He saw the invaders long before they came.
In a vision, he saw people with wings like butterflies and skins of babies. These strange people would come in granaries which ran on ropes.
Not just that, these people had a strange liking for land, they ate it like food. According to his vision, these weirdos would also alienate children from their parents and societies.
This prognostication came to pass.
The people came. The wings with butterflies were aeroplanes. The colour of their skin was like that of babies—white. They brought along a foreign education system that alienated children not only from their parents but also their societies.
And the part where they ate land, they actually ate it. Not literally, but they rather stole it from its original owners.
These people were the colonialists. And the man who saw all this before it all happened was Nyakairima-Ka-Muzoora, a Mukiga from Kigezi. His prognostic prowess was a mixture of accuracy and enormous experience.
[Accurate] prediction is an age-old game.
Elvis Mbonye and the New Wave of Prediction
Elvis Mbonye is not your usual pastor. According to the Matooke Republic, he is “hip and trendier than your average flashy pastor. His wardrobe is not shy of white and pink jackets. He cuts the look of more of a metrosexual man than a ‘man of God’”.
In fact, he loves to spend and later make it known to whoever cares to know. He intimated to a reporter how 35 million Uganda shillings (about $ 9, 290) is spent every week on just the venue, tent and sound system so that his weekly fellowship can happen.
Sometime last year, he bought for himself a 2017 model of a Range Rover Vogue. But who is this guy?
There is not a lot that I could gather on Mbonye, but he shot to the limelight when he started his weekly Zoe Fellowships in 2014. Together with the effective publicity of his prediction of current events which left many millennials impressed, Mbonye would go on to make a name for himself in the charismatic spirituality camp.
Recently, he caused a stir when he announced to the world, through a reporter, that he had been having regular meetings with Jesus. He also apparently walked on heaven’s golden streets. In his own words, he said, “I have been to heaven, and it is a glamorous place with streets of gold. All attributes about God are glamour and beauty, and I’m of God, so I will unapologetically be always on the side of what is rich.”
Testimony to Prediction
Elvis Mbonye’s fame and popularity can solely be attributed to his ‘accurate’ predictions. It is these successful prognostications that are used as sales pitches in TV commercials when he advertises his weekly gathering.
Clearly, Mbonye is a smart marketer. He knows what sells and where, and he is not afraid to feed into the cravings of his consumers. On his website’s homepage, a string of video clips about his supposedly successful predictions greet the visitor.
Popularly known as a prophet, it is strange that he is known for predicting the Oscars, helicopter crashes and BREXIT instead of bringing both judgement and gospel comfort to God’s people. I talk about prophecy in detail below.
A Preacher’s Testimony
If there was anyone who would boast, it was the Apostle Paul. From the manner in which he was called, the transformation that happened to his theology, and then the fact that he would go on to write most of the New Testament. He was also the chief guy called by Jesus to evangelise the Gentile world.
Paul was a big deal. He also knew it, yet he chose to deflect all the praise that came to him to God. He “decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”
Paul’s awareness was that man does not call himself. Even when he is called, it is not to glorify the called but the caller. That is why he says things like “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
For those genuinely called, the call is an abandonment of self for divine service. It is a death to self and the glitters of this world for the hope of the glory in the world to come.
Yet, Mbonye embodies the opposite. He loves money, fame, glamour, pomp and power. He is so in love with this fallen world (and its things) to the point that one wonders whether Paul’s exaltations to look to things above, not things below (Col. 3:1-2) mean anything in Mbonye’s theological framework.
In fact, he has claimed that heaven is full of such pomp and glamour. In his own words, he said, “The Lord showed me hell and the people who went there. Hell is stuffy, poor, sickly, and degrading. I have been to heaven, and it is a glamorous place with streets of gold. All attributes about God are glamour and beauty, and I’m of God, so I will unapologetically be always on the side of what is rich. You want me to be in a car where I sweat?”
There are at least two problems with this statement. One, the scriptures do not support it. Nowhere does the bible say that hell is “stuffy, poor, sickly, and degrading”, these are ideas from his head. For a person who claims to be a follower of Jesus, the primary thing he would have done is to teach the very words of Jesus which he has believed, yet here he is inventing his own creed.
Two, these comments are ungracious and degrading to the poor, and sick. It is a disservice when someone who should be comforting the poor takes on the role of ‘accuser’. In a way, what he is saying is that whoever is poor or sick belongs to hell while heaven is reserved for the rich. What a gracious preacher!
Who did Jesus say the Kingdom of heaven belonged to? Let us listen:
And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:10-13, emphasis mine)
In this text, Jesus uses the two words ‘sinner’ and ‘sick’ synonymously. Sinners are sin-sick, so to speak. You can now see how Jesus and Mbonye are back-to-back instead of being face-to-face. They preach two different gospels, one says that he came for the poor, and weak while the other says that the weak belong to hell.
Honouring the Prophet and the Plunder of the prophetic
The pictures of mature men kissing another man’s shoes caught most of us by surprise. We later came to learn that prophets have to be honoured and that according to the textbook, going down to smooch a cleanly polished pair of shoes is the best way to do it.
This year, they honoured their man again. But what interests me is the reasoning behind this shoe-kissing festival. Why do they do it? For what purpose? For how long will this go on?
A Prophet-honouring Defence for Shoe-kissing
In a short article published in the Observer, a one Wisdom Peter Katumba tries to answer some of these questions. He states that in every generation, there are men on whom God puts a dispensation of grace so that they would be honoured. To be clear, I don’t know what that means, but let us move on.
