Tunde Bakare’s Achilles’ Heel
By: Deji Yesufu
Tunde Bakare has been in the news in the last two weeks. Bakare came under severe criticism following his comments on the former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Bakare had predicted in the video that his words will be twisted and taken out of context, and true to to it that was what happened. People felt that Bakare was laundering the image of Tinubu and preparing him for the Presidential elections in 2023. When I watched that video, I saw something else entirely.
In 2004/2005, I was in Lagos searching for job after finishing school. I had to undergo surgery and my parent instructed me not to use my recuperating period for job search. Instead I spent that time going to Bakare’s Church, Latter Rain Assembly – while they were still in Akilo Rd. Ogba. I never regret the time I spent there. For some strange reasons, Bakare’s sermons centered on empowering jobless graduates to making a living. He taught us how to do things even with practically no resources. Everything I do today, besides my 9am to 4pm job, was inspired by my time listening to Bakare in that time period. For a while, after that, I regarded myself as a “Bakarite”. I have since jettisoned that label and I’ll return to that matter later.
My point at this juncture is to state that Tunde Bakare was certainly not laundering Tinuhu’s image in that video. Those of us who listen to Bakare’s sermons know that his words were more like adages and they require careful listening and not hasty conclusions. Whatever anybody may have against Tunde Bakare, whatever he might be accused of; one thing you cannot accuse Bakare of is financial fraud. Bakare is one man that is above board concerning financial matters and every effort by people to rope into some financial misdemeanor has never succeeded.
Having said that, I have this thing against Tunde Bakare; it is the reason I stopped referring to myself as his disciple or a Bakarite. It is my sincere hope that Tunde Bakare or some of his assistants will read this essay and help him to refocus his ministry. It is the matter that concerns the heart of his preaching.
When Archbishop Benson Idahosa was alive, Tunde Bakare preached series of messages where he accused the Archbishop of “loosing his vision”. He said Idahosa has allowed the gospel of prosperity to make him loose the true vision of ministry: which is seeking the lost for Christ’s kingdom. Incidentally, and by a strange turn of events also, it appears to me today that Tunde Bakare himself has lost the vision of true Christian ministry. Bakare has replaced the faithful preaching of the word of God, the Bible, which alone can bring sinners to repentance and faith; and is rather preaching a social gospel – a gospel of a better Nigeria. Which in a real sense is not a gospel of Christ but another gospel.
Let’s be clear at this point: I am not one of those who think that clergy men cannot comment on national issues or things that concern the well being of a people. I think it is plain hypocritical to say that pastors should face ministry and leave politics. The truth of the matter is that pastors oversea the lives of ordinary people and when these people are suffering because of some harsh economic realities, pastors must be able to say a word or two to caution government. This is why the recent comment by Bishop Matthew Kukah are quite welcome in our body polity, and the Nigerian government will do well to heed his warnings and not criticize the Catholic Priest. However something becomes fundamentally wrong when most of a preacher’s utterances concern social matters and not gospel realities. I am of the opinion that Tunde Bakare has left gospel preaching and is now wholly concerned with a social gospel.
My departure from “Bakareism” followed my renouncing of Pentecostalism. Pentecostalism is not a heresy; however it harbors many erroneous positions that leaves open opportunity for Satan to take advantage of the unwary in the movement. Pentecostalism does not offer a critical edge to guard against the encroachment of heresies, this is why less than half a decade following the birthing of this denomination, it was taken over by the heresy of the Word of Faith. While Tunde Bakare repudiates Word of Faith, he left himself open to another error: social gospel. Pentecostalism is prone to these errors because of an element within it’s movement: its tendency to glorify experience and minimize Bible teaching.
In seminary my teacher told us that a faithful minister of Christ has no business with topical preaching. Preachers should center their preaching on the word for word textual preaching of biblical texts or what is known as expositional preaching. When ministers do this, they are forced to remain within the text of scripture and not say things outside of it. Of course there are some texts that might warrant the preaching on a social issue but because the Bible is chiefly teaching Christ and the salvation he brought to humanity, Expositional Preaching will lead a minister to center on Christ and him crucified.
This is where Tunde Bakare errs. He preaches topically and not expositionally. And topically preaching will lead a minister to preach his own bias. Bakare’s bias is politics and unfortunately he makes the Bible preach what his bias. I genuinely pray that God opens his eyes to see this. I hope he repents and traces his path back to genuine Christian ministry.
The trouble with Tunde Bakare was not his speech on Tinubu, which clearly was not his endorsing Asiwaju for 2023. Bakare’s trouble is his social gospel: his belief that Jesus died to make Nigeria better. Rather, Jesus died to save men from their sins (Matthew 1:21). Period. Jesus did not have to die to make Nigeria better; hundreds of countries around the world are thriving without Jesus Christ and his gospel. What humanity needs is salvation from sin. A message that Tunde Bakare used to preach heartily sometimes ago but which he has since replaced with a social gospel today. This social gospel, Bakare’s quest for a better Nigeria, is his Achilles’ heel.