Volume 5, Number 2 (2019) pp 132-142 doi 10.20448/807.5.2.132.142 | Research Articles
The security and developmental challenges facing Nigeria continues to multiply by the day. This is made worse by the fact that our present crop of leadership appears to be increasingly at a loss on the way forward. By their action and body language, individuals at the highest echelons of power who are responsible for entrenching sustainable security in the country have continued to revel in blame game thereby exhibiting a disposition of being totally blank on how to stem the overwhelming forces of insecurity in Nigeria such as Fulani Herdsmen insurgency, kidnapping, abuse of rule of law, poverty, armed banditry, etc. It is against this backdrop that this work seeks to examine the place of Pentecostalism as a force for promoting national security and development in Nigeria. The work employed survey research method. It adopted the transformative and experiential theories of religion as its theoretical framework. The paper concludes by calling for mobilization of legislative, educational, demographic and prayer platforms as tools for harnessing the Pentecostal core values which it submits are relevant for promoting national security and development in Nigeria.
Keywords:Pentecostalism, Security, Development, Spiritual power, Conversion, Vision and evangelism.
Citation | Amunnadi, Chukwudi A.; Oduenyi, Sebastian (2019). Mobilizing Penticostalism as a Tool for Promoting National Security and Development in Nigeria. Global Journal of Social Sciences Studies, 5(2): 132-142.
Copyright: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
Funding : This study received no specific financial support.
Competing Interests: The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
History : Received: 24 May 2019 / Revised: 28 June 2019 / Accepted: 5 August 2019 / Published: 17 September 2019 .
Publisher: Online Science Publishing
Highlights of this paper
Never before in the history of this country have concern for issues of internal security and national stability reached such a worrisome level like now. While security threats remain both a national and global concern for all times yet the degree of security challenges in today’s Nigeria is extra-ordinarily alarming. Religious killings running into several thousands in the Northern and Middle Belt areas of the country with the Christians mostly as the victims leaves much to be desired in a nation that claims to be a secular state.
Njoku (2019) puts the above view pointedly when he states that as at 2018, one of the worst in the world violent conflicts in the North East of Nigeria has plunged about 7.7 million people into severe humanitarian need. Furthermore he reports that the Fulani herdsmen clashes with predominantly Christian farmers now claims an estimated six times souls more than that being lost through Boko Haram.
Ogundele (2019) corroborates the above view when quoted Obasango in a keynote address at the 2019 Synod of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) held in Oleh, Isoko South Council area of Delta where the former president said that security threat that started as Boko Haram and Fulani Herdsmen conflict have both incubated and developed beyond what Nigeria can handle as “they are now combined and internationalized with ISIS in control.”
Continuing he submits inter alia: it is no longer an issue of lack of education and employment for youths in Nigeriawhich it began as, it is now West African fulanization, African Islamisation, and global organized crimes of human trafficking, money laundering, drug trafficking, gun trafficking, illegal mining, and regime change.
It was against this backdrop that he raised an all time high alarm when he stated that unless urgent steps are taken Nigeria would soon destroy itself through her high spate rate of these security threats in the nation.. According to him the increasingly non-challant attitude of the federal government to the high level of violent crimes being perpetrated by Boko Haram, Fulani Herdsmen in the name of armed banditry, kidnapping and ethnic cleansing cannot but be a license for all citizens to take arms against one another. The situation is made most sinister when he notes that government has ranked the above organization that is killing Nigerians in their thousands as a cultural organization like IPOB of South East and Afenifere of South West and had even contemplated to compensate them with 100 Billion naira so as to dissuade them from causing further havoc to the innocent citizenry. It is against this backdrop that he noted that government must appreciate where we are and sum each group for individual and collective contribution that would usher us the way forward.
Nweze (2019) corroborating the above view while citing Prof. Wole Soyinka (Nobel Laureate) stated that the issues raised by Obasanjo should be taken seriously, and not dismissed. According to him the response of the government shows that they are leaving behind the substance, and worried about the language. The substance of the issues on ground he notes are the threats of high level of kidnapping, youth suicide, and terrorism in the country which is fast moving the nations into what he described as “horrendous descent into the abyss”.
