By Rt. Rev. Johnson Twinomujuni
I greet you all in the love of our risen Lord and King, Jesus Christ! May he continue to bless and keep you!
I believe some of you have seen a clip trending on social media of an interview by one of our local TV station reporters, in which one, Simon Ssenyonga, claims that Elvis Mbonye is higher than all the men of God in the Bible, from Moses to every partriach, prophet, apostle, and priest.
I have nothing against Elvis Mbonye, as a person. I love him as any other human being, created in the image of God, and I wish him well. I don't even know whether what Simon Ssenyonga has uttered has Elvis's consent or permission. I'm heartily concerned though, because I see no ground where we can base to consider it Christian or biblical.
Simon's claim that Elvis Mbonye is greater than all the saints and servants of the Most High that have ministered and served Him on this planet from time immemorial, is, by far, very unsettling!
Biblically, and at several theological fronts, the statement is, necessarily, serious profanity. No prophet, no patriarch, no saint, no priest, no king of any kind and time has ever made such a claim about any human being. Even the disbelieving, some of whom have uttered the most atheistic statements, have not come any closer to this, in reference to a mortal and finite human being! Unless we dismiss it simply as a mere hyperbolic puffery, it is very misleading and dangerous to the flock of Christ, and all humanity.
From the clip I have watched and listened to, Simon makes the following claims about Elvis Mbonye:
He "is way higher than prophets Elijah and Elisha, John the Baptist, all the New Testament apostles"; he "has a more perfect covenant"; "he is greater than Moses, and Abraham"; he "comes after the order of Jesus Christ"; he "is both with and in Jesus"; he "is greater than all" (those mentioned) in terms of "wealth, dominion and glory"; he "is seated next to Jesus in the heavenly places." Then he adds: "saying that he is in Jesus is an understatement"!
Let us do a brief analysis on the above claims:
a. If Elvis is way higher than Abraham, to whom God gave the title of 'the father of all believers', higher than Elijah who God used to raise the dead and even called him to heaven alive, higher than John the Baptist, a relative and forerunner of Jesus Christ, who even baptized him, this is not an ordinary claim!
I say again that if Mbonye is higher than all the apostles, who saw, touched, and shared moments and meals with Jesus of Nazareth, who lived a thirty-three year earthly life with the only begotten and incarnate Son of the Almighty, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, who, though in an earthly body was co-equal and co-eternal with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, THIS statement is not an ordinary one!
By the way, by all logical, rational and spiritual standards, to make such a claim, one must have full knowledge of these personalities and their ministries better than anybody else. Therefore, by implication, Simon infers that he himself is greater than all (including Elvis himself, to whom he attributes all these superlative qualities), because he (Simon), being omnisciently qualified, has made a perfect analysis, facilitated with a kind of an understanding capable of enabling him to rightly divide the insignial distinctions of these personalities, and come to a conclusion that they are all below Elvis Mbonye! Congratulations, Simon!
b. Simon further claims that Elvis has a "more perfect covenant". Let us remember that a covenant is a bond in blood that is heavenly administered. In reference to the work our Lord Jesus accomplished on the cross, the Bible talks of a new, eternal, and better covenant, alluding to the fact that Jesus perfected all that the prior covenants had been intended to accomplish. The essence of the covenants derives from the person of Christ, who is the first party, not from the second party with whom he enters them. Also, all prior covenants of works and grace are simply different forms of the same covenant.
So, if the subject of this claim has this new and more perfect covenant, that in itself does not make him unique, since all believers in Christ are partakers and subjects of this new and better covenant.
This is not a different covenant. Rather, in it, all former covenants (Noahic Covenant (Gen. 6:18), Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:1-3), Mosaic Covenant (Gen. 15:13-14; 19:4-6), and the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7; 1 Chr. 17) were made betterand new (Heb. 8:6).
c. Our beloved, Simon, further asserts that Elvis is greater than Moses! This is Moses who led the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, the lawgiver, one to whom the first five books of the Bible are attributed, and to whom the Ten Commandments were given. The Moses who split the Red Sea into two, is, according to Simon, still ranked below Elvis!
Of course, Simon's view could have been fueled by Elvis's recent claims of chatting with the Almighty on phone, having a one to one encounter with Jesus, to an extent of describing what he looks like (very handsome and cool) etcetera. As the faithfuls, we should not be perplexed by that. One day, the Lord will bring the truth to light!
d. That Elvis is higher than all in terms of "wealth, dominion and glory" is another unfortunate claim. By dominion, in view of simple semantics, does Simon refer to Elvis's sovereignty and control over the entire universe? By glory, does he mean that he is greater than all in magnificence and splendor? I'm led to announce that such attributes belong to God the Almighty, the Most Sovereign, alone!
Mr. Ssenyonga still says that Mbonye is wealthier than Abraham and all! To come to this conclusion, one must have a clear and total understanding of Abraham's wealth and all others', as well as how it matches today's standards of quantification. Since the Bible mentions categories of Abraham's possession, but not the quantities, I wonder if this claim derives from a statistically and biblically informed mind!
Simon further asserts that Elvis lives with and in Jesus. This is true of anyone due to the fact that all creation is made by him, in him, and through him (Rom. 11:36; Col. 1:16; John 1:3), but also, spiritually, that we, the saved or born again, abide in Christ and in fellowship with God through him. In Christ we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). This means that we derive our being from his. We are and live because he is and lives. In Christ, we who believe and born of God, are heirs and co-heir with him (Rom. 8:17). So this doesn't put any one individual Christian above others! There is no one who is more in Christ than others. Any alert Christian must avoid the 'holier-than-thou' attitude, because, though one can be mature than another as a Christian, nobody can be more saved than another. It's like saying that one is more or less alive, human, unique, perfect, or even more or less dead than another!
Lastly, there is a part which moves Simon's utterance closest to solid blasphemy. It is where he says, "to say that he (Elvis) is in Jesus is an understatement." Really! Taken as true would qualify it as a larger than life theological blunder! My inference derives from its implication: what would he be if it were not an understatement?! I request fellow Christian apologists and the entire church to dismiss this statement, either on grammatical or simply on wide of the mark grounds! It is simply a result of a conditioned and confined belief, not informed by a sound, biblical, Spirit-led, theological inquiry.
In conclusion, I arge you beloved, young and energetic Christian believers, desist from this crave for superiority and greatness! What did Jesus teach his disciples when they argued about who the greatest of them was? He showed them a little child and said that the least of them is the greatest (Luke 9:46-48).
Again remember his reply to the mother of the two sons of Zebedee, who when seeking for their greatness, asked him to grant that they each sit by his sides when he returns as king. He replied her, "that is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father" (Mat. 20:20-28). Then he cautioned his disciples: "...whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave (verses 26-27).
Beloved, the Bible condemns pride. It actually says that it goes before destruction, and a haunty spirit before a fall (Prov. 16:18). Let us walk in humility, fiends! Jesus instructs us, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls (Mat. 11:29).
Also, dear young men and women, kindly read the Bible! Take time to feed your mind and heart so you can be well equipped not to be swayed around by any form of teaching that claims to be the truth. Hide God's word in your heart, so you might not sin against Him (Ps. 119:11). Read God's word so you are not unawares.
Beloved of God, as these utterances begin to flood the banks of our spirituality, remember Paul's caution: "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil" (Eph. 5:15-16).
May the Lord continue to give us wisdom and victory over any form of false and erroneous teaching! Lord Jesus, protect us your flock and bride. Amen!
Rt. Rev. Johnson Twinomujuni is the Bishop of West Ankole Diocese, Uganda.