The Great Schism and Emergence of CAC

Chapter 9

The Great Schism: The Divine Healing Controversy and the Emergence of Christ Apostolic Church, 1939-1943

 

By

 Samson  A. Fatokun

___________________________________________________

In 1939, there was a full blown controversy within The Apostolic Church Nigeria between some African leaders and the resident British missionaries[1]. This controversy, according to Ayegboyin and Ishola[2] and most writers, was on the subject of divine healing (interpreted by The Apostolic Church African leaders as healing without the use of medicine). This started   as a result of the use of quinine by the resident missionaries which the Africans sternly opposed on the grounds that it was against their doctrinal stance on divine healing. This controversy eventually led to the breaking away of a faction group from The Apostolic Church to found what is known today as Christ Apostolic Church (CAC).

It is however pertinent to state at this juncture that T.N. Turnbull’s position that it was some African leaders’ agitation for acceptance of polygamy (polygny) into the church that caused CAC’s break-away[3] is fallacious as it lacks strong historical evidence. Christ Apostolic Church was never a polygamists’ church. Christ Apostolic Church retains the doctrinal purity contained in the ‘Fundamental Beliefs’ of The Apostolic Church from where she broke away,  as will be seen in the next chapter. Like The Apostolic Church, Christ Apostolic Church by way of doctrinal principle,  in her history since the separation, does not allow ordination of polygamists (polygynists) into church offices, neither does she accept such men  into full communion.   T.N. Turnbull, must have confused CAC’s  break-way history with those of two other churches that broke away from The Apostolic Church in the old Eastern Nigeria at almost the same time.   It was ‘Apostolic Christian Church Mission’ (A.C.C.M.)  led by   Pastors Joseph A. Anyahuru and Jacob Nwanke (who were equally ordained apostles) in Igboland[4],  and ‘African Apostolic Mission Church (A.A.M.C.)’ – led by two indigenous elders (Elders Udo Udo Akpan and Moses Ankoh) at Ikot Ekpene, in the present Akwa Ibom State, that broke away from The Apostolic Church Nigeria on  polygamy (polygyny) and other related issues[5].  That CAC abhors polygamy is confirmed by the discipline measured out in her earliest history to one of her leading evangelists, Pastor Durojaiye – found guilty of polygamy (polygyny), which led to the latter’s breaking away from CAC to form ‘Blood of Jesus Calvary Apostolic Church with headquarters in Ibadan. Hence, divine healing controversy remains the immediate cause for the 1939/1940 schism that led to the formation of Christ Apostolic Church.

Backgrounds to the Divine Healing Controversy

While the divine healing controversy was generally believed to be the reason for the split within The Apostolic Church in Nigeria, Pastor S.G. Adegboyega (an eye-witness and one of the seven leading African Apostles at time of the controversy) however reveals that divine healing controversy was only used as a cover up. That there were already built up bitterness against the resident European missionaries who consequent upon their arrival, took over the spiritual leadership and administration of the church from the indigenous founding fathers – who were subjected to acting under their superintendentship.  One of the remote causes of the controversy, according to him, was a reaction to a charge of misappropriation of funds levelled against Pastor D.O. Odubanjo (the leading African apostle) by the resident British missionary of T.A.C. Nigeria, Pastor George Perfect[6].     The former queried the latter on the double claims from Missionary Fund, which resulted into sharp exchanges of correspondences between the two them:

There was an occasion when Late Pastors Odubanjo and Perfect, in obedience to the Spoken Word of the Lord through Prophetical (prophetic) Ministry were sent to tour the interior Districts of Ilesha Area. The transport fares were paid through Late Pastor George Perfect. They travelled by road. On their return, Late Pastor Perfect read the usual Monthly Statement of Accounts of Missionary Fund and Tenth of the Tithes Funds circularised by Elder S.A. Sole, the then General Treasurer of the Nigerian General Council. This monthly statement of Accounts were always prepared by Elder S.A. Sole and typewritten, duplicated by Pastor I.G. Sakpo, the then Nigerian General Council Stenographer Secretary Typist. Late Pastor Perfect

 

discovered from one of the monthly statement of Accounts that Late Pastor D.O. Odubanjo had claimed his transport fares to Ikare in Ilesha Area two times. He (Pastor Perfect) then queried the Treasurer who replied that he paid out the money as part of claim made by Pastor D.O. Odubanjo. Late Pastor Perfect then wanted to know from Late Pastor Odubanjo for claiming the money the second time after he had been paid the amount by him when they travelled together. The amount in question which was claimed two times was One Pound Five Shillings (£1.5s). This greatly annoyed Late Pastor D.O. Odubanjo and there were sharp exchanges of correspondences between them on the matter[7].

The meeting of Pastor George Perfect and Pastor Odubanjo later at Perfect’s residence for further discussion on the matter precipitated: As narrated further by Adegboyega:

When Late Pastor Odubanjo visited Late Pastor Perfect in his 132 Clifford Street residence at Yaba, the discussion was so explosive that if they both were Africans, they would have exchanged blows. It was then that Late Pastor Odubanjo told Late Pastor Perfect, “I BROUGHT YOU TO NIGERIA AND YOU ARE NOW KICKING AGAINST ME. I WILL SEE TO IT THAT YOU ARE TAKEN OUT OF THE COUNTRY. etc. To this statement, Late Pastor Perfect retorted “IT IS TRUE THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE BEEN INSTRUMENTAL IN BRINGING US TO NIGERIA, BUT IT WAS GOD WHO BROUGHT US AND IT IS NOT GOOD FOR YOU TO LORD OVER GOD’S HERITAGE. I AM ONLY ASKING FOR HONESTY IN DEALING WITH GOD’S MONEY. etc.[8]

The matter was transferred to the Joint Lagos and Ebute-Metta Assemblies Presbytery of the church (the administrative governing body of the church) for necessary investigation. However, after much debates and violent exchange of words between the duo, it was finally resolved that the said amount be written off.

