BETWEEN BABALOLA AND ELTON: THE ORIGIN OF PENTECOSTALISM AND THE DISTORTION OF A NATIONAL HISTORIOGRAPHY – A RESPONSE TO PASTOR SUNDAY ADELAJA
Moses Oludele Idowu
I have recently become aware of a release posted on YouTube by Ukraine- based Nigerian pastor, Sunday Adelaja through a publication in CHURCH TIMES. I was a bit uncomfortable reading the piece so I asked the editor to send the link of the YouTube video to me. I wanted to hear Adelaja for myself. And having listened to the broadcast and the many false, inaccurate and even jejune insinuations he made, his taking so much liberty to construct false and pernicious narratives based on only one source material quoted out of context I feel duty bound and irresistibly compelled to join issues with him and with others who agree with his false narrative.
The reasons for my decision are as follows:
It is not my purpose to join issues with Adelaja on his innuendoes, remarks against certain notable pastors and even the Nigerian Church, though in a sense he is right in a couple of cases . I will also not answer for CAC, but limit my response to the aspects on Babalola and the entire origin of what can be called the Pentecostal Movement.
I shall organise my Discourse on seven fundamental issues and pillars viz:
Recently I wrote a piece in which I had cause to reflect that Nigerian pastors are weak when it comes to the knowledge of History – their own Church History not even the Global Church History. [ You may google the article NIGERIAN PASTORS AND THE BURDEN OF HISTORY ]
Several times I have been astounded hearing or reading a pastor or even General Overseer or bishop say or write things that are not only untrue historically but did not even make sense. I have had to join issues publicly and even in my books correcting some of these postulations. They speak with boldness and temerity but lacking in scholarship and historical accuracy. The danger is that millions of their followers who swallow what they say are in danger of perpetuating these errors to interminable generations.
It is this same flaw that Sunday Adelaja has taken to a dangerous level and to a global audience. His case is particularly worse because when you set yourself to be an umpire and a judge of others then you yourself must be correct. The hands that set the standard must be precise. There is no greater tragedy as when a teacher himself needs to be taught on what he is saying.
History matters. If your understanding of history is wrong your theology is also not likely to be sound.
Make no mistake, I do not minimize the role and impact of Sydney Granville Elton in what became the Pentecostal Movement. He was a great man who played his own role in his time and I am glad to have known him and heard him a couple of times in his lifetime. We hosted him a couple of times in Ilorin in his lifetime.
However, and someone must say this and the time has come for someone to say it, there is danger in what I now see as deification of a hero. It began initially as affection and love, which are legitimate. Later it became admiration, which is also good. And finally it became deification and hero worship…
This comes in various ways.
I have heard virtually everything of value in Nigerian Christianity and Pentecostalism ascribed to Elton and to him alone.
* He is said to have first preached the Holy Ghost ( or that he brought the Holy Ghost) to Nigeria.
* That he was the founder of the Pentecostal Movement in Nigeria
* That the whole Gospel work in Nigeria can be credited to him as Adelaja also said.
* That he trained every man of substance and taught Babalola and was his mentor
And bla bla….
In point of fact one of these followers said in a book that Elton was the man who taught Babalola how to even say “Good morning..”.
How about that? If a man had worked with white men as a roller driver with over 50 persons under him and he reported every morning and still didn’t know how to say ‘Good morning.’ You tend to wonder what happened to black people and their imagination.
It even got to a point at the Evangelical Christian Union in Ife then that some faithfuls said S.G. Elton was not going to die. Rev. Kunle Salami of Ado- Ekiti is dead he would be able to bear witness to this as an eyewitness.
This is the danger that I see and which has now taken form into a deliberate distortion of Nigerian Pentecostal- evangelical historiography.
Elton is the one everyone knows so every effort is being made to make him the Champion and every other person subservient and secondary to him. In the process inaccuracies come in.
The sad thing is that most of the pastors, general overseers and bishops who usually speak were taught by Elton and it is the same narrative given to them that they regurgitate without effort without taking their time to do some personal investigation of their own. S. G. Elton is a good man but you cannot construct a Knowledge of History and of an entire National Historiography on the opinion of one man, no matter how saintly that man is or was. It is not done. The only person who seems to see the error and whose opinion on the History did not exactly follow the Elton Narrative was Austin Ukachi. Obviously as a trained historian he saw the error and the danger and avoided it. He is the only one whose views especially on Joseph Babalola has been accurate because evidently he did his own research rather than what Elton told him.
Somehow it did not occur to these admirers of Elton that the Pentecostal Movement in Nigeria has a deeper origin and is not linked to Europe or America and predated the arrival of even Elton by several years. Somehow these eminent persons who spread this narrative did not see the incongruity of ascribing the founding of Pentecostalism which has seen a mighty revival as far back as 1930 to a man who first set his foot in Nigeria in 1937!
It was the Great Revival of 1930 – by every means a Pentecostal revival because all the features of Pentecostalism were present – that brought the Apostolic Church of Pennygroes ( Britain), the mother church of S.G. Elton who ordained and commissioned him to Nigeria. So if the definitive origins predated Elton and even the Apostolic Church, Elton’s mother church, how then could he be called the founder of Nigerian Pentecostalism except as a proof of historical revisionism?