With the apparent helplessness of our political class to rise above the overwhelming national insecurity threats the prayer and quest for remedies by the citizenry appears to be more and more elusive. Abdullahi (2007) in his contribution states that when a nation is driven by persistent ethnic, religious as well as other forms of ravaging conflict such as armed robbery, kidnapping, ritual killing, political fraudsters that drives corruption, these vices summate to deter every effort at fostering national prosperity, stability and continued existence. It is in the context of our security deadlock that this work seeks to examine the place Pentecostal Christianity can play in redressing our expanding coast of insecurity.
Liardon (2008) writing on the place of Pentecostalism on America history states statesinter alia:
Charles Finney’s life spanned nearly the entire first century of U.S presidents – from George Washington to Ulysses S. Grant – and no single individual had more influence in the United States coming to be considered “A Christian Nation” at the beginning of the twentieth century. Finney’s revivals sparked the second Great Awakening and unified the country around the Bible and the power of prayers while his moral stances for social justice laid the foundation for everything from the abolition to temperance to civil rights movements. His teachings on Christian perfectionism inspired the holiness movement of the latter half of the 19th c. ___ a movement that laid the groundwork for the Pentecostal and charismatic movements in the twentieth century… Finney’s example in lifestyle, ministry and doctrine has yielded much that is good in American Christianity today.
Another man in church history whose life and ministry affected positively the lives of the people in the nations and the national security was Jonathan Edwards. Jonathan Edwards was one man in the Great Awakening whose works resulted in the display of God’s glory in New England. In fact, New England was reported to have had as many as fifty thousand people converted to Christ out of a total population of about three million then. His works of theology are still some of the deepest and most important in America today, and the awakening he helped bring about unified the colonies into what would become soon after his death, the United States of America.
The implication of the above fact is that if the life of one Pentecostal preacher well mobilized could bring about great prosperity in all frontiers of America history and development then much more exploits could be achieved in Nigeria owing to the fact that Nigeria has almost become the capital of today’s Pentecostalism in the world. Simply put Pentecostalism well understood and mobilized can do in Nigeria what it did in Europe and America during the days of the revivals church history.
This work adopted the transformative theory of religion. Ayuk (2002) noted that Pentecostalism was one of the prominent factors that caused inadvertently transformation in ecclesiastical architecture not only in Nigeria but also in developed world because it was one of the interventions in the development of Christianity. Pentecostalism according to him is a form of a renewal movement transformative force in Christianity that places special emphasis on a direct personal spiritual experience. This transformation according to Rudolf Otto (1869—1937) as cited by Ukuekpeyetan-Agbikimi (2014) relates to mysteriumtremendum (terrifying mystery) and mysteriumfascinans(awe inspiring). Thus he avers that true religion involves an experience that arises from a special, non-rational faculty of the human mind, as well as other human faculties. Consequently he posits that religious experience is a “Wholly Other” or divine outworking that results in total transformation of individual and society. The implication of the above theories is that religion is a transformative force for both individual and national development but for such transformation to be positive, total and sustainable it must be grounded on divine ethos and influence. It is against this backdrop that this work seeks to examine the place of Pentecostalism as a tool for promoting national security and development.
Pentecostalism has become a great force within the Africa Continent with Nigeria occupying the place of being the most receptive nation to the Pentecostal message. Today from every nook and crannies in the nation one can easily observe the domineering effect of the movement in our cities and suburban areas. It is nearly impossible as observed by Gwamna (2008) to estimate the statistics on the numerical strength of Pentecostal churches in Nigeria. Hence Pentecostalism has become a global phenomenon.
The Jewish festival that marks the deliverance of Israel from Egypt is the Passover, while the feast of Pentecost is also traditionally celebrated fifty days after the Passover. Therefore, that custom of 50 days is the meaning of the concept Pentecost. The other is the feast of Tabernacles. The latter which was among the three national festivals every Jewish male must attend on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem yearly, is the feast which marks the first fruit or ingathering of the early Jewish harvest.
