In a recent Christianity Today article, Dual Allegiance there is an interesting dilemma presented that should chill our hearts. It speaks of a Nigerian pastor and his wife jailed for using a human head in an occult ritual designed to bring prosperity (financial, physical, or spiritual). This pastor is a “Christian” pastor stuck between the strained religious practices of his past and those of his faith in Christ. He says of his ministry,
“Yes, I am a man of God. But I do this outside church hours. I am both a native doctor and a man of God. This is my personal practice; I do it to compliment my church job, and I have been assisting a lot of people with it.”
When reading that article I suspect many would say, “This cannot be! A person cannot be a Christian during the day and practice voodoo at night.” But that is exactly what is happening in many churches across West Africa. As one former missionary to the area says, “One out of 10 self-named Christians in this region practices only Christianity.”
In reality, I do not suspect it is much different than what we do in America. We practice our go-to-church faith on Sundays and then our what’s-in-it-for-me, grab-all-ya-can lifestyle the rest of the week. Then, in a pharisaic fashion we look askance at those who do the same in a more public manner.
Can one practice Christianity and witchcraft and be a genuine Christian? Can a person seeking self-indulgence and the camel make it through the same eye of a needle? I suspect the Bible has something to say about it all. The real issue is, when we cut to the chase, are the people in West Africa different than we tend to be? Of course I would like to think so. My hope is that I am not that far afield of proper faith and practice, but then again…
The element missing that neutralizes dual allegiances is that of discipleship. Even though many churches in West Africa oppose the mixed allegiances, the former missionary Hegeman says, “They are fighting an uphill battle. Perceptions must change, starting with the help of one-on-0ne discipleship.”
Discipleship is the key component to dispelling a variety of mixed issues. It is the foundation for personal Christian growth. To ever believe we can develop spiritually without discipleship, in some form, is to deceive ourselves.
If we were to peel back the layers of our life, it might be that many of us have so-called dual allegiances. It may be true that “born again”, “conformed to the image of Christ,” the “renewal of our minds,” all have certain ramifications that we do not always reconcile at a personal level with previous, or even current beliefs.
Do you have a dual allegiance? Not one that deals in human heads, but one that deals with the human heart.
[ Laurie Fortunak, Dual Allegiance, CT August 2008, 16-17 ]