It is pertinent to clarify at this juncture that, from available sources gathered in the course of this research, Pastor Odubanjo was a man of proven integrity, a very dedicated and committed servant of God right from the formative years of the church (1918 hitherto). There is no record in history of any previous charge of financial misappropriation of church funds with him. The allegation of Pastor George Perfect that he made double claim for his journey could have been better resolved if Pastor Odubanjo had humbly explained what he used the previous money collected for. But owing to the bottled up ill feeling he developed against the resident European missionaries, he counted it an insult for the white man whom he invited to assist the church to now be lording it over him, querying him on how he spent the money of the church that had been in existence before the arrival of European missionaries.

Evidently, what Pastor Odubanjo seemed to be reacting against is what could be called ‘Ecclesiastical Colonialism’ or ‘Colonised Pentecostalism in an African instituted church’? Consequent upon affiliation in 1931 and the subsequent arrival of resident European missionaries in 1932 till the creation of administrative  ‘Centres’ and ‘Areas’ in 1933 and 1936 respectively, the administration of TAC in Nigeria was taken over by the resident European missionaries, while the African leaders worked under their supervision. For instance, at the creation of Areas in 1936, the policy  of TAC International Missionary Committee in Bradford, which upgraded  the ‘Centres’  into  ‘Areas’ status, was that each Area was to be administered by a European Missionary Superintendent who was to be resident at the Area headquarters; they were in turn to be supported by other European resident  missionaries  who were to be in- charge of specific Districts, to supervise the labours of native pastors and leaders – who were to be in charge of the numerous assemblies within the Districts[9].

It would be recalled that Pastor Odubanjo, as the able Missionary Correspondent of the indigenous Pentecostal movement right from the Precious Stone Society’s days, was the brain behind the invitation of TAC delegates in 1931 and the subsequent request for Resident Missionaries from  TAC Great Britain for the expansion of The Apostolic Church in Nigeria consequent upon affiliation. As a typical African church leader, Odubanjo would consider a great insult, an European whom he invited to come over to help now to turn around and treat him as a subject, just as a typical European would equally consider an abomination to European cultural imperialism for a white man to take instructions from a black man. Thus, one can say that the phase-off between George Perfect and Odubanjo was more of personality clash generated by superiority complex, which Sadare had handled cleverly in the previous chapter.

Earlier in 1937, as a measure against the resident European missionaries’ assumption of leadership of the church over the indigenous founding fathers, Pastor Odubanjo had, as alleged by Adegboyega, made a move to stop sponsoring the resident missionaries from the Missionary Fund so that the funds could be well utilized for the welfare of the African ministers and their children’s education:

 

 

Pastor Odubanjo wrote to our General Treasurer, demanding from him a compilation of the total offerings collected towards Missionary Fund for the past five years that The Apostolic Church missionaries had been in Nigeria. He was supplied with the figure which amounted to over £5,000 at that time. On seeing the figure, Late Pastor Odubanjo changed his mind. He revealed his mind that, apart from going to attend the Council Meeting in the United Kingdom to fight for the cause of establishing educational institutions, he would plead with them in the Council not to interfere again with Missionary Funds, and that the Missionary Committee in Bradford should be wholly and solely responsible for the European missionaries in Nigeria henceforth; that the Missionary Fund should be diverted and utilized for the maintenance of African ministers of the church and the education of their children. When it was considered that the purpose of going to the United Kingdom by Late Pastor D.O. Odubanjo was to ask for the discontinuation of the Missionary Fund from being spent for the up-keep of the European missionaries in our midst, contrary to our agreed policy with the Authorities of The Apostolic Church in Great Britain, we seriously objected to give him mandate for such demands on our behalf.[10]

 

Similarly in 1938, there was another move by Pastor Odubanjo against the resident European missionaries of The Apostolic Church in Nigeria. As reported by Adegboyega:

After sometime in the year 1938, Late Pastor D.O. Odubanjo both in correspondence and by personal visits contacted the leading ministers in the country with his plan to ask the European missionaries to leave Nigeria because of inability of Africans to bear the burden of financing them. He made several copies of the missionary offering collected for the period of five years that the missionaries had been in our midst and forwarded the same to the African ministers and workers to convince them that, if the European missionaries left us, the money would be sufficient to maintain African ministers to meet their personal emoluments which would be covered and raised higher than what were obtainable in the country at that time. The appeal did not receive warm reception by the ministers and workers concerned. In fact, most of the ministers at that time were civil servants like myself.[11]

 

The above two moves by Pastor Odubanjo, critically examined, were on the surface level aimed at improving the welfare of African ministers, which of course should have been a welcomed idea.  But intrinsically considered, this would be at the expense of sending away the resident missionaries which four of the seven pioneer African leaders (Babatope, Mensah, Macaulay and Adeboyega) considered as unethical – amounting to use and dump treatment of their benefactors. That the primary agenda of Pastor Odubanjo was to drive away the resident European missionaries of The Apostolic Church from Nigeria at all costs is reflected in what follows thereafter:

When these attempts did not succeed, the stand of the European missionaries in our midst without the use of medicine was raised up. Late Pastor Odubanjo propagated and accused the European missionaries in our midst for medicine, principally Late Pastor George Perfect. This arose from certain views expressed by Late Pastor Perfect in mutual discussion with Pastor Odubanjo on the matter…[12]

 

The Beginning of the Divine Healing Controversy

 

The above sited and other related cases later precipitated into a full blown misunderstanding between some African leaders and the resident British missionaries in what is popularly known on the surface level as ‘Divine Healing Controversy’ in which some African leaders accused the European missionaries of using quinine as against the doctrine of divine healing the Africans believed in before their arrival. The agitation of the African group in the protest was a call on all other Africans to send away the resident European missionaries who had taken over the church from the blacks. It is however to be noted that the later subject of accusation was not something strange. As noted by Adegboyega:

 

Before 1936, there had been rumours in the church that the European missionaries in their midst were not faithful to the doctrine of Divine Healing. The European missionaries themselves did not hide the fact that they took quinine to prevent malaria in a mosquito infected area[13].

