MIRACLES IN NIGERIA
THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT ABOUT PROPHET T.B. JOSHUA AND THE SYNAGOGUE, CHURCH OF ALL NATIONS, LAGOS, NIGERIA HAS BEEN MADE BY PROMINENT DUTCH THEOLOGIAN PROFESSOR WILLEM J. OUWENEEL.
Professor Ouweneel holds doctorates in biology (Utrecht), philosophy (Amsterdam) and theology (Bloemfontein, RSA). He is currently a theology and philosophy professor at several colleges and theological faculties. He is the author of over 100 books. He lives in the Netherlands, where he was born.
I come from a Brethren background and not a charismatic background. So naturally I was a bit reluctant to go to Nigeria, but my daughter went there several times and she gave me the message that T.B. Joshua was interested in seeing me, although she had not told him anything about me. So I went there twice, once for five days in March 2002, and once for ten days in June 2002, and I hope to go there again in October 2002.
I was very much impressed by what I saw, heard and experienced there. Not so much only in seeing the miracles that happened and the sermons that were given, but particularly the spiritual experience in my own soul when I was there. That is something that everyone who doesn’t go there in person will miss. You will not experience personally what it is to be at such a sacred place where I felt the Lord’s presence in a particular way and where He spoke to me on things that He had not spoken on to me previously in such a powerful way.
Another thing that people will not experience if they don’t go there is what kind of person T.B. Joshua is in himself. I had the opportunity of several indepth conversations with him. People who don’t go there will also not notice the spiritual atmosphere of the meetings and the godly impact that he has on people who are there. I was there with a Dutch group and I spoke with the other guests who were there, all of whom were very touched. To me this was a tremendous experience.
I may have my question marks on certain things that happened there because I don’t understand them; I am a European and not an African. I have question marks on certain things in his sermons. But having questions is very different from having major criticisms that would condemn the man and his ministry altogether. Besides, some of those questions have been answered in the meantime to my full satisfaction.
I have seen many of the criticisms on websites and in newspapers and am very angry with some of the criticisms as they are totally unfair and just repeating the mistakes (or even lies) others have made. They are people who are not in a position to really judge, people who pick on certain sentences in sermons which they do not understand in the African context and in the context of the rest of his ministry. That is a very cheap way of criticizing. It reminds me very strongly on what the Pharisees did who judged the Lord Jesus from their own framework of thought and put him in the category of the devil (Matthew 12).
I think we should be very careful, on the one hand not to be misled by satan. That is absolutely true. But on the other hand, when we see God working, to attribute that to satan is just as bad. There are many who have not been there, who did not have the spiritual experience of the place and who only in a rational, critical, theological way pick on certain things that they have seen on videos or read in the sermons, things they don’t see in their own proper context. That is very unfair to say the least and in some cases I really wonder whether the critics are not under demonic influences themselves, when I look at the harshness and unfairness with which they criticize.
I am satisfied as to the integrity of T.B. Joshua’s ministry. I have no doubt about that. I asked him some difficult questions just to find out for myself about his personal honesty, and I have been satisfied as to that. Also I believe him to be thoroughly sound on all the basic doctrines of Christianity. It is only when people consciously or unconsciously misread certain statements that misunderstandings and mean insinuations are born. But you can do that with anyone’s ministry, take sermons apart and condemn the preacher. That has been done with T.B. Joshua. But on the whole he is absolutely sound when it comes to all the major points of Christian doctrine.
His ministry is unusual but if God is pleased in these last days to raise a man in such an outward place in Africa in the way he has done to T.B. Joshua, that is His absolute sovereignty. We should be very careful in our western context to judge that simply because it is different from what we are used to or what fits into our own paradigms and our own frameworks of thought. Rather we should be prepared to have God overthrow our own frameworks of thoughts in the light of Scripture, instead of us judging things because they do not fit out preconceived ideas.
I have gone over many of his written sermons and I have heard some of his sermons. English is not his native language, just as it is not mine, and some of the formulations certainly could give rise to misunderstandings. I realize that, but when you learn to understand the whole of his ministry more, you also begin to understand those formulations that at first were strange and you understand much better what he actually was saying. Lots of things that are attributed to him are based on this type of superficial reading. So on the whole I am absolutely convinced his written and spoken ministry is sound if you allow for certain weak formulations that indeed may give rise to misunderstanding if they are taken out of context or if your survey is only of a superficial nature.
I pray that God will further bless brother T.B. Joshua, and will open the eyes of his critics.
Willem J. Ouweneel