Funke Adejumo and the Sin of Simony
By: Deji Yesufu
(First published on Mouthpiece.com.ng in July, 2018)
A few weeks ago the social media went agog with a short video clip of Rev. Funke Felix Adejumo collecting $1,000 from Church people. She was heard saying that those who give this amount would have their children marry as virgins, even as her own did. It sparked a great deal of debate as her supporters clashed with some internet users committed to exposing the ills in church practices.
As of the time of this writing, I am not aware of either Mrs. Adejumo or anyone on her team responding to the matters raised on her video. As usual, Pentecostal ministers would put on the garb of silence with the hope that time will wash away the scandal, while they return to their trade.
Not many people are aware of something called “simony”. It is a crime that was instituted in Europeans church laws from medieval times. John Ayliffe in his treatise titled “Parergon”, defined simony as “… a deliberate act or a premeditated will and desire of selling such things as are spiritual, or anything annexed into spirituals, by giving something of a temporary nature for the purchase thereof; or in other terms it is defined to be a commutation of a thing spiritual or annexed unto spirituals by giving something that is temporal.”
The sin of Simony is named after Simon Magus in Acts 8:9-24. In that scripture it is recorded that the apostles learnt that the gospel had reached Samaria. Peter and John were therefore sent to encourage the faithful in that city. Prior to their coming, Simon Magus had come to profess faith in Christ. He was however marvelled by the miracles that Philip performed. He was a magician, prior to his conversion, and was regarded by the people as a “great power from God”. In Philip, he saw greater powers and he desired to have the ability to perform similar miracles.
When Peter and John arrived, they prayed for the faithful and laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. Simon then offered them money so that he too could have similar powers. Peter’s words to him is very instructive. He said: “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right with God…” Acts 8:20-21.
From that scripture, therefore, we may define simony as the act of seeking to purchase God’s grace or blessings with money. In demanding $1,000 from people, Funke Adejumo is guilty of the sin of simony.
But Mrs. Adejumo would not agree with me. She would say she is telling people to “sow” into God’s kingdom and whoever gives to God, God would bless. She would refer me to numerous scriptures, particularly Galatians 6:7; 2 Corinthians 9:6; Luke 6:38.
The Corinthian scriptures states that whoever sows sparingly would reap sparingly… and this admonition comes in the context of giving. Also, while encouraging giving to church leaders, Paul calls the Galatians to be careful with the way they do it. He said “… whatever a man sows he would reap.” And Jesus calls us to give so that we can have our containers running over with blessings!
So, Funke Adejumo is right! Right? Wrong.
The answer to balancing this quagmire is in Peter’s words to Simon Magus. He said: “…Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” Acts 8:22-23.
Here is the twist to the matter: when Paul suggested the characteristics of persons who were to be church leaders. He mentioned that they were not to be lovers of money (1 Timothy 3:3). While Christians are called to be financially supporting of churches, there is no where in the Bible were spiritual blessings or benefits are traded for money, or at least non of God’s true prophets or apostles did it.
The real challenge with Funke Adejumo and Pastors like herself, who think that church altars should be used as avenues for raising money, is that they are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity. The iniquity here being their unrestrained love for money. The “greatest challenge that a minister would have, while speaking to people of substance, is the grace to restrain himself from using his pulpit to curry those people’s favor towards himself. Such favor that would eventually lead them to giving him of their substance.
This is what Funke Adejumo does not understand. She has uncritically followed after the sin of Oral Robert who brought into Christendom, especially the Word of Faith movement, the false teaching of “Seed Faith”. It is a doctrine that says in essence that if you need something, you can give God money through his vassals on earth, Pastors, and that need would be met. Mr. Roberts got the “revelation” one morning in his home and it became the hall mark of his ministry. He built a superbly prosperous ministry through it and has passed on the sin to other Pentecostal minister. Though long dead, his sin, like the idol that Jeroboam built for Israel, is still being worshipped today. Funke Adejumo is as much a victim of this false teaching as other ministers like her.
Again, their trouble is the fact that they are held in the bond of iniquity and would need to repent of their ways. Ministers that think they must use the pulpit to gather money from people need to repent of their sins and turn to Christ in genuine conversion. The trouble with these people, and their inability to be rid of the love of money within them, is because there is no love of God and his people in them. They are not Christians. They are charlatans. They are wolves in sheep clothing. They are out to deceive and to use scriptures to enrich themselves. They are guilty of simony.
The biblical injunction is for God’s people to be freely motivated within them to give to church. When Paul was writing to the Galatians about being not deceived and that whatever a man sows he would reap, he did not have a stupendously rich “man of God” in mind. Rather, he had hard working Christian men and women in mind. People serving other people in Christ, who obviously do not have any other means of livelihood. Paul warns the Galatians not to look on such people without regard. He calls them to give to them. A ministry that has worked out a plan of paying ministers a salary has met this condition. Any giving that follows this must be of people’s free will.
In 2 Corinthians, Paul was calling the Corinthians to give to poor Christians in Jerusalem. Having enjoyed their spiritual blessings, the gentiles were to bless the Jews in return. And Jesus’ words in Luke remain a truism: when we give we shall be blessed. But our giving should never follow a man or woman cajoling.
It is my sincere hope that Funke Adejumo and other ministers like her would repent of this practice of raising money in churches. But they are not likely to. They would not stop because they are men and women caught up in the gall of bitterness and bondage to iniquity. They are Simon Magus of our time. They only profess faith in Christ; they are not genuinely converted people. It is our duty to recognize them as wolves in sheep clothing and leave the congregation where they preside over.
May God give ears to his people to hear.