either through pastors, evangelists, apostles, teachers and prophets) has been involved in the revival proces. In a dynamic society comparative studies of institutions would have been better in order to eschew such unfair verdict and stereotypes. The church/pastors, their teachings and activities which are based on the perception of the works of the Lord Jesus himself are open to public scrutiny. It doesn’t operate a cult system that imposes sanctions against critics. Yes, there could be some doctrinal extremes, which do not in any way create apprehension or endanger the society. Where charlatans are detected, the church or her members have never sought to shield them or justify their activities.
Why do often ascribe opulent lifestyle to corruption, as if poverty is a virtue. Agreed these lifestyle might be considered inexpedient, they do not necessarily amount to corruption as your article seems to suggest. The church cares and tends to people. This she does through the pastors, which appears as the most visible aspect and controversial of all the activities of the church. The church and pastors take and teach social responsibility.
This finds expression in the various engagements and investments in social infrastructure, such as education. This accounts for the absence of reports associating social ills with the teachings of the church or pastoral activities.
The church also operates through prophets, from which we find Christains and church organisations that consistently pray for the good, peace and prosperity of the nation. Apostles are also part of the church. From this you find church members who dedicate their talents, skills and offices to public service and good works. Here you find the likes of the Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who, though adorns the pastoral cloak, is an apostle in public service. There are evangelists, who propagate the message of love, hope and the Gospel of the kingdom of the Chiristian God of love.
We have often ignored the other aspects of the work of the church, while disproportionally devoting time and attention to a small part of her pastoral engagements. In her apostolic, prophetic, evangelical and teaching activities, the church is faultless. Thus, she earns 80 per cent in these four respect. While she is faulted in her insignificant part time public activity in her pastoral service, she is flawless in her mentoring process in this respect. She deserves some marks. On the whole a fair assessment of the church in the context of all her activities should earn the church a distinction in the service of humanity. If others, journalism inclusive, contribute half of the church’s inputs, the nation would certainly have been on the fast track of development.