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The Cultic Mindset of Pentecostals, links to the Occult and the History (Part 1)

by fxzim
02 Jan 2013 at 19:00hrs | Views
This is the first year that FinX will run this briefing but it is the fourth year that it has been running as it was previously on a different platform. The purpose of this paper is to analyse the only sector, which remained profitable following the fall of the Zimbabwe dollar in 1997. This year the focus is on how easily Pentecostal churches can turn into cults as we revisit the links that some of the new wave Pentecostal churches have with the occult as well as trace the historical roots of religion in Zimbabwe perhaps trying to establish the war waged by the various principalities. Because of the length, we have broken it up in two parts. As usual we will publish the churches ranking based on popularity. As is the norm we welcome comments, feedback, disagreements but we prefer that these be sober minded and not driven by religious emotions, we will answer all queries and seek help from scholars if we fail. Write to us at finx@finx.co.zw or reply to the email.

Where are the Pentecostal churches now?

There has not been marked difference in the way that people worship except that titles have been added to qualified pastors. The Pentecostals are fast emerging as a dominant Christian grouping, which is in stark contrast to twenty five years ago, going backwards. For years Pentecostals were a weird form of Christianity and were always looked down upon. "Church dze mweya, or church dzevanochema." For those who go to the Apostolic Faith Mission it was always a task to explain the differences between the church and the Apostolic Faith sects in before 1995. They believe in the five-fold ministry of Eph 4: 11.  Pentecostalism is spirit-driven, whereas the initial Protestant reform movement was 'Word (Bible) driven'. Today Pentecostals have become accepted and are now part of mainstream Christianity. About 600 mln adhere to this kind of Christianity in what this writer would want to say is mainly as a result of the global migrant patterns. This roughly means one in every four Christians is a Pentecostal.

Are there different kinds of Pentecostals?

There are classical Pentecostals, charismatic Pentecostals and Third Wave Pentecostals. Classicals owe their roots to the 1906 Asuza St revival in Los Angeles California and bases its teachings on the revival or renewal of the first century or Peter's Holy Spirit. It was led by William J. Seymour. These types of Pentecostals believe in Rev. 21:3, which says: And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. They emphasise on a direct experience of God mainly through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They believe in the five-fold ministry but only to a lesser extent. The most important classical Pentecostal denomination, The Assemblies of God, was established in 1914 but here in Zimbabwe it is the Apostolic Faith Mission that is the dominant force behind this type of movement.

Charismatics are those who believe in the supernatural workings of the Holy Spirit. The movement takes its name from the Greek words charis, which is the English transliteration of the Greek word for "grace," and mata, which is the Greek word meaning "gifts." Charismata, then, means "grace gifts." It emphasizes the manifestations of the gifts of the Holy Spirit as a sign of its presence. These gifts are also known as the biblical "charisms," or spiritual gifts which supposedly give an individual influence or authority over large numbers of people. The prominent gifts among these "charisms" are speaking in tongues and prophesying. Charismatics hold that the manifestations of the Holy Spirit given to those in the first-century church may still be experienced and practiced today. This wave brought increased popularity to the "Word of Faith" or "Name It and Claim It" teachings that are still popular today. "Tell the devil that house or husband is mine whether you like it or not. Bata imba yako, bata mota yako"

Third Wave Pentecostalism was popularised by the Vineyard Movement through its leader John Wimber. It began in the 1980s. It is sometimes called the "Third Wave of the Holy Spirit" or the "Signs and Wonders Movement." The name "Third Wave" was coined by C. Peter Wagner, a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary. He referred to the movement as the "Third Wave" because this was the third of three distinct Pentecostal/Charismatic movements in modern Christianity. Third Wave churches are characterized by "signs and wonders and led to many teachings such as the Toronto Blessing and laughing in the Spirit. The Third Wave goes even further with its emphasis on the sensational, including claims of signs and wonders performed by "modern-day apostles and prophets."

