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A Philosophical Assessment of the Effects of Pentecostalism on the Religious and Socio-Economic Landscape of Nigeria 

By

John Clerk Koko PhD

Department of Religious and Cultural Studies,

Faculty of Arts, Akwa Ibom State University.

Email: johnclerk1@yahoo.com; johnkoko@aksu.edu.ng; johnclerk2@yahoo.com.

Abstract

This research titled “A Philosophical Assessment of the Effects of Pentecostalism on the Religious and Socio-Economic Landscape of Nigeria” examines the activities of Pentecostalism in Nigeria against the backdrop of her religious and socio-economic landscape. The paper argues that Pentecostalism has positively shaped the religious and socio-economic landscape of the Nigerian society in many ways. However, recent trends in Pentecostalism such as sectarianism and divisiveness, extravagance of clergies, commercialization of Christianity, prevalence of the concept of enemy, diminished value for the dignity of labour, among others, indicate a paradigm shift from the true principles and teachings of the Bible. The study concludes that these recent trends are inimical to the religious and socio-economic landscape of the country and therefore calls for urgent response from the Church to address these challenges. Overall, the paper recommends establishment of a regulatory body that will monitor and checkmate the excesses of Pentecostal pastors; compulsory basic theological education for all Pentecostal pastors and government establishment of social / welfare schemes for citizens as possible solution. 

Key Words: Philosophical, Assessment, Effects, Pentecostalism, Socio-Economic, and Landscape.

 

Introduction

There is no doubt that over the years Christianity has played significant role in the overall development of the country. The effect of Christianity, especially Pentecostalism is still relevant today. In fact, it is difficult to discuss the historical, religious, political and socio-economic landscape of the country without discussing the significant contributions of churches in this category. For instance, the establishments of private universities, hospitals, banks, companies, campaign against AIDS/HIV, scholarships, etc are obvious and relevant contributions made by this category of churches over the years.

However, in contemporary Nigerian Society the activities of the churches in this category are not only unpleasant but counterproductive. There are abounding negative trends among Pentecostal churches that are inimical to the growth of the gospel of Jesus Christ and national development. The unpleasant observations being witnessed in the teachings and practices of the churches in this category pose a challenge to Christians and non-Christians alike, and to the Nigerian society. Thus, the purpose of this research is to examine the effects of Pentecostalism on the contemporary Nigerian society. By Pentecostalism, here, I refer to what Ayegboyin & Ishola (1997:16) describe as the “groups and sects which have traditionally placed emphasis on the speaking and receiving of certain gifts of the spirit, such as, speaking in tongues, prophesying as a sign of the baptism of the Holy spirit. This definition automatically excludes the mainline churches.

 

A Brief History of the Birth of Pentecostalism in Nigeria

An understanding of the birth of Pentecostalism in Nigeria may be impossible outside the history of the birth of Christianity. The history of Christianity in Nigeria up till date may be divided into two phases. The first attempt to introduce Christianity to the geographical area known as Nigeria was in Benin /Warri areas of Niger Delta in the 15th century. It was carried out by the Catholic Portuguese Missionaries. However, Omotoye (2005:105) observes that this early attempt was met with failure.

A second attempt was made by the European Christian Missionaries during the 19th century. The Christianization of the country between the 19th -21th centuries came into two phases .The first was led by the Methodist Mission in September, 1842 under the leadership of Thomas Birch Freeman. He entered Abeokuta through Badagry which became an entry point to Yorubaland. The town of Abeokuta latter became the “sunrise within the tropics”. He was followed closely by Henry Townsend, a missionary of the Church Missionary Society (Anglican), who equally settled in Abeokuta in December, 1842 (Kalu, 1978: 255-257). The earlier missionaries were followed by the Baptist and Roman Catholic in the evangelization of Yorubaland. The Christian Missionaries equally visited the Eastern part of Nigeria almost at the time they visited Yorubaland. The Christian missionary enterprise was delayed in the northern part of the country because of religious and political factors. Ade Ajayi (1965: xiv) notes saliently that the Christian Mission Society (C.M.S) played prominent role in the evangelization of Nigeria. Apart from the Anglican Mission, Methodist, Baptist and catholic denominations also made their impact felt in Nigeria before the end of the 19th century.