The construction of Apostolic Church Pentecostalism and the birth of a Glorious Vision emerged in 1931 with the affiliation or cooperation of the Indigenous Revival Movement and the apostolic hierarchy of the Apostolic Church of England – 6 years before Elton came to Nigeria. [ See Idris Vaughan, NIGERIA: THE MAKING OF APOSTOLIC CHURCH PENTECOSTALISM, 1991 ]
In the light of the above it is very wrong to say Elton founded or fathered Pentecostal Movement in Nigeria.
To be sure he was one of the fathers and his role to a postwar generation is unequalled and unparalleled because he lived longer than others but he did not found Nigerian Pentecostalism. It is not true and it will not be true no matter the number of times it is repeated.
Having demolished this thesis, the fundamental core in the deification of Elton most other postulations and theses cannot stand because they are constructed on this fundamental core which as we have seen is not true.
We now know that not everything Elton said historically are true. We now have access to the Apostolic Church archive and their own records, which previous authors and commentaries on Elton do not know. We now know that Elton did not even witness some of the memorable historical landmarks and happenings beginning from 1930 upwards and therefore was not even an eyewitness. We now have access to the eyewitness accounts of Andrew Turnbull, D.P. Williams and William Jones the founder of Apostolic Church in Britain and Elton’s mother church and leaders and what they said about that revival and the person of Joseph Babalola; and much more what the first two missionaries, George Perfect and Idris Vaughan who were seniors to Elton and worked directly with Babalola several years before the arrival of Elton and what they said about Babalola even when they met him in prison in Benin in 1932.
It is very sad that even though I have gone to great length to document all these things in my books a generation of supposedly educated and enlightened people still prefer hearsay, unfounded and illogical permutations that do not only align with facts but also are contradicted by all primary source materials.
One error always lead to another if not corrected. The error of deification of S.G.Elton led to another fatal error, the deligitimization of Babalola.
To crown a king you must decapitate, dethrone or decrown a reigning king. In order to make Elton all in all, the alpha and omega of Nigerian Pentecostalism there was need to decrown and dethrone every name that could challenge him and of course Babalola comes in as a perfect source for deligitimizing. Since his image still loomed large in the popular imagination due to several oral and recorded narratives of his work he must be dethroned so that a counter narrative can be constructed. This is the trend and it is this delusion that Sunday Adelaja carried to an abysmal level in his pernicious YouTube broadcast to which I now turn for a point- by – point rebuttal.
I now move to the second ground of my Discourse. I wanted to be sure I heard what he said so I listened to the video myself. I used to have some respect for Pastor Adelaja but after listening to his broadcast I realized he himself needed to be taught. He has convinced me with this video that being based in Europe or being an international preacher is no proof of intellectual sophistication.
I now take him point by point:
* He said that “Elton mentored and coached Babalola, Idahosa, Adeboye etc.”He repeated this error throughout the broadcast that Elton was their teacher, coach and mentor.
Thus he put Babalola on the same pedestal and ramrod with Idahosa, Adeboye, Oyedepo etc. This is the first error.
For Idahosa, Adeboye, Kumuyi that may be true in some sense. But it is not true for Babalola and it is even insulting. I wonder how Adelaja did not see this. But then it falls within the framework of theory of deification and deligitimization that I referred to earlier.
So far as we know and as all historical evidences show – oral, recorded, written, archival etc there is no iota of truth in it.
Babalola’s greatest moments and grandest works had been done and was already well established as a preacher- prophet ever before S G. Elton came upon the scene. He had led mighty awakenings that engulfed a whole nation, the very reason that brought Apostolic Church, the mother church of Elton into the picture.
He had also been ordained as a pastor of the Apostolic Church as far back as 1935 and recognized as Interdivisional Evangelist of the entire Apostolic Communion by the hierarchy of the church as far back as 1931 by European ministers senior to Elton and he had founded several churches and was already established figure long before Elton was even known in Nigeria. So at what point did he mentor him? The imagery of teacher – pupil relationship did not arise.
When the Apostolic missionaries came, George Perfect and Vaughan they still went to Benin to meet Babalola because they knew that any protocols signed with the leaders of the Revival Movement without the support of Babalola would not hold the people. So he was already well established as a minister long before Elton came even to the picture.
It is like a foreign coach in Brazil saying he taught Pele, the legend how to score goals. It is amusing but also sad.
Elton came in 1937 and by 1939, just two years after, the Indigenous Revival Movement had stopped the cooperation and separated from the white led Apostolic Church leading to the birth of CAC as we know it. So they were effectively together for 2 years or so.
So the idea of mentoring, pupillage between Elton and Babalola is not totally correct.
Now I do not mean that Babalola could not have learnt from Elton or did not learn from him. What I contest is the idea of mentoring or fatherhood.
There was a single Area, Ilesha Area of which there are leaders and fathers. John Aluko Babatope was one of these, Babalola was one and Elton when he came in 1937 was the European superintendent and the principal of the Bible School. That was the setting. In fact Late Pastor Fasan who was an eyewitness of all these said they all regarded Joseph Babalola as their father. [ See Professor Olayiwola’s 1980 PhD thesis;: THE ALADURA REVIVAL MOVEMENT IN IJESHALAND, OAU, Ife ]
So the idea of mentoring is repugnant to facts and to history except only as attempt to deligitimize.
