[OPINION] Apollo Quiboloy, stop!

He was referring to his divine encounter with the earthquake in Mindanao last week. In a viral video, Pastor Quiboloy recounted how it obeyed him when he commanded the earthquake to stop.

His followers in the audience cheered in response, even yelling “Amen!”

That Pastor Quiboloy can get away with these statements is very telling of the times we live in.

No, I am not referring to the end times during which false prophets are to emerge. But, then again, who knows?

At a time when religious disaffiliation is on the rise elsewhere, religiosity is fiercer (perhaps than it ever was) in the Philippines.

In the US, many young people no longer affiliate with any religious institution. They question many of their churches’ teachings.

In the Philippines, questionable doctrines have the opposite effect on people. The more questionable they are, the more convincing they seem to be.

These are the times we live in.

The Appointed Son of God

Take, for instance, the claim that Apollo Quiboloy is the Appointed Son of God.

This, in his worldview, is his privilege for having been the first to surrender completely to the Father’s will.

By nature, people are disobedient to the will of God. He blames this “spirit of disobedience” on what he calls the “serpent seed” in humanity. Salvation thus lies in surrendering one’s will to the will of God. 

To surrender is the mark of a true convert.

In effect, his life, full of visions and angelic visitations, has inaugurated a new dispensation for the Kingdom of God, one in which only he has the true message.

As if it was not outrageous enough, Pastor Quiboloy declared in 2018 that God the Father was adopting his name. In an angelic vision, he claimed to have received a new revelation: “My name became his name…I and my father’s name are one!

Reverence

The charismatic preacher has leveraged this newfound identity against his enemies.

In one of his sermons, described by his website as “soul-searing,” Quiboloy’s warning against his detractors was unequivocal: “Don’t talk about that Name in a negative way. That is not my Name anymore. That is His Name.”

By a theological sleight of hand, Pastor Quiboloy has turned himself into an ineffable and infallible being — attributes that belong to God.

And so he asserts that “you do not have a right to judge me because you are not spiritual. Your judgment will always be carnal.”

The dedication of his followers is undeniable. They fully subscribe to his message, believing that everything he says is of God. And so to defend him is in effect to defend God.

No wonder that his followers exclaim “Praise the Father through the Son Pastor Apollo Quiboloy!”

These claims are convenient for someone with a record of human trafficking, land grabbing, cash-smuggling, and even sexual abuse

Ignorance

Maybe the charming preacher wanted to be funny.

But there’s nothing funny about Pastor Quiboloy. Nothing is funny when religious work perpetuates people’s ignorance. Nothing is funny when religion succeeds at the expense of other people.

His theology renders him unquestionable. Would anyone dare refute a divine being who considers the rest of us carnal?

But worse, his claims make his character unassailable. How does one take to task the Appointed Son of God?

This, to me, is a sign of the times we live in.

Pastor Quiboloy is just one of the many other religious leaders who demand reverence without accountability. They invoke the Lord’s Name, promise prosperity, and bully their enemies.

All these while living a lavish lifestyle.

Stop it

It is dangerous when religion flourishes not for the redemption it promises but the blindness it causes.

Preachers like Apollo Quiboloy invoke their divine anointing in the name of fidelity to God. But in reality they do so to keep their followers from asking.

That is the folly of much of religious life in our society. That is the reason many are not even aware that they have been deluded.

But this is where the irony lies. Throughout the Scriptures, the work of God is consistently about “opening blind eyes” and “setting captives free.”

And the work was never easy.

Those who heard God’s voice and followed it made enormous sacrifices. They gave up their wealth, reputation, and even life. Case in point: Christ.

Any religion that fails to do these cannot validly claim that it is the work of God.

It is one thing to preach the truth. But it is another to live by it.

It would thus be wise for Pastor Quiboloy to heed his own word: stop! – Rappler.com

 

Jayeel Cornelio, PhD is a sociologist of religion at the Ateneo de Manila University. Follow him on Twitter @jayeel_cornelio.

 

 

 

 

Jayeel Cornelio

Jayeel Cornelio, PhD is Associate Professor and the Director of the Development Studies Program at the Ateneo de Manila University. A sociologist of religion, he is a recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Young Scientist Award from the National Academy of Science and Technology. He i...

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