Pastors collecting tithe today are nothing but robbers- Aribisala

PUNCH Newspaper

Controversial preacher and coordinator of Healing Wings, a Pentecostal Christian fellowship, Dr. Femi Aribisala, in this interview with GBENRO ADEOYE, insists that Bible’s David did not kill Goliath

In one of your write-ups, you described pastors who collect tithes as thieves. Are you saying that tithing is not biblical?

There are so many things that are “biblical” but have nothing to do with the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is about God and his sons. The son of a king does not pay taxes to the king, his father. Sons of God don’t tithe. Tithe means giving ten per cent of your income to God. However, everything that sons of God have belongs to God. So tithing cannot apply to us.

The tithing currently instituted in churches is all 419. Money is not acceptable as tithe in the scriptures. And yet, our thieving pastors today only accept money. Tithes were only paid by landowners in the scriptures, but our thieving pastors collect tithes from everybody. Tithes were only collected by Levites, but thieving pastors, who are neither Jewish nor Levites, are now the ones collecting them. Tithes were meant for the poor, the widows and strangers in the scriptures, but our thieving pastors now use them to build their empires. They use them to build cathedrals; buy jets; establish schools and banks etc. Those pastors who collect tithes today are nothing but thieves and robbers, according to Jesus’ categorisation of bad pastors.

But Malachi 3:10 says it should be done

Malachi 3:10 does not establish the principles of tithing. The principles were established by Moses. Malachi is addressed to priests; it is not addressed to the congregation. Malachi is Old Testament. We are now under a New Testament. Pastors cannot insist on the one hand that we are no longer under the law, and then cherry-pick a convenient aspect of the law as being still applicable today. If we should pay tithes today then we should also obey other aspects of the Mosaic law including stoning disobedient children and adulterers to death. Malachi is not our Lord and Saviour. Jesus is our Lord and Saviour. Christians should be instructed by Jesus and not by Malachi or Moses.

In several of your write-ups, you described Apostle Paul as speaking for himself and not for Jesus, what’s your grouse with his writings?

The problem I have with Paul is on several levels. Paul is not Jesus, so I owe him no allegiance. My Lord and Saviour is Jesus and not Paul. Unlike most Christians, I have spent a lot of time studying Paul. Paul contradicts Jesus too much for my liking. Paul tells too many lies. He is not an apostle of Christ, yet he calls himself an apostle. Paul never heard Jesus preach. Therefore, you will find nothing of the doctrines of Jesus in any of Paul’s writings. There is nothing about the life of Jesus, nothing about his teachings; nothing about his illuminating parables; nothing from his seminal Sermon on the Mount. All Paul knows is that Jesus was crucified and died; then rose from the dead. Even then, he ascribes to Jesus’ death and resurrection what Jesus himself never said it would represent. As far as I am concerned, Paul’s voice is the voice of the stranger that Jesus warns us about. His voice is certainly not the voice of the Good Shepherd. I know the voice of Jesus and Paul definitely does not sound like Jesus.

Some have argued that you have been quoting Paul out of context, is that true?

Some have argued many things because my position contradicts what they have been erroneously led to believe. You cannot accuse me of quoting Paul out of context without pointing out where exactly I have quoted him out of context. This is what my critics do. They make allegations without substantiation. When you show them examples of Paul contradicting Jesus, they cannot answer. They will just rain abuses on you, showing eloquently that they are not children of God. They will tell you that you only think contradictions are contradictions because you don’t have the Holy Spirit. But when did the Holy Spirit become a contradicting spirit? How come Jesus never contradicts himself? The problem with a lot of Christians is that they don’t take God seriously enough to study the Bible for themselves. When they meet people who have bothered to do so, they are offended and become abusive.

These attacks seem to be targeted at Paul alone, was he the only one in the Bible who erred in your own opinion?

So many people erred at different places in the Bible. That is why God sent Jesus to testify to the truth. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. He is the final authority on everything that pertains to God. He is the only one who came down from heaven to tell us about God. He told us all those who came before him are thieves and robbers. But then Paul came after Jesus with another message different from that of Jesus. This man who never learnt anything at the feet of Jesus or at the feet of his disciples wrote so many things contradicting what Jesus says. He then claims his word is the word of God, the only other person who makes such a claim in the scriptures apart from Jesus. My job is to warn people that they should concentrate on Jesus and no one else. Jesus, and not Paul, is our Lord and Saviour. God testified of Jesus: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased. Listen to him.” He did not say anything like that about Paul.

