The practice of the ZCC church is not Biblical

In this article I’m going to write about some of the Zion Christian Church’s practices and how they disagree with the Bible, I’m going to refute these practices using the Scriptures and prove that the ZCC is a cult.

Background

Zion Christian Church is a church founded by Engenas Lekhganyane in 1910, they currently have over 3 million members in South Africa and its neighbouring countries.

There are many things that have been associated with the ZCC church over the years, some of which cannot be proven with substantial evidence but are believed to be true; even the practice of witchcraft has also been suspected to be in use in the ZCC church; when I was interviewing a certain man who is currently a member at the ZCC church, he told me that his church is able to avenge him against his enemies and bring bad luck upon them. A certain audio file became one of the most trending topics on the internet between 2009 and 2015 of a man who claimed to be a former member of the ZCC church before he became a Christian, the man in the audio file makes some serious allegations against the ZCC in an attempt to expose them as false teachers who are leading people into darkness. He claimed to have been a prophet in the ZCC church and was exposed to a lot of the so called “diphiri tsa kereke” that is, “secrets of the church”. He said that the ZCC church baptize people in the name of Enginas, Barnabas, and Joseph Lekganyane and that when one gets baptized in that church it’s like an initiation into a cult, he is actually selling his soul to the Devil, and through that baptism Lekganyane is able to control their spirits and he visits them through dreams and visions. However, though his testimony was convincing enough, one could not make a solid argument to prove that the ZCC church‘s practices are unbiblical based on the man’s claims, besides, no matter how good his facts were, we can’t be sure if all of what he was saying was true until we test it with the Word of God.

 

What shocked me the most was that after members of the ZCC church listened to the man’s testimony, they did not draw back from going to that church, in fact they became more stubborn and more convinced that they were in the right path. This is the reason why i have decided to refute the ZCC’s practices using the Bible as the only true Word of God, so that those who believe in the Bible as the inspired and inherent Word of God may know that the ZCC’s teaching and practice are unbiblical.

How do the ZCC members live and worship

The ZCC people are known everywhere in South Africa by their strict commitment to their belief system. Almost all of the ZCC’s church members live their lives in some form of bondage and fear; they live their lives in fear of death, bad luck, and witchcraft. Most of them joined the church because they thought the church could protect them against all these things. Some joined the church because they were sick and they received healing in the ZCC church and they were told that if they leave the church their sickness would come back maybe in a worse state.[1] They believe all sorts of superstitions, for instance, they do not borrow or lend salt to their neighbours or buy salt from the shops when its dark because it is believed in the African traditions that salt is a powerful instrument used by witches to bewitch other people. They are not allowed to wear dark coloured clothes because it will bring them bad luck. Their houses have images of their bishop inside the rooms because they believe he is watching everything that happens in the house and that he can hear everything as well and he is able to protect them.

 

Their services are more focused on singing and dancing with less preaching, the preaching when it’s done is usually based on moralism. They normally do not carry Bibles to church; the preacher is the one who reads from it during the service. But the most important part of their worship service is obeying the instructions “di taelo” by means of drinking holy tea or holy water. Every Wednesday they attend a session called “kosha” which is only dedicated to singing. In their homes they have Bibles but they are not so much focused on personal devotions and prayers and only a few of them study their Bibles.

What practices does the ZCC church require?

In this section we are going to highlight some of the practices that are required in the ZCC church and also give responses refuting them using the Scriptures. Though i am only going to mention a few, there still remains a lot of other practices which are required in the ZCC church that are unbiblical but in this paper we will only be looking at five of them.

 

  1. The use of symbols and images

 

It is very easy to identify the ZCC church members, first by their uniform and also by the ZCC badge (either a star or a dove around). What i would like us to focus on is the badge which not only serves as a symbol of identification but for protection they are required to take it everywhere they go. A friend of mine told me that they are not allowed to lie, swear or drink alcohol while having the badge on or else something terrible might happen to them, in cases where they want to do all these things they would rather take it off or leave it at home. It is believed that if anyone who is not a member of the ZCC church touches it he would be stricken with madness. They are also commanded to put images of their bishop in the living room and also in the bed rooms for protection, they believe he is watching everything that happens in the house and that he can hear everything as well and he is able to protect them and their families.

