Ah, but Prophet Muhammad was Sinless!

I was recently talking about slavery in Islam on a social media network when the report of African immigrants being dehumanized Saudi Arabia was trending.

Several Muslims responded to me in that thread, with a few challenging me to prove my stance and I proceeded to document not only the legality of slavery from Islamic sources, but also highlight the fact that in almost every instance where the hadiths make references to Muhammad’s slaves, they were either Jews or Africans.

This unearthing of bare bone facts didn’t (expectedly) go over well with our Muslim friends who resorted to their well-worn tactics when confronted with ugly truths about their prophet:

  1. Dismiss the quotes from the hadiths as “weak narrations.”
  2. Allege that the statements or deeds quoted were fabricated by the Jews or “the west.”
  3. Claiming that the opponent is maliciously quoting the source out of context to paint Islam or its prophet in a bad light.

When one of them realized that his trump cards weren’t bringing out the best result, he told me as a matter of fact that dehumanizing non-Muslims wasn’t really bad, after all, they were thinking and planning bad stuff against the powerful prophet:

“It was dehumanizing for the enemies, yes. You wanted them to be honoured after wanting to kill the Prophet? Even though they were enemies when they were prisoners of war, they were treated like eggs by the Muslims, they were fed like children and were allowed to earn their freedom.”

This line of thinking is quite problematic. First, it trades on a circular argument (“our prophet said he believed that his victims wanted to kill him so I believe it too”) and accepts the accusations and performative violence without any objective proof.

Second, he’s trying to find a moral justification for capturing, enslaving, torturing, dehumanizing and sexually assaulting other people as long as they are labelled as “enemies.”

This is similar to the excuses of most hardened criminals (“I raped her because she made my blood heat up” or “We beheaded them because they deceived our parents.”)

The most striking part was his egregious lie. Where in their hadiths were slaves “treated (carefully) like eggs”? None.

Even in his desperate bid to defend the indefensible, he contradicted himself. How on earth do you admit that slaves owned by Muslims were dehumanized and in the next sentence claim they were treated with care and “fed like children”?

You see, none of these lurid accusations levied against Muhammad’s enemies were documented, Muslims have had to invent most of them because they needed to uphold an underlying tenet of their religion: the alleged sinlessness of prophet Muhammad.

Muslim scholars are of the opinion that prophets are either sinless or at least free from all major sins or faults. One scholar wrote:

“All the prophets of God were men of good character and high honor … Their honesty and truthfulness, their intelligence and integrity are beyond doubt. They were infallible in that they did not commit sins or violate the Law of God.” (Abdalati Hammudah, Islam in Focus. American Trust Publications: Indianapolis, 1975, p. 27)

If a Muslim should admit that Muhammad actually committed acts of wickedness by enslaving, raping women, or assassinating people, he would also be admitting that he sinned, and that ultimately destroys his belief in isma (impeccability) and the other Islamic lies that go with it. It’s like a chain; it’s only as strong as its weakest link.

“Yeah, he was sinless,” said my Muslim opponent, “name one sin [he committed],” he ordered.

This is like someone challenging me to prove that the sky is blue. It’s a philosophical paradox that it’s easier to prove the ominous than to prove the obvious. It’s easier to prove that angels are real than to prove that grasses are green.

If a person is demanding evidence that zebras have stripes, you will wonder if his eyes and brains are functioning right. It’s just the same as someone who has refused to see enslaving others as sin but is now asking me to name a sin his guru was guilty of.

The fact is, the burden of proof is not on us to prove that Muhammad was a sinner, it’s rather on the Muslims to prove to us where the Quran or Hadiths ever stated that Muhammad was sinless.

When we look into these sources, we see that Muhammad was just like every other man – he sinned.

In Sura 18:110, Allah commands him: Say (O Muhammad): “I am no more than a human being like you; one to whom revelation is made…”

Muhammad was simply a man like his followers, the fact that he received a revelation doesn’t make him infallible.

Sura 40:55 says “So be patient, [O Muhammad]. Indeed, the promise of Allah is truth. And ask forgiveness for your sin and exalt [Allah] with the praise of your Lord, morning and evening.”

Sura 48:1-2 say: “Indeed, We have granted you a manifest triumph. That Allah may forgive you your sins of the past and the future and complete His Favor on you and guide you on the Straight Path.”