Key teachings of the Third Wave Movement include what is known as "power evangelism." The basic premise of power evangelism is that the preaching of the gospel must be accompanied with signs and wonders in order for people to respond in faith. Proponents of this view have a focus on miracles, speaking in tongues, healing and prophecy. Even though biblically, it is the gospel message itself that is the power of God to salvation - Rom 1.

The Vineyard Church is however very quiet in Zimbabwe, because it has remained predominantly white. In fact it does not have any of the characteristics described above. They have one branch in Harare, opposite Mandel Training Centre in Marlborough, another in Marondera although the varungu's ran off to the whiter Family Praise Worship and a new ministry started by a former leader. There is also a branch in Rusape but most of the varungu's are now driving to the new ministry in Marondera following the retirement of Pastor Danny Izzat.

The age of the numerous titles (Eph 4:11) and individual ministries

The growth of the Pentecostals is leaning around individuals and the creation of breakaway or new movements, rather than strong associations or institutional forms. The main ambition of the majority of the pastors is to start their own ministries so that they can control, mainly the funds. With their emphasis on Holy Spirit gifts and power for all believers, Pentecostal churches are led by pastors who are seen as teachers, motivators and coordinators.

Traditionally, Pentecostal pastors have received less academic training than in other denominations.  They have theological training which generally only accords them the title of pastor. However because of the emphasis on the five-fold ministry described above, these pastors are now titling themselves, Prophet (e.g. Makandiwa, Angel etc.) Bishop (Bismark), Apostle (Tigere), Evangelist (the late Chiweshe) and Reverend (Chipunza and Manjoro).  Apparently it's also common nowadays that the wife naturally assumes a title even when she does not have theological training.

The underlying truth is that pastors who give titles to themselves are trying to trick people into believing they have a special gift from God, and are to be honored somehow, with service or in the worst case scenario with money. It's interesting, how many Protestant and later Pentecostal churches were traditionally very critical about churches where clergy was addressed by exalting titles, specially the use of "Father" as a title for the priesthood, yet this other trend of exalted titles for really Pentecostals has arisen from more or less the same sociocultural milieu.

. A "pastor" is the "shepherd" who cares for the "flock" of "sheep" (Jer 3:15, Jer 23:1-4, Jer 50:17, Matt 10:6, Matt 15:24). Pastorships revolve around several key elements:

(1) Studying and expositing the Word of God, explaining the results of those studies to others,

(2) Understanding the human error in religion (heresy, disobedience) and being able to discern that in people, groups, organizations, etc, and refute that from Scripture.

(3) Being able to spiritually access the needs and problems of a person from talking to him, and to solve these problems by means of explaining Scripture to answer those problems and needs.

The term Apostle is one which is assigned. Jesus made of them Apostles after he sent them out to preach the gospel. The title is not one that is taken upon oneself. The word apostle itself variously means "messenger", "missionary", or "ambassador". Since the 1990's there has also been a move among mainstream Pentecostal churches to accept and understand that there are apostles in today's Church. Sometimes this is referred to as The Restoration of Apostles.

The bishop is the one man who is spiritually responsible to God and before the brethren for the church. This means that he is officially the one God will hold responsible. He has a definite office, which he must enter only after his spiritual qualifications have been checked and approved, and the church approves him.

Throughout history, the prophet has always been God's messenger, or mouthpiece. However, the idea Christians have today of prophets is not the same. When they talk of prophets in the church, they think that the message and purpose of the prophet has changed to giving nice, sweet, uplifting words and to tell them where they stay and if they will get the car or husband they are hoping for.

Interestingly the term Reverend is only used once in the bible and is not a reference to a man, but to God. "He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant forever: holy and reverend is his name." (Psalms 111:9). The Hebrew word is "yare' " and means: to fear; morally, to revere; caus. to frighten:--affright, be (make) afraid,). According to the bible only God is to be revered and in holding the reverence of God followers exercise godly fear. That is certainly not an attribute of a minister of the Gospel, an under shepherd who pastors a local congregation of believers.

What has been happening in Zimbabwe?

