REINHARD BONNKE AND CHRIST FOR ALL NATIONS: AN ASSESSMENT

REINHARD BONNKE

and

CHRIST FOR ALL NATIONS

By

David Malcolm Bennett (PhD)

Bonnke and Christ for all Nations

Reinhard Bonnke was born in Germany in 1940 and was converted as a child. In 1969 he and his wife Anni went as missionaries to Africa, briefly to South Africa first and then Lesotho, where they served for seven years. In 1974 he began the evangelistic organisation known as Christ for all Nations (CfaN). It grew quickly and under that banner he has preached at massive meetings in many African countries. He later also ministered in Asia, South America and in 2013 conducted his first campaign in the USA. Bonnke has also written “a number of books and booklets”, with 179 million in print, translated into over 120 languages and dialects.[i]

This article will concentrate primarily on investigating the accuracy of the official statistics of Bonnke’s campaigns and the methods he uses. It will also take a brief look at his theology, but pay little attention to his healing ministry and other matters. In other words, the main issue here is the effectiveness of his evangelism.

Pentecostalism

We first need to take a quick look at the modern Pentecostal movement. That movement is usually believed to have begun in America on 1 January 1901, the first day of the new century. Its major early figure seems to have been an Afro-American preacher named William J. Seymour. His Azusa Street mission, though small, became very influential. In the first decade of that century that movement began sending out missionaries, including many who had had contact with Azusa Street, to a variety of countries, including numerous nations in Africa.[ii] In addition, some members of traditional churches in Africa began to demonstrate charismatic phenomena such as speaking in tongues, which resulted in breakaway Pentecostal movements in that continent.[iii]

His Message

Reinhard Bonnke is an evangelical preacher, clearly in the Pentecostal camp. His dynamic preaching and Pentecostal teachings and practice fit well with a common African mind-set and African needs. In fact, Pentecostalism had grown considerably in some parts of that continent before Bonnke arrived on the scene,[iv] so the way was well prepared for his type of ministry.

Charismatic gifts such as healing are a major part of CfaN campaigns. However, Bonnke makes it clear that they are not the major part. “I have observed”, he says, “that there is a mass of ministry by videos, tapes, books, etc., all concerned with the sensational and supernatural, and aimed at creating faith for things to happen. Looking through a catalogue of audio tapes available from various international preachers, I noticed that they are generally on one theme: the supernatural outworking of faith. But the early Christians sought nothing of the sort. They longed for holiness and to win the lost – and signs and wonders followed.”[v] Bonnke, therefore, expects “signs and wonders” to follow his evangelism and he does claim that many instances of healing accompany his preaching. However, he admits that not all the sick people who come to his rallies are healed. In fact, he says, “Many go unhealed despite prayer and faith, but healing is not everything. Sickness is not the ultimate evil, nor are cures the ultimate good.”[vi]

His primary aim is evangelistic. It is to preach to great crowds with the intention of winning as many as possible to salvation in Jesus Christ. He says, “Christianity … is a dogmatic religion. The gospel makes hard statements that must be accepted. Christianity is historic; it is fact. The gospel evokes feelings, but it cannot be reduced to feelings. It is the truth, whatever people may feel. People have died at the stake for truth – not for feelings. We must boldly declare the truth and never compromise or dilute it to spare anybody’s feelings.”[vii] Bonnke is, for example, not afraid to preach about judgment and hell, but he does not seem to overdo it.[viii]

Yet he also correctly says, “Christianity is not merely a statement of historical facts or a list of beliefs. Jesus is not just a historical figure. The gospel is a dynamic, life-giving force. It must be accepted by the inner man as well as by the intellect. Unless evangelism touches the heart it is useless, however accurate one’s orthodoxy.”[ix] He adds, “People will never arrive at Christian belief by reason, but only by opening their hearts to his voice and to divine illumination. We believe what we believe because it is true, and it moves us and stirs us.”[x]

Here Bonnke is, broadly speaking, correct. No one can become a Christian simply by reason, but reason is one of the processes through which we come to understand the Gospel of Christ. And we cannot believe it if we do not understand it. Yet the Gospel must also, as Bonnke’s says, “touch the heart”.