The second phase of Christian Missionay activities is traceable to the Aladura or African Independent Churches. These Churches include the Cherubimn and Seraphim Church (C&S), Church of the Lord (Aladura), Christ Apostolic Church, (CAC) and Celestial Church Of Christ (CCC). These were indigenous Churches founded by Nigerians. Omoyajowo (1979: 96) posits that “the Aladura Churches are Churches which began the indigenous Churches founded by indigenous persons, and run under indigenous leadership”. Prominent figures of these Churches include Moses Orimolade, Josiah Olunowo Oshitelu, Joseph Ayo Babalola and Samuel Oshoffa respectively.

One significant thing about the Aladura Churches is that they combined the two fundamental elements of Christianity and African culture in a way that advertised their Christian intentions without undermining their African credentials. They emphasized some features which are relevant and valued by the African people, such as prophesy, healing, prayer, vision, dream and the use of sacred objects (Omotoye, 2007:335-340). From the time of its beginning till now the Aladura Churches have grown phenomenally across the Yorubaland metropolis. Today, these Churches manifest in diverse forms.

The third phase of Christianity in Nigeria started in the 1960’s. It is the period of emergence and phenomenal growth in the establishment of Pentecostal Churches. Pentecostal churches have become uncountable in number. Obi (2006:42) citing Larry Christiansen argues that Pentecostal churches are seen as: “supernatural manifestation of the Holy Spirit, whereby the believer speaks forth in a language he never learned, and which he does not understand. Marshall (1993:8) has also opines that one of the most remarkable trends of the last decade among the Christian population of southern Nigeria has been the dramatic rise of the so called “charismatic” or “Pentecostal” movement. The Churches are often started as” Christian fellowship” centers before they metamorphose into Churches. There is innumerable number of them. Today family houses, warehouses, open spaces, streets and uncompleted buildings are used as Pentecostal Churches according to Iheanacho (2009). The phenomenological growth of Pentecostalism in Nigeria has called for a kind of controlling and umbrella organization in order to harness the vital resources of this response to the Christian faith in the country. This appears to be the reason behind the birth of the Pentecostal fellowship of Nigeria in 1985. It is an umbrella organization of all Pentecostal congregations and churches in the country. Amata (2002: 88) states that the founding fathers of the Pentecostal fellowship of Nigeria had in mind a common objective which is, to bring under one umbrella Holy spirit filled Christian churches and organizations that behave and are into the practice of the full gospel message of the Acts of the Apostle Chapter two, in an independent and autonomous Christian fellowship. Care should however be taken, else, Pentecostalism foster a kind of religious and spiritual anarchy in Nigeria. The next section will examine some positive effects of Pentecostalism in contemporary Nigeria.

 

Positive Effects of Pentecostalism on the Religious and Socio-Economic Landscape of Nigeria

No doubt, Pentecostalism has made giant strides on Nigeria’s religious and socio-economic landscape.  The list is inexhaustible but here only the most pronounced positive effects shall be identified and discussed.

 

Renewed Emphasis on the Supremacy of the Bible

Pentecostalism has reawakened a general desire and emphasis on the efficacy and supremacy of the Bible as God’s infallible Word of God in matters of faith and practice. It is common to see many Christians now take the Bible seriously. The Bible is no longer considered as a book meant for the clergy. This renewed emphasis placed on the Bible has generated many Bible study groups in the mainline Churches in Nigeria and some of them are operating vital ecclesial ministries. Examples are the Scripture Union (SU) and the Full Gospel Business Men (FGBM) which membership cuts across many Christian denominations. Also, as Azodo (1993:13) observes even Catholics are finding biblical support for much of the presupposed doctrinal and devotional practices of the church. It is now common to hear people say “the Bible says” and many biblical passages are becoming a regular prayer motives for many Christians according to Ebebe (2004:26-27). This reawakened interest on the Bible is helping people to realize that prayer is not a monologue but a dialogue between God and his children. In all, the Bible is seen as the authoritative word of God and it is through the Bible that God dialogues with a believer.