 

In 1938, Pastor Odubanjo, consequent upon his personal clash with Pastor George Perfect, propagated and accused the European missionaries of using medicine[14]. A battle line was drawn between Pastor Odubanjo and Pastor George Perfect as Odubanjo directed his accusing fingers personally at George Perfect[15].  Pastor Perfect admitted but explained that he was using quinine as food supplement against malaria fever attack, and not as drug, just in a way Africans themselves would use preventive means like heavy raincoat, heavy over coast,   heavy woolen suit, and in-take of hot beverages to keep their body warm to protect themselves against attacks of cold weather if they travelled to the United Kingdom[16]. While some Africans reasoned with Pastor Perfect and became sympathetic with the European condition in Africa, others protested: He

 

has admitted using medicine because quinine is medicine, therefore all European missionaries must go, we don’t want European missionaries anymore[17].

 

Pastor George Perfect’s Position on the Doctrine of Divine Healing

A great controversy ensued in the church on this subject which hitherto had been very vital in the doctrinal stance and practice of African leaders and members of The Apostolic Church.

Pastor George Perfect was called upon by the Joint Presbytery of Lagos and Ebute-Metta Assemblies to defence the allegation and make his positon known on the doctrine of Divine Healing. At a meeting he had with the Presbytery at his residence (132 Clifford Street, Yaba, Lagos), parked full with African leaders in Lagos, he made the following assertions:

  1. That it was wrong to say that doctors and medicines were bad and evil in themselves;
  2. That it depended on how people made use of them;
  • That it was not wrong for people to use anything natural which might be termed drugs or medicines, to protect themselves from being sick;
  1. On the other hand, he stressed the importance of non-use of medicine when sick.[18]

Pastor Perfect’s defence raised a great protest from African leaders of the church. Both sides engaged in a strong debate with quotations from the Bible. As expressed by S.G. Adegboyega (who was present at the meeting):

 

To be candid, the whole house was in angry mood. The matter was lengthily discussed with citations from biblical quotations because every elder in the house had been requested to bring his Bible to that day’s meeting. Several points were discussed. Late Pastor Perfect’s statements were so logical, scientific, philosophical and controversial that he was asked to go and reproduce them for us to study, and then to meet afterwards for further debate. He agreed to do so. Within a week’s time, he submitted the statement in writing to us.[19]

 

A Sub-Committee was subsequently constituted by the Nigerian General Council to assess his position and come up with a reply. Members of this committee included Pastors Odubanjo (the leading African Apostle), J.A. Babatope, I.B. Akinyele,  S.A. Mensah, S.G. Adegboyega, J.O. Sanya, J.S. Sonaiya, and Elder J.L. Ajayi.[20]

Pastor George Perfect’s written statement on the subject of divine healing appeared under two main headings, namely: i) Wrong Teachings, and ii) The doctrine of divine Healing as Taught in the Scriptures. Under the heading ‘Wrong Teachings’, Pastor Perfect accused the African leaders of teaching the people that:

  1. i) That doctors and medicines were bad and evil in themselves;
  2. ii) That to remain at the centre of God’s will gives immunity from sickness;

iii)     That there is divine protection from sickness without the use of any   means.

 

To these three charges the African leaders reacted:

  1. That doctors and medicines were not wicked in themselves but good for those who were in the world. However that the use of them by believers was unscriptural as God was able to heal without the use of medicine.
  2. That there was no such teaching that remaining at centre of God’s will gives immunity from sickness.
  • That truly they (African leaders) taught the people that God was able to protect them from evils, dangers, accidents, sicknesses, and diseases without going to witches, wizards, soothsayers, physicians and fetish priests for charms, juju, and any other devilish and idolatrous means for protection. That they consequently taught the people to have faith in the meritorious Name of Jesus Christ and His atoning Blood, shed on Calvary’s Cross for divine protection from sickness and other evils through prayers to God and confidence in His mighty power[21].

 

TACN African Leaders’ Letter to Great Britain and the  International Missionary Committee’s Response to the Divine Healing Controversy

 

On 3 August 1938, immediately after the National Convention held in Lagos,  a letter was written by the African leaders (ably represented by a Sub-Committee set up to look into the matter) to the International Missionary Committee of The Apostolic Church in Bradford, the United Kingdom. Below is a copy of the letter[22]:

 

THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH

P.O BOX 32,

EBUTE-METTA

NIGERIA.

3rd August, 1938.

The Missionary Committee,

The Apostolic Church,

Bradford, England,

Thru:

Pastor George Perfect,

President, Apostolic Church, Nigeria.

 

Dear & Beloved Brethren,

 

Greetings in Jesus’ precious name!