The theological issue currently facing Pentecostals or any church for that matter is that Zimbabwe or maybe Africa as a whole is at most made up of second and third generation Christians. As a result, after hundreds of generations of ancestral veneration, tradition and ritual are still intertwined in the mind and way of life of Africans.

When face to face with devastating misfortune or even death, many African Christians, however dedicated, resort to traditional beliefs and rites. This is why the Apostolic sect has grown in popularity because their beliefs resonate with traditional beliefs and they have a much quicker solution.

Early missionaries in this country denounced and discouraged ancestral rites including accepting lobola, praising totems and observing certain rituals during burial or weddings but privately people managed to retain and preserve their loyalty to tradition. The Catholics were more accommodating realising a ban would only dissuade potential converts.

Overall, there has been a transformation in the Zimbabwean Pentecostal arena as there is now a mixture of the three types. The gospel has moved towards signs and wonders: manifestation. The prosperity gospel is now hidden.

Prosperity Gospel – According to Wikipedia, this is a Christian doctrine that financial blessing is the will of God for Christians, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to Christian ministries will always increase one's material wealth. Based on non-traditional interpretations of the Bible, often with emphasis on the Book of Malachi, the doctrine views the Bible as a contract between God and humans: if humans have faith in God, he will deliver his promises of security and prosperity. Confessing these promises to be true is perceived as an act of faith, which God will honor.

Proponents teach that the doctrine is an aspect of the path to Christian dominion over society, arguing that God's promise of dominion to Israel applies to Christians today. The doctrine emphasizes the importance of personal empowerment, proposing that it is God's will for his people to be happy.

Manifestation gospel - The manifestations gospel is an arm of the prosperity gospel. Manifestations are faith in action just as prosperity (also known as the word of faith) encourages people to sow in faith so that God blesses everything around you. Faith healing is a positive thinking which advocates that the Holy Spirit can be activated because of faith and manifests itself through the believer. Unlike the traditional way of God dealing with the believer, faith healing says that God through the pastor releases his spirit. There is no denying that God manifests himself through the Sprit and performs miracles. Some of what occurs in the churches today could very well be a true work of the Holy Spirit but there are also elements of the occult workings.

Popularity Rankings  

 
Rank

Change

Church

Comment

Rank 1

►◄

APOSTOLICS

Collectively, these are the largest grouping in the country accounting for over 3 mln followers. The largest group is the African Apostolic Church led by Paul Mwazha.

Rank 2

►◄

UFI CHURCH

Its leader has made front page news in all the main media houses and his church has remained one of the most popular churches. There have been stories in the background but all the same the truth is he has changed the Pentecostal scene in Zimbabwe.

Rank 3

►◄

SPIRIT EMBASSY

Pastor Uebert Angel is good buddies with Pastor Makandiwa. He does miracles, healing, signs, wonders and accurate prophecies…so accurate he can reveal the colour of a person's underwear. Other prophecies include the death of the president of Papa New Guinea for example, The Sudan and Spanish Air disasters and many other events including football match outcomes have been prophesied with clarity...mentioning even the names and dates of these places and many specific details.

Rank 4

â–²

AFM MARIMBA

Pastor Stewart Tigere is one of the young leaders of AFM who alongside with ex AFM's Wutabwashe, Makandiwa etc are some of the pastors who grew up in the AFM system and are aware of the weaknesses and strengths of the church. He is AFM legacy Tigere has prophetic abilities but because of his background he is comfortable as an evangelist.

Rank 5

â–²

DAILY GOSPEL

Said to have started prophesying at a tender age. His church at the NSS has grown. He also does services in Chitungwiza.

Rank 6

â–¼

TABERNACLE OF GRACE

Led by the youthful Javas. The church is known for its accurate prophecy. From ID numbers to phone messages. It's the same kind of prophecy practised by the 3 churches above

Rank 7

►◄

ZAOGA

Just like we said last year, because of its reach it commands the largest following from a home-grown Zimbabwean church.