 

Synchronization of African and Western Music

Church music in Pentecostal churches in Nigeria has witnessed a remarkable synchronization of African and Western music. Ukpong observes that many people had discovered a new dimension of being a Christian through the so called gospel music. The fluidity of Pentecostal music has made it easy for people to sing and play the same tune in various languages and in diverse cultural ambiences. Pentecostal music is homogenizing the cultural spectrum of the country. The youths of various ethnic background and religious affiliations can now come together to sing and enjoy a common religious tune (Ukpong, https://www.glopent.net accessed 11/11/ 2018). Udofia (2004:38) remarks that music is a central part of African culture and especially in African religious culture. Pentecostalism has really fostered the flourishing of African music in Christian worship, making the church more at home in the African soul. The presence of Pentecostal music and accompaniments have made many young Africans to realize that religious services can be pleasurable and has created a common identity for people of various denominations and ethnic groups in the one big family of God. Many churches are now giving attention to the formation and training of choristers in the church. Resources are being allotted for the provision of a state of art musical instruments as singing and dancing are becoming an integral part of the liturgy. Pentecostalism has led to the integration of African music into Christian worship in a very significant manner and style.

 

Renewed Emphasis on the Efficacy of Prayer 

    There is also a renewed emphasis on the efficacy of prayers among Pentecostal churches in Nigeria. This fact is clearly pointed out by Schubert (1991) who notes that Pentecostalism has also awakened in Nigerians an eagerness for spiritual life in the secular world, and a desire for an experiential communion with God in prayers. People now give serious attention to spirituality based on a personal relationship with the Lord through prayer. This explains why there are prayer houses all over the streets of major cities in the country. The belief on the efficacy of prayer is so strong among Pentecostals that many would prefer to abandon their work to attend prayer meetings. This usually happens because they believe that everything possible only by prayers. Hence, Pentecostal churches are usually flooded with people seeking for jobs, good health, suitors, money, houses, favours, political appointments, career promotion, and children, among others. Achunike (2004:95-96), opines that Pentecostalism is noted for encouraging a spirituality that abhors confinement and standardization, while provoking an intimate experience of the Holy Spirit. Many Nigerians are now after a spirituality that is manifested in power and prayer, since an inbreaking of the divine in the ordinary is a proof of the validity and authenticity of a religious life of an individual.

 

Liturgical Reforms and Flexibility 

According to Achunike (2004:66), “Liturgy deals with the way people worship God. Pentecostals take worship seriously and allow it to penetrate and influence their lives. Indeed for the Pentecostals, worship is a 24-hour a-day, seven days-a-week experience of God. The Pentecostal attention to worship and vibrancy of Pentecostal celebrations have led to a change of attitude towards liturgical celebrations in the mainline churches. The guiding principles for preparing for any liturgical function are built around the experience of the people and not simply in conformity to foreign styles of worship. Since this seems to respond to African religious sentiments. Udoette (2001: 41) observes in this respect that it is not long since the Catholic Church introduced into her liturgy the singing of choruses, playing of local instruments, clapping of hands and dancing. Hitherto, it was forbidden by an unwritten law to do these things. The church was supposed to be as quiet as possible so that one would not distract the presence of God in the spirit. This rigidity in liturgy is now broken by the worship flexible worship styles introduced by Pentecostalism.  Healey (1996:260-61) also notes that it is now taken for granted that some of these basic anthropological dispositions of Africans could become useful and powerful tools to glorifying God and edifying a worshiping community.

 

Recognition of the Role of Women in Worship

Prior to the advent of Pentecostalism in Nigeria, the role of women during worship services were minimal and in extreme cases unnoticeable in the mainline churches. Fortunately, with the birth of Pentecostalism, the role of women in Christian churches became pronounced. Taking cue from the Pentecostal churches, women for instance are now assuming responsibility at public worship in the mainline churches. Many functions that do not require the character of ordination are now taken up readily by women at liturgical functions. This has given a unique touch to the liturgical assembly where nobody is no more considered as a “pious spectator” at the sacred drama as Ukpong puts it (Ukpong, https://www.glopent.net accessed 11/11/ 2018). Pentecostalism has attempted to offer women the needed recognition and identity in the household of God, to establish their authentic religious endowments. This inspiration is being taken over by the mainline churches in Africa. Today, there evidences of women serving as prophetess, pastors, deaconess, bishops, apostles, Sunday school teachers and so on. It is important to also add that there is increase lay participation brought about by the outburst of Pentecostalism. The church grows where there are magnifications of spiritual gifts, whether among the laity or the clergy, for the good of the whole community.