By saying pastors who collect tithes are thieves, are you saying practically all pastors in Nigeria and abroad are criminals?

My opinion is not important. What is important is what Jesus says. When Jesus came, he said and I quote: “I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.” (John 10:7-8). The thieves and robbers that are of primary concern to Jesus are the pastors of our churches. Jesus’ message is that pastors and other so-called “men of God” are thieves and robbers. According to him, pastors have turned our churches into dens of thieves. Jesus says and I quote again: “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’” (Mark 11:17). So yes, I am saying practically all pastors in Nigeria and abroad are criminals. They steal God from men. There is only one legitimate pastor in Christendom and it is Jesus. This is another direct quote from Jesus: “There shall be one flock and one pastor.”

Are you a full time pastor?

I am not a pastor. I don’t run a church and I don’t collect tithes. I would be a hypocrite if I did.

What kind of programme do you run?

Why are you so interested in me? What has it got to do with me? It is all about God and about his son, Jesus Christ our Saviour. I am still waiting for you to ask me about God and about Jesus Christ.

What is the size your congregation?

What does it matter what the size of our fellowship is? Our fellowship, not my fellowship, is where two or three are gathered. I hope you will be satisfied with that.

Is there any reason why you’re not a full time pastor?

I am not a pastor period, full-time or part-time. I am not a pastor because I have learnt from the scriptures and from Jesus that Jesus is the only pastor in the New Testament. Jesus calls no one today to be a pastor. Pastors today are disciples of Paul. David says men gave gifts to the Lord: “When you ascended on high, you led captives in your train; you received gifts from men. (Psalm 68:18). But Paul changes this to say men received gifts from the Lord: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.’” (Ephesians 4:8). He then uses this deliberate distortion as the basis for creating the unauthorised post of pastors in churches. (Ephesians 4:11). Jesus says: “He who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” (John 10:1).

What should men of God call themselves since you said all those who call themselves pastors are not of Jesus?

Men of God don’t exist. There are only children of God. Jesus says except we are converted and become as little children; we shall not enter the kingdom of God. Those who arrogate themselves as men of God don’t belong in the kingdom of God.

So what do you call yourself?

I am a child of God.

You also said that David did not kill Goliath, then who did?

Let me quote the Bible to you again. “In another battle with the Philistines at Gob, Elhanan son of Jaare-Oregim the Bethlehemite killed Goliath the Gittite.” (2 Samiel 21:19). Did you hear that? Goliath was killed by Elhanan, one of David’s mighty men. It is not my position. It is so stated in the Bible.

How was it done because what is in the Bible is that David killed him with a sling and a stone?

There are contradictory versions of who killed Goliath in the Bible. Under Rehoboam, Israel became divided into two kingdoms; one pro-David: the other anti-David. Both gave conflicting historical reports which were later edited into the Bible. As a result, the Biblical record about David killing Goliath is full of contradictions and inconsistencies.

I have quoted to you the position stated in 2 Samuel. However, 1 Samuel says it was David who killed Goliath. Having investigated both versions in the Bible, it is clear to me that the version about David killing Goliath is pure fiction. The evidence is overwhelming that it was actually Elhanan who killed Goliath. The problem is that Christians don’t bother to investigate these things. They simply state whatever their pastors tell them. Most pastors don’t even bother to study the scriptures. When you tell Christians the truth they don’t know, they shout heresy out of sheer ignorance.

Is it true that you called members of Deeper Life Church cultists?

I would never say such a thing and have never said anything like that. I don’t know where you got that from. The onus is on you to say where I said that.

What version of the Bible do you read?

What does it matter? I make a point of reading as many versions as I can. My Bible programme has over 12 versions.

How do you feel when people say you are preaching heresy?

I feel sorry for them that they don’t know the doctrine of Jesus. The Jews also said Jesus was preaching heresy. They even said he was demon-possessed. If they said that to the master, they would also say so to the servant.

Who is your mentor in Christendom and which church were you attending before?