Sura 47:19 says: “So know (O Muhammad) that there is no God save Allah, and ask forgiveness for thy sin and for believing men and believing women. Allah knoweth (both) your place of turmoil and your place of rest.”

The only way a Muslim can successfully weasel his way out of these passages is to argue that Allah was wrong to ask Muhammad to ask for forgiveness because he had nothing to forgive! A damning admission, that one.

Yet, Muslim translators have dug into their bag of tricks to work some “abracadabra” on these passages.

The Arabic word “dhanb” or “thanb” was used in the texts, which according to The Hughes Encyclopedic Dictionary of Islam means, “a sin or a crime, or the charge of such.” The word is used in several other places and rightly translated as sin or crime (see Suras 3:11, 16, 31; 5:18, 49; 6:6; 7:10 etc).

But Muslim translators cannot allow Muhammad to be a sinner or criminal as their book says, so in those passages where dhanb was used, they deliberately rendered it as “fault” – a minor mistake or mild error that can be overlooked.

One English translator even smuggled in the words “attributed to you by Meccan polytheists” in parenthesis after “your sins” in Sura 48:2. His doctrinal presupposition was so strong that he had to bring up a sledgehammer and beat the text into conformity with it.

The doctrine of isma was actually a later innovation in Islam. It was first formulated in the creed known as the Fiqh Akbar II where it was stated that:

“All the Prophets are exempt from sins, both light and grave, from unbelief and sordid deeds. Yet stumbling and mistakes may happen on their part.” (Arent Jan Wensinck, The Muslim Creed: Its Genesis and Historical Development, p. 192).

Even the hadiths which attempted to don Muhammad with a legendary clothing tell us the same thing: that he was a poor sinner in need of forgiveness and redemption:

The Prophet used to say, “O Allah! I seek refuge with You from laziness and geriatric old age, from all kinds of sins and from being in debt; from the affliction of the Fire and from the punishment of the Fire and from the evil of the affliction of wealth…”(Bukhari 8.379:  Narrated ‘Aisha)

The fact that Muhammad kept praying for forgiveness and seeking refuge from the punishment of the fire of hell is proof that he was a sinner, his sins were indeed serious, and he knew their consequences were awaiting him beyond the grave.

The Prophet used to invoke Allah with the following invocation: [Arabic translation] “O my Lord! Forgive my sins and my ignorance and my exceeding the limits of righteousness in all my deeds and what you know better than I … Forgive my sins of the past and of the future with I did openly or secretly.” (Bukhari 8.407:  Narrated Abu Musa)

What do you say in the pause between Takbir and recitation? Muhammad replied, I say, “O Allah, set me apart from my sins as the East and Westest are set apart from each other and clean me from sins as a white garment is cleaned from dirt. O Allah! Wash off my sins with water, snow and hail.” (Bukhari 1:711 Narrated Abu Huraira)

The Prophet used to say frequently in his bowings and prostrations, “O Allah! Our Lord! All praises are for You. O Allah! Forgive me.” (Bukhari 1:781 Narrated ‘Aisha)

I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “By Allah! I ask for forgiveness from Allah and turn to him in repentance more than seventy times a day.” (Bukhari 8:319, Narrated Abu Huraira)

Muhammad’s wife, Aisha records that the early Muslims didn’t regard Muhammad as sinless (but rather as one whose sins were forgiven).

They said, “O Allah’s Prophet! We are not like you. Allah has forgiven your past and future sins” (Bukhari 1:19).

“The Prophet entered my house when a Jewess was with me and she was saying: Do you know that you would be put to trial in the grave? The Messenger of Allah trembled (on hearing this) and said: It is the Jews only who would be put to trial. Aisha said: We passed some nights and then the Messenger of Allah said: Do you know that it has been revealed to me: “You would be put to trial in the grave”? Aisha said: I heard the Messenger of Allah seeking refuge from the torment of the grave after this.” (Muslim 4, No. 1212, Narrated Aisha)

If Muhammad was only guilty of minor mistakes and little faults, why did he tremble and why was he earnestly seeking refuge from the torment of the grave?

These narrations give a lie to the fantastic claims of Muhammad being “cleansed” by angels as a baby or being untouched by Satan at birth.