* Adelaja also said that Elton “FOUNDED THE NIGERIAN PENTECOSTAL MOVEMENT” and “THE WHOLE PENTECOSTAL MOVEMENT IN NIGERIA CAN BE CREDITED TO HIM.”
I am quoting his exact words. If the whole thing can be credited to him is he God then? This is what I was saying about deification. It is true he spent 50 years in Nigeria but that also is beside the point when we are talking about founding. If Elton came in 1937 does it therefore mean that there was no Pentecostalism before then?
A great revival took place in 1930 that led to massive demographic shift from heathenism to CHRISTIANITY with all the features of Pentecostalism present; should we credit this to Evil Spirit?
If the Great Revival was the reason that brought the Apostolic Church of Bradford to Nigeria, the mother church of S.G. Elton how then could he be said to have founded the Movement that preceded him by 7 years? It is for Sunday Adelaja and those who share his views to answer these questions.
* Adelaja said HE BASED HIS POSITION ON SEVERAL ENCOUNTERS BABALOLA HAD WITH TWO AMERICAN EVANGELISTS: H. DALLIMORE & ELTON.
That was his exact words in capitals which shows he didn’t even do any research and did not subject his information to authentic investigation before going on air.
This is the first error, a grievous error of details too fundamental to his conclusion.
Elton was from England not America.
Two, H. Dallimore that he said was an American Evangelist and a friend of Elton was not. He was an Anglican archdeacon and venerable, superintendent of Ekiti division of the then Church of Western Equatorial Africa of the Anglican Church. He was also the founder of the famous Christ School of Ado- Ekiti. Every native of Ado- Ekiti knows this.
So if Adelaja could miss these fundamental details about the characters he was quoting can we rely on his conclusions?
The quotation of Dallimore which he based his entire diatribe and critique of Babalola on was made in 1931 and not 1937 – long before Elton even came on the scene. It was first quoted in an article written by Dallimore published in the West Equatorial African Church Magazine of 1931, it was first quoted in my book THE GREAT REVIVAL OF 1930 ( Lagos: 2007) which had been published before the source he was referring to.
It has no connection with S G. Elton in any way and he had not even arrived the scene yet. What Adelaja has done is to superimpose details of an earlier event to fit into his narrative of delegitimizing of Babalola and his work.
Unfortunately for him he stopped too early. If he had read my book he would have known that Dallimore had a lot of admiration for Babalola and even made other statements that were positive, supportive and approving of Babalola and his work.
In the same quotation that Adelaja purports to be quoting to deligitimise Babalola the same Dallimore had said:
” I was much impressed with Joseph Babalola by his humility, his simplicity and his belief in his mission: and also by the awe and reverence in which he was held by the vast crowds. The scenes along the roads leading to the town where he was then working, gave one a vivid picture of what must have happened along the roads of Palestine in the days of our Lord.
It is some months since I saw him, but from the little I hear from those other districts to which he has gone, he remains unspoiled, a noble, if rather pathetic figure, a man of lofty integrity…”.
[ See H. Dallimore, “The Aladura Movement in Ekiti” in Western Equatorial African Church Magazine, May, 1931 pp. 94,99 quoted at page 171 of my book THE GREAT REVIVAL OF 1930]
However, Adelaja left these first two paragraphs of Dallimore’s quotation so as to fit his agenda of condemning Babalola’s work. I ask you all, what kind of scholar does that?
He then juxtaposed it to Elton when the quotation was made as far back as 1930 long before Elton or his church even came to the picture.
Again I quote another statement by the same H. Dallimore on Babalola. On June 22, 1931 the same Dallimore sent this article to the same Western Equatorial Africa Church Magazine where he invited Babalola to Ado-Ekiti for a revival. Hear Dallimore:
“I was again much struck with him. He obviously is simple and sincere in heart, and seems as humble as he was some months ago. God is using him and I want to work in cooperation with him. If we do not I fear not only that we shall fail in our duty, but we may bring sad consequences upon the Church of Christ…”
[ See Western African Church Magazine Vol. XXXXVI, No.446, Aug.1931, p.173 ]
This is the same H. Dallimore that Sunday Adelaja was trying to use his name to deligitimise the work of Babalola. I have quoted several other sources in my books which I recommend for Sunday Adelaja and others like him and I can quote several others but for space.
I feel sad that Pastor Adelaja did his broadcast without a proper grounding in research, based on mere conjectures, Elton’s lectures and taking liberty with a fertile imagination without any empirical data and a conclusion wholly contradicted by primary source materials.
* Adelaja also said in the video THAT BABALOLA WAS ILLITERATE AND THUS COULD NOT UNDERSTAND THE SYMBOLS SHOWN HIM AND HE TOOK THEM LITERALLY
How about that? I am quoting his exact words. Perhaps this was what S.G. Elton taught or told them. And somehow it did not occur to this group to ask their leader how a man who could not understand the symbols shown him precipitated a Mighty Revival the likes that even none among Elton Group has done till today.
