“Daddy Pastors”: a matter of ignorance and fear

In the first installment of this series, we focused on the idea that the advent of Daddy Pastors is associated with the struggle for domination and control. In this series, we want to explore the issues of ignorance and fear. In short, we say, if “Daddy Pastors” are launched by the desire to control and dominate, they are sustained, even aggravated, by the forces of ignorance and fear. Ignorance of the principles that should guide and guard believers’ relationship with God and with fellow believers. And fear of labels, and social sanctions.

Between honour and hero worship

The first, and probably the most fundamental, area of confusion has to do with the principles of believers’ relationship at two levels- with God, and with fellow believers. We conceive, and rightly so, of God as sovereign in power, “glorious in his holiness and fearful in praises, doing wonders” (Exodus 15:11). It is right that when we contemplate God in his perfect holiness we conceive ourselves as unworthy of his presence and favour, but the cornerstone of the Christian Gospel is that God, through his grace in Christ has made us worthy of his presence and his fellowship. If you think about this deeply enough, the new relationship with God is revolutionary, fundamentally changing the old order of things.

For the old order of things is that we have a different category of humans- priests and prophets- who acted as intermediaries between God and man. In that scheme of things, abuse was palpable and inevitable. Even without conscious intention to do so, the prophets and priests of the past, drew attention to themselves, elevated as they were to a higher realm of being that the rest of the people considered impossible to attain. In this state of things, the temptation to abuse the position is high, and there are many examples in Scripture of prophets and priests who led the people astray, with tragic consequences.

The Gospel of Christ changes all of this in its fundamental premise, to wit: you do not need any intermediary to initiate and grow in your relationship with God. Come straight in, God says. Now, the idea of “Daddy Pastors” seek to take us back to the dark dispensation of prophets and priests, by creating another order- a higher category- of Christian believers. It negates the cardinal principle of God’s grace in Christ, which simply declared that we all worthy, all equally worthy, as sons and daughters of God.

Now, of course, the Bible also speaks about respect and honour for leaders who serve among us. Not priests, but leaders. That distinction bears repeating. The idea of priests, in the Old Testament sense, runs contrary to the fundamental doctrine of the Christian Gospel. We have leaders though, and we are encouraged to honour and respect them. However, the leaders are not portrayed as another species of believers, of some peculiarly higher order, to be glorified or worshiped. The problem, as outlined in the first series, is that our default position as humans is to worship those who are specially gifted or placed in position of authority. Unless we know better, that is. What the new waves of “Daddy Pastors” have sought to exploit is this ignorance of what sort of relationship we should have with fellow believers and fellow humans, including leaders.

Humility, or mere subservience?

The confusion also extends to the conception of humility. Curiously, a constant refrain of self-aggrandising “Daddy Pastors” is “humility”. Predictably, they harangue their parishioners on the need to humble themselves by doing obeisance to their “Daddy Pastors”. Those who do not question authority, and are subservient to the leader, are held up as the best model of true humility. Those will so much as dare to think for themselves, or hold contrary views, are denounced as rebels and harbingers of disunity.

A fear of label

This fear of labels- of being branded as rebellious and arrogant- is one of the main reasons why many who should know better opted to play along. The denunciations fuel doubts and exacerbate uncertainty, making some to feel that they are probably in the wrong to raise questions or have different opinions on issues that are not even matters of biblical doctrines. It may even make some to start entertaining the idea that they may be opposing God by merely thinking for themselves and asking questions. It takes more than intellectual certitude to overcome this fear; you need spiritual maturity and emotional strength to be able to stand strong in your conviction and in your position, when a “Daddy Pastor” is going as far as threatening you with hell fire, and he has, say, the backing of majority in the congregation. The best your intellectual awareness alone can achieve in that circumstance is lead you out of the faith altogether. Even for the most intellectually sophisticated, without spiritual maturity, it is a big struggle to be, in effect, a social outcast in the midst of the believers.

Social sanction

This social sanction is arguably the biggest power at the command of “Daddy Pastors”, and they have used it with great effect to bend people to their will. With all your knowledge of Scripture, and your discernment of what is right and what is wrong, it is a difficult situation when you are cast as a heretic by fellow parishioners. Some will be afraid to as much as speak with you, for fear of retribution from the “Daddy Pastors”, who have reduced the rest of the congregation to the status of little children who are not allowed to think again for themselves. A lady has recounted how she was effectively banned from attending Ladies meeting in a church because she would not call the pastor’s wife “Mummy Pastor”. Ultimately, she had to leave the church. It is that tough.

I am aware that some of my good pastor friends will not be very pleased with this series. The “Daddy Pastors” among them are probably livid. But we have crossed the Rubicon on matters of Scriptural truth, and we are not done yet on this topic. Please watch out for the third instalment in this series. Thank you.

Seun Kolade