In the hadith Mishkat al Masabih (1990 ed.), Aisha said Muhammad used to say: “O God, I seek refuge in Thee from the evil of what I have done…” (p. 525)

Indeed, Muhammad did many evil acts – raiding, gruesome murders, and sexual depravity.

In the same hadith, Abu Musa al-Ashari quotes Muhammad saying:

“O God, forgive me of my sin, my ignorance, my extravagance in my affairs and my frivolous sins, for I am guilty of all that; O god, forgive me my former and my latter sins, what I have keep secret and what I have done openly.” (p. 529)

Ah, but Muhammad was sinless! No he wasn’t. In fact, his religion and rituals failed to cater for his own sins much less the sins of his followers.

But as the centuries ensued, many Muslims who realized from the Bible that Jesus Christ is absolutely sinless and their guru was inferior, in ways more than one, tried to tailor their prophet along that line by attributing miracles to him and adopting isma, but the skeletons keep falling out of the cupboards.

Jesus didn’t have to pray for forgiveness or seek refuge in fear from the fire of hell, for he had declared: “For the prince of this world [Satan] is coming. He has no hold over me” (Jn. 14:30). 

We invite our Muslim friends to come to Jesus Christ, the Righteous One who has the power to save one from sin and deliver one to the uttermost.

 

 

 

To Drink Wine, or Not?

The stance of a Christian toward intoxicating drinks or stimulants is one that crops up time and again in Bible study and discipleship classes. It is a legitimate area of discussion because the witness we give to the world about our faith really matters.

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (1 Pet. 2:12).

Several Christian denominations teach that moderate alcohol is permitted but excess drinking is unwholesome.

Reading some of their arguments for this position, one has a feeling they are influenced more by the prevalent culture – particularly western culture – than a willingness to subjugate one’s desires to scriptural dictates.

But Americanism or Eurocentricism is not Christianity. There are some practices that may be deemed acceptable in American, Danish or Irish societies, but the Bible carries the highest authority to arbitrate on these matters.

While opinions differ on wine issues, scientific studies are establishing that the harmful effects of intoxicating drinks exceed their benefits.

Some scientific studies actually show that alcohol consumption can result in erectile dysfunction and low testosterone in men. However, the questions on many lips are:

Should Christians avoid alcoholic beverages? Does the word “wine” in the Bible refer to all fermented drinks – beer, whiskey, cocktails or brandy? Are certain kinds of wine permitted for believers? Or are we to do away with any kind of wine – natural palm wine, grape or other fruit wine?

In sound biblical interpretation, you don’t force a single meaning onto a word when that is used in conversely different ways.

The Bible calls Jesus a Lion and it also refers to the devil as a lion, but that doesn’t mean Jesus is the devil.

Similarly, looking at the Bible, we see that there are two kinds of wine. Though the term “wine” is used, the contexts determine which type is being referred to.

The Bible presents us with the benefits that one kind of wine offer and the damage that the other type does in the lives of those who indulge in it. They are:

Good wine

The Bible describes wine as a good drink and also points at the consequences of its use as desirable.

Different terms are employed by the Bible to describe this kind of wine: “the best of the wine” (Num. 18:12) and “new wine” (Neh. 10:37, 39).

It’s mentioned as part of the blessing or prosperity in the land.

“May God give you of the deal of heaven…and plenty of grain and wine.” (Gen. 27:28); “He will give rain for your land in its season…that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil.” (Deut. 11:14).

It’s referred to as wine from the vine “which cheers gods and men” (Judges 9:13).

The Bible clearly mentions the benefits of this kind of wine and this can be seen in the way it was used as an offering to God in the verses above.

It must be noted that yeast which was used to make wine intoxicating was forbidden with all sacrifices, so the wine mentioned in the temple sacrifices were not intoxicating (“Do not offer the blood of a sacrifice to me along with anything containing yeast” Exodus 23:18; 34:25).

Leaven or yeast was also used as a symbol of sin and wasn’t acceptable in offering sacrifices to God.

This good wine was used to quench thirst or refresh. “He will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops of your land—your grain, new wine and olive oil” (Deut. 7:13)

Then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine” (Prov. 3:10).