Rank 8

â–²

NEW LIFE COVENANT

Inability to branch out has proved to be the main downfall of Bishop Tudor's Bismark church. He spends most of his time on overseas missions leaving the church to his wife Pastor Chichi

Rank 9

â–¼

HEARTFELT MINISTRIES

Led by the young Pastor Tavonga Wutabwashe who broke out from AFM. We still think he is more of an evangelist than a prophet and is best buddies with UFI's Makandiwa.

Rank 10

â–²

CHRIST EMBASSY

Because Pastor Chris the main draw card has not yet made the trip to Zimbabwe, the churches presence on the Pentecostal scene in not so strong. It rises only because of some outreach work, they have done this year.

Rank 11

â–²

AFM SHILOH

Led by the youthful pastor Sasa. Its one of the AFM assemblies that lost some followers to the three breakaways Wutabwashe, Chipunza and Makandiwa but Sasa has managed to grow the numbers.

Rank 12

â–¼

GLAD TIDINGS

Maintains its silence but is still the third largest grouping after AFM and Zaoga

Rank 13

â–²

RIVER OF LIFE MINISTRIES

Still one of the popular varungu Pentecostals both at the Westgate and Eastlea branches

Rank 14

â–¼

HIS PRESENCE MINISTRIES

No comment except that the leaders Pastor and Mrs Chiriseri have got some known international friends.

Rank 15

â–²

FAITH WORLD MINISTRIES

Led by Rev Manjoro and wife. They have managed to grow the numbers even when their main church is stuck between Christ Embassy, UFIC and Glad Tidings

Rank 16

â–²

WORD OF LIFE MINISTRIES

Headed by Dr and Mrs Shana, the church is a regular advertiser. Started in 1990 and has branches in some of the main towns

Rank 17

â–¼

APOSTOLIC FLAME MINISTRIES

Led by Rev O Chipunza and mainly built from the deliverance school.

Rank 18

â–¼

FAITH MINISTRIES

Maintains its silence just like Glad Tidings but is still a large grouping

Rank 19

â–²

CROSSOVER MINISTRIES

New entry, led by a young pastor (Ronald Mambohaatumwi)who grew his ministry from Facebook. He could have grown bigger to the heights maybe of Spirit Embassy were it not for the sex scandals that keep on popping up in the newspapers and tabloids.

Rank 20

►◄

CELEBRATION CENTRE

Remains unchanged from last year. Has been in the news for the wrong reasons mainly to do with church administration reasons. But all the same CC remains popular

 

But note there are different types of Apostolics…here are just a few

The Apostolic sect has risen to be counted among the top religious grouping in the country, strong enough to influence changes in how society looks at spiritual healing. Its popularity grew with the deepening of the economic crisis as people sought solutions and defences to their situations. The Apostolics were no longer a poor man's church but a church where anyone who had a problem (i.e. wanted to land a contract, wanted safe passage to UK, wanted a husband, etc) would come to get help.

Generally the church has no written dogmas and the network is loosely defined. However the lack of buildings does not imply the inability to purchase such structures, as the Apostolics have become quite prosperous relative to their neighbours, but is a reflection of their pilgrimage. These are some of the groupings, NB.. We have deliberately left out the two largest groupings African Apostolic Church and the Johane Marange mainly because doctrine infiltration at these sects is still limited:

Johane Masowe Chishanu (original) ­– The most popular grouping is the one which gathers at the Coca Cola Corner in Graniteside. It is led by Madzibaba Israel. It is however said that Israel's angel is weak these days as he has opened a funeral company and according to the sect's doctrine no one should profit from the dead.

They only do the all-night vigil (choto) when something drastic has happened. They use the muhacha tree for making small crosses tied with white sewing thread. Only short unrelaxed hair is allowed. There is no hand clapping and no bible reading.

Johane Masowe Jerusalema - These wear white garments with yellow belts. Some of the garments have yellow stars on the shoulder and chest. The headgear which they call Samaria has a yellow star. Meetings are on Friday. They do not clap on some of the songs and use mainly the Morodai dance (sideways movement).  They have an event called misi mitatu where they use a big clay pot (zigate) tied with a white cloth and then placed on the centre close to the krawa (or shrine). In there will be a mixture of lemons, oil and milk usually for the younger children. Believers do not eat on this particular day.