A man who wrote books is said to be an illiterate by Sunday Adelaja because he obviously did not think, he was too busy to think with the “details” given him. I have written a book titled BABALOLA: COLLECTED WORKS, which consist of all the things he wrote. We also have seen his diaries and letters, very legibly written, coherent and organized. This is the man Adelaja calls an illiterate.
Anyone who can read and write in any language cannot be properly called an illiterate. I challenge anyone for a debate on this.
* THAT BABALOLA ERRORS OF CARRYING HANDBEL AND ROD AND WATER CREPT TO CAC AND LED TO DERAILMENT OF NIGERIAN CHURCH
That again is from the mouth of Ukraine- based oracle, Sunday Adelaja. Like a loose cannon our friend just spew out anything from his mouth without any basis or empirical validation, data or sources except Pa. Elton. That was why I began to worry about the Elton Group years ago. The way they are also going they would do more damage than what they are trying to correct.
So it is error to use handbell before prayers? I will address this issue later under symbols.
Adelaja has muddled up several things.
How does the use of handbell for prayers lead to derailment of a national church? This is what Adelaja should explain because anyone can say anything but it takes a serious mind to support his argument with facts.
* Adelaja also said THAT NIGERIANS BROUGHT PAGANISM TO CHRISTIANITY AND EUROPE BROUGHT PURE GOSPEL
That is false. We could see firsthand the “pure gospel” Europe brought that made Christians to be hypocrites who go to church on Sunday and patronized witchdoctors during the week. We saw it in the mission church where the adherents started the Ogboni Fraternity even as members of the church brought by Europeans. So much for the “pure gospel”. It was the Great Revival which had Babalola as his instrument that first led to a mass surrender of idols and total renunciation of idolatry to turn totally to Christ. This is what Adelaja called paganism that Nigerians brought. Really, staying too long in Europe has damaged something about Adelaja, his worldview. It has disconnected him with the true historical sources of his people. It is so sad.
Read what Europeans themselves, scholars said about Africans and their commitment to the Gospel. They were in fact the first to preach the real Gospel of Christianity, of total reliance on God. [ See J.D.Y. Peel, Harold Turner, Bolaji Idowu, Robert Mitchell etc]
It was Africans who stormed the forbidden forests, sacked heathen temples, overthrew heathen altars to turn whole masses to the Living God.
Christian Matthews of New Jersey declared that “Babalola in two weeks has done more than the Anglican Church had done in 60 years” after watching his Revival in Ikare in 1931. And this is what out Ukraine oracle calls paganism. So can paganism drive out paganism or can devil cast out devils?
I am distressed for thee my brother, Sunday Adelaja. What led you to this perverse reasoning and illogic?
* He also said that BABALOLA BROUGHT ERRORS BECAUSE HE WANTED TO GET RESULTS
Pastor Adelaja, why are you not afraid to open your mouth and utter this falsehood, this inaccurate and perverse reasoning against an apostle of the Most High God? How dare you utter these falsehoods that has no basis in history, logic but wholly based on illusory infantile imagination and fantasy?
Within only 50 days he spent in Ilesha in 1930 at the peak of the Revival about 2 million persons had visited from the entire West African subregion and even beyond. What greater results could a man desire than this? If errors alone could bring results why are there no results then in our own day’, 60 years after Babalola had departed?
How much of Babalola’s work do you know? How much of his ministry have you personally investigated for yourself?
Adelaja is trying to correct errors with a greater error, a far serious error of ignorance of the facts. What he spewed in this video shows he has done no real study of the period. Elton, his super hero could not have told him what he did not see himself. Too bad.
* THAT ELTON REBUKED BABALOLA ABOUT HIS PRACTICES
This was the title of the video broadcast that Adelaja made – WHY ELTON REBUKED BABALOLA. However this was utterly grounded on error because Adelaja like most of his Nigerian pastors do not know the History but based on what Elton told some of them and with taking liberty. The error should have been apparent if they had a personal investigation of History.
Elton was supposed to have rebuked Babalola on the use of water, rod and bell, according to these later revisionists. However, it was not so because the high point of the rod and water and bell were during the Great Revival between 1930 and 1933 by which time ELTON had not even left England or received his calling and commission. I will speak exhaustively on the rod and water in another response so that this piece does not become unnecessarily tedious and voluminous for the readers.
The rod and water were most prominently used in the peak of the Revival and after the Church had become established its purpose had been served. The notion that Babalola carried water everywhere and staff is not true. Only when he was going to a new territory in those days especially places where Christ had not been named and still under occult power, the rod was the signet of his apostolic authority and commission and the supremacy of Christ authority over all powers of darkness just as Moses’ rod depicted his commission and power over all the rods of Egypt. However once the territory has been broken under the power of God the rod faded. This was the clear and direct commission of God to Babalola and it is scriptural and perfectly consistent with Logic and even with Christian HISTORY. In my second response I will show this that this was so in every territory that was under terrible occult power and which God had commissioned His servant to take. Adelaja is unaware of African Christian history and even Indigenous Revival Movements all over Africa and the rich heritage given to them. He is also unaware of African traditional religious cosmologies, Oral traditions and culture. It is a dimension that is completely beyond our man.
