What to do about all attacks on the true faith in Africa? Various speakers at the Consultation agreed that firstly the Bible must be known and understood. In addition, one has to be conscious of the results of these influences in Africa such as self-serving leaders, corruption, poor economies, oppression, etc. It must be realized that only the Bible speaks authoritatively in a relevant way in any given situation.
How can one equip students against the Prosperity Gospel? Rev. Antonio Coppola, pastor of the Covenant Waterfall Presbyterian Church and manager of the Mukhanyo’s Durban Advanced Learning Centre said it must be realized that the Prosperity Gospel links up well with the worldview and practices of African Tradition Religions. The Reformed theology of sola gratia, the atonement of Christ and God’s covenant are uniquely able to equip students against this pervasive error.
To be able to refute the Prosperity Gospel, there must be a total commitment to the Word of God, the true preaching of the Word (sola Scriptura), and a realisation of God’s sovereignty and the willingness of God’s children to suffer.
Defending the True Faith
God’s Word does not change but its application does, according to Dr Siegfried Ngubane of the Serving in Mission organisation (SIM), also a keynote speaker at the Consultation. The present trend is for theology to move away from the truth; religious experiences replace Scripture away from Christ and his Word. But Africa’s theology should be based on the knowledge of God’s revelation and inspiration. Doctrine should be taught from God’s Word about our God who directs us to know Him, love Him, do His will, and live for His glory.
The question one must always ask oneself is what the Bible says in a specific situation. The questions we ask are rooted in our experiences, cultural beliefs and worldviews, but one should be very careful regarding so-called contextualisation; we must not adjust sound Biblical doctrine to suit people’s preferences. True faith is based on true knowledge, regardless of the time and part of the world.
Mentoring Spiritual Warriors
How many Christians see themselves as contenders and fruitful spiritual warriors? Do lecturers prepare theological students as such? This was asked by Prof. Henk Stoker of the Theological School Potchefstroom at Northwest University in Potchefstroom, South Africa. Through an approach of gentleness, humility and respect, we must be prepared to defend the Christian faith to anyone who asks you for the reason for the hope we have in us through a well thought through explanation and rebuttal. Remember, hearts and minds have to be won, not an argument. We are in the world to be contenders, the salt and light of the world.
In the light thereof, it is the job of Christian pastors and teachers to train students how to discern between right and wrong. This discernment requires skill, according to Rev. Atwebembeire. Much damage is done by so-called prophets who give wrong advice and draw people away from institutional churches. The key is a pastor’s preaching: to teach, motivate and grow his congregation to be informed and equipped. Discernment is a necessary fruit of discipleship.
To promote the mentoring of well-equipped church leaders, Bible colleges and seminaries should restore the integrity of the house of God, promoting interaction, synergy, and working together, according to Dr Ngubane. In practice, this means stopping the sale of fake qualifications by fraudulent “Christian” institutions.
This unity also implies that there should be clear agreement on the essentials of the church’s mission to navigate through and around minor issues. Institutions should trust each other. An African proverb states if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.
Guarding Against Future Compromise
Many institutions and universities throughout the world have started as Bible schools and Christian places of learning, but through the years have become compromised and secularized. How can Christian institutions today guard themselves that it will not happen to them? This topic was presented by Dr Brian DeVries, principal of Mukhanyo Theological College. He listed five common causes of compromise: counterfeit teachers, doctrinal syncretism, academic hypocrisy, institutional blindness, and various external pressures.
Some defences against compromises include the following:
Remember: we are strong together when standing on the Word. God our Father has promised to provide. The Holy Spirit unites and empowers us. And Christ is praying for us to remain faithful. What more do we need? And what will you do to implement these ideas?
Visit the TEASA website for information about the 2021 event (www.teasa.co.za) and to download the audio recordings of all the keynote addresses and some of the afternoon discussion topics. You can also register online for next year’s event planned for 14-16 June 2022, the Lord willing.