 

Patronization of the Mass and Social Media             

Patronization of mass and social media has become a common place in Pentecostalism. There is also innovation in the area of communication. Another aspect of this response is the development of communication departments in various mainline churches, to inform the public about the works of salvation. Many bishops and priests are now regular guests in television and radio stations, in their attempt to carry the gospel beyond the pulpit. Churches’ programmes and spiritual activities are given wider publicity in the mass media. The Pentecostals have encouraged the use of mass media for religious programmes, and this is fast becoming normal for the mainline churches in the country. Social media such as face book, twitter, whatsapp, etc have become avenues where religious activities are viewed live. Church services are now presented live in the internet. The social networks are also used to connect churches and their adherents together. The world has now become a global village and the Pentecostal churches are making good use of the opportunity to promote their religious programmes and carry out what is now known as televangelism.

 

Provision of Infrastructure     

Another important giant stride of Pentecostalism to the socio-economic development of Nigeria is that it has provided some critical infrastructures in the country especially in the area of construction of minor roads, office complexes, business centers and church buildings. Clearly, the presence of some Pentecostal churches has opened up some virgin lands and swamps that ordinarily would have been difficult to develop in Nigeria. It is the character of Pentecostal Pastors and leaders to seek to popularize their denominations. Hence, they could go to any extent to ensure that roads or streets leading to their churches are constructed for easy access. In most cases, the Church buildings of Pentecostal churches are built to meet the state of the art. Achunike (2004:106) observes that Pentecostals have a very high sense of aesthetic. This is true in the architectural beauty of their churches and their interior decorations. Pentecostalism has succeeded tremendously in influencing the aesthetic set-up of mainline churches in Nigeria. In fact, the beauty around the sanctuary of the Pentecostal churches which very often meets the state of the art is worth admiring. Today, many of the well-built and admirable residential houses, hotels, business complexes, etc that meet international architectural designs and standards in the country are owned by the General Overseers of Pentecostal churches or their leaders. In essence, Pentecostalism has contributed to the socio-economic development of the country by providing critical infrastructures.

 

Provision of Employment Opportunities 

    Pentecostalism has also contributed to the socio-economic development of the country by creating jobs and employment opportunities for Nigerians. The consciousness of wealth and health gospel among Pentecostal leaders often makes them to engage in many business activities. Today, there are many Pentecostal churches that own five star hotels, hospitals, banks, companies, business complexes, private jets, and schools. They do so because they believe the Church is more than being a spiritual entity but also a business and economic entity that needs to be actively involved in the secular and business world. Apart, from these business avenues, Pentecostals usually adopt a multi-staff ministry paradigm which requires the employment of some professionals, skilled and semi-skilled individuals in the running of the day to day activities of their churches. These help to create employment for thousands of the Nigerian populace. Arguably, there are many Nigerians today that could have been jobless and unemployed if not for the birth of Pentecostalism in Nigeria. Indeed, the rate of unemployment currently bedeviling the country could have been worsened if not for Pentecostalism. Thus, it is reasonable to say that Pentecostalism has contributed to the socio-economic development of the country through the provision of employment opportunities for Nigerians.

 

Provision of Quality Education 

    Pentecostalism has also made giant stride in the area of education in Nigeria. For instance, the establishment of schools, especially private universities has added to the quality of education in the country. Today, there are quite a number of universities belonging to Pentecostal churches that can compete favourably with universities abroad. It is not a gain to say that some Pentecostal universities have better infrastructure and facilities than even the government owned universities. The good learning environment, infrastructure, and quality teachers in Pentecostal universities provide quality education for children of the well-to-do families who are able to afford the cost of education in these universities. Pentecostalism therefore contributes to the socio-economic development of the country by providing quality education for citizens of the country.