Yet he is not always that orthodox. Bonnke also says, “The secret of evangelism lies in the man [the evangelist], not in some strange mystical operation of God.”[xi] He is quite wrong here, for the “secret of evangelism lies” in the movement of the Holy Spirit, not in any man. A man can preach his heart out, but only God can give the increase. Yet Bonnke is not alone in this kind of thinking, for many evangelists during the last 150 years have over emphasised the role of human beings in evangelism and conversion.[xii]

How the Campaigns are Conducted

Frank Kürschner-Pelkmann describes a Bonnke campaign in Africa this way: “The evangelistic campaign itself takes place on a large piece of ground [sometimes a football stadium] with space for hundreds of thousands of people, who can hear what is being said over very powerful loudspeakers.”[xiii] Towards the end of the service “people are invited to confess Christ as Saviour. Whoever decides to do this is approached and spoken to by one of the many counsellors and is given a brochure with basic information about the Christian faith written by Reinhard Bonnke.”[xiv]

Using Nigeria as an example, all campaigns in that nation “are formally planned. Specific dates, venue and time are chosen with the consent of the local or host organisers.” A “local mobilization team” is selected for each targeted city, which works with CfaN personnel to gain the support of local churches and to promote the campaigns. Each “mobilization team” is given the task of “encouraging the support and cooperation of Christians” from different denominations in the villages and towns in the area surrounding the specific targeted city.[xv]

In fact, CfaN expects the people organising the campaigns to “Recruit local churches, pastors and laymen to take a leadership role in the crusade.” This, they state, is for two main reasons, so that they can “get the word out” that the campaign is going to happen and to acquire “a large pool of local people” to take on the various tasks from “planning” to “follow-up”. The organisers are expected to “Listen to [the] input” of the people on the spot as “They know the need” of the local community.[xvi]

A “Central Working Committee” is also set up for every campaign, which often comprises 26 personnel. A Chairman and two vice-chairmen lead that committee and most of the others lead a group that looks after a specific role in the campaign, such as finance, music and prayer. What is important for our purposes is that a “Counselling Chairman” is on the list. However, there is no mention of a “Follow-up Chairman”,[xvii] though follow-up duties may be covered by those responsible for counselling or by one of the other groups. Bonnke certainly advocates planning for follow-up.[xviii] However, CfaN follow-up has been called “inadequate”,[xix] and, as shall be seen, it does seem to be in need of more attention.

Ezekiel Ajani made some disturbing claims in 2010. He said, “At no point in time has CFAN ever given a summary of her expenses on any of the crusades held in Nigeria.” Ajani also criticised the “unwillingness of CFAN’s team to discuss financial matters.” Some local organisers also appear to be reluctant to talk about financial issues.[xx] However, Frank Kürschner-Pelkmann, who is otherwise critical of Bonnke, says that the evangelist’s “integrity in money matters has saved him from the problems that have confronted” some TV preachers. He also describes Bonnke “as a person of integrity with a simple life-style.”[xxi]

Bonnke, in fact, is not in charge of finances in the campaigns. He advocates that evangelists “not be … directly involved” in financial matters and that “a committee, with no one person having sole oversight” should be responsible for that aspect. He also insists that a budget be drawn up prior to each crusade, to cover all eventualities.[xxii]

The Questions

Bonnke says “For years in Africa we had seen an average of fifty to one hundred and fifty thousand people responding to the call of salvation at each crusade. But in the year 2000 alone we preached face-to-face to some eleven million people and of these five million, eight hundred thousand responded to Christ, completed a decision card and received our follow-up literature.”[xxiii] That is, he is claiming that over fifty percent of those at these later crusades “responded to Christ”.

Jeremy Burton of Empowered21 says that “Through [Bonnke’s] ministry, Christ for All Nations, over 73 million people have made registered decisions to follow Jesus Christ.”[xxiv] Bonnke’s website goes a step further. It claims “Over Seventy Four million souls Saved”. It continues “over seventy four million responded to the call of salvation by filling out decision cards and were ushered into the church follow-up program.” It is said that 55 million of these were in Africa.[xxv]

At least three questions need to be asked about these “Seventy Four million” and Bonnke’s campaigns generally? First, were all these decisions for “salvation”? (This is implied in the above quotations.) Secondly, did many of these people make more than one decision? Thirdly, does CfaN sometimes equate making a decision at a campaign meeting, any kind of decision, with a conversion experience?