What European CHRISTIANITY, brought to Africa, could not do for hundreds of years were accomplished under these indigenous prophetic figures by listening to directions from God. This is the rich heritage that Adelaja tries to lampoon and ridicule because he neither knew the History of his people nor even their heritage. Read Professor Bolaji Idowu’s book (TOWARDS AN INDIGENOUS CHURCH, London: Oxford University Press, 1968) to correct that distortion and appreciate what the indigenous figures did for the birth of true Christianity in Africa.
Thus the impression of rebuke did not happen because the rod and water had been used and served their purpose before even Elton came to the picture. As for the bell even in the Early Church they had it. Even the Apostolic Church, the mother church of Elton used it and still uses it. Are they also paganistic? I feel sorry that a son is ridiculing the heritage of his fathers because he does not know his history.
The impression is being created of a Teacher- Pupil relationship between Elton and Babalola to fit into the grand but false narrative of mentorship. This is false – false in history and false in facts.
Also Babalola’s most memorable work and great revivals occurred between 1930 and 1933 either directly or through his associates: Oke- Ooye, Ilesha (July- August1930); Oke- Bola, Ibadan ( September1930) Efon – Alaaye (October 1930), Ake, Abeokuta ( Nov.1930) Ikare, Akoko ( 1931).
These periods were some of the greatest and grandest moments in the history of Nigerian CHRISTIANITY based on several eyewitnesses comprising of both foreigners and Africans. And under God Joseph Babalola was instrumental in bringing this about. S.G. Elton the supposed founder of Pentecostalism was nowhere then.
The water was used in all these and the handbell based on clear directions God gave the revivalists and the results and impact shows that Heaven was not displeased.
“For that indeed a notable miracle was done is evident to all that dwelt in Jerusalem and we cannot deny it”
Yorubas knew that the Lord is God.
They stormed forbidden forests, sacked heathen temples, overthrew heathenist altars which made the ground soft for Elton and his church to want to come to Nigeria for affiliation. And now we are being told that a man who came long after the groundwork had been done was raising issues and rebuking about what he himself did not know or see. How can you rebuke a man who is not under your tutelage, a man who, to be honest to the facts, was more significant to the very foundation of Apostolic CHRISTIANITY in Nigeria, a man who was described by Andrew Turnbull, Elton’s foremost leader as ” the most remarkable figure in Nigeria evangelism” – long before Elton knew about Nigeria.
The idea of Elton trying to teach Babalola about the rod and water is like a newly employed teacher of Literature trying to teach an acclaimed writer and a Nobelist to boot, how to write. It is impudence. Is it any wonder that within 2 years of Elton arrival there was a split in the Original Apostolic Church leading to the separation of the original Revival Movement and the genuine leaders of the Movement from the white administration. The role of Elton in exacerbating this crisis is a story I will tell in another day.
It is sad that people, PhDs would believe whatever is told to them without bothering to cross check the details and whether they align with Logic. Blackman think. Use your mind.
* YOUR REVELATION CANNOT BE HIGHER THAN THE WORD OF GOD
Adelaja says that the idea of carrying a rod and use of bell in prayer and praying on water for the sick are unscriptural and that Babalola’s revelation was contrary to *the Word of God. This is what Elton told them or taught them under the principle of superposition that I earlier mentioned since Elton did not himself see the action and was not part of the high point of the Revival.
Here we are faced with absence of Logic, a thing I have seen for too long among even educated Nigerians. Adelaja sees praying over water for the sick as unscriptural but he does not see anything wrong with going to doctors and worldly physicians as unscriptural. Water, a naturally occurring element he sees as unscriptural but the drugs and potions of Egypt and Greece or the product of Western Medicine with its occultic origins he did not see as unscriptural. Evidently our man does not know he has contradicted himself. Is Adelaja aware that Apollo, the Greek demon god is the father of medicine? Is he aware that God frowns at going to Egypt for help to seek her physicians?
So which is more unscriptural. between Babalola who prayed over water created by God and the other group who go to Egypt and Greece to bow to Apollo by using drugs and medicine created by the heathens?
By praying over water and sanctifying the stream and sources of rivers of whole towns he even helped our people at a time when western medicine was scarce and unavailable to the masses and when people, masses of people died due to simple opportunistic diseases as malaria. This is the history and context that Adelaja is repudiating, insulting and trying to cast aspersions on. It is sad that education and civilization have not really helped some people, it has even damaged them beyond repairs. Babalola even made it clear in his recorded writings that the people should renounce all medicine and look to God alone for their cures, he was not turning water to another god. Never. And he said this and made it clear to the people. It is recorded even in newspapers his disdain and rebuke of entire communities of idol worship and no pastor or Evangelist in living memory in Nigeria destroyed more idols than Babalola. To now accuse such a man of syncretism or of derailing the Nigerian Church or of bringing idols to the Church is not only ignorant, it is illiterate and downright stupid. There is no better way to say it and I do not know how to lie because liars will have their part in the Lake of Fire and I do not want to go there.
* Further from the same perverse logic Adelaja ranted on. Hear him: IT IS BABALAWO WHO USED MEDIUMS
The inference is that since Babalola prayed over water and used a rod at the peak of the Revival he was using the same methods as witchdoctors.
I am really amazed. Is this how much Adelaja knows? I am shocked.