 

Renewed Emphasis on the Power of Faith

One of the most outstanding influences of Pentecostals is a general interest in preaching, proclamation and teaching of the power of faith. It is common place to hear Pentecostals emphasize on the power of faith in human activities. This was a carryover of the seventeenth century reformation pioneered by Martin Luther whose main thesis was sola fide and sola scriptural. That is, belief in faith and Scripture alone as the basis for salvation.  Unfortunately, as Peters (1999) observes, much of these are done from apologetic or polemic motives. Notwithstanding, there is an earnest effort to teach the Christian faith and moral, which has led to much evangelistic renewal across churches. Some have argued that the attention given to the Bible by the Pentecostals as the sole authoritative source of preaching the good news and of teaching the Christian faith and morals have provoked theologians and pastors of the mainline churches to give new zeal to the ministry of the Word. This has brought about great revival in Christian denominations.

 

Increase Awareness and Involvement in Humanitarian Services

It is important to state that Pentecostalism has also brought about increase awareness among Christians on the need to be involved in humanitarian services. Though, this was not alien to Christianity in Nigeria. Prior to the birth of Pentecostalism in Nigeria, the early Christian Missionaries had already introduced humanitarian services. Regrettably, after Christianity had gained ground on Nigeria’s soil, the mainline churches still relied heavily on these missionaries for humanitarian services in preaching the gospel. However, the rise of Pentecostalism in Nigeria brought about increase awareness on the need to accompany the preaching of the gospel with humanitarian services. Two factors were responsible for this. One, was a reinterpretation of Jesus’ social ministry especially the feeding of the five thousand people with five loaves and two fishes in Mark 6:30-44. Following, the renewed interpretation of this event, many Christians began to see the need to combine the gospel with humanitarian services among Pentecostal churches. Two, was competition for membership. The rise of Pentecostalism came with the zeal to convert people at all cost to Pentecostal churches. One way to achieve this was to use humanitarian services as baits to convert the supposed unbelievers to Christianity. This method of evangelization made some mainline churches to lose membership. To prevent this from happening therefore, the mainstream churches had to adopt the humanitarian approach as well. Today, it is a common place to see Christian denominations being actively involved in humanitarian services. Undoubtedly, this has not only alleviated the sufferings of people but has contributed to the overall welfare of the nation. Thus, Pentecostalism has contributed to the socio-economic development of the country.

It is crystal clear from the above, that Pentecostalism is a force to reckon with in the contemporary Christianity. It has created permanent positive impact on the churches and society. Be that as it may, Pentecostalism also comes with much that is undesirable. In the next section, the negative effects of Pentecostalism to the contemporary Nigerian society would be discussed.

 

Negative Trends of Pentecostalism on the Religious and Socio-Economic Landscape of Nigeria

As already stated above, Pentecostalism has contributed positively to the religious and socio-economic development of the nation. However, there are also some negative trends associated with Pentecostalism in Nigeria that require a critical assessment. Some of these would be discussed below.

 

Sectarianism and divisiveness

    The fact that Pentecostalism has introduced sectarianism and divisive tendencies among Christians is not in doubt. Perhaps, there has been no period in Church history that the Church has been so divided than this period of Pentecostalism. This fact is well acknowledged by Iheanacho (2009) who has argued that contemporary Pentecostalism is characterized by discriminatory tendencies and rivalry. This is partly due to the fact that the rise of Pentecostalism in Nigeria introduced into Christianity what could best be described as “we are better than them” attitude. In this attitude, Pentecostal denominations usually consider themselves as unique and different from other Christian bodies, especially those of the mainstream churches. This disparity has continued till date giving rise to sectarianism. Although, Christian missions engaged in denominational rivalry on arrival, the tempo is rising higher in recent time. The various churches as Iheanach (2009) observes compete for legitimacy, acceptance, and spiritual superiority, amongst themselves. Each group claims possession of the Christian faith and bask in the euphoria of “denominationalism triumphalism”. This is also the reason for the appellative stereotype of “living” and “non-living” churches according to Iheanacho (2009). This is not healthy for the religious and socio-economic development of the country.