The Answers

To answer these questions we will look primarily at Bonnke’s mission in one major African country. Ezekiel Ajani, a Nigerian Baptist pastor and lecturer, claimed in 2010 “In no other country, has Bonnke maintained such an intensity of evangelistic campaigns as in Nigeria.”[xxvi] That appears to be correct, so our main focus will be on Nigeria.

Bonnke conducted a number of campaigns in Nigeria in the 1980s, but none of these appear to have had a major impact. He next held a campaign in the northern Kano State of Nigeria in 1991. As northern Nigeria is mainly Muslim it created much opposition and eventually a riot, which is said to have resulted in the deaths of over 300 people. This inevitably received a lot of media coverage. It caused him to be banned in that part of the country, but it gave him a high profile and made him popular in the south.[xxvii]

He had, in fact, made visits to Nigeria every year from 1985 to 1991. However, he led no further missions in that land until 1999, but he then conducted campaigns in 16 Nigerian cities in the years 1999 to 2003. These were much larger affairs than the earlier ones.[xxviii]

A CfaN video claims that a vast number of “Registered Decision Cards” were filled in during campaigns in ten cities in Nigeria late in the twentieth century and the beginning of the next.[xxix] Each of these campaigns seems to have been of five days duration. In the following chart the first set of figures is of the number of claimed “Decisions”. The second is the population of the relevant city, according to the Nigerian census of November 1991. The third is the population of the state in which the specific city resides, according to the census of March 2006.

It needs to be borne in mind that there was a fairly considerable increase in the Nigerian population in the last ten years of the twentieth century, so the city figures would be somewhat higher when Bonnke conducted his series of campaigns. It was considered wise to include the population figures of the relevant states, even though they are not for the same date, as anecdotal evidence indicates that many travelled from outside the cities to attend the campaigns. However, it must also be borne in mind that many in each state would have been unable or even unwilling to travel a considerable distance to attend a campaign.

 

                  “REGISTERED DECISION CARDS”

                  RECORDED IN NIGERIAN CITIES,

                   COMPARED WITH POPULATION

CITY “DECISIONS”[xxx] CITY POPULATION

(1991)

PROVINCE POPULATION (2006)[xxxi]
Yola 1,403,640 54,810 3,178,950
Ibadan 2,650,190 1,835,300 5,580,894
Calabar 1,015,317 310,839 2,892,988
Port Harcourt 1,416,740 703,421 5,198,716
Jos 1,276,840 510,300 3,206,531
Akure 1,859,503 239,124 3,460,877
Abuja 1,046,390 107,069 1,406,390
Ado Ekiti 1,634,431 156,122 2,398,957
Lagos 3,461,171 5,195,247 9,113,605
Abeokuta 1,936,881 352,735 3,751,140

As can be seen from these figures, in some instances the number of decisions is far higher than that specific city’s population. For example, Akure probably had between 250,000 and 300,000 people at the time of the campaign, but it is claimed that there were 1,859,503 decisions. In other words, in Akure, the capital of Ondo state, there were at least six times as many “decisions” as there were people in that city. While it is highly likely that people from other parts of Ondo attended that city’s CfaN campaign, it also highly likely that some people in Akure did not bother to attend or were unable to do so for health or other reasons. (I am aware that these campaigns are also healing meetings, so some sick people would have been taken along.) It also needs to be borne in mind that there were thousands of counsellors and other helpers at these meetings who were presumably already converted, though some of these may also have made other types of decisions.

I think (and this is a “guesstimate”) that it is unlikely that more than 500,000 different people attended the CfaN meetings in Akure, and it was probably much less.[xxxii] In addition, it is only to be expected that some who attended did not make any kind of positive spiritual decision. This means, therefore, that many people made two or more “decisions”. In fact, the evidence seems to suggest that many made a decision each night. And you can only be saved once!

The Bonnke mission in Ibadan was held over five days in November 2001 in the grounds of an old airport. The total attendance was a claimed “Almost four million”, with 1,300,000 in attendance on the final night. According to CfaN, this was supported by “thousands of churches”, and was assisted by more than “11,000 church leaders and pastors” and made use of 150,000 counsellors. Soon after that the CfaN website stated that “Decision cards” were filled in “by people turning to Christ. The total [of] decision cards completed was 2,650,190” in this campaign.[xxxiii] This gives the impression that all these decisions were made “by people turning to Christ”; in other words, CfaN appears to be claiming 2,650,190 converts in five days in Ibadan in 2001. This seems to be a case of regarding all decisions as conversions, while the majority of those decisions were probably for other reasons, and the likelihood is that many people made more than one decision.

