In human history, religious faith and the scientific initiative have generally been at odds with each other.
On a general note, persons who are less religiously observants are most likely to perceive conflict between religion and science.
Within the Nigerian environment the conflict between science and faith is highly vivid, as a great number of people are sometimes misled as to which method, to use to fish out truths.
The African personality compared to the Euro-American character is generally drawn to religiosity and spirituality. Most humans know that science is about facts and religion is about values.
As a psychological scientist and a black African, I believe the solid spiritual mindset of blacks across all religions made us survivals and be able to continuously endure the compressing effects of racial prejudice and colonial tyranny.
Life and living as we know are about balance, and every day across the world, just like in Nigeria, people go about their socio- economic activities, in various domains like school, work, business and other day to day activities.
Amid our daily encounters and pursuits, many of us in the African settings especially, no matter what we do, tend to flavor our engagements with religious expressions and hopes.
Just like I am psychologist, or you are what you do for daily living, some have decided to go under the wing of evangelization.
To be truly chosen as a prophet by the Almighty is deemed an honor, and as it demands selflessness. Today, I am not sure if there are the likes of biblical high-profile prophets like Daniel, John the Baptist, Deborah, or Elijah.
While not all false prophets are easy to recognize they are being used by a spirit mindset to spread untruths, mixing truth with inaccuracy to seem more convincing. The Almighty does not roll or act like that.
On religious ground, God does provide us with a test to know a real prophet.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).
We need to understand that there are some persons because of unusual psychological makeup, engage in exaggerated self-proclaimed power.
Some self-decreed ‘men and women of God’ in the process of reducing their hunger, search for money, and prominence, portray themselves as new prophets in today’s secular world, and employ shrewd ways to draw in gatherings.
Each time I read the Webster’s definition of prophecy it says, “in (the) New Testament, (it is the) gift of speaking under the influence of the Holy Spirit; predictions of the future under the influence of divine guidance…” Basically put, prophecy is God speaking to man/woman.
Genuine prophecy will always stand the test of consistency with the Scripture, and be in harmony with good book, and even science.
Some ‘prophets’ act to ”win” lost souls and in the process, many blindly believe in these prophets.
It is important to understand that many who become so-called prophets, are characterized with what is called psychopathy; which is a cluster of relatively stable personality traits associated with callousness, grandiosity, deceitfulness, excitability, unusual calmness, ruthlessness, calculated dominance, controllability, fearlessness, eccentricity, resilience, lack of shame, fake remorse, cleverness, superficial charm, sexual deviance, pathological lying, parasitic ways, manipulativeness, and failure to accept responsibility.
It not unusual for many of them to privately study organized knowledge/images or facts and come out to preach them as sermons, sometimes in a mystified or confused manner.
These secular prophets are very good at exploiting or violating the rights of others without any remorse.
The Cable, a Nigerian media, on December 28, 2021, featured an article; “EXTRA: Share false prophecies — and go to prison, Ghana police warn religious leaders”
It is time for all African nations to follow the lead of the Ghana government regarding the monitoring of what it called prophecies of doomsday, harm and fear that usually pour out as the people enters a new year.
The Ghanaian police warned religious heads and citizens to avoid sharing “false or misleading” prophecies as they are predictions of danger and death by some religious leaders which sometimes create unnecessary panic and put the lives of many in jeopardy.
The Ghana government rightly stated that it is a crime to knowingly send out so called prophetic spoken, digital, and published communications as they are nonfactual and misleading; and likely to endanger lives, adding that anyone found culpable risks up to nine years imprisonment.
It went on to say, “We therefore wish to caution all Ghanaians, especially religious groups and leaders to be measured in their utterances, especially how they communicate prophecies, which may injure the right of others and the public interest”.
The Ghanaian police service added that it respects the right to freedom of religion and is not against prophecies as they know Africans are a religious people who know, and believe in, the centrality of God in our lives. But we must always apply commonsense psychology.
I will say that prophetic voices are heard from descent clergy, when people respond to the call to denounce tribalism, nepotism, brutality as sins.
There are some prophets that mix religion and politics that sometimes turns to an incestuous relationship, such religions and prophecies turn leaders into abusive and fraudulent ‘gods.
I do believe that is it possible to separate true prophets from false prophets. We know that prophets in the Scriptures did not pursue money and were not rich. A genuine prophet does not get to become affluent speaking for God. From the angle of socialization, a true prophet is a very close friend of the poor and the weak, but a false prophet keeps company with the rich and powerful.
Jesus was criticized for keeping company with tax collectors and sinners. “Put no trust in princes,” says the psalmist in Psalm 146. But in Africa especially our Prophets are always getting in bed with politicians.
The real job of a prophet is to soothe suffering persons, but false prophets tell their audiences what they want to hear. False prophets ignore the sins of his/her friends as they are nothing but material prophets, not prophets of God. Real prophets, speak with righteous anger but not with animosity, and fight against exploitation.
I am of the belief that religious and secular persons can work together for the public good, but it should be about enriching the humanity and society, not each other. A prophet can speak fearlessly about issues, but when he or she starts endorsing or speaking politically against any candidates, that person is no longer speaking for God.
So called prophets are not like Jesus Christ we all heard of, the central figure of Christianity, or the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad. History tells us that their sacred predictions are marked with truths.
Today we have prophets, spiritualists and forecasters using direct and indirect fear to condition audiences to believe and follow them. Many of them claim they can heal every illness, help people acquire money, houses, cars, and jobs. These prophets ‘charge’ a lot of cash for their divine work and lie about coming events.
