Man’s corruption can be traced back to Adam who got erupted by eating the forbidden fruit. The Bible helps us to understand that this act resulted in the corruption of the entire human race. Romans 5:18 clearly states it that through Dam’s offence judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation (corruption of all men). So corruption is inherent in man. The church is a religious institution made up of individuals and run by man. As an institution the church is hierarchical and most often Episcopal in nature.
Irrespective of the type of church polity in practice there is always a top official and a lower official. Thus it is structured in a way that different facets f the church consist of a leader and followers (or members, as you like). The focus is always at the top. Those at the top usually dictate the way the books of standard are read, interpreted and applied, thus creating a room for manipulation. There are actually many other rooms for manipulation and practice of corruption which have religious connotations. Bearing this in mind one can expect to see the church, not as a body without shortfalls.
However, we do not expect such word as corrupt or corruption to be associated with the church. The church consists of saints, pretenders and sinners. Romans 5:1 9 tells us that as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. The church consists, therefore of those who have received Jesus into their heart as Lord and Savior and those who are just church attendants and members but still live a life of disobedience. There is nothing on that can be used to distinguish between the saint, the pretender and the sinner.
However the sinners have a greater tendency for corrupt practices than the saint. Even the saints, as long as they still have their flesh also have tendencies for corruption. In this work, we shall look at the various ways corruption has been in the church from the Bible days until today. Before we do that let us look at corruption, what it means and the different ways it is practiced. WHAT IS CORRUPTION? In philosophical, theological and moral discussions, corruption is spiritual or moral impurity or deviation from an ideal.
Corruption involves many activities including moral perversion, perversion of integrity, depravity, dishonest proceedings, bribery and embezzlement, e. T. C. Corruption is a product of greed, an act which deviates from the formal rules of conduct governing the actions of someone in a position of public authority because of private motives such as wealth, power or status. It entails a pervasive failure to tap self interest for productive purposes. Hence, corruption whether in the public or private sector, symbolizes an abuse of institutional trust for private gain.
Corruption varies in practice from one sector to another and from one organization to another. Government or political corruption occurs when an office-holder or other governmental employee acts in an official capacity for personal gain. In this work, our focus shall be on religious corruption which is incapacitated as the misuse of a position of authority for personal or group benefit, involving a deliberate breach of legal norms or abuse of discretion by religious leaders. Religious corruption also involves a moral perversion and deviation from religious ethics by the adherents of the religion.
Corruption in Religion Antiquity relates that all organized religions have been run by a corrupt body of people, whose scandalous acts have affected the concept of religion even today. According to the dictionary religion is, “The service and worship of God or the supernatural. ” It is true that all religions have involved the worship of mom supernatural force. However, it is also true that no religion in history has ever stopped at that. For a more complete definition of the word religion, one must also examine two other aspects. How has it affected man over the centuries?
And what is the true motivation of its leadership? Some would have the public believe that organized religion has brought peace and harmony to the world and that its leaders are motivated by the service of their God. Others have a different view. To some, religion is a feudal system of government which uses fear, hate and sometimes lies to control and manipulate people for the betterment of a select group of individuals. To better illustrate this point, One must look at just a few Of the countless examples that human history has to offer. The Spanish Inquisition is a prime example.
The Inquisition was a judicial institution, established by the papacy in the Middle Ages, charged with seeking out, trying, and sentencing people guilty of heresy. To be a heretic, you didn’t have to be an evil person with malicious intents and plots against the Church. You need only be Jewish. Heretics were considered enemies of the state. The penalty for heresy was torture and death. Simony was another from of corruption in the Church during this time period. “Simony was the ecclesiastic correlate of contemporary corruption in politics. ” It was the selling of pardons from the Church. The Crusades make another fine example.