In addition, Ajani questions the attendance figures for this Ibadan campaign. He says that CfaN claimed that 700,000 attended on the first night. The location was so packed on that evening that people had difficulty moving, so Bonnke kept the meeting short. Yet CfaN claimed that on the final night the attendance was “1.3 million” at the same venue.[xxxiv] Even allowing for some alterations to the old airport site, this sounds unlikely.

CfaN also claimed on its website that early in 2003 “nearly 2 million people received salvation in [Ado Ekiti] whose population is estimated at 4 to 500,000, in a state [Ekiti] with a population of under 2 million.”[xxxv] Consider those statistics before you proceed!

In other words, the website is saying that about the same number “received salvation” in Ado Ekiti as lived in Ekiti state. Frankly, that sounds like nonsense. While the population of that state appears to have been a little over two million, rather than “under”, as CfaN stated, and some from other states may have attended the Ado Ekiti meetings, the claim still must be regarded as false.

It is also probable that the phrase “received salvation” refers to “Registered Decision Cards.” If that is correct, it would seem that once more we have many people making multiple decisions, yet each decision is being reported as “received salvation”. I repeat, you can only be saved once.

Ezekiel Ajani also questions the attendance figures at the campaign in Ogbomos(h)o in November 2002. (He is a lecturer at the Baptist Theological Seminary in Ogbomos[h]o, and he had firsthand experience of this campaign.) CfaN claims that there were 750,000 in attendance on the final night.[xxxvi] According to the Nigerian census of 1991, the population of Ogbomos(h)o was 433,030 (1991). It is in Oyo state, which has a population of 5,580,894 (2006).[xxxvii] (Ajani gives an Ogbomos(h)o population of 362,436 for 1991 and an estimated 492,043 for 2003.)[xxxviii]

If one regards that city’s population at the time of the campaign as about 500,000, it would seem most unlikely that 750,000 people attended on any one night. It is true that Ibadan, another major city, is in the same state about 100 kilometres away, so some would certainly have travelled from there, but 750,000 sounds like a gross miscount. Ajani argues that even allowing for people who travelled intrastate and interstate that extra “quarter of a million” people cannot be all accounted for. And not every Ogbomos(h)o resident would have gone on that night or even on any night. It is clearly an exaggeration.

Ajani says, “It is not certain the method which CFAN uses in collating the attendance”, and wisely adds, “Perhaps CFAN’s counting method needs to be revisited.”[xxxix] Certainly whatever method they use does not sound efficient. Ajani is right to question the accuracy of CfaN statistics. He also argues that CfaN needs to do a “proper analysis of decisions cards”, for they clearly have a tendency to record every “decision” as a conversion.[xl]

Invitations, Counselling and “Decisions”

According to Ajani, after one sermon Bonnke’s invitation was for those who want to “say ‘yes to Jesus’” to raise their hand. This is a highly questionable invitation in a European/American situation, but, as Ajani points out, in Africa saying “yes to Jesus” might only mean “I do not hate Jesus” or “I do not deny Jesus existence”.[xli]

Suggested responses to invitations can be found on the “Harvest Joy” video, though parts of one of them are hard to understand. The unclear one is a prayer that Bonnke recites, which people are expected to repeat after him. It runs, in part, “I have heard you knocking … I respond to it … This moment I open my heart’s door for you.” Another is simply getting people in the crowd to respond with “I surrender all to Jesus.”[xlii]

Bonnke does use the altar call. That is, he invites those wishing to make a “decision” to move forward for counselling. He and his helpers also use the sinner’s prayer,[xliii] though so far the precise wording and any variations used have not been discovered, except the partial prayer quoted in the previous paragraph. Probably different forms of it are utilised.

It is also fair to ask how can this vast number of enquirers be effectively counselled, particularly in the highly-charged atmosphere of a Bonnke meeting? Enquirers at CfaN meetings are given a booklet Now that You are Saved. (Editions of this are published in a variety of languages.) This, as its title suggests, assumes that the enquirer is already saved. The primary aims of this booklet are to encourage “the converts” to connect with a church and to help them have assurance of salvation. It certainly has a strong emphasis on attending church.[xliv] But is it adequate and is it used well?

