Christianity, sects and modernity!
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IN recent years, we have witnessed the mushrooming of new religious sects. Christians have taken the lead and every sect has come up with a unique ‘selling’ proposition to appeal and attract new followers from across section of the community.

Worth noting, most of these newly established sects or churches are run by self-proclaimed prophets who claim authority from the Almighty father in heaven and are strategically located in cities and major towns across Africa.

They claim to have spiritual powers bestowed unto them by Almighty Lord and as such they can change lives and turn human misery into everlasting joy. Some have gone extra miles to claim ghostly powers to raise the dead from death.

The prophets who liken themselves to Jesus Christ of Nazareth commands authority to cast demons, raise the poor from poverty, provide jobs to the jobless, provides miracles for disabled to walk, see, speak and to overcome all their challenges and afflictions, make barren wombs fertile and many other miracles you could think of. Briefly put, the self-proclaimed prophets claim to have a direct link to God and that God gives them authority over human travails.In many of their sermons and teachings, they boast of being blessed and guided by God to do all what they do and say. Confidently, no one questions their assertion because in God we trust. Ironically, even when they are caught up in usual human squabbles, they still claim it came from the Almighty Lord. Whilst all this happens and everyone else know, for instance, getting drunk or engaging in adultery is evil in the eyes of the Lord, the preachers and poor followers would consider it Satan’s trial to the holy spirit. Indisputably, religion is all about faith which emanates from the fear of the Lord. A faithful religious follower and/or worshipper must have the fear of God in him/her to succinctly follow and adhere to religious teachings. In most cases, when human beings are faced with situations of uncertainty they usually look up for a fallback position and in this case two options remain. The first option which is easiest but at the same time craziest is to consult a magician and/or traditional healer. When the magician fails to ‘solve’ his convoluted problems, he will then turn to his creator, the Almighty Lord, whom despite all shortcomings still loves his creation. Like magicians who play with the psychology of their prey, self-proclaimed or modern pastors, if you like, would also play with the psychology of their followers. They recite verses that ‘scares’ the hell out of their followers and sometimes ‘speak’ in tongues to draw their attention and to win their trust. Whilst we understand worshipping is personal and a channel to develop a cordial relationship with our creator, it should not be taken as a business by unscrupulous prophets. In Dar es Salaam alone, we have more than 30 newly established Christian religious sects and all of these churches use documented miracles of Jesus Christ in the Bible to claim their positions. The right for religious affiliation is a cardinal right of all Tanzanian citizens and I have no problem with that. My concern is the way our Lord Jesus Christ is being ‘used’ and the way human suffering has been turned into a source of division and income by some ruthless clerics. Available data reveal that some of the wealthiest people in the world in recent years are religious leaders. They have amassed a lot of wealth from their followers, projects, products and services that goes with their undertakings. In Tanzania, we have vivid examples in our own backyards. Poignantly, instead of leading their followers to engage into meaningful economic activities, they command them to spend a helluva lot of time praying and fasting and attending fellowships in their churches. I should not be mistaken here, I do not condone worshipping or praising the Lord for all the good things that he is doing to ourselves, families, communities and our nation but improper guidance by self-proclaimed prophets. We are all aware of powers of prayers, songs and hymns to our heavenly father and for that we commit time and ourselves to shower praises unto him. Notably, traditional churches have put in place schedules to guide their followers to attain that. Conversely, the modern churches pay little attention to that as they build their base. A little reflection on the past, Christianity and Christians were much respected for their values and traditions. Take no offence, in recent years there has been a lot of confusion because the church has split into numerous pockets and each pocket is trying to justify its position by undermining the credibility of other pockets. Personally, I was brought up in a staunch Lutheran church family and by then there were only a few sects. These were the mother of Christianitythe Roman Catholic Church, Lutheran Church and the Anglican. Later on Pentecostal Church and Tanzania Assembly of God came in and pave the way for the mushrooming of modern churches and modernity in their teachings, values and traditions. The presence of the RC, ELCT and Anglican to a great extent has provided stability in the Christian community in the country and maintained the good reputation which reflects on the teachings of Jesus Christ. Reforms are necessary for a vigorous community and leaders of change must be around to treasure acceptable values and traditions unique to that community. Going by what happens in the Lutheran Church in recent years, for instance, one would be impelled to conclude that something is wrong somewhere. Perhaps in an effort to discourage its followers from joining the modern churches, they have been forced to embrace modernity, values and traditions associated with modern churches. To pick a few gory, during prayers believers are allowed to shout and speak all sort of things that comes out of them as they try to connect with their heavenly father. Unfortunately, the frantic and hyperactive situation has never been part of the ELCT praying traditions. Pop, Bongo flavour, reggae, ndomboloo rhymes have all been allowed to colour most Sunday services. And who knows? Next, we might even let singeli be part of it. Someone somewhere must point this out. If the trend is left unchecked, we will be inviting Satan in our churches while pretending to be worshiping God. On the same note, we must be wary of false prophets as Jesus Christ warned, “…in the last days many will come in my name…but you will be able to know them by their character!” Jacks Meena, Freelance Media and Communications Consultant. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. cel. +255 655 280 355

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