Well it is not true that the use of media belong to Babalawo (herbalists). All truths are parallel. In secret societies they practice self-denial; Satanists too fast and pray too. Should we therefore repudiate these religious acts because followers of satan too do them? Or should we consider them satanic? Logic, Pastor Adelaja, more logic please.
Adelaja is afraid of symbols. True in our days certain Pentecostal churches have taken this to abysmal level but the presence of a bastard does not mean that there are no legitimate sons.
Symbols are not wrong, it depends on your attachment to them. God can use them because He is greater than any medium and His Spirit pervades and permeates all medium, essences, objects. God can use means and He has used them several times in History when they are properly subordinated to His Grace.
– Handkerchief of aprons were taken from Paul’s body to heal the sick; Peter’s shadows was a medium and God used it to heal. The Lord Jesus even put his saliva in spittle and asked the blind to go and wash in pool and they were healed.
All these are uses of medium in the New Testament.
Is Adelaja not aware that the best exponents of healings in the last two centuries used medium sometimes to heal?
Alexander Dowie of Zion City often prayed over oil and cloth for the sick; John G. Lake the apostle to South Africa prayed on prayer cloths which he sent to the sick and hurting; Wiggleswortth often anointed the sick for prayer. Both A.A. Allen and Oral Roberts prayed over oil to cure the sick. Branham used prayer cards to minister to the sick…
So are all these too Babalawo because they used mediums? If Babalola is babalawo what of these whites who also used mediums? How conversant is Adelaja with the History of the Church, the Early Church? Because they had their symbols and medium yet they did not bow to them.
* THAT ELTON ANOINTED THEM TAUGHT ALL OF THEM INCLUDING BABALOLA
That is false, at least for Babalola. I have already dwelt on this both on time and date. When did he anoint him and where? Anoint him to do what?
It is sad that Adelaja always made his heavy pronouncements without citing any source except what he thinks. ” I think he also taught…” This is a man who is addressing the world based on a historical figures and historical facts and yet he was not sure himself: ” I think he …”. Much of what he says is based on what he thought but personal opinion or thought has no weight in History as much as verifiable empirical data and sources.
* THAT ELTON BROUGHT PENTECOSTAL GOSPEL TO NIGERIA
Another falsehood from the mouth of Sunday Adelaja. Although so many have been saying it and many write it as History and our zealous but self – serving ignorant press too parrot this illiterate ideas and grievous falsehood.
NIGERIAN Pentecostalism did not begin from Europe or America unlike that of South Africa. The book to read is Professor Ogbu Kalu, AFRICAN PENTECOSTALISM ( Oxford University Press, 2008). It is an excellent piece by a world renowned scholar.
As far back as 1928 when no white man was in sight Pastor Odubanjo had conducted Tarrying services in which brethren received the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. You may also read S.G. Adegboyega, A Short History of the Apostolic Church.(Ibadan: Rostprint Press,1978)
These are enough witnesses from participants and Elton was nowhere then. So the notion that Elton brought the Pentecostal gospel is false to the fact and to the history however much some love to believe it.
All the main features and premises of Pentecostalism were already in place – salvation and new birth, baptism of the Holy Spirit with evidence of speaking in tongues, gifts of the Spirit, belief in Divine Healing etc were already in place long before Elton came. So it is false to credit the Movement to him. If Elton preached the Pentecostal gospel then those missionaries that preceded him, Perfect, Vaughan, Rosser etc what were they preaching?
Always, they date the beginning of Pentecostalism to Elton in order to make him the king but though a good man the crown did not fit his head because it belongs to another.
* BABALOLA SAID HE NEEDED POWER AND THEREFORE HE CARRIED THE ROD. THE CRAZE FOR POWER DERAILED THE NIGERIAN CHURCH
This is another libel from the mouth of Adelaja. To whom and when did Babalola said he needed power? This is the falsehood. Which comes first, the rod or the power and apostolic authority which it symbolized? Does a rod in itself possess any power? This is the poor logic on display here by someone who should know.
He had never really read anything of substance about Babalola, all his knowledge and views are based on what he got through a third party or medium like Elton and they are largely not true. He has misplaced and distorted facts.
Three errors are on display here: Where did he say he needed power? To whom Elton or Adelaja? If he needed power why would he wait till 1937 to tell Elton about it? The power that was on display in 1930 that shook the whole of West Africa and even caught the attention of Apostolic Church, the mother church of Elton, where was it? And this is the man who would tell a man in 1937 that he needed power?
Obviously Adelaja had never read about the calling of Babalola and the apostolic signs that heralded it. He has taken his information wholly through S.G. Elton and what he said who was not an eyewitness of the events and yet claimed to know and speak about what he didnt see. And our “educated” ministers who passed through him did not see the contradiction. It is sad.
To accuse Babalola of craze for power is impudent and even libelous. Adelaja is ignorant of the matter he has taken to speak about. Babalola even tried not to answer the call, he was a reluctant preacher. As a steam roller driver he earned from Colonial Government what no preacher earned either in CMS or Catholic Church in 1928. So he was not even willing to leave.
