Pentecostal structures are impossible

Author: Alan Tacca. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • President Museveni already knows that many of the titles used by these preachers are arbitrary. 

A hypocritical religious establishment and a corrupt political establishment are not enemies. They love and nourish each other. So sayeth God’s dog.

As God’s dog, I know that God is at rest and cannot raise His eyebrows, let alone strike anyone, when the church’s holy sinners consort with the country’s undignified VIP’s.

The VIP’s bring in sacks of money. In return, the holy ones give them balloons for rising above the common flock in the sheepfold.

The inspiration to redeem souls has been replaced by the need to sink integrity.

A congregation of bishops, iron-sheet and Gavi thieves to raise church funds is like a Sacco meeting with visiting bigwigs.

When a Church without integrity and a corrupt State tell each other to preach against and to fight against corruption, they are playing a ping pong ball and winking at each other, because they both generally agree that greed is good.

Now, consider Uganda, an already chaotic and very corrupt environment, but where a sizable section of Christians has been persistently told by their Pentecostal pastors to hate and reject the very idea of organised or structured religion.

Jesus is the boss. As a super-speed Holy Spirit, He can land anywhere at the behest of the pastor, so says the pastor.

Therefore, trash the clergy and the stale uninspired forms of worship and ritual in the long-established churches, which after all no longer even perform miracles. High-energy sermons, music, dance and frenzied emotions are the ‘fire’ that drives off demons and brings down the Holy Spirit to fill the congregation.

This, of course, is a primitive idea of the Holy Spirit. Instead of being cool and omnipresent, the Holy Spirit is perceived by the Pentecostal as a highly emotional roaming entity, over whom the pastor-cum-cult leader has as much influence as the witchdoctor has over pagan spirits.

The directness between pastor and Holy Spirit is anti-structure, anti-institution.

This is fodder for President Museveni the politician. I imagine him dancing if he heard ‘Apostle’ Joseph Serwadda concede on Impact FM last Sunday, that many Pentecostals, including pastors, do not even know what they believe in.

As one of the vying leaders in Uganda’s Pentecostal chaos, Serwadda is obsessed with the imagination of Pentecostal unity forged from Pentecostal anti-unity, and of structures constructed from anti-structure elements, of re-inventing the wheel of faith.

So, instead of the Ndeeba-based ‘Apostle’ giving ground to the Apostle’s Creed and (or) the Nicene Creed with appropriate humility, he is arranging Wednesday lessons at his Victory Church to teach Pentecostals (including pastors!) what they are supposed to believe.

President Museveni already knows that many of the titles used by these preachers are arbitrary. 

Any already dubiously ordained pastor can wake up and call himself a prophet or an apostle. Another can be a bishop in a diocese of one papyrus church. An admission that these fellows do not even really know what they believe simply plays into Museveni’s hand.

It is like the drive to retrospectively register/validate stubbornly independent pastors, apostles and prophets, and package them into a kind of humongous ‘Sacco’, at the same time appealing to the President to summon the prominent (or rich?) pastors and cobble them into unity.

It is easier to patronise and manipulate them when they are against each other than as a united force. As everybody can see, their creed now looks like: I believe in President Museveni… and so on.

Mr Alan Tacca is a novelist, socio-political commentator.
[email protected]