Still On Kumuyi and Head Covering
By: Deji Yesufu
After publishing my article on Kumuyi and head covering at the Deeper Life Church, I received two objections from various comments on the article. The first objection came via a phone call from Michael Olatunbosun, an On-air-personality with Splash FM, Ibadan. Michael told me that he agreed with everything in my writing except the last line of the first paragraph where I suggested that if anyone is a Pentecostal and wishes to go to heaven, I will recommend that they join a Deeper Life Church. Michael told me that Deeper Life operate “works righteousness” and that that in itself will stand against a person entering heaven. I told him I will respond to his query in a second article. In the same vein, one Arinze Gabriel came to my Facebook wall and offered a refutation of my claim that the two practices, of covering hair and not covering hair, can be reached from simply observing 1 Corinthians 11. Arinze believes that the Christian practice should be that women should cover their hair at church. Obviously, Arinze and Michael have opposing views and both of them seem not to agree with either all or something in my article. This second article, will offer a response to both of them.
Why I recommend Deeper Life Church Among Other Pentecostal Churches
When I wrote that if anyone is a Pentecostal and wishes to go to heaven, they should attend a Deeper Life Church, I already knew of the works righteousness problem that that church is challenged with but I think that there is a greater evil with other Pentecostal churches and I believe that the Deeper Life Church is not entirely susceptible to that evil. This is what I am talking about. The Pentecostal movement that began in 1900 spilt over into different denominations, including the Apostolic Faith Church. W. F. Kumuyi came to faith in this church and when he began the fellowship that will later become the Deeper Life Church in the 1970s, Kumuyi retained the Pentecostal worldview of the Apostolic Faith. There is however something that is unique about the first set of Pentecostal Churches: they were not open or susceptible to the Word of Faith heresy. Kumuyi’s commitment to the authority of the scripture, shielded him from the excesses and false teachings that will enter Nigeria through the ministry of Keneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland and others. It is this inherent biblical Christianity that I extol as the saving Christianity that I am confident that anyone committed to true Deeper Life Church will find and will save their souls.
I am very aware of the works righteousness of the Deeper Life Church. I am also aware of some of their excesses with church traditions and their insistence on doing certain things so that people can “make heaven”. I have however observed many Deeper Life people and I see sincere Christian faith in their commitment to Jesus and to the church. It is this fruit of true Christian witness that I do not see in other pentecostal churches life Living Faith, Reedemed Church, Christ Embassy and others; and this is why I will readily recommend Deeper Life to a new convert and not this other Pentecostal church. Truth is that as a new convert, the Deeper Life Church will instill basic Christian discipline in you. You may eventually leave that church and go elsewhere. But one thing that will never leave you is the discipline of loving Jesus; obeying scriptures; fearing God; and a healthy hope of looking for God’s kingdom to come.
Why I Do not Agree that 1 Corinthians 11 teaches Hair Covering for all of God’s Saints in All Ages
While Michael correctly diagnosed the works righteousness of the Deeper Life Church, Arinze appears to be upholding it. In my article, I did say that going by the admonition of Paul in 1 Corinthians 11 alone, we would reach the conclusion that women are to cover their heads in church. What Arinze and others supporting him miss is that biblical doctrines are never taken from one scripture in the Bible. To reach entrenched doctrines and practices for church life, we must be able to draw inferences collectively from the whole Bible and not just from one section. My point is this: there is no where else the Bible teaches the concept of head covering other than 1 Corinthians 11. And when we realize that this passage of scripture suggest the practice as a “custom”, we must be more discerning as we seek to make such a practice a rule.
The collective message of the New Testament is simply this: salvation by grace through faith. It talks about God’s work in Jesus Christ to save sinners. The concept of grace shows us that right standing with God begin and finds foundation in what Christ has done, and very little in what we do to earn God’s approbation. When Jesus opposed the Jews’ overly legalistic approach to the Sabbath, our Lord was pointing at the danger that the Mosaic law could pose to the righteousness of God that will come through his own death and resurrection. Jesus was saying in effect that true righteousness was the one that he bestows and not the one we earn via our works. Paul will further accentuate this point by vigorously opposing the Judaizers of his time, who insisted that except a man is circumcised, he cannot be saved. Jesus and Paul were pointing at true righteousness: the righteousness that comes by grace. And they were warning against a kind of righteousness we could earn through our works – no matter how “biblical” we may claim those works to be.
So, when it comes to Christian practices – particularly those that do not infringe on the moral laws, the laws that exhume from the ten commandment – Paul gave two warnings. The first one comes from Romans 14, where he showed that mere food consumption cannot disqualify God’s people. He was agreeing with Jesus who also warned the Jews and showed them that what defiles a man come from within and never from without. Then in Colossian 2, Paul warned against Christian philosophies that gained righteousness through works: touch not, taste not, handle not. This section will certainly include those who teach: wear not, do not wear, etc, in a bid to win acceptance with God. Paul was showing us in Colossians 2 that human ordinances, which will also include the custom of head covering, do not bestow the righteousness of God on men. And when Peter will enumerate godly adornment for women in his first epistle, he said nothing of head covering. The foremost apostle showed women that godly adornment is the godliness that flows from a sanctified spiritual life.
Therefore, the healthiest manner to see 1 Corinthians 11 must be in the light of the whole of scripture and not the narrow prism of a recommended custom of that chapter alone. Yes, 1 Corinthians 11 teaches head covering for women. At the same time, we understand what Paul meant when he said it was a custom of their time. In the middle East then and even now, it practically impossible to see a woman uncovered. We have no such customs today and those who insist on women Covering their heads at church are following a legalistic standard that could infringe on the very godly standard they are seeking to attain.
Works righteousness and legalism is an insidious practice in Christianity that ends up giving adherents a false notion of right standing with God. It imparts pride in such people and makes them unable to look to the righteousness of Christ for their right standing with God. It is impossible to read the New Testament and not see how the apostles, particularly Paul, condemned this false notion of piety. No one is better off than an another for covering her hair at church. When God’s people gather to worship, God seeks men and women who will worship him in spirit and in truth. Our God looks on the hearts of men; it is men that look on the heads of women and measure out level of piety to people.
It is interesting to see that it took Kumuyi a good 50 years in ministry to realize it. The greater tragedy are with folks today who will discard such godly wisdom and latch on age old legalism and traditions.