Let us guard against religious doctrines based on conmanship


Controversial preacher Paul Mackenzie at the Malindi law courts where he is accused of leading a cult-like Church in Shakahola. [Standard]

On an afternoon sometimes in 1994, I left college and boarded a matatu from Nairobi CBD to Eastleigh. I sat a row behind three men who were busy sharing matters spiritual. One of them said, "our friend’s church has grown. The pastor has five bank accounts. He is doing very well".

Some questions immediately crossed my mind; spiritual growth or financial growth? What measure should we apply? I shook my head in disbelief and concluded that the Church was facing a serious threat; that the church congregation was headed in the wrong direction. This approach would definitely breed and introduce falsehood in evangelisation mission. Indeed, it has. In religion, a false prophet is a person who falsely claims the gift of prophecy or divine inspiration, or to speak for God, or who makes such claims for evil ends.

In the world today, humanity has been treated to drama of sorts and false prophets thriving and competing to outdo each other with their mischief. In Kenya, we are grappling with the ghosts of devil worshiping, mushrooming religious sects with extreme doctrines as well as prophecy of doom. People are ready to even apply ‘black magic’ and ‘falsehood’ to attract naïve followers and in turn fleece them. And Jesus began to say to them, “Take heed that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name, saying, I am he! and they will lead many astray. And when you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is not yet." (Mark 13:5-7).

It is the desire of every human being to lead a good life, that is, a sound physical and mental health and ability to afford basic needs. However, due to the ever-rising cost of living, many Kenyans have become vulnerable, if not gullible, in their quest to make ends meet. No wonder that sermons of prosperity abound. Unfortunately, our people are sliding deep into poverty and state of hopelessness as they dispose of the little they possess in the spirit of ‘planting the seed’. Some have taken heavy loans and surrendered to the so-called spiritual leaders, hoping to ‘reap big’. This can be attested by some lawsuits where adherents to some churches complain bitterly after realisation that they were duped.

"And then if any one says to you, look, here is the Christ! or look, there He is! do not believe it. False Christs and false prophets will arise and show signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But take heed; I have told you all things beforehand" (Mark 13:21-23). The whole nation, if not the entire world, has been disturbed, stupefied and dumbfounded due to the horrific activities that happened at Shakahola. The act of ‘arresting’ the mental faculties of innocent people and children and driving them to the path of death in the name of starving to death in order to meet the maker is so devastating. Are minors equipped fully enough to discern good from the bad? Are children well prepared to understand spirituality? If starving to death is a sure path to heaven, why not shepherd by example?

The perpetuators of these ungodly acts are well nourished, not spiritually, but physically. This defeats logic. Dear compatriots, all the answers we need about life and our relationship with God are captured explicitly in the Bible and other holy books. All that we need to do is to refer. Let us be smart. Allowing people to shamelessly, amass wealth through treachery, hiding behind the gospel is unwarranted. The holy books have stated, unequivocally, that we must work hard in order to prosper. The same holy books teach us about tithing and offertory. The covenant we have with God does not include foolishness of the mind. God emphasises on wisdom and smartness of the mind.

Meanwhile, the government is duty-bound to protect its citizen against any form of danger. This is actually the reason the citizenry pay tax judiciously. For unsuspecting Kenyans to have lost lives in hundreds is unacceptable. Mechanisms must be put in place to mitigate against a repeat of the same or anything bordering on extremism. Freedom of worship, yes, however, freedom without checks and balances has proven to be risky without caution. All religious groupings must be vetted and their doctrines discerned. I am perturbed that some clergy are opposed to this arrangement.

Mr Kilivwa is a medical doctor