Beware the God barons…Charismatic leaders make a pretty penny selling holy water, oil

2708HR0103HOLY-BRACELETSDesire Ncube – Religion Writer

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Zimbabwe is experiencing a counterfeit prophetic era in which Christians are made believe that use of “holy” items such as oils and bracelets will save them, a leading cleric has said.

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Dr Goodwills Shana, president of the Association of Evangelicals in Africa and Word of Life International Ministries senior pastor, expressed this view in an interview with The Sunday Mail Religion.

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Reminder bracelets
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\nDr Shana, who assumed the AEA presidency at its general assembly in Zimbabwe this June, said what made many people uneasy about this new wave was that it seemed to enrich the charismatic leaders and boost their profiles even as the wider economy was sluggish.

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He said of the exponential growth of prophecy-related movements: “The controversy, confusion and criticism arise from the amalgam of the appeal that these prophets and churches have to many Zimbabweans and the methods that are often used to preach the gospel;

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“And more significantly the amount of power and prosperity that the central prophetic personalities seem to have accumulated in the midst of a troubled economy and the engulfing poverty of the majority of worshippers in Zimbabwe.”

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Dr Shana said the Bible should be the Christian’s sole reference point.

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“In most cases the Bible as a reference point is not a bone of contention but its interpretation can lead to numerous and sometimes conflicting positions on the same thing.

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“The use of wristbands, handkerchiefs, towels, car stickers, holy oil and water as well as other pieces of merchandise or materials purporting to carry or convey miraculous powers of protection and healing is critical hence we ought to go back to the Bible.”

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The past Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe president said the Bible had many examples of items of clothing or materials used to convey or carry the power of God – but in no instance were these things ever sold.

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“God asked Moses to use the image of a snake or serpent and whoever looked on it was healed, but beyond that point we do not see a continued use of this or other item or material as a carrier or conveyor of divine power,” noted Dr Shana.

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“It would be wrong to conclude that churches should not merchandise at all, because churches do sell hymn books, literature, uniforms and other religious material.

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Miracle water
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\n“What the Bible warns us against is seeking to sell the power of God by purporting that an item or material (whether this item is a wristband or oil or water does not matter) carries the power of God and its purchase will afford the purchaser access to a miracle.”

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Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa (Diocese of Harare) education secretary Mr Fred Saruchera said selling “anointing” oils, water, bumper stickers and other items was alien to mainline churches.

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“We don’t do that, it has never been our tradition.

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“Yes we do sell uniforms and other church materials but not for ‘breakthroughs’ but to enhance the Gospel. We don’t know where they got it from but I think they are doing it to enrich themselves because it has no biblical basis,” said Mr Saruchera.

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Theologian Mr Felix Mugadza said “gospel merchandising” had infiltrated Christendom.

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“The selling and use of anointing materials or objects may bring breakthrough but has no Biblical support. Such breakthroughs have become monsters in the lives of the people because (the breakthroughs) are always short-lived,” said Mr Mugadza.

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Quoting Romans 16:17, Mr Mugadza said all those who desired breakthroughs should faithfully seek the face of God through constant prayer and by living righteous lives that glorified the Creator.

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Mr Mugadza added that not everyone who could prophesy or give signs of things that eventually did come to pass was sent by God, pointing out that prophets, diviners, psychics and spiritualists had many similarities.

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“As a prophet of God can wear a suit and tie or white collar to preach in the pulpit, so can a magician transform himself and put on a suite with a bishop’s collar, change his occultic language to Biblical language, and preach and prophesy in Christian’s church services.

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“When Paul the Apostle prophesied about the last days events,

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he compared the false ministers who will arise in the last days to oppose the truth of God with the story of Moses and Jannes and Jambres. Paul stated that the same way Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses in the presence of Pharaoh, would be exactly the same method that the diviners, sorcerers and the psychics who will secretly introduce destructive teachings in the church will resist the truth.

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“Paul called them men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.” (2 Timothy 3) EFZ general secretary Reverend Lindani Dube said the Bible referenced use of oil and possibly other objects in several instances both in the Old and New Testament.

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But his concern was the abuse of such and where oils, bangles and handkerchiefs became the subject of worship and faith.

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“In light of the growing faith in putting trust in objects like the anointing oil and water people buy for deliverance and breakthrough, we implore people to be aware of deception and exhort them to test every spirit,” pleaded Rev Dube.

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Zimbabwe National Practitioners Association founder and president Sekuru Friday Chisanyu said prophets who used the name of God should be honest to people and tell them ordinary material items could not cure ailments.

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“We use traditional pharmacologists (vadzimu) and those prophets have their spirits that they use when making and selling their oils. The spirits tell us that they are things that cannot be cured.

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“So the common thing in us is that we both believe in spiritualism.

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“Holy water and oils sometimes work but there are other things were it doesn’t work. But people are not told.

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“Because today’s prophets are in business they don’t tell desperate people that they are problems that can be solved by these holy materials.

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“Some people will end up defaulting medication because they have acquired holy materials. At the end of the day they hasten their death and it’s not fair,” said Sekuru Chisanyu.

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