'Polygamy a Pre-Requisite for Church Membership?' - Biblical Misunderstandings in Africa

Polygamy as a pre-requisite for church membership? This is exactly what one African pastor taught his church when he felt they needed to follow the examples found in Scripture without regard to culture or setting, the Langham Partnership reports.

This misunderstanding led to the African pastor making polygamy a requirement for all church members because "there were so many examples of it in the Old Testament!"

The Langham Partnership said that "in a country where people do not need to go to Bible College before becoming pastors, misguided and dangerous theology can arise."

A recent event at All Souls Church in central London was held to celebrate and promote faithful Bible teaching in African churches. The evening centred largely around the Philip Project.

Wanyeki Mahiaini, coordinator of the Philip Project said it exists to contribute towards the training of Bible teachers among professionals from Africa studying in UK universities.

"These people will return to Africa as engineers, doctors, lecturers, nurses...but also as people who are equipped to handle the Word of God," the Langham Partnership said.

The project also includes representatives of other organisations who are working with the Philip Project and also with pastors and church leaders in Africa, helping them to develop their skills in Biblical preaching.

One of the organisations represented was Langham Partnership International. Chris Wright, International Director, told how Langham Partnership was working with pastors in training them how to study the Bible for themselves and then how best to communicate that with the people in their churches.

Wright said, "The challenge not only for Africans but for all of us was to not view the Bible as something we think about, but as something we think with."

Langham now has preaching programmes in 15 countries across Africa. Over the last four to five years many hundreds of African pastors and church leaders have come to preaching seminars with many returning each year to improve their skills.

Jonathan Lamb, International Preaching Director, said: "It has had both a ripple and a lighthouse effect. The ripple effect is that pastors come along to the seminars and then go back to their area with more effective preaching which then benefits their own congregations but they also work with other local pastors passing on the knowledge they have gained.

"The lighthouse effect is that people in neighbouring countries see what is happening with the preaching seminars and put things in place to make it happen in their own country as well."

It was at this event that the Africa Bible Commentary was launched. Conrad Mbewe, Pastor of Kabwata Baptist Church in Lusaka Zambia, said, "If the Apostle Paul needed his scrolls and parchments while in prison, how much more do the pastors in Africa need this tool to help them to prepare to teach hundreds and even thousands of people who hang on their every word?"

Written by 70 African theologians and produced in Africa, the one volume commentary has been created to help pastors, students, and lay leaders in Africa apply God's Word to distinctively African concerns, yet the Langham Partnership say that its fresh insights will have a universal appeal.

"Interpreting and applying the Bible in the light of African culture and realities, it furnishes powerful and relevant insights into the Biblical text that transcend Africa in their significance. Readers from around the world will benefit from and appreciate the commentary's fresh insights and direct style that engage both heart and mind," the Langham Partnership said.

You can find out more about this ministry at www.langhampartnership.org/lpuki