The name Crusade (from Latin, “Cross”) was applied to the wars against pagan peoples, Christian heretics, and political foes of the papacy. Both examples illustrate how man has used God to justify his greed and quest for power. When the leadership was challenged, it used divine decree to justify the murder and torture of the innocent. CORRUPTION IN THE EARLY (APOSTOLIC) CHURCH The first instance of corruption in the church was the case of Judas Chariot who was the “church treasurer. ” It is recorded that Judas was a corrupt official who was in the habit of stealing from the church purse.
Here was a supposed disciple of the Savior of the world and Head of the church, chosen by Him but still Judas’ association with Jesus did not change him. A Bible teacher once explained that Judas’ motive for following’s was out of selfish interest. This helps us to understand that people come to join the church with different motives, which may be selfish. As recorded in the Bible, Judas helped myself with the treasury and did not have genuine concern for the progress of the church or her work of reaching out to the lost souls and the helpless.
His betrayal of Jesus, his master, was the highest point of his corrupt practices. After the death of Jesus, the church still marched on and began to increase tremendously. The book of acts captured this growth of the church and how they began to have things in common. Many people, on their own accord, sold their private properties and brought the money to the church so that they would have a common treasury. Nannies and his wife Sapphire also sold heir properties but hid part of the proceeds and brought a part to the church. The fact that they brought a part of the proceeds was not a problem.
The problem is that they lied to say that that was all they got from the sale. The lie is a moral deviation from the truth and sincerity demanded of Christians. This still points to the fact that some people join the church for wrong motives and that the church consist of both saints, pretenders and slender. The Judiciaries who tried to force Gentile converts to observe the Jewish religious laws of Moses almost completely ruined the vision and mission Of Christ who came for all humanity. If they had succeeded then true Christianity would have been swallowed up in Judaism.
The church at Corinth was practicing a different gospel than the one Paul delivered to them which are founded on Christian ethics. Feeling free from the law they allowed certain activities to go unchecked. Sexual immorality started to become the norm. The church elders and the lay leaders let the activities go uncorrected. No one was held to account. A carnal pride took over their judgment and sexual sin was allowed a free rein to such an extent it was reported that fornication was monoplane. Here is a possible scenario derived from the scripture above.
A man in the church has a father who most likely lost his wife for an unknown reason. The father remarries and his son has a stepmother. It is not known whether the father is alive or dead when the sexual act occurred between his son and the stepmother. In either case the son having sex with his stepmother was wrong. Even those who were outside of the church knew that it was wrong. We should understand that the leaders of the church at Corinth were teaching a gospel contrary to wisdom. The sexual promiscuity of its members eave them a heightened sense of freedom.
Since Jesus sacrificed for our sin, and all sin is under the blood, they believed there were no eternal consequences for indulging the lust of the flesh. The broader the sexual freedom, the more they gloried about their ability to sin without cost. Their message, their gospel, was so contrary to the way of God that judgment from God may have been close at hand. The apostle Paul was heartbroken when he heard of their acts and their strange јsit of the gospel. As their elder he rebuked the leadership in a letter and told them to judge the one who committed the sinful act.
CORRUPTION IN THE MEDIEVAL (ROMAN CATHOLIC) CHURCH It’s a fact that the medieval church was a landmark of corruption and this helps to explain the success of Lather’s Reformation. Corruption in the medieval church can be grouped into historical corruption, leadership corruption, doctrinal corruption and traditional corruption. For hundreds of years the medieval church was overpowered by Catholicism which was a product of years of misinterpretation of the scriptures. The apostolic church battled heretics and came up with means of rejecting wrong practices.
However, the medieval church was overrun by gradual infiltration by men ho did a lot of damage to the work of Jesus Christ and His Apostles. History can never forget the many corrupt practices and vices of the medieval church which include the Crusades, the inquisitions, and the prosecution of heretics. The name Crusade was applied to the wars against pagans (unbelievers), Christian heretics, and political foes of the papacy. The Spanish Inquisition was a judicial institution, established by the papacy in the Middle Ages, charged with seeking out, trying, and sentencing people guilty of heresy.