It was also used as a symbol of spiritual blessing or of the Holy Spirit (Prov. 9:2; Song 5:1; Eph. 5:18). This is non-fermented “new” or non-alcoholic wine which is permitted.

Strong drink

This kind of wine is the fermented brand, variously described as “mixed wine,” “strong drink”, venomous “poison” and “staggering wine”:

Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.” (Prov. 23:29-30).

And these also reel with wine and stagger from strong drink: The priest and the prophet reel with strong drink, They are confused by wine, they stagger from strong drink; They reel while having visions, They totter when rendering judgment.” (Isa. 28:7).

The dogs have a mighty appetite; they never have enough. The shepherds also have no understanding; they have all turned to their own way, each to his own gain, one and all. “Come,” they say, “let us get wine, let us fill ourselves with strong drink…” (Isa. 56:11-12)

Don’t gaze at the wine, seeing how red it is, how it sparkles in the cup, how smoothly it goes down. For in the end it bites like a poisonous snake; it stings like a viper.” (Prov. 23:31-32).

You have shown your people desperate times; you have given us wine that makes us stagger.” (Ps. 60:3).

It is also described as a “mixture” (Ps. 75:8), “the cup of trembling” (Isa. 51:17), and “the wine cup of fury” (Jer. 25:15). Those who drink this type of wine are described as “sick” and “inflamed with wine” (Hos. 7:5).

In Jeremiah 35, we read about the Recabites (those who descended from Moses’ father in law) who refused to take wine:

Then I set bowls full of wine and some cups before the Rekabites and said to them, “Drink some wine.” But they replied, “We do not drink wine, because our forefather Jehonadab son of Rekab gave us this command: ‘Neither you nor your descendants must ever drink wine.” (vv. 5-7).

This couldn’t be referring to the good wine God promised as a blessing to His people, but fermented wine. Though the term “wine” is still used, the context indicates which kind of wine it is.

The wine apologists

• Those arguing for drunkenness fail to make the necessary distinctions between “good/sweet wine” and “intoxicating/strong wine” but intentionally blur the lines in order to cement their own agenda.

• They also appeal to the instance of Jesus giving the disciples at the Last Supper wine as a legitimation of taking intoxicating wine.

An evidence that the wine served at the Last Supper wasn’t intoxicating can be seen in the fact that leaven/yeast which was used to ferment sweet wine was forbidden for use by Jews during the Passover.

God gave them the law that any Jew who must participate in the Passover must not eat leaven (Ex. 23:18; Lev. 6:17). There’s no reason to suggest that Jesus would break the ceremonial law by identifying with sin, particularly giving or taking intoxicating wine, prior to the Passover.

Another problem for those using this text as a prop is: the drink at the Lord’s Supper is never called wine. The Greek words there are tou genēmatos tēs ampelou meaning “the fruit of the vine.” (Matt. 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18).

• Most commentators who are pro-social drinking allude to the miracle of Jesus changing water into wine are the wedding of Cana of Galilee (John 2:8-10). This is Jesus’ first miracle in the NT and we need to get a clear picture of it.

Dr. Elmer Towns enunciates:

“Nature’s process to make wine (sweet) is by bringing water from the clouds to the earth, up through the vine into the grape, finally to be crushed into a juice. The miracle followed this process at the wedding although the process was speeded up into an instantaneous act. Making intoxicating wine involves allowing the grape to rot and adding man’s creative elements (leaven) to produce alcohol. God said, “Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly” (Prov. 23:31). As God, Jesus could not have contradicted this command from Proverbs and provided wine for the guests at the wedding meal.” (Bible Answers For Almost All Your Questions, Thomas Nelson, TN, 2003, p. 19).

From the passage itself, a distinction is made between “poorer wine” (Greek: elasso) and “good/superior wine” (Greek: kalon).

Intoxicating wine is not the superior or good wine, it’s the inferior wine. We need to be careful of all those who argue otherwise.

• Another desperate argument in support of Christians taking intoxicating wine is to latch on to the accusation of the enemies of Christ that he was a “winebibber” unlike John the Baptist who didn’t take any strong drink (Matt. 11:19 KJV).

One Jehovah’s Witness friend told me rather defiantly, “Jesus drank with sinners, so He drank alcohol.” This statement was quite revealing, since it is an attack on the sinlessness of Jesus Christ.

