“Out of love for the truth and from desire to elucidate it, the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and Sacred Theology, and ordinary lecturer therein at Wittneberg, intends to defend the following statements and to dispute them in that place…”
These are the foremost words of Martin Luther’s 95 theses—manuscript that sparked the protestant movement and shook the Roman Catholic Church to its roots.
The year was 1517, on October 31, when a young Catholic priest, Martin Luther, pinned a bulletin with the “95 Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences”, on the door of his church in Wittenberg, in the small town of Saxony.
To understand the significance of Luther’s 95 theses, it is first paramount to briefly acquaint ourselves with the theological underpinnings of the doctrines of the early Roman Catholic church.
An important aspect of the theology of the Catholic church in those days was that of sin. They believed in three types of sin; the original sin, the venial sin and the mortal sin.
Now, it was the mortal sin was most feared, and it consisted of the heaviest and deadliest of sin. Now, sin could be dealt with in the Catholic church in many ways, including confessing to a priest or, and this is where Luther came in, the purchase of “indulgences” which were sold at the church to shorten the time one spent in purgatory before proceeding to paradise.
The Catholic church, in 16th century, had perfected the art of the monetisation of penance, so much so that it was possible for people to purchase indulgences for their dead parents and relatives to shorten their stay in purgatory.
Looking back in retrospect, it looks absurd and bizarre, but in the 16th century, it was the way of life for many Catholic faithful. Luther would go on to challenge papal authority, even once calling the Pope “the Antichrist’, setting in motion a protestant movement whose effects would reverberate five centuries later.
The days of Luther and his 95 theses are far from gone. We are witnessing an explosion of bogus churches and con-pastors who have perfected the monetisation of penance in the 21st century. They are cultic institution and cult leaders masquerading as real churches, charging their innocent and desperate faithful for prayer, miracles and “blessings” in the form of spouses, jobs, contracts, children and even forgiveness.
In February this month, the government of Rwanda, led by President Paul Kagame, closed down more than 700 churches for among other things, noise pollution. In fact, President Kagame was shocked at the massive number of churches that had been closed and wondered aloud how much the country would benefit if those were boreholes and not churches.
We need to take this argument further in the country and go beyond banning churches for noise pollution but for misleading millions of Kenyans who are following these cult leaders with demonic loyalty.
For once, let us be organised the way we do church in this country. In 2015, former Attorney General Githu Muigai proposed some very tough regulations that I think we need to seriously revisit. Let church organisations — especially those so-called “Pentecostal” churches with mummy pastor and daddy pastor — be compelled by the law to file annual returns and produce audited accounts.
We would like to see bank statements, assets and liabilities made public, so that we know these are truly men and women of God, and not the collared thugs they are.
As for the leaders of these churches the law must ensure they have credible qualifications in theology — which must be vetted. We would also like these pastors to be cleared by various state authorities such as the EACC and should have a certificate of good conduct.
Once all this is implemented, I am certain what we will be left with is a handful of churches, but it must not end there.
We must also actively educated people against false prophets and I must end this with the 95th theses as written by Luther; And thus be confident of entering into heaven through many tribulations rather than through the false security of peace (Acts 14:22).