Johane Masowe Esnai – They wear white garments tied with white belts, headgear has a green cross and also gather on Fridays.

Johane Masowe Nguwo Tsvuku (Mitchell) √¢‚Ǩ‚Äú This grouping is popularly known for its use of covenants (mhiko) in the way they do their healings. Their philosophy is an eye for an eye. Enemies are not supposed to live. Once someone from this sect ties a covenant, no one, not even a traditional healer can undo it.  They wear green, yellow and white garments. The women wear mbikiza. In their worship they use red cloths, needles and eggs, leaves or roots from the mutova, mutara and muhacha. They use razor blades when they do their thanksgiving rites (kuuchira).

Johane Masowe mwemwedzi nomwe pa Hosea – They is no handclapping during the service. They use the Dicksenz and HighSenz types of dance. The Highsenz has more movement with a jumping pattern. In their worship they use matsito (charcoal), mutova – to ward off evil spirits, mazai (eggs) to recall a lost lover or husband and to tie up a covenant, muhacha only for the beacons (hook) and leaves and mutara only the beacon.

The ones who are identified as the one with the spirit of Moses should grow locks (ndaza) but only the spiritual leader in Guruve should give the go-ahead. Mweya wa Moses is a vengeful spirit based on the incident where he murdered an Egyptian. They are also guided by the angels or the mermaids. (Note: As moved in an earlier briefing the majority of apostolic sect leaders and traditional healers are usually trained at the same place usually underwater). This church does not read the bible.

Eggs are in fact an important part of any healing processes and can be used for almost anything. 3 eggs with the enemies name written in red ink are put in a glass bottle (usually a mayo bottle). The bottle is then closed and thrown into the fire. Obviously with the transference of heat, the bottle will burst which means the evil deed would have been sent back to the enemy.  The enemy usually falls sick or even dies within 3 days.

A mixture of condensed milk, cheese and 6 eggs can ensure that a barren woman has children. The same mixture with 3 eggs cleanses wombs. A green cloth with 3 crosses is then tied onto the woman waist for 3 days. The woman has to wash with boiled water from a chisipite (natural spring) until she gets pregnant.

Razor blades and needles are also used to revenge on a bad deed. 3 blades, 9 needles placed on the red cloth with needles pinned on the cloth which has the name of the enemy in the middle will cause harm to that particular enemy.

Bakatwa (short sword) is used for mentally ill patients who are healed by scrapping off the ember of a burning log towards the direction of the patient. Wool thread (shinda ye majuzi) in green, white or red is corded in 2s with 6 or 9 knots and tied to a person's waist so that the evil spirit can be trapped.

Zvakazarurwa Apostolics – they wear white garments with white headgear with a red cross. They use only water. It allows long hair so long as it's not plaited.

JM Deminai – They meet on Fridays and the leader wears a green garment.

Apostolic Faith Mission (Mugodhi) - The founding leader broke away from AFM after he had taken a second wife.  They wear white garments, read the bible and use water, milk and salt and wool thread in their healing. All the prophets have to be tried out in Chitope Hwedza where they are given certificates of passing. The sect uses tongues when the spirit is upon them. Women are allowed to keep hair so long as they do not plait it while men should always keep their hair short.

Bethsaida (Mugodhi) - The men also wear khakis but basically it is white garments with a red belt. They read the bible and use only water.

Worldwide √¢‚Ǩ‚Äú They wear white garments with long white headgear. The leaders are referred to as MPs. There is a Mai Murayi; a woman who teaches the congregation. They have a similar staff to the Marange staff. They read the bible and use stones and wool.  Members are put on discipline if they are found to be on the wrong side, for example, a man is stripped of his garments for 3 months if he commits adultery.

Vadzidzi (ye kwa Wimbo)

They meet on Friday's from 9am-12pm. They are at the forefront of their involvement with Zanu PF. The sect uses only stones while the garments are assorted depending on the rank, usually white with pink and blue for the females. They work on a doctrine of separate mbiya (clay plate) where each individu


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