By alleging that Jesus indulged in sin with sinners, he’s telling us that Jesus is not really a Saviour and that it’s also necessary for us to drink alcohol with sinners, even though celebrating Fathers’ day or Mothers’ day or birthdays with them can mark us for destruction. What a convoluted logic!

Studying the NT, you won’t find any record of Jesus ever tasting wine, not even sweet wine (although He probably enjoyed sweet wine). Second, the verse appealed to is a claim by Jesus’ enemies.

The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”

Jesus went to the feast to preach the gospel to them and deliver them from sin – including the sin of drunkenness – but His enemies maliciously accused Him of being a “drunkard.” That’s like someone accusing me of being a stoner because I went to preach to a gang of cannabis addicts.

• Another tactic is for the strong wine teachers to create a moral allowance for drunkenness by creating an artificial distinction between “drinking moderately” or “drinking in excess.”

“It’s not a sin to drink moderate alcohol but it’s a sin when you indulge in it excessively,” they argue.

All you have to do to see the danger lurking in this argument is to replace alcohol with another sin:

“It’s not a sin to fornicate or commit adultery moderately but it becomes a sin only when you indulge in it excessively.”

“It’s not a sin to steal moderately but it becomes a sin only when you indulge in it excessively.”

“It’s not a sin to tell lies moderately but it becomes a sin only when you indulge in them excessively.”

Can you see the warped reasoning this is? Is there any sin in God’s Word that is permitted only in moderation?

Considering the nuance of human variation, who exactly gets to set the definite standard between taking alcohol in moderation and in excess?

The US Department of Health and Human Services says one drink or less per day for women or two drinks or less per day for men qualifies for moderate drinking. But this is quite dicey and is not applicable to everyone.

It has been scientifically established that the human body acclamatizes to the intake of alcohol such that the quantity that can make you tipsy varies within few months. But if you start out with a bottle of alcohol, your body soon gets used to it until you want more and more of it.

On the other hand, those who abstain from alcohol for months will find just one bottle quite intoxicating. The fact is: drunkenness is drunkenness. It’s a matter of action, not its degree.

I have personally known and lived with religious people who subscribe to this broken cistern of “moderate” drunkenness and I don’t know of a single one of them that didn’t become a full-blown drunk within a period of time.

That is the deceptive power of sin. “I will go out as at other times, and shake myself free,” was Samson’s rationalization after his consecration had been shaved off in the valley of Sorek.

Bondage to sinful habits usually start out with that sweet little voice in our heads: “I’ll just do it a little and walk away from it.” Go check the lives of these people ten years down the line, they are addicts still repeating it to themselves: “I’ll do it just a little once more and I’ll finally stop.”

It’s only a matter of time before they realize that the fleeting pleasure that alcohol offers holds them like a fly in amber and all their superb intentions will fail to keep them from being dragged down into the morass of physical, mental, psychological and spiritual ruin!

Why a Christian should avoid alcoholic beverages

1. God rejects drunkenness because it degrades human dignity.

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” (Eph. 5:18).

Here, we see intoxicating wine or strong drink contrasted with the filling of the Spirit.

Just as the Holy Spirit wields influence over our thinking, manner of speech and comportment – to the degree at which we yield to him – alcohol can also affect the way we talk, walk and our outlook on life.

God warns us, not to gaze at intoxicating wine because it stings like a viper (Prov. 23:31-32). The deleterious health effects of indulging alcohol testify to it.

The kind of wine that gets you drunk and make you stagger is not what you should justify. “Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors, pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk, so that he can gaze on their naked bodies!” (Hab. 2:15).

If God pronounces woe on something then it’s dangerous for us to wink at it.

2. The Bible identifies drunkenness as a characteristic of the unsaved. (1 Cor. 6:10). In ancient Rome drunkenness was very rampant. It was seen as a social beverage but Paul writing to Christians there, exhorts them to avoid it:

Let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” (Rom. 13:13-14).

We cannot use our culture as an excuse to indulge in liquor or drugs. God will hold us accountable to His revelation.

3. Drunkenness defiles the body. (1 Cor. 6:19) In addition to this, it destroys the personal and collective morals of any society. It opens the door to lawlessness, violence and disrespect for God-instituted authorities.

