A new ‘revival?’—Pastor Bugingo burns hundreds of Bibles

 Bibles

“I further searched for where they talk about the “Holy Spirit”. Always pay keen attention to Luke 4:1, which talks about Jesus being filled with the “Holy Spirit” that led him into the wilderness. That is one of the scriptures where the worshipers of the devil who want people to worship “Ghosts” change Holy Spirit to Holy Ghost.”—Pr. Aloysius Bugingo

Pastor Bugingo burns hundreds of bibles

Every year Christians across the globe celebrate the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ during the Easter season. During this year’s Easter celebration, a ‘man of God’ who is a pastor of the House of Prayer Ministries in Uganda devotedly burnt hundreds of Bibles which he claims are misleading his congregation. In his argument, the pastor says that the bibles he had burnt are edited to miss some verses, miss translates the word “Holy Spirit” as “Holy Ghost,” and some of the bibles are being meant to promote the same sex marriage agenda. The English translation versions Bugingo believes are perverse includes the King James Version and the Good News Bible among others.

The Ug Christian News quotes the unapologetic pastor saying he is ready for hell if what he has done is wrong. On the fateful day, the pastor told his about six thousand congregation that;

“There are so many campaigns we are running concurrently, all because we are concentrated on spiritual issues…coming in, I found a brother who used his money to buy 10 bibles, King James Version. This bible was falsely translated; however, the original ones still exist. When he gave them to me, I checked to see if they bore the word “Holy Spirit”. This is something I’m able to notice by the Grace of God. I quickly opened one to Mathew 17: 21 which talks about the fasting and prayer we are engaged in. The texts were clear.”

Pr. Bugingo believes that what he regards as errors in these versions is the work of the devil who is twisting the minds of bible translators from the truth. Bugingo relentlessly remarks;

“Satan is trying to twist the minds of those that think they are learnt. No one is supposed to add or remove from the bible. In your English bible, it doesn’t have to be “Holy Ghost”, it has to be the “Holy Spirit”. We serve a God who is so far apart from the Kingdom of Satan. There is no word used by Satan, that is used by God.”

Of the Good News Bible which is a popular version used in many elementary and high schools in Uganda, the Ug Christian News quotes that pastor saying;

“They are very counterfeit. They miss countless scriptures. Where we have words like Homosexual, they change it to prostitution. My appeal goes out to all teachers, this bible has several omitted, and partially re-written scripture; over 200. Come and we sensitize you. Where God destroyed cities for sexual perversity acts like Homosexuality, they only mention prostitution. Those that printed these bibles are Homosexuals. They pretend to be giving out grants and funds. We are going to take it to media and explain what scriptures are missing from this bible.”

Was Pastor Bugingo right in burning bibles?

Since this incidence a week ago, hundreds of Christians have voiced their denunciation of Bugingo’s action. Ugandan clerics across the Mainline and Pentecostal churches including the Bible Society of Uganda have grossly condemned the burning of Bibles. Apostle Joseph Serwadda defends the use of the interchangeable terms Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit and attributes Bugingo’s action to either a limited academic credential or madness;

“What is left is to ask whoever has a differing opinion to put their academic and Bible Training credentials on the table. Short of this, you are dealing with and taking orders from a mad man” Dr. Serwadda.

The archbishop of the Anglican Church of Uganda, the Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali equally condemns the pastor’s action and calls for an apology from Bugingo. NBS Television reports that; “The Archbishop of the province of Uganda His grace Stanley Ntagali has rebuked House of Prayer Church Pastor Aloysius Bugingo for burning the King James Version Bible. Archbishop Ntagali has tasked Pastor Bugingo to apologize to the church because his actions are detrimental to world order, and non-recorded in the history of humanity” –NBS.

Billy Graham, a renowned conservative evangelist in the United States wouldn’t agree with the pastor’s action of burning Bibles referring to the Holy Spirit as Holy Ghost. While answering the question: What is the difference between the Holy Spirit and the Holy Ghost, the evangelist explains that the two words carry similar meanings. He explains,

The terms “Holy Spirit” and “Holy Ghost” mean exactly the same thing; both refer to the third Person of the Trinity (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit). The phrase “Holy Ghost” is simply an older term that dates back several hundred years, and is found in some old versions of the English Bible (such as the King James Version). Because the word “ghost” has a different meaning today than it did several hundred years ago, modern translations of the Bible always use “Holy Spirit” – Billy Graham.