To be a heretic, you did not have to commit a crime. This system was seed by the church as a tool of oppression especially against the Jews and Muslims. The penalty for heresy was torture and death. The medieval church was ruled in a totalitarian and authoritarian way by power-hungry popes, aided by the Holy Inquisition, fortified herself in her doctrines and traditions which helped them to enrich themselves by exacting tithes from impoverished peasants and extorting indulgence money from misguided believers.
The leadership style adopted was Episcopalian with the pope as head of the church, assisted by cardinals, bishops and the reverend fathers. In this style of leadership only the pope can interpret the Bible, only the pope has spiritual authority, and only the pope can call for council. Doctrinal corruption of the medieval church includes the teaching that salvation is given by the church, the doctrine of penance, purgatory, confession of sins to priests, etc, which are not in any way scriptural. One of these was the traffic in indulgences.
An indulgence is “the remission of the temporal penalty due to forgiven sin, in virtue of the merits of Christ and the saints. ” A system of indulgences was foisted upon the public as a way to keep p the luxurious lifestyles of the pope, bishops and clergy who lived more like princes than humble servants of God. These indulgences were sort of like a “free pass” on salvation or an escape from hell if one did a pilgrimage to a particular shrine, purchases a religious relic such as SST. Pewter’s bones, some straw from Jesus’ manger or a piece of the ‘true cross of Christ’. The money was used to furnish lavish apartments for the clergy.
With the system of indulgences, a very wicked person could “buy his way out of hell” by paying the priests to say the right prayers for his soul. The medieval church’s tradition was a corruption of the Apostolic tradition of the church. The following are some of them; the use and worship of images, the Latin language was glorified as the church official language, the celebration of the sacrifice of mass, prayer to Mary and the saints, Clerical celibacy, e. T. C. Since the bible was meant to be used by the clergy alone, on permission from the authorities, it was easy for them to manipulate the masses.
This was so since the church polity was Episcopal in nature giving the pope the sole right to make decisions. These and many more are the major irruption in the Roman Catholic Church that prompted Martin Luther to write his 95 theses which were the main areas of deviation of the Roman Catholic Church from the Apostolic Church and the Scriptural position. CORRUPTION IN THE REFORMED CHURCH OF TODAY The church of today is a product of the reformation that started with Martin Luther. The Roman Catholic Church also reformed after the break away of the Protestants. So what we are discussing here include all denominations of today.
Among the Protestants there arose disagreements in the interpretation of the Scripture which led to two major divisions – the Lutheran and the Reformers. From these, innumerable new denominations abound today. There are no other possible explanations for this other than misinterpretation of the scripture, greed and selfishness. So in the Christian community today, people are breaking away and are forming new churches, but they are cheating the world. Some of these new church leaders hire “macho” men, ride in good cars, and visiting impunity on their members.
It is unfortunate to note that the new churches were not teaching people to work hard and harvest their sweat but only talked about blessings. People just clap and they do not ask what their money is used for; they are afraid to speak the truth because of fear of reprisals. People want husbands and visas, but they must learn the word of God. Some prophets and evangelists were now chasing people to deliver miracles. People go to church without holding the Bible and listen to anointment’s for three hours and the word of God for only five minutes; the word has vanished.
We need to clean our house and continue to speak against corruption. That our conception of God often does not reflect His own self-revelation in Scripture should be no surprise when we understand that Scripture is all too often ignored, neglected, or abused by the church. Indeed, Scripture has all but been excised from much Of our theological deliberations. For example, a 6,500-word essay by Brian Edgar entitled ‘Eight Core Christian Values’ cites only one Scripture?and even then it was a mere passing reference or ‘proof text’.