My mentor in Christendom is the Holy Spirit. Jesus says he will teach us all things. It is also said in the prophets that we shall be taught by God himself. So don’t expect me to start pointing to one useless pastor or the other. My last bus stop was the Redeemed Christian Church of God. But I was born into the Anglican Communion. I also attended the Baptist Church and Pentecostal Assembly.

Recently, you have been writing about social and political issues, why the shift?

I have been a Christian all my life. Nevertheless, it was not until at the age of 41 that I had a real encounter with Christ. Soon he made me resign from my job, close down my businesses and live by faith. As a result, for the past 20 years, I have not written secular articles. I have concentrated on studying the scriptures. I have only preached the gospel and written spiritual books and articles. I was not even allowed to travel out of Nigeria for 10 years. But recently, God has redeemed all the things I gave up for his sake and for the sake of his kingdom. In the last one year, I have been to Britain and the United States, where I obtained my Master’s and Doctoral degrees. Moreover, I have been allowed to write secular articles once again. God then opened the door where I am now able to write two columns for Vanguard, the one secular and the other spiritual.

In one of your write-ups, you described Femi Fani-Kayode as tribalistic and also criticised his late father for his actions during the old Western Region, what’s your grouse with them?

My grouse with Fani Kayode’s father is that he was a thug when he was Deputy Premier of Western Nigeria. In that capacity as a thug, he nearly got me killed as a child by inciting a mob against me. My grouse with Femi Fani Kayode himself is that he is a tribalist. He wrote the most hateful things about the Igbo. The man dies who in the light of such injustice keeps quiet. The Igbo are industrious people who contribute immensely to Nigeria. They should not be recklessly maligned and declared persona non grata in their own country.

Some people say your write-up in support of Lagos Igbos was one-sided as it did not urge Igbo and Hausa states to also open up to other tribes?

My article was in direct response to Femi Fani-Kayode bad-mouthing the Igbos and insisting Lagos belongs to the Yorubas and not to the Igbos. It was not about Hausa or Igbo states. However the principle established in my article is applicable to all states of the Nigerian federation. A Nigerian should be able to live in any state of Nigeria. A Nigerian who is born in a state, lives in the state, works in the state and pays taxes to that state should have the same rights in that state as anybody and everybody else.

You also said it was wrong for Pastor Tunde Bakare to have run as a vice- presidential candidate at the 2011 elections, was David not a king?

Tunde Bakare is a child of God. He belongs in the kingdom of God. A man who belongs in the kingdom of God does not run to be vice-president in the kingdom of men. Tunde Bakare’s kingdom is not of this world. He should leave the children of this world to fight for the things of this world. David was a king at a time when the kingdom of God was not revealed to men. He became a king because Israel rejected God and insisted on having a human king, as opposed to having God as their king. That is hardly an example worth emulating today by Tunde Bakare.

What do you think of men of God who have private jets since it has remained a contentious issue?

Your so-called men of God have private jets because they are thieves and robbers. There are different ways by which you can steal money from men. You can put a gun to their heads and force them to give you their money. Or you can indoctrinate them to hand over their money to you by putting them in psychological bondage. That is what your private jet-setting pastors have been doing. They have turned their churches into dens of thieves and robbers. They have used the resources of the poor and gullible to finance their ostentatious lifestyles.

You also criticised the deportation of Igbos, why do you think it was wrong?

You cannot deport a Nigerian from Nigeria. It is wrong and nonsensical. A Nigerian should be able to live in any part of Nigeria.

Some say you have been openly critical of all these things to gain popularity?

I am openly critical of all these things because they are not of God. You don’t become popular by saying the things I have been saying. For the record, I don’t care what people say about me. I don’t receive honour from men. I am only concerned about what God thinks of me.

Are you a member of CAN?

I am not a member of CAN. I used to belong to the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria. As a matter of fact, one of the Victoria Island Lagos chapters used to meet in my fellowship venue. But after a while, I saw that they do not follow the teachings of Jesus and had to withdraw. I was part of the delegation of the PFN that “elected” Pastor Wale Adefarasin as president of the Lagos chapter of the PFN a few years back. That election was a disgrace. It was no difference from the kind of rigged elections conducted by Nigeria’s discredited political parties. I don’t belong in that kind of association.


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