At the rear of the booklet is a “Decision Card” headed “Convert’s copy”, which the decision maker is expected to fill in, keep and show to the pastor of the church they are already connected with or begin to attend. It would seem that a second copy of this card is handed to a counsellor. This card has a section “First time decision for Christ”, followed by two boxes to tick marked “Yes” and “No”. In other words, the producers of this card realise that not all decisions made by enquirers are to do with conversion. (One wonders that when the answer is “No”, whether it might be a second, third, fourth or even a hundredth decision.) Further down it asks “What is his/her need?” followed by two suggestions, each with a following box to tick. The two suggestions are “Backslid but has been restored today” and “Has major spiritual problems and needs help”. Again this makes it clear that the writers of the booklet are well aware that not everybody who goes forward at a CfaN campaign is converted at that time, if ever.[xlv]

Bonnke says, “In our ministry we train counselors for our major gospel campaigns. Training is fine, but it is always hoped that they will be compassionate people with a listening ear. There must be methods, but methods must be humanized.”[xlvi] Bonnke says, “In our gospel meetings we want people to be born into a warm environment of love. Far more is needed than a signature on a dotted line. I like it when I see converts kneeling for an hour with someone praying with them, their arms around their shoulders, while the atmosphere of the stadium or church envelops them in worship and praise.”[xlvii]

Beginning six weeks after the Bonnke campaign in Ogbomos(h)o in 2002, Pastor Ajani conducted a survey, in the form of oral interviews, of six major local churches. This survey came up with some significant results. Two of these churches, All Souls Anglican and the Redeemed Christian Church of God, stated that they did not receive any decision slips from CfaN after the campaign.

Ebenezer Baptist Church received 200 slips. But 180 of those were for “rededications” and “only 20 were new converts”, ten percent of the whole. At the time of the interview only five of that 20 had been located, two-and-a-half percent of the whole. However, about 150 people were added to Ebenezer at around that time, though most of these had had previous contact with that church. Glad Tidings Baptist received 125 slips, 30 were for “new converts, 65 were rededications and 30 other decisions.” In this instance nearly 25 percent of the decisions were recorded as “converts”, but this church was also unable to find the majority of those converts that had been referred to them. Locating new converts appears to have been a common problem after this campaign. There is space on the decision cards for the person’s address, plus home and business phone numbers, but these at times were, presumably, either not filled in or not filled in correctly.

New Era Baptist received approximately 300 slips, but only about 20 were “new converts”, which is less than seven percent; the others were for “rededication”. New Era also said that it grew by at least 20 after the campaign. Emmanuel Gospel Church had “three new converts” indirectly referred to them, but that church did not seem to have been impacted to any significant degree by this campaign.[xlviii]

When we consider Ajani’s findings, three major factors emerge. First, the vast majority of those making “decisions” were not “new converts”, so when CfaN gives the impression that “a decision equals a conversion”, which they often do, they are giving a false testimony. Secondly, the contact between a CfaN campaign and the local churches does not seem to work well, at least not consistently, though at what point(s) it breaks down is not clear. Thirdly, leading from that, some “new converts” probably never join a church.

Three other issues need to be considered emerging from this survey concerning the concepts conversion, rededication and decision. Firstly, often people are considered as having been converted at evangelistic campaigns, when in fact they have not been. False conversions at such meetings abound. Perhaps individuals have been persuaded to say a sinner’s prayer and told that they will be saved through that, but their hearts can be as far away from God as ever.[xlix] Secondly, leading from that it is highly probable that some who had previously considered themselves converted had not been. Their “rededication” thus could be their conversion.

Thirdly, we also need to reconsider our use of that word “decision”. It is often used in a way that equates it with conversion. Thus if there have been 100 decisions, it is often assumed that there have been 100 conversions. Bonnke himself seems to do that. He said that in Blantyre in Malawi “we saw 150,000 people turn to Christ – in one week!” in a pre-2008 campaign.[l] Bonnke seems to mean 150,000 conversions, but this probably refers to 150,000 “Registered Decision Cards” rather than conversions. Yet there are different types of decisions registered at evangelistic campaigns, including at CfaN meetings. These can relate to salvation, rededication, holiness, baptism of the Spirit and many other things. Genuine conversions may only be a small percentage of people counselled at such meetings.

In addition, is a Christian conversion really a human decision? Is a Christian conversion primarily a human decision or primarily the work of God’s Holy Spirit in the life of an individual?[li] The New Testament really does need to be re-examined to discover what Christian conversion really is. And what we say must be true to Scripture and honest.