We have gone from Solo Scriptural to Null Scriptural Corrupt indoctrination symbolized by the “get rich quick’ sermons in some Nigerian churches are pushing Christians into corrupt practices. Nowadays, churches now judge the commitment of their members by equating their interruptions to project at par with their employment status or business standing. This approach is pushing many church members to commit financial crimes in order to meet their church expectations. A case in view is that of the Bank-PH ex-boss, Attaché who paid the sum of Million to a Church as tithes from stolen money.
The money was paid to two Catholic Church branches in Delta State through a bank transfer from Bank PH Mortgage Limited accounts. The issue of the first fruit as an obligation to believers appeared in 64 verses of the Bible. Some of the verses are presented as follows: Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first-fruits Of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine (Proverbs 3:9-10). We obligate ourselves to bring the first-fruits of our ground and the first-fruits of all fruit of every tree, year by year, to the house of the Lord (Anemia 1085).
Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first-fruits of all your produce (Proverbs 3:9). And the first of all the first-fruits of all kinds, and every offering of all kinds from all your offerings, shall belong to the priests. You shall also give to the priests the first of your dough that a blessing may rest on your house (Ezekiel 4480). In the twenty-first century, an empirical interpretation of the above verses seems to define the first-fruit as a marginal increment such as, the first salary increment or the first turnover in a business transaction.
However, in a recent survey, it was discovered that the interpretation of the “first fruit” in some churches refers to the January salary of every church member. Thus, a church member who submitted his monthly salary to the church in the name of first-fruit’ may likely engage in financial crimes in order to survive. Another case of corruption in the church of today is the case of Sheraton Hotels and Towers Versus Lawrence Aged. In 2002, it was discovered that Lawrence Aged (a Pastoral Assistant with Christ Embassy Church) stole NON, 000,000 over a period of time from the Sheraton Hotel, Lagos, where he worked as a cashier.
Surprisingly, Aged paid the bulk of the stolen funds as tithes and offerings to a parish of Christ Embassy Church, Lagos. In reaction to his generosity, Pastor Chris Kilometer (the General Overseer of the hurt), gave him a commendation letter. Eventually, the theft was discovered, the Church admitted receiving the stolen funds but declined a refund. In this way, the church is fueling corruption through crooked indoctrination. Another recent trend in some Nigerian Churches, is the “Seed Offering”, this is a fund raising SEјCE conducted by some churches.
The “Seed Offering’ session involves challenging church members to donate a huge amount of money to the church with the promise that they will receive the money back in folds through a “spiritual magic”. Although there are scriptural verses that re used to back this up, it is annoying to note that the members are not encouraged to donate based on their love for God but on what they stand to “reap. ” This “empty your pocket evangelism” is characterized by the twisting of biblical standards in order to swindle unsuspecting over-zealous worshippers.
It is an abuse and neglect of the Scriptures that helps it to flourish. Most preachers and churches just do it because they see others do it and get money. SUMMARY Corruption has become a part of human existence. Therefore every human organization or institution must experience a degree of corruption. The Church is not exempted from this fact since, although a holy institution set up by God Himself in the person of Jesus Christ, it is run by man. Since the death, resurrection and ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the has experienced a great deal of challenges of corruption.
Beginning from the Early Apostolic Church which was almost corrupted by Judiciaries, through the Medieval roman Catholic Church whose tradition, doctrine and leadership style defamed what the Early Apostolic Church stood for. The reformation, championed by Martin Luther brought about a division hat is also partly responsible for the innumerable denominations today. The Reformed Church of today also have a great degree of corruption going on in her today. Today, holy or miracle water, anointed oil, blessed handkerchiefs, e. . C. Have replaced a system of indulgence, penance, sale of a piece of Jesus’ cross and other practices of the Medieval Church for which the reformation took place. All these items are all means of exploiting and extorting money from the worshippers. Multitudes, clergymen and the pew alike have been unfaithful to the great teachings of Christianity and have fallen back into worldliness and unbelief. Howbeit, the Church of Christ is still marching on and the gates of corruption can never prevail against it.