Psychologically, humans love of miracles and overnight success, so they are easily drawn to listen to messages from these fortune broadcasters whose words are becoming less about foretelling but more about forthtelling.
Unlike the Islam religions and preachers, the existence of Christian ‘prophets’ is more common. There are those that I call overly crafty prophets, who tell us by hearing the voice of God, they know election winners and losers. Well, why not make me a President in USA or Nigeria!
During the 2020 United States presidential election, ‘prophets’ and preachers across the globe made predictions that Donald Trump, the 45th US president would defeat the Democrat nominee, Joe Biden, but their prophecies never came to pass.
David Elijah, a pastor at Glorious Mount of Possibility Church, Yaba, Lagos, falsely prophesied that Trump is the chosen one, wrong.
In Nigeria, we all recall, in January 2021, Apostle Paul Okikijesu of the Christ Apostolic Miracle Ministry asserted in a string of prophecies that a sitting male governor, will die while a female deputy will take over after much crisis. We are now in 2022, no such situation has happened. Even if that happens it is legally expected that the deputy takes over.
In May of 2021, General Overseer of the Living Faith Church International, Bishop David Oyedepo, spiritually informed Christians in Nigeria to ignore the COVID-19 vaccines because the “vaccines are deadly.” And that the virus is evil and a hoax. Well, for many Nigerian Christians, the civil servants especially, his prophesies were defeated with facts as many workers and civil servants are now rushing to hospitals and designated centres to take the COVID-19 vaccines to gain access to their offices, earn a living and not possible die.
A Ghana-based pastor, Prophet Nigel Gaisie, who is the founder of the Prophetic Hill Chapel stated that the Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo will become president in 2021. Well, we are now in 2022.
Recently, Pastor Prize Aluko, a senior pastor with The Resurrected Assembly (GROM), Abuja, prophesied that God has revealed to him that Jonathan will return to Aso Rock as the next Nigerian president in 2023. Pastor Aluko, factually it will not happen. That is my fact-based bet with you!
Then we have the leader of INRI Evangelical Spiritual Church, Primate Elijah Ayodele, prophetically warning the governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodinma, not to seek re-election for a second term in office. He needs the Ghana police treatment in Nigeria. Uzodinma’s dedicated followers would be dismayed about this type of discouragement so the governor should sue Ayodele for slander and get paid compensatory damages. Nigerians, in fact Africans, should try not to be influenced by idiotic religious rhetoric.
Many so-called words prophesy which are authoritarian in content are simply to make their audiences see them as omnipotent or all-knowing deities, and through their awful false messages they take money away from the vulnerable.
Deceptively planting negative image of persons for any personal or psychic reasons is misguiding public attitude, and unjust.
Many so-called prophets who hold prayers in places of worship, teach in Sunday schools, organize prayer and deliverance ministries and are prophesying to other people – yet morally they do not understand the Lord.
Many families, families and other likes have been destroyed through their false predictions. “For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed” (Isaiah 9:16).
Some of these prophets need to become what could be called, development and democratic prophets that can immediately prevent myriad of our challenges that are stunting Nigeria’s progress and threatening its existence.
Also, they can help to instantly reduce unemployment, rapidly lower prices of goods, promptly enhance quality healthcare, stabilize electricity supply, and quickly change the minds of kidnappers and make them return abducted school children and working adults without ransom, stop corruption in the judiciary and police, and only allow competence in the Nigerian leadership.
Some days ago, Prophet Jay Jay Enejeta, the General Overseer of Faith Fasting and Prayer Ministry in Abraka, Delta State, was kidnapped but has since been released after paying N10million ransom, prophetically he could have avoided any chance of been abducted, right?
I do believe that a good number of clerics try to be moral people, or at least no worse than most of the rest of us.
There was time when in Nigeria we had suitable preachers working to the order of public good as impartial clerics whose faith was not in money, pleasure, and extravagances but in God.
As a teenager, I recalled traveling to Lagos with my mother, a member of the Celestial Church of Christ (CCC), a church founded by Rev Samuel Bilewu Joseph Oshoffa popularly known as SBJ Oshoffa, who blessed me and thousands of others by pressing on my feet with his foot, thereafter, asked my mother to return me back to Warri where we live, and serve as prophet john. I did my best but could not continue due to being true to myself that behavioral philosophy is where I fit more.
In SBJ Oshoffa’s time and others in his days, Nigerians for the most part, saw a Christ-like atmosphere of upright spirituality, humility and moral judiciousness attached with values of simplicity and honesty driven by non-material pursuits.
I will end with this. “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15).
John Egbeazien Oshodi who was born in Uromi, Edo State in Nigeria, is an American based Police/Prison Scientist and Forensic/Clinical/Legal Psychologist. A government Consultant on matters of forensic-clinical adult/child psychological services in the USA; Chief Educator and Clinician at the Transatlantic Enrichment and Refresher Institute, an Online Lifelong Center for Personal, Professional and Career Development. A former Interim Associate Dean/Assistant Professor at the Broward College, Florida. The Founder of the Dr. John Egbeazien Oshodi Foundation, Center for Psychological Health and Behavioral Change in African settings. In 2011, he introduced the State-of-the-Art Forensic Psychology into Nigeria through N.U.C and the Nasarawa State University where he served in the Department of Psychology as an Associate Professor. A Virtual behavioral Leadership Professor at the ISCOM University, Benin of Republic. Founder of the Proposed Transatlantic Egbeazien University (TEU) of Values and Ethics, a digital project of Truth, Ethics, Openness. Author of over 40 academic publications/creations, at least 200 public opinion writeups on African issues, and various books. He specializes in psycho-prescriptive writings regarding African institutional and governance issues.