Read about his own account of how the call came and his several directions to embark on fasts without food and water for his empowerment all of which he never wanted because it was painful and as an Anglican he was inexperienced about long fasts. The step- by- step direction of how he was directed and empowered by God to the ministry of Divine Healing to pray for the sick for their recovery are given in his own account which Adelaja refused to read. You may also read Professor Bolaji Idowu’s book Towards an Indigenous Church (Oxford University Press, 1965)
Instead he took his knowledge wholly from another white missionary who never even had the whole facts. Elton said it, it must be so. Elton is the alpha and omega…
These are the people who are accusing a section of the church of idolatry. Plato the great philosopher has said that rarely does a man rebuke pride except with greater pride. Adelaja is a proof.
Somehow it does not occur to this eminent people and followers of S.G. Elton that it is unscholarly and incongruous to the academic tradition to judge a man solely on the authority of another man without consulting his own records. It is this delusion that Sunday Adelaja has fallen on his wholly distorted views on the ministry of Joseph Babalola.
In a life of almost 60 years about 40 of which I have lived as a Christian I have not known or read of a minister as humble as Joseph Babalola. And I have read books. Someone as shy of publicity as Babalola I do not yet know. He would sometimes even refuse to affirm miracles performed through his hands. He once ran away from a town when on seeing a miracle the people wanted to worship him. How about that?
All the people who knew him and worked with him both white and black including Vaughan, Perfect, etc affirmed his humility. To accuse such a one of “craze for power” makes me weep for Sunday Adelaja. You are treading on a dangerous ground, a very dangerous ground. To judge or make pronouncement on what you yourself didn’t know is folly according to the Book of Proverbs.
As to the charge of carrying the rod this is even simplistic. If the carrying of rod is all that is required for power then every Nigerian should be powerful, every Nigerian should be zones of power, if it is that simple. Where is Logic in Adelaja’s Thought?
If water alone could heal why should anyone in Nigeria be sick or even in Adelaja’s Europe with its “pure gospel”? It is not also true that Babalola carried the rod throughout his ministry. What is the evidence or attestation to that statement? None, except one book and plenty of taking liberty. Sorry, that is not the way of scholarship.
I will answer this in full in the second response so that this paper does not become too bulky for my readers.
* WHY BABALOLA HAD TO DIE YOUNG BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM HE WOULD HAVE DERAILED THE NIGERIAN CHURCH
The most egregious, insidious and objectionable statement in the whole video broadcast – actually the most impudent – was the charge that God took Babalola early and he had to die early so as not to derail the Nigerian Church. I am quoting Adelaja in his own words. I didn’t believe it when I read it in Church Times publication until I listened to the broadcast myself.
So Adelaja is telling us that he not only know what goes on earth but also in the Court of Heaven. Thus he displayed his ignorance of historical facts and even of CHRISTIANITY.
How “young” was Babalola when he died? He was 55 and had been in ministry for 31 years (1928-59), this is what Adelaja called young.
How old was John Fletcher, the greatest saint of Methodism and the one Wesley wanted to hand over to when he died? He was 55.
How old was George Whitefield, the preaching force of Methodism when he died? He was 56. Were these saints, among the greatest in the annals of church history, also called home for judgment?
If Adelaja had read much and taken to heart what he read he should have known that the greatest saints that ever lived did not even cross the age of 55.
Consider the following saints and when they died::
Julian of Norwich (16), David Brainerd (29), Fletcher (55) Whitefield (56), John Hyde…
The list goes on. Dying young is not a mark of judgment, it may in fact be a point of mercy to prevent a soul beloved by God from seeing corruption. Living long in the world, a sinful and increasingly corrupt world is not an honour God reserves for His best. How long did Jesus live? It is serious that Adelaja did not know this.
From the beginning God told Babalola that he would work for 30 years and he told his disciples in a parable that he would do 30 works. It was when he died in 1959, just 30 years after commencement of ministry that his associates remembered the meaning that he told them at the beginning he would work for only 30 years. It was in fact prayers and much prayers that kept him for that long in the world. Has Adelaja not heard the Yoruba proverb that a straight tree does not last in the forest? Living long in the world is not a sign of Heavenly favour and dying early is not a sign of judgment.
Most of the greatest saints in Christian history did not even live beyond 55. Should we now take it to mean that God judged them? We have to question the justice of a God who would punish His finest souls and leave mediocre and the wicked to roam. Is living long in the world, this animal world a sign of Heavenly favour? Has Adelaja never seen this scripture: “… the righteous is taken away before the day of evil.” (Isaiah 57: 1)
* WHEN YOU USE SYMBOL THEN YOU ARE SUBMITTING YOURSELF TO SYMBOLS
Another statement from our Ukraine- based oracle of modern Pentecostalism. But it is not so. Use of symbol does not mean submitting yourself to it.
When a man takes a wife in marriage they are both given a ring to symbolize the union and the love to each other as Christ to the church. But that does not mean they are worshipping the ring and the ring is not the marriage. Within two weeks of my own wedding I could not even place or remember where I dropped the ring, yet I am still married. But my wife continues to wear her own till today. Now does that mean I am submitting to a ring?
Logic, pastor, logic.
I will answer this charge fully in another detailed response.
