African Pastors Saying ‘No’ to Prosperity Theology, Embracing Biblical Truth

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There is no shortage of churches in Kenya, nor of preachers, prophets, or evangelists. Large churches offer multiple services that attract thousands who flock to hear flamboyant preaching. A typical sermon might include divine revelations and promises of wealth and healing. Notably lacking is scriptural integrity.

Dan Huffstutler is the director of East Africa Baptist School of Theology (EABST) in the capital city of Nairobi. He says Bible-based churches led by doctrinally sound pastors are not common: “They are like diamonds scattered around Kenya.”

A 2006 Pew report found that 70 percent of Kenyans who identify as Christian follow extreme charismatic or Pentecostal teachings. Over the last decade, Huffstutler has observed an increase in adherents with “very little understanding of Christian doctrine or the church’s gospel mission.” He attributes this to wide access to prosperity preachers.

“Church planting is a business here,” he said, “and men with zero training and biblical knowledge enter the field in the hope of acquiring income from unfortunately gullible people looking for a blessing or to have their problems fixed.”

Reshaping the Ministry

To combat such false teaching, EABST focuses on equipping pastors for ministry. Many students come with little more preparation than the ability to mimic the methods of preachers they’ve seen on TV or the Internet. “TBN [Trinity Broadcasting Network] massively impacted East Africa by modeling word of faith, prosperity, and extreme Pentecostal beliefs and practices as ‘the way to do church,’” he said.

EABST partners with Ken Mbugua, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church of Nairobi, to host the annual Proclaim Conference for church leaders from Kenya and surrounding countries. The conference, which offers preaching workshops and networking opportunities, benefits from Packing Hope resources courtesy of TGC International Outreach (TGC IO).

Books distributed at the conference include the ESV Global Study Bible, Mark Dever’s (ed.) Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology, David Helm’s Expositional Preaching, Richard Ramesh’s Preparing Expository Sermons, and John Piper’s Supremacy of God in Preaching. Though written in English, these books work well in much of Africa, particularly in countries like Kenya where English is a primary language.

A more recent TGC IO-supplied resource for the conference, Prosperity? Seeking the True Gospel, is authored by Mbugua and two fellow African pastors, Michael Otieno Maura and Conrad Mbewe, along with Wayne Grudem and John Piper. This book was created as a tool to help church leaders combat prosperity theology.

“TGC IO materials give missionaries and church leaders a platform for creating teaching opportunities,” Huffstutler said. Pastors and church planters learn to prepare biblically sound sermons and to apply scriptural standards to corporate worship and church government.

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SOURCE: The Gospel Coalition
Laura Miller

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