Coincidentally, or providentially, the advent of the Holy Spirit to baptize the apostles with the Holy Ghost and fire came on another day of Pentecost for the Jews. Pilgrims came from all over the world to celebrate the Jewish Old Testament traditional Pentecost, while the apostles were waiting in the upper room for the promise of the out pouring of the Holy Spirit. Gwamna (2008) captures the genesis of New Testament concept of Pentecostalism when he cites Lukean writing that states inter alia:
When the day of Pentecost has come they were all together in one place and suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rushing of a mighty wind and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues of fire distributed and resting on each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the spirit gave them utterance.(Luk.2:1-4).
From the foregoing he submits that the supernatural exhibition of courage, faith and preaching of the apostles as recorded in Acts is easily rendered by Luke as originating from the Pentecostal experience which is a fulfillment of Jesus promise. This dynamic power and its subsequent effects of audacious kerygma characterized the early apostles and still remains the basic characteristic of genuine Pentecostals today. Pentecost has come to represent the coming or operations of the Holy Spirit, and Pentecostals or Pentecostalism has become the identity of those who subscribe to the teachings and operations of the Holy Spirit. In other words Pentecostalism has become the family name or concept representing the entire system and movement of those Christians who believe that they can still receive and operate the same power that the apostles received on that day of Pentecost that immediately followed Christ’s ascension. Pentecostalism in this context is apostolic based Christian church that attaches fundamental importance to the place of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of tongues amongst others as the hallmark of transformative and authentic Christianity.
Furthermore while the history of Pentecostalism internationally dates back to 1906 in United States of America following what Ukessay online report describes as Azusa street revival and the biggest ever in USA history, it notes further that from that humble start Pentecostalism has been reported to be the largest global shift in religions market place with its presence now cutting across India, China, Chile.
Its emergence in Nigeria has been adduced to many sources. Pentecostalism has been described by Ukpong (2019) as the consciousness in Nigeria that strive to decolonize Christianity with a view to “making it authentic faith encounter in local context”. According to him it refers to a kind of defense mechanism that fostered grounds for the promotion of freedom and grounds for dealing with Africans question through the platform of Africanized gospel values perspectives.
The emergence of Pentecostalism according to Isichei (1995) can be traced to the fight for supremacy between the Protestantism and Catholicism. Pentecostalism or Charismatic spirituality was therefore a product of resistances directed against political and social discrimination by the mainline churches. It was according to him an attempt to Africanize Christianity and shed off it the colouration of western imperial and foreign dominance and prejudice. The above view is corroborated by Uzukwu (1996) when he states that western Christianity brought to African was driven on the tripod of domination, exploitation and alienation. This development he posits is predicated on the fact that the mainline churches established by the western missionaries failed to foster Christian principles that are culturally emancipating, anthropologically dignifying and spiritually fulfilling within the milieu of African world. Pentecostalism therefore was born as a gap bridger to close the gulf inherent in the above anomalies. It was an attempt to provide an African template of authentic Christianity that will provide answers and directions to Africa’s existential challenges.
Atonsuyi as cited in cyber journal For Pentecostal Charismatic Research says it pointedly as stated as follows: “Those churches did not only introduce an intensive practice of prayer into Nigerian Christianity, but also seek to liberate Christianity from the western practices. They seek to indigenize Christian faith in the country”. It is against this backdrop of emphasis on prayers and spiritual gifts by the emerging African independent churches that gave birth to Pentecostal brand of Christianity.
According to Akanbi and Bayers (2017) the term Pentecostal is difficult to define due to the fact that there are different scholarly descriptions of the concept. However he writes that a common thread that runs across the various views is that it refers to churches that emphasize the power of the Holy Spirit, the manifestations of the gift of the Holy God and speaking in tongue as evidence of being born again and efficacy of prayer are considered as Pentecost.