I therefore join these reliable, learnt and faithful men of God in saying that pastor Aloysius Bugingo acted ignorantly by burning Bibles containing the word Holy Ghost in place of Holy Spirit.

A call for action

Bugingo’s burning of bibles reveals a lot that requires an action by the entire body of Christ. I forward to whoever it may concern the following points of action;

  1. Need for theological training. Soon after my high school, I joined a Bible school run by Africa Resource Ministries where I had the privilege to be trained in Christian Ministries alongside several Pentecostal pastors in Uganda. While at the Bible School (Lake Victoria Christian Center), I have seen several of the pastors from the Pentecostal churches who have been in ministry for years without any theological training. Theological training has and is regarded as a secular training by many Pentecostal churches in Uganda although this trend has changed. I believe a good theological training, well packed with syllabi in the two main biblical languages (Hebrew and Greek) will help men and women of God in a better understanding of the Scriptures.

It is also very important that theological training which is geared towards ministerial formation must embrace the spirituality of the theology students. One reason why theological training is sometimes regarded as secular training by these fellows is because often more emphasis is put on academics than spiritual formation. Discipleship should never be separated from theological training. Any student of theology training for pastoral work must be spiritually well mentored before being commissioned. Sometimes theology professors are unbelievers, others are terrible believers who don’t live the word. As such, students who graduate from their hands end up terrible believers than before they joined a theology class. Theological Seminaries whose soul goal is pastoral training must recruit Bible confessing professors to train bible confessing pastors of a good reputation.

Professor Lyon Phelps of Yale University one time commented; “I thoroughly believe in a university education…but I believe a knowledge of the Bible without a college course is more valuable than a college course without the Bible. Everyone who has a thorough knowledge of the Bible may truly be called educated.” A good theological training is therefore the best tool in fighting heresy.

  1. Bible societies must account for some of the so-called errors in these versions. Pastor Bugingo’s critique of some Bible versions has become popular because he went extra miles to get rid of these translations by burning them. Thousands of responses will be availed if one google search an explanation for missing verses in some bibles. Some of the responses utterly condemn these versions and asks Christians to shun them. Two years ago, I received a WhatsApp message (which I believe has widely circulated) condemning the New International Version of the English bible for missing a lot of verses and the newer versions trying to adopt general pronouns where the previous versions have used a masculine pronoun.

Several of such messages circulate in the social media every day and they often are very persuasive. On the contrary, sound explanations from bible houses or societies on these issues are not popular. As such, many Christians are in dilemma, confused and often not sure of which Bible versions to read. The bible societies or bodies responsible for publication or translation of bibles should give and make available convincing explanations for such missing verses and other related issues being raised. Am aware that many bible translations have got prefaces and footnotes where they explain some of these issues, but I must say that very few bible readers have made use of those notes in the prefaces and footnotes. Bible houses must develop a message that will circulate as easily as the other messages condemning these versions circulate. When people are kept in ignorance, they fall for any persuasions from men like Bugingo and something worse than Bugingo’s action may soon be witnessed.

I also ask that bible houses or societies and the church should help and protect the bible from being infiltrated by liberal theologians. Bugingo’s concern of certain verses being removed from the bible and or bible translation being influenced by certain ideologies that are otherwise shouldn’t be taken lightly. I have noted that earlier versions of the NIV bible (perhaps this is true with other versions) differ considerably from newer versions. For to me, there appear to be a growing influence of feminism in the newer versions of the NIV bible that if not checked, soon Christ or God might not be referred to as He. Responsible authorities must help us conserve some key absolutes in the bible from being watered down by liberal views. I am aware that languages are not static but the identity of God never changes; for “Jesus Christ (God) is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

  1. Pastors must be diligent in teaching and guiding their congregations. A church that does not prioritize teaching of the scriptures to her congregation is doomed. Believers who have a swallow understanding of the scriptures are easily blown into some of these pastor-centered congregations where the pastor and not the word of God is the final authority. I think the church in the sub-Saharan Africa where I am a pastor has not done enough to solidly ground their congregations into the word of God. Although I am skeptical of the saying that “Christianity in Africa is a thousand miles wide but only an inch deep,” it holds water in some specific contexts. We are focusing on being blessed and searching for blessings other than being rooted in the word of God. We are taken by several church projects and devote very little time to the study of God’s word. We must repent as pastors and begin to feed the flock such that they know the true Gospel.