 

Response

The bible is clear when it comes to the use of symbols and images, they are strictly forbidden (Ex 20:4-5). Nowhere does the Bible encourage us to use images of Christ in our houses for protection let alone images of others. Christianity is a faith based religion; it does not make use of objects of worship in any way. Symbols often lead people to idolatry, a good example found in the Bible is 2 Kings 18:4: “He removed the high places and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah. He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the sons of Israel burned incense to it; and it was called Nehushtan,”. It is clear that the Bible does not encourage us to use symbols as objects of worship.

 

  1. Ritual cleansing

 

The ZCC base some of their beliefs and practices in the Old Testament especially in the books of the Law. They are known to be a very strict people when it comes to obeying laws. They believe in the continuation of the Old Testament practice of different types of purifications from uncleanness. They believe that if a woman is during her menstrual periods she is unclean, therefore she cannot go to church until she fulfils a seven day cleansing period. The same goes for anyone who commits a sexual sin with anyone other than their spouse. The eating of pork is also seen as an act of uncleanness.

 

Response

Although the words clean and unclean are common in the Old Testament, they should be interpreted in the context of the entire Bible. Everyone who is in Christ is a new creature (2 Cor 5:17) we are made clean by Christ and nothing will by anyway make us unclean if we remain in Him. These ritual cleansing practices are not in any way repentance as we understands it in Scripture. The Bible teaches us to confess our sin before God and He will forgive u of all our sin (1 Joh 1:9), it does not provide for us any other way of purification other than Christ. Because the issue of menstrual periods is found in the Old Testament it does not mean it is to be continued, it was fulfilled in Christ Who fulfilled the whole Law and made us clean in Him.

 

  1. The use of Holy Tea and holy water

 

They strongly believe in the use of the so called “holy tea” which is a mixture of some herbal tea sold at the church and cooking oil. It is required that each member of the ZCC church make use of it. They believe the tea is able to heal, cleanse, and make one strong. During their ritual cleansing periods they are instructed to drink tea which is the only instrument used for cleansing. If you need a promotion at your workplace or if you are unemployed and need a job, the solution is the holy tea. The tea works for any kind of problem, the only difference lies in the way they are instructed to use it. The tea serves as a replacement for prayer and faith. There is also what they call “holy water” which is also required for them to use “This water is then taken home and sprinkled as a ritual of purification or protection, or it is drunk or washed in for healing purposes. The water may be sprinkled on people, cars (it is even put into the radiators of cars for protection), houses, school books, food, and a variety of other objects.”[2]

 

Response

The Bible clearly teaches that we should come to God in prayer and He alone can guide us and protect us if we trust in Him. No tea or any other thing can save us but God. Faith and prayer are very important aspects in the life of a Christian; we should not put our trust in men or in the traditions of men but in Christ (Colossians). Although they justify their use of holy water using passages like Ezekiel 36:25, and Numbers 19:11-12, they are abusing the Scriptures because they are twisting it to support their unbiblical practices. All of these passages have a very significant place in the Bible especially when we look how Christ fulfilled them all.

  1. Protecting the household “Go thega motse”

 

They also have a certain ritual that is done at least once in a month to protect the house against forces of evil and witchcraft. What they do in this ritual is sprinkle holy water on the four corners of the yard while declaring protection over their households and cursing those who would want to bewitch them. Sometimes they burn sacred papers all around the yard.

 

Response

Our protection does not come from man-made devices but from God who is the keeper of Israel who does not slumber (Ps 121:3). we are called to trust and rely in Him even for our protection against evil because He is able. In the Lord’s prayer we are taught to pray saying “deliver us from evil” (Mat 6:13) which is enough for us to do, what the ZCC church is teaching their members to do is unbiblical but exactly what the African traditional healers do. We do not have any right to curse our enemies but we are ordered to love them (Rom 12:14).