Furthermore they posit that influenza epidemic of 1918 provoked a spirit of prayer among the mission churches in Nigeria. The revivals erupted within the Anglican church where an indigenous prophetic movement later known as Christ Army Church was born in1918. The prayer therapy against influenza resulted in many other prayer groups known in Yoruba language as “Aladura” known as praying people. Some of these early ‘Aladura’ churches include the Eternal Sacred Order of Cherubim and Seraphim and the Church of the Lord Aladura which were founded in1925 and 1930 respectively They also noted that the Precious Stone Diamond Society another prayer and healing group against influenza left Anglican church to affiliate with the Faith Tabernacle of Philadelphia (USA) in 1920.
Moreover, during the 1930s prayer revivals, Apostle Joseph Babalola of the Faith Tabernacle led a revival that healed and converted thousands of souls to Christ. In 1932 he affiliated his group with the Pentecostal Apostolic Church of Great Britain, but the association dissolved over the use of modern medicine in 1941 and Apostle Babalola founded the Independent Christ Apostolic Church. During this same period a Pentecostal revival movement was born at Umuahia Abia State, where a group of praying believers from the Faith Tabernacle Congregation claimed to have been baptized by the Holy Spirit as in the day of Pentecost. The group that named themselves the Church of Jesus Christ in 1934 later affiliated with Assemblies of God USA in 1939. That was how the Pentecostal movement sprang up from the Eastern Nigeria while the Aladura groups and the Christ Apostolic Churches set the pace for Pentecostalism in the Western part of the country. Other foreign Pentecostal denominations such as the Welsh Apostolic church and the Foursquare Gospel Church were founded in 1931 and 1954 respectively.
In the same vein, the Celestial Church of Christ sprang up in Western Nigeria from Benin. The church rapidly expands into northern Nigeria and becomes one of Africa’s largest Aladura churches. In 1952, a former member of the Cherubim and Seraphim society, Pa Josiah Akindayomi, founded the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), and under Pastor Enoch AdejareAdeboye, the church greatly multiplied all over the world.
The Evangelical Students’ Revivals of the 1960-70’s was another wave of Pentecostal Expansion in Nigeria. Benson Idahosa was a leading figure in that move and he established the church of God mission international in 1972. In 1974, the Grace of God was established in Eastern Nigeria, the Deeper Life Bible Church was founded by Pastor William F. Kumuyi in 1975. In 1981, David O. Oyedepo founded the Living Faith Outreach Worldwide popularly known as “Winners Chapel”. He opened the “Faith Tabernacle” in Ota the suburbs of Lagos in 1999 that seats 50,000 worshippers. In this decade most of these modern Pentecostal churches like Living Faith, Mountain of Fire, Redeemed Christina Church of God, Deeper Life Bible Church, Assemblies of God, to mention only a few, have established one or more universities while almost all those churches have chains of nursery, primary and secondary schools they established to promote education in Nigeria.
Cox (1995) submits that Christian religion has a fundamental role in the advancement of civilization. In other words, Christianity cannot be confined to a private religion as it has critical role to play as the royal road to national development. Pentecostalism in Nigeria as an integral part of Christianity should no doubt be able to provide a template or roadmap for the driving of the nation forward. It is against this backdrop that this work seeks to examine the core values of Pentecostal Christianity in Nigeria and their implication in fostering security and national development. It is an attempt to identify the elements of Pentecostal Christianity in Nigeria that can serve as building blocks for peace, social, economic, political and technological development.
1. Spiritual or Power Encounter: Pew Forum 2006 states that Pentecostal political activism originates with the founding of the “Christian Students Social movement” in Nigeria in 1977. The emphasis of this activism is on harnessing the spiritual forces that govern politics as well as bringing about reform through prayers. According to it this activism is referred to as spiritual inertia or power encounter which it also stated is the root for nation building. Jesus did a lot of supernatural things, like feeding the 5000 ,raising the dead, casting out demons, but he also engaged his disciples to continue his works of dominating the earth with divine influence when he states as follow: “Most assuredly I say to you he who believes in Me the works that I do he will do also and greater works than these he will do because I go to My Father.” (John14:12) It is in the context of the above mandate that Pentecostals draw her cardinal core values of serving as the harbingers of divine power on earth. The security challenges of Nigeria today is so hopeless such that our government with all the power of coercion under their control cannot assure her citizenry of safety but would rather prefer to inform Nigerians that they are handing over those terrorizing our collective safety to God for punishment. This may sound ridiculous or be seen as an attitude of evasiveness on the side of the government but the implication is that the President of Nigeria is admitting the limitation of human or physical power in addressing our existential challenges. Power encounter as a Pentecostal core value represents a practical demonstration that Jesus Christ is Lord of all spirits and therefore through him individuals and nations can access power to withstand evil forces in creation. This is where Pentecostalism should serve as a bridge in mobilizing divine power through prayer and spiritual warfare to checkmate the overwhelming hellish forces that are increasingly being unleashed against the Nigerian citizens.