 

Circumstances have recently arisen which have made pastor George Perfect, the President of The Apostolic Church in Nigeria to issue statement herewith enclosed together with the committee of the Leaders in the Five Areas of the Field here. The statement was first made to the Elders of Lagos and Ebute-Metta in writing for verbal discussion in one of their official meetings, but disagreement was the outcome of the meeting on this question of Divine protection and some other points; and the only decision of reached was that the Elders of Lagos and Ebute-Metta should go and make their own comments in writing as done by Pastor George Perfect so as to be able to meet and compare their views together and Pastor Gorge Perfect said that a believer on the Lord Jesus could use medicine, drugs and other human remedy as protection from being sick, and he was informed that the statement was weak and absurd and scripturally groundless. He was told on the spot that in view of the definite disagreement on this question, it would be necessary to know the minds of other European Brethren in the Field. As this question has been causing much unrest and anxiety in our midst, and the amount of confidence in one another was very little, due to suspicion. He (pastor Perfect) consented that they could write to them (Other White Missionaries in Nigeria & Gold Coast) to know their minds and he himself (Perfect) would write them a circular letter so that they might give them (Lagos & Ebute-Metta Elders) immediately reply. It was further made known to him on the spot that his statement with their own comments would be sent to important Centres for the information and action of our people outside Lagos, he also consented to this.

 

In concurrence with the above, they wrote and sent out both statement to both European and African Leaders in the Country for their perusal and comments, and also to the European and African Missionaries in Gold Coast. They have received replies from European brethren, all falling in view with Pastor Perfect, but Pastor Vaughan and Kay have not replied up till time of writing. Pastor McKeon states that he does not consider it necessary to forward this statement to them though he has got it ready; but the African Leaders in the Country and on the Gold Coast are unanimous with Lagos & Ebute-Metta Elders, hence this is to you.

 

Pastor Perfect was also asked to keep you and the other Missionaries in the Homeland informed of the situation and he has assured us that same had been complied with. We would humbly state that the following points should be given serious consideration when the subject is being decided:

  • That the use of medicine, drugs, quinine or other human remedy, either for protection or healing of the body in this country will only lead people back to idolatry and will absolutely remove their confidence and trust in Christ as Saviour and Healer.
  • That if medicine, drugs, quinine or other human remedy are used either by European or African Leader, the teaching of absolute trusting in the atoning Blood of Our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ will be weakened, and such a leader will be regarded as hypocrite or a sayer and not a doer, and that will mean placing an axe to the root of the doctrine of Divine Healing
  • That this practice of going back to idolatry is prevalent in West Africa with the denominational Churches where converts have been allowed free use of medicines, drugs, quinine and other human remedy, either for protection or healing of the body, with the result that they have become disgusted with Christianity as if there is no virtue therein and the power in the Blood is trifled and nullified.
  • That if Faith is once assassinated by bad example of the leaders, it is impossible, humanly speaking, to resuscitate it.
  • That Denial of Divine protection will only send our people back to idols and witch doctors, etc., and it is our common experience here that fetish priests and witch doctors have both good and bad medicine.
  • That it is understood, however, in case of serious sickness, that a doctor may be called in for examination of the patient in compliance with the law of the country but this does not sanction the use of medicine, etc. by such a patient and should be done, in the first instance in consultation with the Elders.

We had met with European Missionaries, Pastor Perfect, Welling and Elton, who were at the Lagos Convention on 29/7/38 and faced them with these facts with definite promise that a letter would be sent through the president to the Missionary Committee in England. They stated in reply that the Church in the Homeland have no definite declaration on the subject as yet, and their views are only personal and whatever decision is reached by you, they will abide by.

 

In view of the foregoing, the Presbytery in the country had held several meetings together and arrived at the Resolution herewith enclosed for your careful perusal, consideration and impartial judgement. We have to inform you that a copy each of this letter and the Resolution is being forwarded to each of the European Missionaries in our midst in Nigeria, for their information.

 

We are anxiously waiting to hear from you soon, and please reply to:

The Secretary,

Pastor J.O Sanya

P.O BOX 32,

Ebute-Metta, Nigeria. W.A

Yours by His Wonderful Grace,

(sgd) J.O Sanya

Secretary.

For and on behalf of The Apostolic Church, Nigeria.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below is the Resolution passed by the African leaders of The Apostolic Church Nigeria at their meeting dated 25-28 July 1938:

 

“RESOLUTION PASSED AT A SPECIAL CONFERENCE OF ALL PASTORS, ELDERS, AND REPRESENTATIVES OF THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH IN NIGERIA, CONVENED AT THE LAGOS CHAPEL, COMMENCING FROM THE 25TH TO THE 28TH OF JULY 1938, IN WHICH 40 MEMBERS WERE PRESENT WITH A VOTE OF THE 40 AS A WHOLE”[23]

 

  • THAT any European Missionary of The Apostolic Church who by sacrifice, has already been here in West Africa, or is coming out to West Africa, should by the Grace of God, be able as God’s Spirit-Filled Believer by Faith in the Atoning Work of Grace through the Blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, to adapt himself or herself to the standard of Teaching of Divine Healing as taught and practised in the Church, without the use of Drugs, Medicines, and quinine, either for protection or for Healing of the body under any circumstances, whatsoever.

 

  • THAT any such European Missionary should not under any circumstance, teach or advise any Member of the Church or inquire contrary to Mark 16:17, 18 and James 5:14 to 16

 

Below also is the letter written by Pastor George Perfect to the International Missionary Secretary of TAC in Bradford, dated 3o September, 1938 (in which he enclosed the above resolutions of the African leaders of TAC in Nigeria):

 

P.O Box 32

Ebute-Metta, Nigeria

West Africa,

30th September, 1938.

The Missionary Secretary,

The Apostolic Church,

Great Horton Road,

Bradford, England.

 

Dear Brother,

 

I am enclosing for the consideration of the Missionary Committee a letter from the African Leaders of the Church in Nigeria on the subject of Divine Healing. Also the documents accompanying the letter and referred to in it.

In view of the fact that my time for returning home to England is near at hand, I suggest (as I have before mentioned in my letters to you) that the committee and the church at home should not come to any final decision on the points put forward in the enclosed letter until I have been given an opportunity of discussing them with the Committee. And in view of this suggestion of mine, I refrain from now making any lengthy observations on the enclosed letter and the Resolution accompanying it.