About two years ago, my brother-in-law who wasn’t yet deeply rooted in the scriptures was using a bible published by the WatchTower of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Having noted this, I offered him a Gideon Bible and have kept the other in my book self. The last December, I was running a Youth Camp and I saw two young teenager girls in my small group carrying bibles of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Unfortunately, I had no extra copies of authentic bibles to replace those ones so I just made them to continue using them but told them in private that it is not a bible worth using. I believe there are some Christian sects (cults) who have their own translations to suite their own teachings. My careful study of the Jehovah’s Witnesses doctrine and version of their bible and that of the Church of the Later Days Saints commonly rereferred to as Mormons has made me count them as cults. I would ask pastors to be able to guide their congregation from using bibles of such cults.

  1. Christians must hold their pastors/leaders accountable. One of the biggest cancer eating up the church in Africa is that many of the pastors are like proprietors and CEOs who own ‘their church’ to the extent that they are not accountable to their congregation. Christians today must develop the Berean attitude. The congregation in Berea (Acts 17:11) was keen in following Paul’s teaching, “the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11). I am quite sure if this Berean congregation found any fault in Paul’s teaching they will either ask him to reform or quit.

How many congregations can do that to their pastors today? If we cannot hold our pastors or leaders in the church accountable, they will drive us in any direction they so wish being right or wrong. I believe if the congregation of Bugingo are able to make him accountable, they wouldn’t have surrendered their precious bibles to the fire at his word. I therefore argue that if you are joining a new congregation/church, first seek to read through her constitution and or similar documents to find out your roles and responsibilities as a member of the church. Where it is not there and or if it is there but doesn’t give you a chance to raise issues including challenging the actions of the spiritual leader, think twice before you become a member.

Conclusively, I must say that Bugingo acted weirdly in burning bibles. He should have guided his congregation on the versions of bibles which he prefers other than setting ablaze bibles whose initial translators suffered death to see that English speakers can read the bible in a language they understand. I received a WhatsApp message from a friend this morning giving the following facts on the very bible Bugingo seeks to eliminate;

In 1537, William Tyndale was burnt alive and called a heretic for assembling the New Testament and protecting it from Catholic dogmas. In 1371, John Wycliffe was persecuted for reading and defending the bible scriptures by the Catholic church, 41 years after his death he was exhumed and set on fire. In 1533, Marthin Luther of Whilterburg started the Protestant movement reading the same old bible with old English calling the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost).

The spirits of these men; William Tyndale, John Wycliffe and Martin Luther must be disturbed by Bugingo’s action. This ‘man of God’s’ (Bugingo’s) movement is no revival that will see the church grow as the Wesleyan and the East African Revival did, perhaps his action has desecrated the Word of God and made the church a laughingstock.

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Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are taken from the New International Version (NIV).


Rev. Julius Izza Tabi is a pastor in the Anglican Church of Uganda, Ma’di & West Nile Diocese. Julius served as an assistant Chaplain and lecturer at the Arua Campus of the Uganda Christin University. He is currently a candidate of Master of Philosophy in Religion, Society and Global Issues at Det Teologiske Menighetsfakultet alias the Norwegian School of Theology, in Oslo, Norway. For pastoral assistance you can email him or check how you can reach him here and you can also help to support this site by donating here.

2 Comments

  1. This was an interesting read. I agree with the recommendations you have. Theological education is critical in growing the church. I have recently wrote a book on impact of African Traditional worldviews on Bible interpretation. The book is not yet published. I was wondering if you could spare sometime and take a look at the book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Edmond. I am pleased for your positive comment and your work on African Traditional worldviews on Bible Interpretation. It must be an interesting manuscript. I am willing to look through only if you don’t need it urgently. I may take up to the mid of July to read through and give you a feed back. Is that fine with you? If it is, mail me the manuscript at tabijulius@gmail.com. Thank you.

      Like

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