A Different Perspective

Frank Kürschner-Pelkmann, a German writer, has given a fairly detailed analysis of Bonnke’s theology, which was published by Evangelisches Missionswork in 2002 or thereabouts. Kürschner-Pelkmann is writing from a theologically liberal/ecumenical position and he is strongly critical, and I do not agree with many of his criticisms, but he makes some points of value. In addition, amidst the criticisms he praises Bonnke at times, in that he speaks of Bonnke’s “integrity in money matters [which] has saved him from the problems that have confronted” some TV preachers. Kürschner-Pelkmann is happy, then, to admit that Bonnke is a well-meaning man who handles money matters honestly.[lii] While Kürschner-Pelkmann’s study is primarily theological, it does contain material that is of help to us.

In his introduction to that study, Lothar Engel said that he and his associates “agreed to differ” with their African contacts in “our assessment of Bonnke’s effectiveness”.[liii] This strongly suggests that the members of Evangelisches Missionswork also have major doubts about the “effectiveness” of Bonnke’s work.

Kürschner-Pelkmann suggests that some African churches support CfaN campaigns not because they agree with him, but in the hope of increasing their membership[liv] and even protecting it. In that can be heard an echo of the support that Billy Graham received from a host of churches of very different stripes. Kürschner-Pelkmann adds that some churches support CfaN missions “because they are afraid that otherwise the Pentecostal churches will gain even more members”, presumably at the expense of non-Pentecostal churches. He also says that “‘decision cards’ are passed on to those churches officially supporting the campaign”, and it would seem not to those who do not support it.[lv] This would mean that some people would be encouraged to move from one church to another, and the receiving church would not necessarily be any more true to the Gospel than the one that the “convert” had left.

While Bonnke’s missions are mainly in Africa and some non-traditionally Christian countries he has conducted campaigns in Europe, though some, at least, have not been a success. “Individual trials” in Europe “such as on the ‘Heiligengeistfeld’ in Hamburg in 1989 were not very encouraging; it was not possible to mobilize the masses in countries like Germany. Meanwhile in several countries, including Germany, a brochure with the title From Minus to Plus had been sent to every household. Anyone who filled out a card received the brochure Now that you are saved and upon request was put in touch with one of the congregations or churches that had registered with the campaign.”[lvi]

We have seen that CfaN does engage local churches in its mission, at least in Africa. However, it may not always do this adequately or fairly in other places. This seems to have been the case in a Bonnke campaign in Munich in 2001. According to Rudi Forstmeier,

Bonnke … planned the event, decided what was to take place and made the arrangements without speaking to the congregations in the close vicinity of Munich at all. The hall was booked, and the date and the programme had been fixed before the charismatic congregations and circles in Munich were informed about it. There was no great enthusiasm as a result – they felt that they had been ignored and presented with a fait accompli. But they did not want to distance themselves completely.[lvii]

It needs to be noted here that Forstmeier claims that “charismatic congregations and circles” were not invited to be involved in the early preparations for this campaign. If that is true, Bonnke seems to have initially ignored those who might most favour him. This is, of course, just one instance and in a non-African country.

Summary

Whilst Bonnke’s doctrinal comments do not always seem consistent, he does recognise the need of the power of God in evangelism and conversion. But have 74 million really been converted through Bonnke’s ministry? It is clear that many of the claims of conversions made by CfaN are grossly exaggerated, because they tend to equate “a decision” with “a conversion” and, as we have seen, many people make multiple decisions and in most cases those decisions have nothing to do with a conversion experience. The true number of conversions through CfaN is impossible to know, but in this writer’s judgment it is probably less than ten million, perhaps much less. But if ten million, or even five million, have been genuinely converted through this ministry, then thank God for it. But matters are not as wonderful as CfaN report.

We also must ask, why are some evangelists and evangelistic organisations so careless with their use of statistics? It is dishonouring to God.

What does all this say about Christianity in Africa? Christianity in that continent is clearly not dependent upon Bonnke and CfaN. It has had a rich and powerful history for many years and it is still in many ways a light to the world and a hope for it.

Let me close on a lighter note. Bonnke says in one book, “I have mentioned authority.” He then adds “Thumping and shouting do not create authority.”[lviii] Have you seen Bonnke in action?

