Pastors are not just spiritual leaders but government officials:Separation of church and state is always murky. When the state can interfere with religious matters is a thorny issue that politicians who write the country’s laws and the clergy who run the religious institutions dance around year after year. According to the Registrar General, Ms. Gachegu, issues of the church are not easy to solve. “I have had major issues with church politics and have overseen discussions when Church groups fight. The problem is that these people are the spiritual leaders and when they promise that they will resolve their issues, one believes and lets them solve their problems. One cannot just de-register a church!” Its bad politics.
The fact is churches, especially in Kenya, are registered societies governed by Society’s act. This act was written in 1947 and has not seen much revision since then. Therefore churches as societies are governed by the State laws and must be registered by the Registrar General. Ordained ministers must be registered with the state in order to qualify as officials under the law, in order to marry people. Since marriage is a state function whose obligations and duties affect the society, those who administer marriages are state officials. We can therefore say that pastors are not just spiritual leaders but government officials. A sad syncretism!
Apart from issues of fake pastors, her office has to deal with corrupt bishops who use money to bribe her officers to illegally change their constitutions, de-register their opponents, and more! “It is a sad thing to see.” She said. She is a true believer.
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Legality aside, the stories in the media about pastors using their office for money is nothing new. During the early days of Christianity, some characters decided to take advantage of the new faith and started performing miracles in the name of “the God of Peter and John.” The victims who were demon possessed recognizing their fraud rant plan, beat and chased them. Maybe demons are more aware of fake preachers than believers! Right?
But the case that the media highlights must be taken with a grain of salt. We must question the motive of a Muslim trying to discredit the church, like in the case of Pastor Njoroge. Not withstanding the evidence there – of. To suggest that these ill intentioned “pastors” are a representation of the Church of Christ however is itself the work of the devil. And we must be careful how we arrive at our conclusion on legitimate or illegitimate clergy.
Fake pastors and prophets are nothing new. Therefore the media highlighting them calls believers to examine their shepherds not abandon them. We are called to true faith. In fact the Bible challenges Christians to test the spirits. In the Old Testament, there were state prophets who were hired by the kings to prophesy positively towards their plight. Paul the apostle encountered all kinds of fake pastors, prophets, evangelists, elders, deacons, you name it. It got so bad that he felt obligated to present a perspective consistent with the progressive divine absolutes. “Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.” (Philippians 1:15-18) Bad publicity is good publicity. All will know the name of Christ!
It is the believers who are obligated to examine their pastors and if they find them lacking in wisdom, knowledge and understanding, if they lack biblical consistency, then they must abandon those congregations and affiliate themselves with those shepherds whose calling is true. And how do they know? Simple! Get a bible and read it from cover to cover. Scripture interprets scripture. The Spirit of God is still active waiting patiently to guide those who will diligently seek Him! Active Faith.
Teddy Njoroge Kamau (PhD), SYR Radio/TV Director, International Desk. IMANISHA. Listen to TNK on 91.1 ATG Radio 5pm EST. Ufahamu.