 

Extravagance of Clergies

It appears that whenever and wherever there is spiritual re-awakening, the clergies usually take advantage economically. It is against this backdrop that Ukpong posits that the material success of some Pentecostal ministers has created a kind of “ministerial jealousy” in Nigeria (Ukpong, https://www.glopent.net accessed 11/11/ 2018).  The success and validity of ministers of God seem to be measured by their material extravagance. This cancer is eating deep into the fabric of Nigerian Christendom. The clergies are living far above many members of their congregations materially. Achunike (2004:66) is again proves right when he correctly observes that Pentecostal extravagance lifestyle affects priests and seminarians. This is precisely because we belong to a society that is materialistic, a society that worships wealth or money or possession. The church has never encouraged her ministers to live below acceptable economy standard of their environment, while not discouraging the spirit of sacrifice and renunciation by them. The challenge of “living good and giving the best to God” often preached by Pentecostalism, is having negative effects on the churches, policies concerning clerical remuneration, and thereby calls for a re-evaluation of acceptable and dignifies style of life by the clergies. This of course stands in contrast to the biblical injunction that requires us to identify with the son of man who had no place to lay his head (Luke 9:58). The challenge of living and looking good and having the best that life can offer has also negatively affected the society.

 

Commercialization of Christianity

Closely related to the problem of clerical extravagance is the pursuit for materialism and commercial ministry. The out bourse of Pentecostalism in Nigeria has brought with it much that a contemporary society could hardly desire. In fact, the contemporary Nigerian church is submerged by the quest for materialism, prevalent in the society. Ehusani (1991:161) remarks that rather than find solace in the Christian hope of eternal life, sign of total submission to capitalistic tendencies, especially in insatiable material acquisition, looms large in Nigerian church. Spiritual growth and moral sanctity towards better eternity is fast giving way to material craving as the new idea of fulfillment of life and ultimate reality. The level of material quest by Nigerian Christians, especially clergy men within the Pentecostal setting is radically in deviance and inimical to the values and life of the early church. Conventionally, church liturgy and messenger show preference for the poor. But the structure and functional praxis of Nigerian churches, such as elitist form of theology, classiest form of its clergy and the romance between church leaders and politico-economic power brokers and stakeholders in our society betray and reverse this preference for the affluent (Iheanacho, 2009:106; Waapela, 2006:358). Ogunwole (2006: 327) citing Akiode insists that it is the quest for materialism and commercial tendencies that engender ministers to use catchy and animating words to advertise for harvest of miracles, which turn out to be harvest of money. They use both evil and satanic powers to draw large crowds to their churches. They convince their followers to sow quality seeds and wait for their miracles, coming on the way. Followers are told that the more they sow the more blessings that will come their way. However, the motif is purely commercial. Obviously, this is not in tandem with the teachings and attitude of Christ and the Apostles. The overall effects of the Pentecostal quest for materialism and commercial ministry cannot be quantified. We now have a society of increase corruption, criminal activities, militancy, etc.

 

Shallow Spirituality

Another negative effect of the emergence of Pentecostalism in Nigeria is the emphases on healing, deliverance, dream, vision, special knowledge, prophesy and speaking in tongues. For Pentecostalism, healing and deliverance are not just considered to be an extraordinary charismas and peculiar grace emanating from the treasury of the church, but they are seen as an ordinary right and privilege of every of Christian. There is a tendency to separate spiritual gifts from the sacramental life of the church, and at worst, sacramental mediation of graces are considered merely as ritualistic Christianity, lacking in power. The Christian faith is seen as a manifestation of the power of Jesus in the everydayness of life. This unfortunately is degenerating into a superstitious Christianity, where experience is separated from doctrine (Iheanacho, 2009). As a result Christianity is now populated by seekers of spiritual gifts and miracles rather than bearers of spiritual fruits as found in Galatians 5:22ff.

