Pastor Gideon Oyedepo of C&S Bible Ministries, Surulere, Lagos, has released a statement on the recent alleged viral hate speech against white garment churches by Pastor David Ibiyeomie, President, Salvation Ministries, Port Harcourt, Rivers state. In the statement received by Christian Benefits magazine, Pastor Oyedepo urged the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to call Pastor Ibiyeomie to order so that God would not count “the unprovoked attack of the church against him,” the cleric warned.
He explained that the white garment churches (Cherubim and Seraphim and orders) trust Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and also believe that Jesus is the only way to salvation and eternal life, and that through his death and resurrection, believers can be forgiven of their sins and have a personal relationship with God.
“The church also emphasizes the importance of the Bible as the Word of God and encourages its members to live a life of holiness and obedience to God’s teachings. In addition, the Cherubim and Seraphim Church & others value community and fellowship, encouraging its members to support and uplift one another in their spiritual journeys,” the statement emphasized.
Oyedepo said there were hundreds of Christian denominations whose God is Jesus Christ, and remarked that it was erroneous for Ibiyeome to make such a sweeping statement or to generalize from his own limited experience. While making some clarifications about the Pentecostalism movement in Nigeria, he said “It is partially true and correct to educate David Ibiyeome that contemporary Pentecostalism does have some roots in African Independent Churches (AICs) in Nigeria(the white garment churches), but it is not solely an offshoot of them. Pentecostalism emerged as a distinct movement in the early 20th century, with many of its early leaders based in the United States. However, Pentecostalism did spread rapidly throughout the world, including in Africa, where it intersected with AICs, which were already well-established. In this context, Pentecostalism began to take on some distinct African characteristics, such as emphasis on healing and deliverance, spiritual warfare, and the use of African cultural forms like music and dance.”
He added that Nigerian Pentecostalism has been shaped by the influence of AICs (the white garment churches) and indigenous cultures, giving it a unique character within the global Pentecostal movement. “So, only ignorance or sense of deceit can make anyone utter such blanket condemnation from the pulpit,” he remarked.
Pastor Gideon Oyedepo, Cherubim & Seraphim (C&S) Bible Ministries, Surulere, Lagos.
The C&S minister further said that there have been concerns raised by some Christian leaders and scholars about alleged excesses of Nigerian Pentecostalism and their negative impact on Christianity and Christians particularly on prosperity gospel, which he said emphasizes material wealth and success rather than spiritual growth. He also accused Pentecostalism of commercialization of the Church, alleging that some of their pastors and other leaders make large sums of money from their followers.
He also accused some Nigerian Pentecostal churches of spiritual manipulation and emotionalism with all tactics/forms of Charismatic witchcraft, leading to some Christians being misled or abused. “However, it is important to note that not all Nigerian Pentecostal churches or leaders are guilty of these excesses, and many are working to address these issues within their communities. Because of the understanding that we have, we never condemned the Pentecostalism or Pastor Ibioyeome’s church as house of Satan,” Oyedepo stated.
He said it is a disservice to Christ Jesus by church leaders to attempt de-marketing rival denominations. He warned church leaders against de-marketing or negatively promoting rival denominations, which he said goes against the teachings and ideals of Christ Jesus. While suing for unity and love among believers as Christ preached, Oyedepo said de-marketing tactics can create disunity and animosity between different denominations, which he said goes against the spirit of Christ’s message. Therefore, he enjoined church leaders to focus on common beliefs, saying all Christian denominations share the core beliefs of faith in Christ and his teachings. “Instead of de-marketing rivals, Church leaders should focus on promoting shared beliefs and values, fostering a sense of unity among Christians,” he advised.
Pastor Gideon Oyedepo also sued for respect and understanding among church leaders. He said rather than de-marketing rival denominations, church leaders should encourage respectful dialogue and understanding between different groups, which the cleric said would enable believers to learn from each other’s traditions and perspectives, promoting mutual respect and growth. The C&S Bible Ministries leader further advised church leaders on service and outreach citing that Christ Jesus emphasized the importance of serving others and spreading his message of love and salvation. “Church leaders should prioritize serving their communities and reaching out to those in need, rather than expending energy on d-marketing rival denominations,” he advised.
On personal accountability the firebrand preacher said individuals are responsible for their spiritual journey and relationship with Christ Jesus. “it is not the role of church leaders to dictate which denomination a person should follow. Instead, leaders should provide guidance and support for individuals to deepen their faith. Let it be stated here, no godly Pastor is permitted to play God. There are in Pentecostal churches as many bad eggs as there are in the white garment churches. Many of us in white garment churches would rather pray to die than to combine (leaning on) another idol with our Savior, Jesus Christ. In conclusion, attempting to de-market rival denominations is indeed a disservice to Christ Jesus and his teachings.
“Church leaders should focus on unity, promotion of the shared beliefs, respect, understanding, service and personal accountability to honor Christ’s message effectively. Christian Association of Nigeria should call the likes of Pastor David Ibiyeomie to order. All true children of God know this; that in Nigeria today, the cities with the highest number of churches/mega churches are severely groaning under the yokes of thick darkness. One would have thought that David Ibiyeome was spiritually matured to see all that around him and collaborate for revival of end time. We pray that God will not count the unprovoked attack of the Church against him. He’s struggling to build, and may he not lose out to attractive/distracting distractions in the name of Jesus Christ. May the Christian body see this challenge as a call to greater Revival,’ the amiable leader of C&S Bible Ministries finally prayed.