2. Brotherhood: According to Akanbi and Bayers (2017) Pentecostal core theology includes but are not limited to group cohesion as well as reciprocity. These core values they note play significant role in the evolution of kingdom social capital by religion. By advancing the culture of reciprocity as well as group solidarity among actors, religion helps to evolve a society driven by commitment to common interest and communitarian ethos.What this means is that faith based organizations provide platform for social intercourse or network that promotes social integration, brotherhood and social consciousness. According to Abang (2004) the basic calling of Christians, according to Jesus, is to love God with all ones heart, soul and mind and to love ones neighbor as oneself (Math 22:7-39). Loving God according to Strivers et al. (2000) embraces the idea of committing oneself to the fulfillment of God’s mandate for creation with love for ones neighbor occupying a central place. This by implication he posits is a call to the promotion of the following: economic justice, human rights, social justice which should be reflected as commitment to the poor and charity.
3. Charity: It is against this backdrop that Abang (2004) avers that religion as an agent of shaping the public life should not be confined only to the political sphere. According to him religion is to embrace the public domain which in his own interpretation should embrace the realm of existence or human endeavour’s that is meant to be brought under the dominion or reign of God. Simply put religion should be a bridge builder in securing harmony and growth among the creatures of God for the ultimate glory of the transcendental reality.
According to Abang (2004) one of the core values of Pentecostal Christianity in Nigeria is charity and humanitarian actions which he notes is a critical public engagement platform for driving national development. It is in this context of charity that he notes that some Pentecostal churches are now playing frontline role in providing social services to their catchment community. What this means is that Pentecostal churches through her paradigmatic shift in showing God’s of love by word and deed are invariably and indirectly expanding the social development thrust of government without cost to the people and the government.
For instance Abang notes that the Apostolic church of Nigeria is involved in send funds to orphanage and other charitable organization in Nigeria. Besides he submits that Pentecostal churches are doing what other churches and community neglect on the ground that such responsibility is solely governmental business. This is argued on the ground that government alone cannot provide all the basic social services a people need. That was what informed the construction of a road single handedly by Dominion Chapel in Abuja as well as the sinking of a borehole to provide water free of charge to a community in the city. Moreover a Pentecostal church has been identified in Obalande Lagos that has committed itself to providing social services such as: feeding the aged, sinking boreholes, garbage container, sending children to school, rehabilitating school building in the community, free medical services, food distribution on house to house and street by street basis.
4. Evangelism: Evangelism is another core value that Pentecostal Churches are devoted to. It is a concept whose main thrust or objective is soul winning through invading the lives held captive by forces darkness with the transformative gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Evangelism has to do with the proclamation of good news. The verb form for the above word “evangelize” literally means to bear good news. This good news it posits revolves on good tidings that relates to the coming of Jesus Christ to the earth to save mankind from sins. Furthermore he posits that what makes the good news compelling is it’s divine source. It is against this backdrop that evangelism serves as transcendental perspectives in dissolving the various cosmological tension points and aberrations in our social, economic, cultural and political values that undermine or serve as breach to personal and corporate survival. Pentecostal fire is often used to mean evangelistic spirit or drive which was what made the early apostles of Christ to be referred to as men who turned the world upside down. (Acts 17:6). It was a mandate that called men to repentance from sinful and pervasive lifestyle and to embrace definite moral standards. Evangelism provides the human society access to Biblical moral platform or standards which according to Evans (2006) are God’s system of truth for evolving strong and sustainable society. Nigeria more than ever needs the gospel of peace more than increasing military might for according to Mangalwadi (2009) evil is rooted in the heart and “ultimately it is our inner life____ assumptions, values, worldviews, desires, emotion, and attitudes ___ as well as our relationship that need to be transformed,” What this means is that it is inwardly transformed citizenry that drives engines of justice ,mercy and truth that are fundamental for entrenching sustainable peace and development in any nation.