I feel very strongly that the letter and resolution need considering in the light of existing circumstances in this country, and that my knowledge of those circumstances will be of help to the Committee and the Apostles at home. It will be noticed that the letter speaks much of danger of our members going back to idolatry in connection with questions of healing and protection. The brethren at home, not aware of the actual conditions here, may not see much in this point, but to us here it is a very real danger. My knowledge and appreciation of this danger make me ask that the matter shall wait for my return home whatever may be the decision of the Home Church on these questions, it will be good that our African brethren shall be able to feel that their own point of view has had full and proper consideration. The ideal thing, of course, would be that some of the African brethren should be with us in Council in England when a final decision is arrived at, but I do not know how far that can be regarded as feasible.

Will you please after the committee have given a preliminary consideration of the letter, send the committee’s acknowledgement and remarks to Pastor Sanya, with a copy to either Pastor Rosser or myself. I am furnishing Pastor Sanya with a copy of this letter for his information.

The Lord bless you with His grace and peace.

Yours in the Lord Jesus,

(Sgd)

George Perfect”

 

In a reply, signed by the Secretary of TAC International Missionary Committee in Bradford, Pastor C.B. Sercombe,  dated 28 June 1939,  the followings point were made: While commending the Nigerian church on their stand on the doctrine of Divine healing, they alleged that as Matthew  18: 15-1 teaches that any erring brother should be called and be told his fault, rather than doing this, Pastor S.G Adegboyega’s counterparts in the Nigerian church would be silence before the Europeans and be vocal behind them. That besides, The Apostolic Church in the United Kingdom was not against Divine Healing and did not prevent the Nigerian church from the same. That the gift of healing which is one of the ‘Nine Gifts of the Holy Ghost’ (a Fundamental Doctrine of the Church) establishes their faith in the same. That ‘Tenet No.12’ which expressly confirms the church’s faith in ‘Divine Healing’ was later added to the Tenets of the church in Nigeria with definite approval of the church Council in the United Kingdom as distinct from its implication in Tenet No. 6 which refers to the Nine Gifts of the Holy Ghost[24]. The reply of the International Missionary Committee’s Secretary is presented below:

 

 

 

To the

AFRICAN PASTORS of

THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH

In WEST AFRICA.

Dear Brethren,

Greetings !

It is incumbent upon us to apologise for the long delay in sending our official reply to your communication of the 3rd August, 1938. You will, however, realise that this is by no means an indication that we have sought to postpone our statement upon the question of healing. Rather has it been our desire to place our reply before the Council of Apostles when meeting in February last, and to seek the Mind of the Lord relative to our findings upon this vital matter.

As a Council, we desire to commend you for your faith and implicit trust in God as the Healer Divine, and to exhort you to continue therein, believing such to be well pleasing in the sight of God. There can be no doubting the fact that this question has become one of extreme importance to our fellow-believers in Africa, and as such we have endeavoured to view the whole matter from the standpoint not only of the African Leaders, but also the highest scriptural teaching. We believe that you have the spiritual welfare of the people at heart, and, realising the importance of our reply, we cannot be too careful in the wording of our united findings.

We have studied with keen interest your comprehensive statement, together with the six points and resolution, and before replying categorically, we ask you to give careful consideration to the following observations.

We are convinced that in principle we are in full agreement with our African Brethren in their declared stand for the truth of Divine Healing, but we are not in agreement with their attitude towards those who fail to seek the Lord for healing of having done so do not experience healing and, because of this, turn to use of medicines, drugs, quinine or other remedies.

There can be no questioning the fact that the highest standard for the believer in Christ is that of the abundant life spoken of by Christ, which goes even beyond the question of Divine Healing, and were this aspect of truth given greater prominence, much of the present difficulty regarding sickness would cease to exist. We must face the fact, however, that many God’s people are subject to sickness and many are the problems confronting us as a result. In this we feel that our African Brethren will readily agree, and it is in the spirit of Christ that we are seeking to reach full accord in both precept and practice.

It is the inestimable privilege of every believer in Christ to claim deliverance from sickness should he be thus stricken, and there is not only absolute power in God to heal but also absolute provision for it in the redemption purchased by Christ to restore such an and one without recourse to any human aid whatever. But we feel that to adopt an intolerant attitude to those unable to rise to the highest course, or to those who are not healed, must be discouraged and discontinued. Thus it has ever been our endeavour to preach the highest standard of truth in regard to Divine Healing but to permit liberty of action to all.

We wish also to call your attention to the question of constitutional differences in the human race in differing climates.

It is acknowledged that those living in extremes of climate are specially endowed by nature with power to resist diseases which are prevalent in their particular climate. There is therefore a greater inherent tendency to sickness for those travelling to different climates, whether polar or tropical. Whilst admitting that God is able to keep in good health or heal sickness in all climates, it is obvious that it is a much greater test of faith for Europeans visiting tropical climates when they know of the great risks, than for African living in Africa. Therefore it becomes a matter of personal responsibility as to whether some means should or should not be adopted to assist the body to counteract the diseases to which it becomes specially subjected as the result of living in a climate to which it is not naturally  accustomed. This being a matter for individual choice, the responsibility for that choice must be between the individual and God.

In view of the foregoing, we now propose categorically to answer your six points and resolution.

  • THAT the use of medicines, drugs, quinine or any other human remedy, either for protection or healing of the body in this country will lead our people back to idolatry and will absolutely remove their confidence and trust in Christ as Saviour and healer.

It is difficult for the European to appreciate the full import of this statement, but we are fully prepared to view such from the African standpoint. Hence we would stress the necessity of preaching the highest standard of Divine Healing without the use of any human means whatever for both the healing and protection of the body. Such teaching together with the declaration of every truth will certainly stimulate confidence in the African people and establish them in the “faith once delivered to the saints”, thus preserving them from returning to idolatry.