Endnotes

 

[i] “The History of Christ for all Nations”, CfaN website, <www.cfan.org.au/about-us> accessed 30 Nov. 2015; John W. Kennedy, “The Crusader”, Christianity Today, Oct. 2013.

[ii] Cecil M. Robeck, Jr. Azusa Street: Mission and Revival (Nashville, Nelson, 2006), 247-48, 266-80.

[iii] Dapo F. Asaju, “Noise, Fire and Flame: anointing and breakthrough phenomena among the evangelicals”, in David O. Ogungbile and Akintunde E.Akinade, Creativity and Change in Nigerian Christianity (Lagos: Malthouse, 2010), 101.

[iv] Asaju, “Noise”, 100-106.

[v] Reinhard Bonnke, Time is running out (Orlando: E-R Productions, rev. ed. 2008), Kindle, loc. 3030-3033. Emphasis added.

[vi] Reinhard Bonnke, Mighty Manifestations: The Gifts and Power of the Holy Spirit, 147, on the Effective Evangelism and Soul-Winning, Teacher’s Guide (Orlando: E-R Productions, 2008), CD.

[vii] Bonnke, Time, Kindle, loc. 4247-4249.

[viii] Frank Kürschner-Pelkmann, Reinhard Bonnke’s Theology: A Pentecostal preacher and his mission – a critical analysis, trans. Cynthia C. Lies (Hamburg: Evangelisches Missionswork, 2002), 26-27.

[ix] Bonnke, Time, Kindle, loc. 2514-2516.

[x] Bonnke, Time, Kindle, loc. 2521-2522.

[xi] Bonnke, Time, Kindle, loc. 2223-2224.

[xii] See David Malcolm Bennett, The Sinner’s Prayer: Its Origins and Dangers (Brisbane: Even Before Publ, 2011), 48-150.

[xiii] Kürschner-Pelkmann, Bonnke’s Theology, 12.

[xiv] Kürschner-Pelkmann, Bonnke’s Theology, 13.

[xv] Ezekiel Ajani, “Reinhard Bonnke’s crusades in Nigeria: an analysis”, in David O. Ogungbile and Akintunde E. Akinade, Creativity and Change in Nigerian Christianity (Lagos: Malthouse, 2010), 113-14.

[xvi] Reinhard Bonnke, with Mark Rutland and Gordon Miller, Effective Soul-Winning and Evangelism: Teacher’s Guide (Orlando: E-R Productions, 2008), 109-10.

[xvii] Ajani, “crusades in Nigeria”, 117-18.

[xviii] Bonnke, Soul-Winning, 119.

[xix] Ajani, “crusades in Nigeria”, 129; see also 124-26.

[xx] Ajani, “crusades in Nigeria”, 119-20.

[xxi] Kürschner-Pelkmann, Bonnke’s Theology, 7, 26. See also page 28.

[xxii] Bonnke, Soul-Winning, 114, 117.

[xxiii] Reinhard Bonnke, Evangelism by Fire (Orlando: Full Flame, 2005), 293, on the Effective Evangelism and Soul-Winning, Teacher’s Guide CD (Orlando: E-R Productions, 2008).

[xxiv] Quoted in Sami K. Martin, “Reinhard Bonnke, Evangelist Who Clashed With Muslims in Africa to Win Millions of Converts for Christ to Get Lifetime Award for Global Ministry”, Christian Post, http://www.christianpost.com/news/reinhard-bonnke-evangelist-who-clashed-with-muslims-in-africa-to-win-millions-of-converts-for-christ-to-get-lifetime-award-for-global-ministry-137844/ accessed 11 Dec. 2015.

[xxv] “The History of Christ for all Nations”, CfaN website, <www.cfan.org.au/about-us> accessed 30 Nov. 2015. Emphasis added.

[xxvi] Ajani, “crusades in Nigeria”, 109.

[xxvii] Ajani, “crusades in Nigeria”, 110, 112. Ezekiel Ajani was in Kano State at that time, see, fn.16.

[xxviii] Ajani, “crusades in Nigeria”, 112-13.

[xxix] “Harvest Joy” video: “Evangelism in Nigeria – Reinhard Bonnke” CfaN, 2009.

[xxx] “Harvest Joy” video: “Evangelism in Nigeria – Reinhard Bonnke” CfaN, 2009.