The practice of vision and dream, telling of prophecy are subtly entering into the “official Christianity” in the country. The emphasis given to these phenomena in Africa can easily lead to a conclusion that there is and emergence of neo-paganism in a guise of Pentecostalism today. Many Christians are now out to “consult”, and spiritual direction or counseling is often confused with sorcery or divination. The resurgence of these experiences therefore challenges the church to reflect on her world view and cosmogony at least for the African Christians. These emphases on healing and deliverance has complicated some health issues and led to the death of many. We are now witnessing a phenomenon in Christianity where ill-health is usually interpreted in religious terms as the handiwork of witches and wizards. There is scarcely any sickness that is not caused by a witch or wizard. The aftermath of these cannot be underestimated in the society.

 

Proliferation of Churches and the Resultant Consequences

Another area of negative effect of Pentecostalism on the contemporary Nigerian society is in the area of indiscriminate proliferation of Christian churches and their resultant negative consequences. The emergence of new churches and other Christian movements in Nigeria is unprecedented (Gbenda, 2006:118; Hackett, 1987:3). Presently, Nigeria is rated as the country with the highest number of churches in Africa. This is common in the major cities of the southern part of the country. Iheanacho (2009:105) notes that churches and prayer homes are major industries in that geo-political extraction of the country. Churches exist in family houses, uncompleted buildings, warehouses, and in any available space. It must be noted that there are permutations based on popular and registered groups. It is believed that the number of unregistered churches outweighs this. Churches are emerging on a daily basis. The continued and indiscriminate emergence of new churches is a challenge to Christianity in Nigeria. But much more than being a challenge to Christianity, it also promotes noise pollution through the use of unregulated public address system. In all, it is the poor masses that suffer. The socio-economic, political, psychological and environmental effects of this indiscriminate springing up of churches on the Nigerian society cannot be underestimated. There is need for an urgent response to stop this ugly phenomenon.

 

Prevalence Concept of Enemy

    The rise of Pentecostalism in Nigeria has also promoted a phenomenon in which the concept of enemy has become deeply entrenched in the lives of Christians. There is a widespread belief among Pentecostals that failure, sicknesses, joblessness, marital delays, delay in childbearing, accidents, among others, are usually caused by enemies who may either be in-laws, neighbours, relatives or colleagues at work places. This new way of thinking directly exonerates the individuals from being responsible for their problems. Thus, we are now witnessing a phenomenon in Christianity where all ill-health is usually interpreted in religious terms as the handiwork of enemies. There is scarcely any sickness that is not caused by somebody. The aftermath of this is the increasing suspicion and hate existing among members of the society. Obviously, this is not healthy for the Nigerian society.

 

Diminished Value for the Dignity of Labour

    Finally, the rise of Pentecostalism in Nigeria is gradually diminishing the high sense of value for the dignity of labour. Pentecostalism preaches supremacy of faith and efficacy of prayer in all human activities. The strong belief in the supremacy of faith and efficacy of prayer has made Christians from the Pentecostal circle to depend solely on supernatural powers for their prosperity, success, good health, and other human needs. This explains why most Pentecostal churches are usually flooded with men and women who spend their entire week praying for supernatural favours. Hence, the belief in hard work and dignity of labour is therefore fast diminishing. Many now believe in sudden riches and prosperity they never worked for. Regrettably, this has negative effect in the religious and socio-economic development of the Nigerian society. It is clear therefore from the above discussion that Pentecostalism while being a blessing to the Nigerian society has also become a curse. This calls for urgent response. In the conclusion of this paper, some recommendations shall be made.

 

Conclusion

In this research, effort has been made to examine the effects of Pentecostalism on the religious and socio-economic landscape of Nigerian society. The activities of Pentecostalism in Nigeria especially in contemporary times indicate a paradigm shift from the biblical principles and teachings. Proudly, Pentecostalism has taken firm root in the country and has contributed in many ways to the religious and socio-economic development of the country. However, recent trends show that Pentecostalism has also interjected some negative elements into the Nigerian society that are inimical to the religious and socio-economic landscape. The church in Nigerian should rise to these challenges and proffer solution to these problems. This could be achieved by having a regulatory body that should monitor and checkmate the excesses of Pentecostal pastors. Basic theological education should also be encouraged while the government on her part should provide the basic necessities of life for her citizens to avoid individuals from retreating to religion for material and earthly reasons.

 

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