 

We would point out, however, that we cannot condone the enforcing of such a standard upon anyone, but would exhort the leaders to manifest the spirit of compassion and forbearance.

 

  • THAT if medicines, drugs, quinine or other human remedy are used by European or African Leader, the teaching of absolutely trusting in the atoning blood of our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ will be weakened, and such a Leader will be regarded as a hypocrite or a sayer and not a doer, and that will mean placing an axe to the root of the doctrine of Divine Healing.

 

We respectfully suggest to our African brethren that they do not thoroughly appreciate the God-given different physical constitutions as between Europeans and Africans in connection with the differing climates, yet we fully appreciate the possibility of Faith being weakened when a Leader fails to adhere to or practise the high standard taught, but we cannot believe that faith would be destroyed by failure to rise to the high standard, nor can we conclude that such a one by termed a hypocrite, for no one admitting the high standard and yet confessing inability to reach that standard ought to be designated a “sayer and not a doer”

 

We believe that every Leader called of God to shepherd the flock will give due diligence to preserving those committed to his charge, and when endeavour to avoid anything that tends to cause his brother to stumble. Such an attitude would never place an axe to the root of the teaching of Divine Healing.

 

  • THAT this practice of going back to idolatry is prevalent in West Africa with the denominational churches whose converts have been allowed free use of medicine,

 

drugs, quinine and other human remedies either for protection or healing of the body, with the result that they have become disgusted with Christianity as if there were no virtue therein and the power of the blood is trifled and nullified.

 

We very much regret to hear that the practice of going back to idolatry is prevalent in West Africa through the free use of medicines and we would like to say that we can quite understand the fear of our brethren knowing that medicines in Africa have been associated with witchcraft.

 

If, however, we as a Church teach and encourage the truth of Divine Healing there should be no occasion for disgust with Christianity as far as this practice is concerned, or a possibility of nullifying the Blood of Christ.

 

  • THAT if faith is once assassinated by bad example of the leaders, it is impossible, humanly speaking, to resuscitate it.

We are in absolute agreement that where the Leaders do not live up to the standard which they preach and because of this, faith is assassinated among the flock, it is, humanly speaking, impossible to resuscitate it. Therefore all our missionaries sent into your midst have been interviewed before being sent out, especially on the question of Divine Healing.

 

  • THAT denial of divine protection will only send our people back to idols and witch doctors etc., and it is our common experience here that fetish priests and witch doctors have both good and bad medicines.

The term “Divine Protection” appears to be employed in direct opposition to protection by human means and renders it difficult to distinguish from Divine Healing and Divine Health. Your experience of the danger of encouraging a return to fetish  priests and witch doctors could be counteracted by a teaching consistent with the positive aspect of the truth.

 

  • THAT it is understood, however, in case of serious sickness, that a doctor may be called in for examination of the patient in compliance with the law of the country but this does not sanction the use of medicine etc., by such a patient and should be done, in the first instance, in consultation with the Elders.

We endorse your suggestion that in the case of serious sickness a doctor may be called in either by the person himself or others responsible for him, but we point out

that this question of calling in a doctor of the taking of medicine is purely a personal matter and every individual must have the prerogative to use his own discretion.

After going carefully into your Resolution Nos. 1 and 2, and in the light of our answers to your six points, we submit to you our resolutions as follows:

 

  1. THAT Divine Healing is only one of the many aspects of the truth of the Gospel of Christ for which we as a Church are taking a definite stand in these days of apostasy.
  2. THAT no aspect of truth must be emphasised by us to the exclusion or detriment of others equally as important in their location.
  3. THAT all European Missionaries of The Apostolic Church proceeding to West Africa, or any other country, should by the grace of God so live as to prove themselves sound in doctrine and practice on all the fundamental principles including Divine Healing
  4. THAT as a Council in this country we appeal with all earnestness to our African brethren with whom God has brought us into contact in these last few years, that together, as those who have received the Vision of the Church, through whom God is going to make known His manifold wisdom, we should endeavour to keep the unity of the spirit in the bonds of peace and thus cooperate with God to bring about His divine purposes.

All the saints salute you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen! (II Cor. Xiii: 13-14).

 

Yours on behalf of the

MISSIONARY COMMITTEE

(Sgd)

C.B. Sercombe

Secretary

A.C.M.M

 

In all, the International Missionaries Committee members in Bradford, U.K. made it clear that they were in perfect agreement with the Africans’ stance on the doctrine of divine healing but not in support of enforcing discipline on those who were weak to trust God for healing without the use of medicine. While supporting the use of preventive means like quinine from malaria attack due to heat and other climatic conditions in Africa, they agreed to instruct European missionaries willing to come to work in Nigeria not to use medicine of any kind nor teach others to do so while they were in Nigeria:  that the European missionaries would be obliged to be faithful in principle and practice to the doctrine of divine healing[25].

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Africans’ Reactions to TAC International Missionary Committee’s Response

At the receipt of the reply from Bradford, there was division between Lagos Assembly headed by Pastor Odubanjo and  Ebute-Metta Assembly headed by Pastor Adegboyega (as African leaders). While, according to Adegboyega:

 

We leaders of Ebute-Metta Assembly unanimously agreed to be loyal to The Apostolic Church’s  vision in the country whatever happened,  because the Missionary Committee in Bradford did not oppose our stated convictions in respect of European missionaries resident in our midst. And we did so in obedience to the revealed will of the Lord through prophetic ministry[26].

 

The Lagos Assembly, headed by Pastor Odubanjo, on the hand, insisted that the European missionaries must go.