[xxxi] The city figures are from the census of 26 Nov. 1991 and the state figures are from the census of 21 Mar. 2006, see “Nigeria: Provinces and Cities”, <www.citypopulation.de/Nigeria-Cities.html> accessed 22 Dec. 2015. I have been unable to obtain city figures for 2006.

[xxxii] I have been unable to track down attendance figures for Bonnke’s meetings at Akure. However, in 2010 associate CfaN evangelist Daniel Kolenda conducted a five-day campaign in Akure. The total attendance was estimated at 645,000, with 185,000 the highest on any one day. See <www.bonnke.net/cfan/en/events/afrika-20102011/akure> accessed 30 Nov. 2015.

[xxxiii] “Ibadan, Nigeria, November 2001”, <www.cfan.org/rsa/crusades/Africa/ibadan1101/ibadan1101pg1.htm> <www.cfan.org/rsa/crusades/Africa/ibadan1101/ibadan1101pg4.htm> both accessed 22 Dec. 2001. Emphasis added. See also Ajani, “crusades in Nigeria”, 121.

[xxxiv] Ajani, “crusades in Nigeria”, 122; “Ibadan, Nigeria”,

<www.cfan.org/rsa/crusades/Africa/ibadan1101/ibadan1101pg4.htm> accessed 22 Dec. 2001.

[xxxv] “Ado Ekiti, Nigeria”, <www.cfan.org/{English-Intl}/[SouthAfrica_Site]/index-crusade_report.asp> accessed 31 May 2003. Emphasis added.

[xxxvi] According to Ajani, “crusades in Nigeria”, 121-22. (Ogbomos[h]o is sometimes spelt with the “h” and sometimes without it.)

[xxxvii] “Nigeria: Provinces and Cities”, <www.citypopulation.de/Nigeria-Cities.html> accessed 22 Dec. 2015.

[xxxviii] Ajani, “crusades in Nigeria”, 121-22.

[xxxix] Ajani, “crusades in Nigeria”, 121.

[xl] Ajani, “crusades in Nigeria”, 123.

[xli] Ajani, “crusades in Nigeria”, 128.

[xlii] “Harvest Joy” video: “Evangelism in Nigeria – Reinhard Bonnke”, CfaN, 2009.

[xliii] Reinhard Bonnke, Evangelism by Fire (Orlando: Full Flame, 2005), 171, on the Effective Evangelism and Soul-Winning, CD; “Thousands Say ‘Yes’ to Jesus in Chicago”, Reinhard Bonnke Gospel Crusade, <blog.gospelcrusade.org> “Reinhard Bonnke to Win Souls in Ghana”, <www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/religion/Reinhard-Bonnke-to-win-souls-in-Ghana-287956> “both accessed, 9 Jan. 2016.

[xliv] Reinhard Bonnke, Now that You are Saved (13th ed. Frankfurt am Main: CfaN, 2001), 3-6, 13-14.

[xlv] Bonnke, Saved, 31.

[xlvi] Bonnke, Time, Kindle, loc. 2077-2078.

[xlvii] Bonnke, Time, Kindle, loc. 2055-2057.

[xlviii] Ajani, “crusades in Nigeria”, 125-26.

[xlix] For problems with the use of the sinner’s prayer, see David Malcolm Bennett, The Sinner’s Prayer: Its Origins and Dangers (Brisbane: Even Before Publ. 2011), 13-38.

[l] Bonnke, Time, Kindle, loc. 1148.

[li] I discuss conversion and false conversions in David Bennett, The Altar Call: Its Origins and Present Usage (Lanham: University Press of America, 2000), 201-13, 217-25.

[lii] Kürschner-Pelkmann, Bonnke’s Theology, 7, 26. See also page 28.

[liii] Lothar Engel in Kürschner-Pelkmann, Bonnke’s Theology, 1.

[liv] Kürschner-Pelkmann, Bonnke’s Theology, 5.

[lv] Kürschner-Pelkmann, Bonnke’s Theology, 38.

[lvi] Kürschner-Pelkmann, Bonnke’s Theology, 14.

[lvii] Rudi Forstmeier, campaign report, from the “Materialdienst” (Information Service) of the “Protestant Centre for Religious and Ideological Issues (EZW)”, in Kürschner-Pelkmann, Bonnke’s Theology, 17.

[lviii] Bonnke, Time, Kindle, loc. 2465.

 

©David Malcolm Bennett (2016)

 

 

 

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