4. It is a lifestyle that is contrary to the Spirit and teaching of Christ. As Christians, we are to follow the examples of Jesus Christ. He never gave Himself to drunkenness and He never sinned (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:21). He always did the will of God and would not disobey God’s commands regarding drunkenness.

5. Drunkenness opens the door to other sins. Whilst it’s known to numb pain by tranquilization, it removes a person’s inhibitions and destroys his self-control.

With the inner moral restrain of the drunken person now out of the picture, sinful acts he would never consider doing otherwise becomes very easy to indulge in. This has led to some of the most vile, degrading and abominable outcomes in human experience.

The spectres of drunk persons spewing obscene language, reacting in rage, unleashing violence on others or engaging in sexual depravity even to the point of committing murder is an indicator of the destructive consequences of the sin of taking intoxicating wine.

A man who is a distinguished professional in his field under the influence of alcohol would roll in gutters and even wet his own pants. Another would get drunk at various places where he worked and would be fired and even the savings he had would be frittered on alcohol. Alcoholism strips people of their dignity.

I once interrogated a man who bragged of sexually assaulting many young men after intentionally plying them with alcohol in order to draft them into his debased gay circle. He personally admitted that alcohol is his biggest tool of weakening their moral defenses.

The Bible never teaches that happiness is result of an artificial stimulant such as alcohol. True happiness comes from within – peace, observing the beauty of nature, joy in the Holy Spirit and doing God’s will.

Circling the Bunkers

Circling the bunkers
A Russian Bunker Source: Flikr.com

Sometime ago, I met a learned man. My aunt in the United States introduced me to him and he gave me an appointment to see him at the faculty.

Aside from being a respected professor in his field, he is also a clergyman in the Anglican Church.

My meeting with him was purely regarding my career, but as we began talking, he started to admonish me on my personal life. He began to tell me stuff about my thoughts and relationship with God which no one – not my relatives or anyone else – could have known except by supernatural means.

I looked on in surprise with my mouth almost ajar as he probed into my life and appealed to the biblical story of David and Goliath and how with God on my side, I will become victorious in life. I knew right there that the Holy Spirit was speaking to me through him.

By the way, that’s not the first time that God would send someone to strengthen me in my time of despair. The first time I experienced that was in 2014 during my Masters at the University of Ibadan.

A Christian professor from another faculty suddenly walked up to where I was seated before the lecture started and told me a certain thing which no one else knew. At that time I was depressed and was about throwing in the towel, but what he said gave me hope and confidence in God.

In the case of this Anglican Venerable, although I treasured his counsel, I didn’t expect that a man in “that” denomination would be a mouth piece for God. You see, my family were baptized and raised in the Anglican Church, but the controversy that occurred when my parents exited the denomination left a degree of cynicism in my mind.

I had little trust in anyone in a position of leadership in that church because I perceived them to be opposed to the move of the Holy Spirit. Later as I reflected on this experience, God spoke to my heart: “You can’t pocket My Holy Spirit!

How true!

All along, I had been putting the Holy Spirit of God in a test tube of sorts. I had concluded that He could only speak to me through certain pastors or ministers that I revered or those from the denomination I approved of. That was a “we alone” mentality, and thank God for demolishing it.

This mentality is what I call “circling the bunkers.” A bunker is a defensive military shelter designed to protect people and valued materials from falling bombs or other attacks.

A bunker is mostly built underground – and metaphorically speaking – it is a fortress of ideas or practices that is specially protected or defended by individuals with an agenda.

Circling the bunkers is a preconditioned thinking in which a believer invests so much in church traditions, denominational positions, theological systems or outward labels as criteria of spiritual legitimacy and is more ready to defend these than the gospel of Jesus Christ itself.

Many believers today have sadly missed out on God’s intervention in their lives because they assumed that He can only speak or supernaturally work through their preferred or “our own” vessels.

But God can and does ministers through vessels who don’t meet up with our self-made conditions.

I want you to understand that God is not limited by denominations, institutions or human vessels. In fact, God can use a weak, despised, uneducated and a very young person to confound the strong, influential, wise and mighty of this earth.

Yet, many people have a problem accepting others on the basis of minor doctrinal differences or finicky rules:

An Arminian is teaching theology? I’m not interested.

He’s a pre-triber? Nope. Bye.

A Christian woman wearing make up and jewelries? She’s a Jezebel!