Split Within The Apostolic Church Nigeria and the Emergence of Christ Apostolic Church

 

The controversy became stronger during the tenure of Pastor C.H.G. Rosser who succeeded Pastor George Perfect in 1939. On 18 February 1930, Pastor D.O. Odubanjo called a combined service at Lagos Assembly on the decision that the European missionaries must leave because they were using medicine. All efforts to resolve the dispute proved abortive. The unity of the church was badly affected by the controversy:

 

In February, 1940, Lagos section broke away from the Apostolic Church to become the United Apostolic Church. The name U.A.C (United African Company) was a popular long-standing Mercantile name in Nigeria. Therefore, the break-away faction finally adopted the name “Christ Apostolic Church” (C.A.C) in 1942. [27]

 

The year 1940’s split is further confirmed by the General headquarters of Christ Apostolic Church’s official website:

On February 18, 1940, there was a split within The Apostolic Church at this location after a sermon delivered by Pastor D.O. Odubanjo on the efficacy of divine healing and later subsidiary issues. It was a split between those loyal to the white missionaries and some Nigerian ministers[28].

 

Thus, by 1940, the faction group led by Pastors Odubanjo and Akinyele had finally broken away from The Apostolic Church to form an independent church. As a vast number of people and assemblies broke away with the faction group, the future appeared gloomy for the few that remained:

The vast majority of the Assemblies in Lagos left, leaving only 42 Cemetery Street, Ebute-Metta and Ipaja in Agege. Most members from these two Assemblies even left the church.

… Among the remnants left at Ebute-Metta Assembly in 1940 were Late Apostle J.S Sonaiya, Prophet I.G Sakpo, Late Pastor J.E Macarthy, G.S.O. Leigh and E.A.J Soyanwo as well as other able Leaders.

…  In Ijebu District, only Ikenne Assembly under Late Elder Paul Awolowo was loyal to The Apostolic Church. In Abeokuta District, only Ijemo Agbadu Assembly under Late Pastor Fatoyinbo remained loyal to The Apostolic Church. In Ilesha Area, only Ilesha District Assemblies under Late Pastor J.A Babatope of Oke-Ooye did not secede from The Apostolic Church at that time. Others who did not follow the breakaway faction were, Kaduna Assembly under Pastor S.F Odunaike, Zaria Assembly under Late Pastor E.G.L Macaulay, Jos Assembly under Late Pastor J.A Adebogun.

…The Eastern part of the country under Late Pastor J.U Udom, E.O Ene, E.E. Okon, Henshaws, Ekpeyongs and Akpabios were loyal to The Apostolic Church together with their people[29].

 

The faction group reportedly branded the Ebute-Metta Assembly and few assemblies in other places who supported the resident European missionaries of The Apostolic Church as  ‘juju people, medical people,  European bigots’. They branded The Apostolic Church in Nigeria: ‘Medical Apostolic Church (Yoruba –Ijo Aposteli Oloogun)’, ‘European Apostolic Church’, ‘British Apostolic Church’, and the likes. They further threatened Pastors Adegboyega and   I.G. Sakpo – the leading African Prophet, that (as expressed in the words of  Adegboyega): “I would be preaching to empty pews and that Pastor I.G. Sakpo would be prophesying to the air”[30]. There was however a prophecy which countered this mockery and strengthened the faithful remnant: ‘If you will remain in my will, as you see them growing larger and larger, so you will grow stronger and stronger, united, strong in the things Divine and Multiply in number…’[31]

 

As early as 1939, in the midst of the controversy,  Ibadan District led by Late Pastor I.B Akinyele[32], J.B Odusona[33] and A.A Hanson, had pulled out of The Apostolic Church  and adopted the name ‘Nigerian Apostolic Church’[34]. In 1940, the two groups – Lagos and Ibadan (under Akinyele and Odubanjo respectively), assumed the name ‘Nigerian Apostolic Church’ (which was queried by their followers from Ghana and the Republic of Benin). Consequent upon this, the name was later changed to ‘United Apostolic Church’. This was again problematic on the grounds that  its  acronym, U.A.C.,  coincided with that of  ‘United African Company’-  which led to misplacement of letters of the church). In 1942[35], the name  ‘Christ Apostolic Church’ (C.A.C.) was coined. This new name was free of controversies from any quarters, unlike the ones before it. Thus, the name was finally unanimously approved by the leaders of the new church, and it was subsequently duly registered under Corporate Affairs Commission in May 1943 with number 147 under the Nigerian Company Law of 1924[36].  Hence, it is erroneous, as believed and claimed by some that The Apostolic Church Nigeria seceded from Christ Apostolic Church.

In a similar tone, the acclaimed Pope of  the United Aladura Churches (U.A.C.) World-wide and Primate, The Church of the Lord (Aladura –now Prayer Fellowship) World-wide, His Holiness, Dr. Rufus Okikiola Oshitelu, in his book rightly submits that ‘since Christ Apostolic Church broke away from the main body which is The Apostolic Church… one may therefore assert that The Apostolic Church is the rightful successor of Faith Tabernacle[37]. He further argues that:

 

There was no church in Nigeria known as Christ Apostolic Church before 1941 (1942 rather). The group that broke away from The Apostolic Church came together as N.A.C. (that is Nigerian Apostolic Church) in 1940. C.A.C. is the successor organisation of N.A.C.. One may therefore say that C.A.C. was founded in 1940[38].

 

The truth in the light of historical evidences that are academically proved from the above makes it clear beyond any historical confusion or doubt that it was Christ Apostolic Church which seceded from The Apostolic Church Nigeria, and not The Apostolic Church from Christ Apostolic Church as some writers erroneously portray.

