New Place, Same Battle

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I recently had the privilege of traveling to Zambia, Africa, to speak at the Ekklesia Leadership Conference hosted by Central Africa Baptist College and Seminary (CABC). Christian leaders like Dr. Steve Lawson, Conrad Mbewe, Sam Horn, and many others were there to speak on the conference theme, The Sufficiency of Scripture.

It was beyond awesome to hear one speaker after another exalt God’s Word and exhort the roughly 500 pastors, Christian leaders, and students to take every thought captive and make them obedient to Christ and to stand firmly rooted in the rock of God’s Word, which is alone sufficient for wisdom, ministry, and godliness.

While there, I learned firsthand that indeed one of the prevailing ways God’s Word is being attacked in Africa—as well as around the world—is through the teaching of evolution and millions of years. This resulted in a powerful response and many good questions to my sessions on “Genesis and Biblical Authority,” “Evolution Defined,” “Age of the Earth,” and “One Blood One Race.” In talking with the attendees, local pastors, and Christian leaders, it was abundantly clear that they were excited to get answers from God’s Word on these issues!

I also had the chance to have a “heart-to-heart” with Phil Hunt, the president of CABC. Along with being humble and engaging, he has a passion for the authority of the Word of God and the gospel. I imagine that’s why he’s an ardent friend of AiG and invited us to be a part of the conference. I learned that the mission of CABC and the Leadership Conference was to raise up Christian servant-leaders in Africa who will stand unabashedly on the authority of God’s Word to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ—a passion that resonates with my soul and the heartbeat of Answers in Genesis.

This need in Africa cannot be overstated. There are approximately 350 million people in Africa who have yet to hear the good news of Jesus Christ.* And along with the Bible being challenged with the lie of evolution and millions of years, the false narratives of the “prosperity gospel” and the “New Apostolic Reformation (NAR)” are spreading like cancer in African Christian circles. Without getting bogged down in the minutiae of these heretical views, they tend to travel together in Africa and emphasize personal gain, experiences, dreams, visions, supernatural events, extra-biblical revelations, and the leadership of a given “prophet” or “apostle” over the Bible’s teaching and authority.

And when I asked Phil Hunt, who’s been a missionary in Africa for 25 years, the reason for the popularity of these false teachings, I received a shock. It wasn’t simply the desire for prosperity as I anticipated. He expressed that probably the foremost motive in the acceptance of these ideas is their similarity to the traditional teachings of the old tribal, pagan religions in the African culture. These idolatrous traditions stress the influence of a spiritual world on the physical world. Blessings and curses from the spirit realm are seen as very real, and to tap into that realm for personal gain you go to the witchdoctor. The witchdoctor then intervenes for you into the spirit world or tells you what you must do to get your desired result.

You may be saying, “That’s interesting, but where’s the connection?” Here it is—and when Phil shared this with me it was a “lightbulb” moment: the essence of the teachings of the prosperity gospel and NAR are so like the traditional pagan religions of many Africans, they are easily and comfortably embraced. Think about it: in the thinking of the prosperity gospel, if you want to be blessed and prosper, what do you have to do? Instead of the witch doctor, you go the charismatic leader, “prophet” or “apostle,” who has a special connection to the spirit world. And then they either intervene for you or tell you what you must do to influence the spirit world to get the outcome you want.

It is the same foundational fight between God’s Word and man’s word that goes all the way back to Genesis 3.

So notice what is ultimately taking place. Many professing African Christians are embracing and assimilating pagan, nonbiblical ideas that coincide with popular cultural concepts because God’s Word is not esteemed as the ultimate authority in all things. Sound familiar? If you know anything about AiG, I know it does! It is the same foundational fight between God’s Word and man’s word that goes all the way back to Genesis 3.

So much more could be said, but, in summary, the conference was incredibly God honoring and successful in equipping the attendees to pursue the glory of God by resting in the sufficiency of his Word. One can only wonder what would happen here in the states if more churches, ministries, Christian colleges, and seminaries would follow the example of CABC. What a blessing to partner with a like-minded ministry on the other side of the world!

For an audience of One,
Bryan

* Africa, Joshua Project, https://joshuaproject.net/continents/AFR, accessed January 9, 2018.

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