 

  1. Praying in the name of the bishop

 

It is no secret that the ZCC members pray in the name of their bishop Enginas Lekganyane, they are taught that he is the mediator between the congregation and God through Jesus Christ; they believe that he is the one who takes their prayers to God. They also sing songs to him, songs that speak of him as divine. They normally end their prayers with the words: “ka lebitso la Enginas mookamedi warona, amen” which is to say “in the name of Enginas our bishop”. Some members especially those who have not yet been baptized in the ZCC denies that they pray in the name of the bishop, but all of the committed members are very honest about it and they see no wrong because they say Jesus was also a man.

 

Response

The problem with this kind of practice is that it contradicts the Bible and goes against the first commandment which clearly teaches that we should not have any other gods but the Lord (Ex 20:3). The Bible clearly teaches that there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus (1 Tim 2:5). Though some will argue that the church does not teach their members to pray in the name of the bishop, they are not correcting the error because it is a common practice among the ZCC members to pray in the name of the bishop. The ZCC church seems to put their bishop in some kind of a divine rank which is equal to or above Christ. If he can direct all their prayers to God he must be divine, able to hear all of their prayers simultaneously, and also omnipresent, these are attributes that can only be ascribed to God. Even Satan does not possess these attributes. Lekganyane was a man and nothing more than that. The New Testament clearly teaches us that we should pray to the Father in the name of Jesus alone (John 14:13;14:14;15:21).

 

Why are these practices unbiblical and sinful?

Every religious practice that does not adhere to the true Biblical teachings is sinful and unbiblical. The ZCC church might be using the Bible as their sacred book but they surely don’t believe in it because they twist the truth of the Bible to make it support their false beliefs. They are not leading their members to Christ Who is the only Saviour and Lord, what they do is in fact deceive them and in the end lead them to their bishop who is operating in the spirit of antichrist. They read the Bible out of context and most of the time they don’t even encourage their members to carefully read the Bible on their own.

 

Some of their practices are similar to the Old Testament practices with a little bit of twisting in order to deceive the hearts of the simple. The rest of the practices are taken from African traditional religions and customs and have little or nothing to do with the Bible. The bible condemns every form of religion that is unbiblical as a false religion and people should be careful before joining the ZCC church. And even those who have already been deceived, i would that they pray to God to open their eyes and that they come into faith in Christ Jesus.

 

Conclusion

I therefore do not recommend the ZCC church as a Christian church but a cult; with all these unbiblical practices i am convinced that they are false teachers who do not know God but are leading people into the pit of hell. My prayer is that God may through the power of the Holy Spirit open the eyes of all the members of the ZCC church who are deceived by these false teachings that they may come to faith in Christ and be saved.

 

 

REFERENCES CITED

Anderson, Allan 1992. BAZALWANE: African Pentecostals in South Africa. Pretoria: Unisa Press

CSS 1992. Population census 1991. ‘Summarised results before adjustment for undercount’. Pretoria: Central Statistical Service

Dzivhani, G 1992. ‘ZCC – church of the almighty God’, in The ZCC Messenger 22:16-18

Lukhaimane, E K 1980. ‘The Zion Christian Church of Ignatius (Engenas) Lekganyane, 1924 to 1948: an African experiment with Christianity’. MA dissertation, University of the North, Pietersburg

“PROPHETIC HEALING AND THE GROWTH OF THE ZION CHRISTIAN CHURCH IN SOUTH AFRICA)”. http://artsweb.bham.ac.uk/aanderson/Publications/prophetic_healing_and_the_growth.htm/. N.p., 2016. Web. 16 Aug. 2016.

 

[1]                      Adapted from: http://artsweb.bham.ac.uk/aanderson/Publications/prophetic_healing_and_the_growth.htm

[2]                      Adapted from: http://artsweb.bham.ac.uk/aanderson/Publications/prophetic_healing_and_the_growth.htm

 

Soli Deo Gloria