 

However, it is pertinent to state at this juncture that the authorities of The Apostolic Church Nigeria and Christ Apostolic Church later came together for reconciliation and unification as members of one Body of Christ. In 1958 (barely 18 years after their separation), “…the Founding Fathers of The Apostolic Church (TAC) and Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) thought it necessary to bridge the gap brought about  by the unfortunate separation of the two bodies in early 1940 … the two bodies met in 1958 to embrace each other and formed the fellowship…”[39] which later developed into what is known today as ‘Christian Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (CPFN) duly registered (on 8 May 1989) with Corporate Affairs Commission as a bloc under Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) with Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN)[40]. Today, these two churches – TACN and CAC (world-wide), which share the same origin are in very good terms. In fact, the two churches have over the years engaged in ecumenical relations at different levels. (For further information on TACN/CAC relations, read chapter 23 of this book on inter-church relations).

 

[1] For details see, Christ Apostolic Church General Headquarters’ Official website,  www.cacghq.org Accessed February 1, 2017

[2]S.G. Adegboyega (1978), Short History of The Apostolic Church in Nigeria, Ibadan: Rosprint Industrial Press Ltd. p.77

[3] T.N. Turnbull (1959), What God Hath Wrought (A Short History of The Apostolic Church), Bradford: Puritan Press, p. 77

[4] For details see Monday Mboko  Anyachor (1998), History of  The Apostolic Church in Igboland, Owerri: Ihem Davis Press Ltd, pp. 36ff

[5] Pastor A.O. Udoiyak, Interview Respondent,  Territorial Chairman, T.A.C. Akwa Ibom Territory. Interviewed on 15 June 2017

[6] Ibid., pp.87-97

[7] Ibid., p. 91

[8] Ibid., p. 91

[9] Turnbull (1959), What God Hath Wrought ( A Short History of The Apostolic Church), p. 74

[10] Adegboyega (1978), Short History of The Apostolic Church in Nigeria,  pp.93-94

[11] Ibid., pp.94-95

[12] Ibid., p. 95

[13] N/a, (1979), A Brief  Biography of Late Pastor Samuel Gbadebo Adegboyega, Lagos: Universal Printing Press, p. 9

[14] On arrival in Nigeria in 1932, Pastor Perfect had earlier confided in Pastors Odubanjo and Adegboyega  on the need for him to be using quinine as malaria attack preventive and not as  drug  – to which the three unanimously agreed to. However, Pastor Odubanjo later let out the secret in his personality clash with Pastor Perfect with the view to winning Africans’  support against the European  missionaries.

[15] N/a, The Apostolic Church Nigeria: Our Journey So Far, www.tacyouths.com.ng  p. 8 of 43

[16] Adegboyega (1978), Short History of The Apostolic Church in Nigeria, pp. 122 & 123

[17] Ibid., p. 123

[18] Adegboyega (1978), Short History of The Apostolic Church in Nigeria, p. 96

[19] Ibid., p. 96

[20] Ibid., p. 96

[21] For a  detailed discussion on the arguments and counter-arguments with scriptural backings on the subject of Divine Healing between the European missionaries and African leaders, see Adegboyega (1978), Short History of The Apostolic Church in Nigeria,  pp.96 & 97

[22] The letters used in this chapter are part of the archival materials of The Apostolic Church Nigeria deposited at the National Headquarters of the church at Cemetery Street, Ebute-Metta Lagos.

[23] See Adegboyega (1978), Short History of The Apostolic Church in Nigeria

[24] See Ibid.  pp. 116-121

[25] Ibid.  pp. 121-122

[26] Ibid.  p. 130

[27] N/a, (1979), A Brief  Biography of Late Pastor Samuel Gbadebo Adegboyega,  p.9

[28] For details see, Christ Apostolic Church General Headquarters’ Official website,  www.cacghq.org Accessed February 1, 2017

[29] N/a, (1979), A Brief  Biography of Late Pastor Samuel Gbadebo Adegboyega,  p.9

[30] Adegboyega (1978), Short History of The Apostolic Church in Nigeria,   pp. 130 & 135

[31] N/a, (1979), A Brief  Biography of Late Pastor Samuel Gbadebo Adegboyega , p. 10

[32] Pastor Akinyele had before this time has some doctrinal differences with Pastor Adegboyega on the issue of Christians’ receiving African traditional chieftaincy titles. Adegboyega condemned it as unchristian, but Akinyele differed on the issue and went head to take up a chieftaincy title (and subsequently became the Olubadan of Ibadan title). The European missionaries were not in support of this decision.  This, coupled with the queried imposition of European leadership on TAC Nigeria,  precipitated his support for the Odubanjo’s agitation that the European missionaries should leave in the ‘Divine Healing Controversy’.

[33] Pastor Odusona later succeeded both Pastors Odubanjo and Akinyele as second General Superintendent  and second President (respectively)  of Christ Apostolic Church, after the demise of the duo in 1959  and 1964 respectively.

[34] See N/a, The Apostolic Church Nigeria: Our Journey So Far, p. 7 of 43; It is pertinent to note that   Ibadan was not a  ‘Section’ during Akinyele’s time as wrongly cited  in Adegboyega (N/a, (1979), A Brief  Biography of Late Pastor Samuel Gbadebo Adegboyega, p.9) but a District under Lagos Area by  that time under Lagos Area..

[35] See E.A. Ademowo (2008),  Christianity in Ijeshaland (1927-1990), Lagos: CSS Bookshops,  p. 270-272; See also Adegboyega, Short History of The Apostolic Church in Nigeria,  p. 62.

[36] Rufus  Okikiola Olubiyi Oshitelu, Christianity: Inside Story form an African Perspective, (Shagamu: TCLAW Publications, 2016), p. 535

 

[37] Ibid., p. 549

[38] Ibid.

[39] See CPFN (n/d), The Constitution of Christian Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria,(Printed in Lagos State by TAC-LAWNA Printing  Press Ltd. (n/d), p. 3

 

[40] Ibid.

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