Katumba goes on to add that God works through these men with feats ‘unmatched’ and ‘unparalleled’.
Who are these men? Have we had any in the past? Where do these ideas come from? I am aware that he is using 1 Corinthians 9:17 and Colossians 1:25 as a reference, but do these texts say anything to this effect? Sadly, these two texts may not be a worthy defence.
I have always told people that to sustain a skewed theology, you will have to skew more Bible texts and in the end, you will have no new texts to skew. The best thing to do, therefore, if you are to be faithful to the scriptures is to go somewhere else to find reasons to support your [skewed] cause. Make sure that source is not the Bible.
Why Elvis Mbonye is way Greater than Jesus Christ
It is with either bravery or sheer ignorance that Katumba writes, “In our generation, Prophet Mbonye is the man that carries the dispensation of God’s Grace for the last move of the church.” He goes on to add that: “This means that anyone from any field of life that wants to manifest the designated grace of God for this very last age must honour and submit themselves to him. This bold assertion is provable by any genuine seeker and if any man be otherwise minded; even God will tell them the same thing.”
While you have your quiet time, be reminded that Elvis Mbonye is the one that carries the dispensation of God’s grace for the last move of the Church, not Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. God’s saving grace will no longer come to us through a perfect God-man worthy to atone for our sins before his Father. Instead, we will fix our eyes on Elvis Mbonye.
Furthermore, when Jesus in Matthew 16:18 says that he is building his church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it, or when Paul writes to the Ephesian church (5:25-27) that Jesus Christ is coming for is “a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless”, we should not take too seriously. At least we all know that the church rides on the grace dispensed through Elvis Mbonye.
Other people believe that Mbonye is “God’s avenue for men to awake to and believe what He is doing in their generation through that particular man.” Thank God for Mbonye because we now know where faith to believe God comes from. Before I read Katumba’s article, I had always held that faith is a gift from God granted through the hearing of the Gospel. I guess Paul was just idle when he wrote that:
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? … So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:14-15, 17)
Here Paul did not know what he was saying, look to Mbonye you will get faith to believe God.
Everything you Heard about Grace is Wrong
I am sure some of you have heard people like Paul say that grace is God’s undeserved favour to sinners and sufferers. Paul even devotes sizable portions of his letters to this discussion. For example he writes to the Galatians 3:13-14 that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.”
This topic is his central theme in the epistle to the Romans. But I think the church since the apostolic times got it wrong. There are things you must do to receive grace from God—grace is not free, someone has to pay, and it is you paying. Mbonye’s deal is even better than Jesus’.
Katumba concludes his article that you should “go and get your very best and deliver it reverently at the feet of this man and you, in turn, connect with that invisible grace.” This is way easier than stuff like dying to myself and carrying my cross (Luke 14:27). Besides claims that the last will be first (Mark 10:31), and the poor will be rich seem to be too good to be true (2 Corinthians 8:9). Considerably, you have to be out of your mind to say that in order to live you must first die. That is ridiculous. Even here, Mbonye beats Jesus. Fair game.
Is he Really a Prophet?
It is easy to fall down at the feet of a guy and worship him because he got a couple of predictions right. Thank God I did not fall at the feet of Musoke when he rightly predicted a couple perfect scores in the game of sports betting, even when he presented the ticket as evidence. Besides, the prophets of old never functioned this way.
Prophecy in the Old Testament was not a game of prediction. It was rather a proclamation of the gospel. It was through prophets that God pronounced judgement on his people. Through them, he also communicated the Good News—a word of promise. There was a sense in which this promise looked like a prediction, but that was never the case.
The promise was a word of Gospel, it carried salvific (saving) significance. God’s people would be hopeful because that word alone was their salvation. Prophets were preachers of law (a word of condemnation) and gospel (a word of promise).
However, in the New Testament, things change. While the Old Testament prophets spoke for God, they were also a pointer to the one True Prophet that would come out of Nazareth, the true and final answer to the sinfulness and rebellion of God’s people.
“The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it.” (Luke 16:16)
According to Jesus, the last prophet was John the Baptiser. From then afterwards, the Good News of the coming of the Kingdom of God would be preached. In other words, the ministry of the prophets found its end in the coming of the Messiah: the promise had been fulfilled.
Just like the apostolic office, the prophetic office was instrumental for its foundation-laying purpose. When the foundation was laid, what remained was to build on that foundation (see 1 Corinthians 3:11-14 and Ephesians 2:20). There are no more foundations to lay.
You may ask: what about instances in the New Testament where Paul refers to prophecy as a gift to be desired? Well, to Paul, prophecy or prophēteia is preaching. Your pastor stands before you every Sunday, and through God’s law, he points to your sin and through the Gospel, he points you away from yourself and onto the Messiah who has promised to come back and make all things new.
Now to the question: Is Mbonye really a prophet? I leave that for you to answer.
Where do we go from here?
We love strategies but acting on them, not so much. I would suggest you find a theologically sound church, led by a seminary (theological school) trained pastor and then commit to reading your Bible regularly with the guidance of your pastor.
I would also suggest that you run when a certain ‘man of God’ tells you that matters of faith are matters of the heart only, not the mind. Honestly, you cannot love and worship God without common sense and reason, but you don’t need those to do and believe all the laughable things those spiritual entrepreneurs will tell you to do.
Prediction without salvific significance is nothing. Everyone can predict something, at least on a particular level. Even then, does the bible say that true prophets will be known by their knack at predicting the Oscars? What does the bible say? If you take your faith seriously, you would open your bible and find answers to those questions.
May the inerrant word of God, not predictions rule your life. Amen.