Note from Kerry: J. Lee Grady is the editor of Charisma magazine. You can visit his blog at www.fireinmybones.com. It’s well worth your time.
The Holy Spirit has provided a way for us to sort truth from error. But in this season of spiritual compromise, discernment is not popular.
When I began making regular ministry trips to Nigeria a few years ago I learned that a peculiar Nigerian minister named T.B. Joshua was causing quite a stir in that country. Often referred to as “the Man of God” or “the Man in the Synagogue” by his followers, this African preacher founded a massive religious compound in Lagos called The Synagogue, Church of All Nations. He began attracting big crowds because of his healing powers.
I was initially excited to hear about a new healing ministry on the international scene, but when I talked to pastors in Lagos I learned that no mainstream Christian church or denomination in Nigeria embraced Joshua as authentic. In fact, Pentecostal leaders had denounced him publicly because of his occult background and because he mixed Christian terminology with pagan healing methods.
I finally sat down with Joshua in 2003 to confront him about his story (including his claim that his mother carried him in the womb for 15 months because he was “special”). After being in his offices, talking with his zombielike followers, interviewing ex-members of his cult and watching videos of his bizarre methods (which include a form of magic writing), my own gut feelings confirmed what I had already been told by countless pastors in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja and other cities: This man was not operating by the Holy Spirit’s power.
“God gave us spiritual gifts in a package, and discernment is part of the set. It is not optional.”
What was even more shocking was seeing planeloads of Christians from South Africa, Europe and North America arrive in Nigeria to attend this man’s meetings. The excited pilgrims came to receive a touch from God. They wanted a spiritual impartation. Some left claiming they had been healed.