5. Conversion: Conversion is another core message of Pentecostal Christianity in Nigeria. However in recent times the concept is being redefined to embrace not only the private realm of life but also the public domain. This was the view of Wink (1992) when he opines that the “public space should in the Christian context relates to both the inner and outer reality of life”. In other words the church should strive to define the Christian religion as a call not only to private or inner life but also an outer or public domain.
Biblically the term “conversion” centers around a number of words. However,Epistrepho (turn) andmetanoia (repentance) are the two most frequently used. The Bible describes the word conversion as the turning away from wickedness, turning to God from idols or turning from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God. (2Tim. 2:19, 1Thess.1:9 and Acts 26:18). The call to repentance is a critical core in the Pentecostal gospel as they strive to birth the reign of peace, righteousness, love, unity and all round prosperity on earth.
6. Vision: Driven by passion to purge our political terrain with the unsavouring tag of dirty game, many Pentecostal churches are engaging in workshops, seminars and conferences charged with culturing a divine perspective driven politics in the country . This was the view of Wale Adejarasin in his interview as cited by Abang (2004) when he posits that the church is engaging her fold to take active part in politics by helping to breed a generation of people who will carry God to the political space, market arena, business or any other human endeavour. Vision refers to the desired future state of an individual, organization, or a nation.This is captured in Burt Nanus concept of vision as cited in www.au.org.af.>awc>strat-Idr-dm online which defines same as a realistic, credible, attractive future for [an] organization. Visionary nations provides themselves with the seed bed upon which they build national socio-cultural and economic prerequisites for mobilizing integrated national community. What this means is that visionary leadership or nationhood is necessary for entrenching peace, political and economic development.
Pentecostalism drives on the vision of total emancipation of humanity from various shackles of unethical living that promote poverty, disease, breakdown of family values, greed, injustice and violent conflict. Besides, Pentecostal Christianity was born as a follow-up of the world vision of Jesus Christ given to His disciples. (Acts. 1:8) Miller and Yamamori (2007) is in agreement to the above view when he states that Pentecostalism as a visionary or development paradigm is rooted on the vision or inspiration of Christ which seeks to address holistically the spiritual, physical, and the social needs of people in their community. Furthermore Myers (2015) corroborates the above view when he posits that Pentecostal Christianity drives through the vision of war not by use of military might but by seeking to dethrone spiritual forces(devils and demons ) that fosters human rights violations, oppression, exploitative and unjust political systems, or social structures. Put pointedly (Miller and Yamamori, 2007; Freeman, 2012; Lindhart, 2015) avers that ethnographic studies shows Pentecostalism in Africa is experiencing explosive impact driven by it’s vision or emphasis on the betterment of the interests of the vast population of the poor. Vision for the poor in other words is fundamental for addressing developmental challenges undermining our nation in the areas of security, poverty, ethnic and violent conflict. However such vision must be situated within the milieu of involving both material and spiritual needs of people. Pentecostalism as a transformative platform of society involves reaching out to the needy of the society at both the critical and non critical core of our existential challenges.
This study has identified the increasing threats to our national security and development as assuming very dangerous dimensions. It went further to state that the government of the day appears to be at a loss or unwilling to chart the way forward out of the murky waters of our present distress. Against this backdrop it introduced the concept Pentecostalism as the way forward. The latter was defined as a brand of Christianity that is taking great root in Africa as well as providing paradigmatic shift in addressing our contemporary existential challenges through commitment to her core values such as spiritual or power encounter, evangelism, conversion, brotherhood/charity and vision.
The security and development of any nation is a collective responsibility. Therefore, the following are some of the recommendations made for promoting national security and development in Nigeria through the mobilization of Pentecostalism.
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