As Bishop David Oyedepo turns 67 this season we sort to look into the diverging doctrines and camps that make up the main theologies of the 21st century Nigerian pentecostal and charismatic churches. Though it’s being argued that the church is neither pentecostal nor charismatic but are believers.
In the 70s and 80s, David Oyedepo was part of a new crop of young pastors who emerged from the remnants of the activities of pioneers like Pa Elton, Pa Akindayomi and Pa Babalola. They found a mentor in Archbishop Benson Idahosa, who pioneered the prosperity preaching on a national scale in Nigeria, thus ushering the pentecostal and charismatic churches into an era of financial prosperity and megachurch growth. Hence the terms “As poor as a church rat”, faded away. The church is now rich.
Bishop David Oyedepo quickly rose in ministry and exploits, becoming the pillar of the word of faith and prosperity message in the Christian church in Nigeria. He was and is still the rallying point of many mid-aged pastors and church founders. His word and theology, books and doctrine is an authority in the body of Christ in Nigeria. Every known and unknown pastor who wants relevance in ministry had to align themselves in one way or another to Bishop. In fact, once you mention the title “Bishop” in a sentence, any initiate within the word of faith circle in Nigeria knows that Bishop David is “The Bishop” and Benson Idahosa is the Archbishop, every other person comes afterwards.
David Oyedepo and The Old Block – Abel Damina The New Block
His positions on church doctrine and theology have largely stood unchallenged except of course by the catholic and orthodox blocks who have a long feud with pentecostal and charismatic teachings. But recently a new crop of believers and pastors are emerging, led by Dr Abel Damina, who have been challenging the basic tenets that the prevailing Christian doctrine in Nigeria was built on. Doctrines around topics like the extent of salvation, the extent of grace, hell and heaven, rapture, forgiveness of sins and of course the most controversial which is ‘tithing’.
Also, with the advent of social media, Christians and people in general especially of the young stock have been emboldened to challenge these long-standing church traditions and doctrines and to question their viability.
Misaligned Doctrines or Lack of Revelation
Between 2019 and 2020, Tithing was one of the most argued topics in Nigerian Christian communities online. Questions like; is tithing mandatory? is it approved by Christ? was it practised by the early church? were disputed on social media with both sides throwing scriptures and theologies to prove their point. Bishop being on the side of tithing is mandatory and a must, Dr Abel saying that tithing should be free will.
Another recent point of argument was if “Once saved is forever saved”. With Bishop maintaining that once saved is not forever saved, meaning you can lose your salvation and Dr Abel on the other hand believes that “once saved is forever saved and you can not lose your salvation.
What is Really The Matter?
The question is, what is really going on in the body of Christ in Nigeria, could it be that revelation is abounding and the old stock is not catching up and are still stuck in the old testament, not fully discerning the new creation realities and what has been freely given to us in Christ or that the new stock is having itching ears and has heaped up for themselves teachers in accordance to their lusts.
As the founder of the Living Faith Church also known as Winners Chapel marks his 67th year on earth, we wish the Bishop a happy birthday.