On Criticising Men of God — Touch Not My Annointed?

I wrote this a while ago, but with recent events like the videos of Pastor Ashimolowo that trended on twitter, Pastor Ibiyeomie and how the Kemi Olunloyo matter was handled and many others, I thought to share again here.

One of the most abused verses of scripture is found in 1st Chronicles 16:22. This is what it says

“Saying, Touch not mine anointed and do my prophets no harm”.

Often, when men of God are held up to public scrutiny in Nigeria, their followers and colleagues rush to beat the public over the head with this scripture, wielding it as a potent weapon to cause most people to beat a hasty retreat in speaking about what the man of God has done. But I dare say this usage of the scripture is not only wrong, but it is unscriptural and manipulative. Often, Christians and moderate Muslims are usually quick to state that Jihadists either interpret the Koran out of context or in a literal sense that does not convey the intent of the verse. But it is not often that we speak about Christians doing exactly the same thing with scriptures. The intent and the context within which a verse of scripture is written is important to giving meaning to that scripture. So let us quote this scripture in its full context. I have deliberately removed the verse numbers (which were not there in the original anyway) so we can read the scripture as written.

“Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance; when ye were but few, and strangers in it. And when they went from nation to nation, and from one kingdom to another people he suffered no man to do them wrong, yeah he reproved kings for their sakes. Saying, touch not mine anointed and do my prophets no harm”

The preceding verses tells us exactly who is covered by the term anointed and prophets here. Sorry to burst your bubble, but it isn’t that high flying man of God you threaten people not to reprove. It covers everyone who is under the covenant, in New Testament terms, every Christian. And if we look at the context of the verse within the rest of the verses, it is clear that it applies when the following conditions are in place — where the anointed are in the pursuit of their inheritance within the covenant of God and when they were few and weaker than those around them. And it is when those around them seek to actually do them wrong that this promise is activated.

It is not a carte blanche to bad behavior that Christians, whether men of God or simple members of the congregation, can run behind after they have acted in an unchristian manner. It does not place the actions of men of God above public scrutiny and neither does it make them above the laws of the land.

Paul gave us an example that is instructive when he rebuked a more “senior” apostle, Peter, publicly for an action that was clearly unchristian and had the potential of influencing other Christians into acting contrary to what is right in Galatians 2 vs 11–14.

And that is the critical point of this. We must separate between the men of God and their actions. It is correct and scriptural to speak against a wrong action from a man of God, when they, borrowing Paul’s words, do not walk uprightly according to the gospel. And dare I add, when they do not act properly according to human decorum and the laws of the land. And where the man of God continually behaves in this manner and such actions begin to characterize who they are, then they must be rebuked publicly.

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