I am a Christian or, at least, I view myself as such. It pains me to see the faith being pilloried because of the acts or omissions of some of its adherents. The faith itself is bigger than an individual, no matter how much followers the individual may amass.
As a matter of fact, the faith has outlived the best of individuals: One may cite the redoubtable Paul who spread the faith in the Gentile world and wrote almost half of the books in the New Testament. It has even withstood several attacks from various quarters such as persecution in the aftermath of the crucifixion of Christ.
Any Christian would know that the persecution was engineered by the wily Devil and his human agents who have forever been fighting Christ. Knowing full well that he was soundly defeated, the Devil has focused his attention to the planet Earth. He has again found among human beings willing volunteers to do his bidding in his quest to thwart the plan of redemption.
Satan is streets ahead of us in more ways than one. This is said not to praise him. Far be it from me to praise such an egregiously evil fella who has done all manner of heinous things to all of us. He is mocking everything Christian and uses the very people who call themselves by that name to do his dirty work and bidding.
A case in point: Some time back there were a group of people who said Jesus would return in 2012. The prediction was based on Mayan philosophy which said Christ would return around May. That was absurd as the month of May came and went. Obviously, Jesus did not come that month or on any month after that. The point behind this: People would say there is no such thing as the Second Coming of Christ. Look, He has not come, and why would you think He will ever come?
Now he shifts his attention to another pillar of Christianity: Resurrection. Christians believe that since Christ was raised from the dead He is a forerunner for all the dead who will also eventually rise. He even said that He has the keys of death. As a matter of fact, when they bury their dead, Christians harbor the hope that Christ will one day resurrect them. If that basic and fundamental tenet of the faith is made fun of, as in the Lukau resurrection incident, it implies that the adherents of the faith have no leg to stand on. The foundation of the Christian faith is an empty grave and it is also its raison detre.
It is against this backdrop that we must look at the attempted resurrection by Pastor Lukau. Behind the charade done by poor Pastor Lukau is a devil who says there is no such thing as resurrection. Pastor Lukau may be an inadvertent pawn in the Devil’s game. He is also preying on people’s credulity and, in South Africa, he has found a sizable number of people who are gullible enough to accept whatever he says as gospel truth.
The kind of people who follow Pastor Lukau could be individuals who are fascinated by miracles and mysteries. Their fascination with miracles works just fine for impostors and avaricious individuals who are out to make a fast buck.
South Africa has unfortunately become a favourite stomping ground of these dodgy individuals. With our socio-economic problems some individuals are driven to desperation and seek help and solace outside of themselves. Religion, just as Karl Marx once said, becomes their ‘opiate’ where they get the opportunity to offload their burdens.
These unscrupulous pastors promise them Heaven and Earth if they support their self-styled ministries with loads of cash. They euphemistically call this exploitative practice ‘planting of seed’ which will germinate into riches for their congregants. Meanwhile, they drive the latest German sedans, live in exclusive posh suburbs and even own private jets whereas their congregants must rely on errant public transport.
I am wary of allowing the state to intervene when no criminal charges have been laid by the supposed victims. The state has no business interfering in a private entity like a church, unless the lives of people are in jeopardy. Besides, it would be well-nigh unfair to interfere in some churches and not in others. Some churches are run relatively well and their books are audited by trained accountants. Sadly, the same cannot be said about other churches who are run as private fiefdoms by their ‘owners’.
Still, if you go for those truant churches, they are likely to raise Cain (pun not intended).
My point is that while it may be convenient to laugh at Pastor Lukau’s failed experiment, let’s not lose sight of the fact that we need to look at things in a broader perspective.
Charlatans are cashing in on people’s desperation and are smiling all the way to the bank. This in a society which has an official 27% unemployment rate. The implication in the foregoing is that even the little that those who work have is taken by heartless pseudo-pastors.
That most of these so-called pastors are immigrants is a cause for concern. If they were so concerned about ‘saving souls’, why do they not start with their fellow countrymen?
Satan, through this failed Pastor Lukau experiment, has won a Pyrrhic victory. He knows that there will be those who will not only concern themselves with the fiasco but also question the veracity of biblical claims about resurrection. Check how many people were mocking the concept of resurrection through a hastily arranged ‘resurrection challenge’. People were popping up in bath tubs with mouths gaping wide open possibly imitating the ‘resurrected Elliot’. Several questions were asked which challenged the credibility of the experiment. Well may we challenge the experiment but let us not dare question the concept of resurrection. That is a fundamental pillar of the Christian faith.
Lolonga Tali is a PhD student in political studies at Nelson Mandela University and a lay member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. He writes in his personal capacity.