I had wanted to respond to Dr Olukoya of MFM on his display of theological and ecclesiastical ignorance until I read Fr Oluoma’s rejoinder which I believe to be sound all round. Mine could be seen as an addendum to his well crafted analysis and response.
Dr Olukoya and his Mountain of Fire position on Christmas is a testament to the shallow and unfortunate state of our popular Pentecostal Christianity in present day in Nigeria. They are lacking in biblical theology and wanting in the interpretation of ecclesiastical history and development of the church. Whatever they are today has been given them by the original Christians who believed and observed Christmas. The problem with many of these popular new generation church leaders is the fact that they do not understand how to relate biblical facts or texts to praxis. The early church suffered and worked hard to confront the issues of their day before putting the church on the path of growth that it has gone through over the centuries.
The other day another of them said that Holy Communion is to be given only in the evening because it was the Lord’s Supper. Laughable! Now Dr Olukoya says Christmas doesn’t need to be celebrated because it is not expressly stated in the Bible. Lack of depth! How many things he is doing today are directly traceable to or instructed in the Bible? Is it the fall and die approach to prayer or which one? If he wants to press his case harder he might soon discover that he cannot go to church on Sunday again. Or is it the term Trinity that he has found so clearly in the Bible? Yet this is a fundamental doctrine of the Christian Church.
This is the problem that the Reformation has brought to us. While it is a good thing on the one hand it has put the Bible in the hands of many unlearned folks who have no understanding of its background and application, yet they have become self-made pastors who are adding to the confusion in our land. God have mercy on us and deliver us from so many uneducated pastors who are leading the church in our land. Where did these people train?
Sadly this brand of Christianity is a kilometer wide and one inch deep as has been aptly described elsewhere. Christmas is to be celebrated, and authentically too, not because of the date but for the profound event of the incarnation that it folds without which our Christianity would be meanignless.
At Christmas we celebrate the fact that out of his love for us God chose to reach out to the sinful world, to tabernacle with us and to reveal himself. St John 1:14 declares that “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father , full of grace and truth.” In verse 18 John adds further, “No one has ever seen God, the only God who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” And in his first epistle the elder John insists, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and have touched with our hands concerning the word of life …we proclaim also to you.” ( I John 1:1-3).
What Christians celebrate at Christmas is not an idol, it is bigger than an idol: it is the Word made flesh that everyone is called upon to admit, to occupy the centre of their heart instead of an idol. At the celebration of Christmas the idol is dethroned and the God of love who reaches out to save the world by becoming a man is enthroned and celebrated. And this is the position of the Christian Church. If Dr Olukoya (and his church) does not celebrate this then I wonder what they have to celebrate in their church. For those who celebrate birthdays, we can as well suggest that it is unnecessary because they are alive every day so every day is their birthday. How about that? Christmas celebrates the unique Christ who reaches out to save the world. These people need a little more of Christian Theology. It is easy to read the Bible but not as easy to teach it. Lord have mercy.
Rt Revd Dr Stephen Fagbemi