Fast Christianity like fast food has its advantages and disadvantages or pros and cons. Originally, the word “fast” is supposed to mean “speed” which is not a bad quality but in this context, it is bad because it is bogus. It is more or less a shortcut and of course short cut will cut you short. You cannot run faster than your legs nor can you put the cart before the horse. Slow and steady is helpful to cooking and Christianity. Usually, processes are vital to the outcome of production and processes take the time or rather processes are timed. For example, in cooking, timing is important. The difference between good and bad food is timing. If you don’t time your cooking properly your food will get burnt or half-cooked. But fast food makes a mockery of all these. It is food at the speed of light. In cities and towns fast foods is becoming popular because most of its patrons have little time for homemade food. So, “”fast” is the way to go for the modern man. It saves him the hassles of stoves and pots yet fast food is blamed for a multiplicity of ailments like diabetes, obesity, hypertension and cancer. Fast food is like the broad way to disease and untimely death while homemade food is the narrow way to health, healing and long life. Like the Biblical narrow path, only a few people are attracted to natural food while the vast majority are attracted to artificial food. Now, homemade food is authentic but fast food is synthetic.
Contemporary Christianity, especially the evangelistic and fundamentalist variants are on the fast lane. What they offer is “fast” Christianity which is usually characterised by “miracles”. The orthodox churches are also catching into the trend. If you ask me, what is happening right now in the country is what I classify as the “scrabble for souls”. In a way, the churches are in the scrabble for Nigeria for he who controls the hearts and minds of Nigerians controls Nigeria. At no time in the history of Nigeria have we seen the power of “fast” Christianity than in the countdown to the 2015 presidential elections where “fast” Christianity was a force to contend with. The two presidential candidates, Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari visited the major “fast” churches. By fast churches, I mean fast-growing churches, churches growing at the speed of light with large congregations nationwide. It is because of this and other reasons, I wish to look at the advantages and disadvantages of “fast” Christianity.
Let us start with the three major advantages of “fast” Christianity:
Charity: “Fast” Christianity whether we believe it or not is involved willy-nilly in charitable activities as most of them run subsidized schools, hospitals, orphanages, old people’s homes and counselling to the public. The fundamental function of religions which is charity is in one way or the other still trending in “fast” Christianity. I must nevertheless add, in this area I expect the major churches to do more in the coming years.
Entertainment: The entertainment industry is dead in Nigeria likes all the other major industries. The entertainment industry is plagued with piracy, plagiarism and mediocrity. Music stars and musical bands cannot go on a tour in Nigeria as big as the country is. The closer you are to Burna Boy and Whiz Kid is through the television or DVD. Here the church steps in big time. The pastor himself is a superstar in his own right and he has his own band in the church called choir or chorister and he makes you dance like David danced. A visit to Paul Adefarasin’s “House on the Rock Lekki”, Lagos will attest to this fact. If you are a pastor and you want your church to grow “fast” you must not only educate your members but you must entertain them with good music, hot dance steps, comedians and spectacle.
Counselling and Motivation: There is a total collapse of the social structure in Nigeria and this creates a need for emergency counsellors and motivators and here the “fast” churches walk in big time to fill the void. Society today lacks marriage counsellors, juvenile counsellors and psychologists, so the pastor doubles as a mentor and counsellor and this is tedious work because it involves anger management, time management, crisis management and psychiatry.
One will be tempted to say with these wonderful advantages of “fast” Christianity why should we bother about the disadvantages? Thesis, antithesis and synthesis are important in logic and argument. To make informed judgement currents, crosscurrents and undercurrents must be understood.
Let us now look at the 3 major disadvantages of “fast” Christianity with the intent of solving, resolving and dissolving its implications if any!
The most obnoxious activity of “fast” Christianity is that it thrives on fantasy or fantastic things like soul, spirit, hell, heaven, angels, demons, sacred books, messiahs etc. To the scientist or atheist, there is no room for the surreal world. Science defines man as an animal but religion defines him as a soul. So, the “fast” churches in Nigeria fills the gap of bad governments by running with illusion and the society is attracted and corrupted by superstition. Nigeria is so, so superstitious today as a result of the gimmicks of the “fast” churches and this is a clog in the wheel of our national progress. The vast majority of Nigerians believe in witches and demons but if you ask me, the real witches I know in Nigeria are the politicians. They bewitch Nigeria with illogic and unreason! Nigerians believe in fairies and mermaids. If the typical Nigerian is sick, he believes it is an “attack” from the demonic world. No wonder Nigeria is producing more pastors than scientists and I can see why Nigeria is a consuming and not a producing nation.
Religion is contributing to the division than to the unity of Nigerians. While I agree the world is a global village, the church is guilty of spearheading the erosion of our African values and morals through the glorification of western attitudes and ideas.
The “fast” churches are flamboyant in theology and lifestyles and here prosperity and idle luxury is the gospel. To the “fast” pastor property is a do or die matter. It is not a matter of need but greed and primitive acquisitions and this is contributing to crime and immorality.