An evangelist dancing disco, wearing jean trousers, a hand chain and a even a tattoo? Have mercy Lord, he’s a false convert.

You are from that denomination where you speak unknown languages and raise your thighs when praising God? Out.

That pastor doesn’t use the King James bible? Heretic alert.

I remember when I started a Facebook Christian group six years ago, one guy demanded I put a Bible verse on all my articles because as far as he’s concerned, if a Christian doesn’t have a Bible verse for everything he writes, he’s going by “human wisdom.” He’s defending his fundamentalist bunker.

Couple of years ago, a friend tagged a pastor of a popular Nigerian Pentecostal church to my Facebook post, Unmasking the Queen of Heaven, and the man said something like:

“I was following along when he was quoting the Bible to expose this spirit, but you see when he began quoting these historical and religious non-biblical sources, he lost me. I don’t give attention to such write ups.”

Nothing new here. In the cute little world some people live in, the Bible is the only authority that must be appealed to: history must be scorned, logic should be rejected, science despitefully spat on, arts (especially African arts) demonized, theology should be relegated and unless it’s Jewish culture, it should be trampled upon.

This is what I call a “fundamentalist heritage.” It’s a constructed mental box that is obsessed with dotting every “i” and crossing every “t” at the risk of being labelled an apostate. They can take just one sentence you made and turn it back at you with a polemic of 2000 words and quotes from an entire chapter of the Bible.

We must not fall into the delusion that unless a person speaks or writes like our own pastors or reverend or elders, he must be messed up or absolutely false. This is how people miss out on God’s treasures.

I have known people who found the truth of Scripture even while they were still trapped within a religious system of deception and by God’s leading, they eventually found their way out, especially when they realized they couldn’t change the system.

God used a mute donkey to convey His message to a recalcitrant prophet. And there are times He will use poor, broken vessels to reprove, instruct, reveal His will or work in the lives of His people. That’s the sovereignty of God.

In the Bible we have an example of a prophet who discredited God’s revelation because he felt only his “clique” could legitimately speak for Him.

When God permitted a deceiving spirit to lead Ahab to his death, out of 400 prophets, Micaiah had a different message – a genuine insight into the heavenly conference. When he prophesied Ahab’s death at Ramoth Gilead, a respected prophet reacted:

“Then Zedekiah son of Kenaanah went up and slapped Micaiah in the face. “Which way did the spirit from the Lord go when he went from me to speak to you?” he asked” (1 Kgs. 22:24)

Such arrogance! Notice, he was not dedicated to God’s truth but a “party line.” Just talk like we do and you belong. This prophet felt he had a patent on the Spirit of God. He thought he had a corner on His revelation.

This is why it is dangerous to follow anyone who tells you he is the only mouth piece of God, or that his ministry is the only one that carries God’s approval.

Elijah nearly fell into this trap when he said, “I am the only one left” – the only one jealous for God. But God made Him realize that He has marked out for protection seven thousand in Israel who have neither kissed Baal nor bowed to him.

I do not have a corner on God’s truth. I am not the only contender. My blog is not the only place where truths are being shared. There are many others who have been labouring before me and will continue when I am no more here. That leaves no room for arrogance.

In Matthew 23, Jesus assessed the situation and rightly called the religious leaders of His day, “blind guides” (vs. 16, 24), “fools and blind” (vs. 17, 19), and “blind Pharisee” (v. 26). They were blind because their hearts were hardened and they idolized their outward piety above their inner spiritual state.

In Romans 11:25, Paul explained Israel’s mistake: “Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.”

Their hearts were hardened because they were blind to what God is doing. The same can happen to a Christian too – stuck up in a traditional or denominational rot and blind to the move of the Holy Spirit.

The key is to accept others just as Christ has accepted us. He “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love…to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which he made us accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:4, 6).

It was by His grace – not our works – that we were accepted, so we should extend that same grace to others. We need the ministry of the brothers and sisters outside our bunkers.

Finally, our focus should be on Jesus Christ as the sole standard (Heb. 12:2). It’s self-righteousness when we judge people by their outward labels rather than their devotion to Jesus Christ and His Word. It’s self-righteousness when we compare ourselves to others and judge them on that basis. God has only one standard for righteousness: Jesus Christ.