* THAT DALLIMORE WORKED WITH ELTON AND BOTH OF THEM WERE LIKE MENTORS TO BABALOLA
Another falsehood from Adelaja because he would not do his research well. It is utterly false. Dallimore was an Anglican archdeacon, a venerable of the church in Ado- Ekiti who founded the famous Christ School. He was a contemporary of Babalola and had a high regard of Babalola as I quoted here above and in my book. [ See The Great Revival of 1930, Artillery Publications, Lagos, 2007 ]
Adelaja has taken too much liberty to make statement that he has no source or authority to make. And what was his source? It was Elton and a book of biography. That is even more revealing of gross unwisdom than he is accusing the Nigerian Church of. Who needs the greater correction?
This is another libel from Adelaja. Is the church now paganistic? How? Because of symbols? But the hood does not make the monk.
The church is bigger than Oyedepo, Adeboye, CAC or whatever that you have generously accused .
The charge of Babalola making people believe in water than God is libelous and frivolous. It is malicious and false. I can show you several newspapers clips from the 1930 revivals in my archive quoting Babalola as he repeatedly told the people to look up to God and not any man. The water was just a medium, a point of contact which is even scriptural as I have shown. There is no confusion in those who heard him except in the imagination of Sunday Adelaja.
Babalola would tell those who came to him that he has nothing to give them but Jesus is the healer. The newspapers even reported it when S. G. Elton had not yet surfaced. And this is the man accusing him of making people to believe in water rather than God and an uncritical segment of followership also believe this.
The charge of using unsterilized water is the same dumb argument of trying to discredit Babalola which is not knew any way. It was first made by the European critics. How do you call water from a flowing river unsterilized? What were the people drinking even before the Revival and the advent of civilization?
It is funny. Sometimes people reveal their ignorance in a bid to prove learning.
The charge that Babalola made the church paganistic is unsound. When S.G. Elton came to Ilesha in 1937 he met hundreds of churches well established, sound and going. Was it paganism that brought them from Yoruba paganism?
On these churches and movement we have the original comments of the first Apostolic delegation from Bradford and their positive comments which is quoted in my book Acts of Power: the Spread of the Great Revival (Artillery Publications, 2011)
* NOBODY PREACHES RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD AGAIN AND CHURCHES ARE BUSINESS CENTRES
This is another statement from Pastor Adelaja from the video which is largely true today. Although he has done too much of generalizing I won’t disagree with this statement. There is plenty of substance in this his allegations today about the condition of much of the Pentecostal Church.
The only error was that he could not fathom the reason and blaming Babalola is flogging the wrong horse. The cause of the rot in NIGERIAN Church is much deeper than what he is trying to highlight in his broadcast. He missed it from the very beginning because of a distortion of historiography. In my upcoming book I will highlight why the Nigerian Church is currently in a mess.
* THE CLAIM THAT “S.G. ELTON TAUGHT THE NIGERIAN CHURCH AND A STUDENT CANNOT KNOW MORE THAN HIS TEACHER” –
This also falls within the category of deification which I speak about earlier. There was already an established Apostolic Church on ground before Elton. We do not minimize his place but he did not father the Nigerian Church, either the Apostolic or even the Pentecostal. He is a father, to be honest but a father among other fathers and a leader to those who care to follow him.
I have taken this long to do a point- by – point rebuttal of Adelaja’s pernicious video broadcast. In the true spirit of scholarship and academic tradition and even consistent with the tradition of Protestantism I welcome Pastor Sunday Adelaja to refute my points or impeach any of the facts I have stated here and to contradict me with sources and data. In the main I welcome him to engage me on these issues in a debate in the true Christian tradition. and scholarship. Or anyone who can confound or impeach what I have stated here or contradict my facts and sources is also welcome.
Let the debate begin.
Because this Discourse is already too long I will respond separately to this. Symbols are not necessarily wrong, it depends on the attachment to it. Life cannot run without those symbols and models. I will answer this fully in my next response.
The view has long been held and expressed that S. G. Elton made, built, founded and authored ( ?) Pentecostalism in Nigeria. I must say with all the fiber and energy in me that is not true.
Three questions we should ask:
What is Pentecostalism? Please read the best known authorities on the subject: W.J Hollenweger ( The Pentecostals, London, 1972) and Ogbu Kalu ( African Pentecostalism). You may also read several papers by noted experts on the subject like Sepulveda, H.V. Synaan. (The Pentecostal Movement in United States, PhD, Georgia)
A perusal of the above named works would destroy the parochialism in the soul.
The second question to ask what are the characteristic features of Pentecostalism? The defining doctrines of Pentecostalism from the beginning. Consult the works named above and ask yourself were these in place in Nigeria before S.G. Elton came or not?
You know the answer.
Thus Elton could not have been the father of Nigerian Pentecostalism. To be sure he played his own role and laid his own blocks in the building and formation of the Movement but he is not the founder nor the father.
Let the debate begin.
The error of Pastor Sunday Adelaja on this video is due to the fact that he was basing all his broadcast on one book only and on what Elton said. He was even judging Babalola based on wholly what Elton said without allowing the man to speak for himself. He condemned him as illiterate and thus consigned him to the judgment and opinion of another man. Even the wicked judges of the world would not do that. Do you see why Europeans revolted against theocracy and the Church since the Enlightenment period; pastors could be more cruel in judgment than even unbelievers. He presumed Babalola guilty without even for once hearing the man or allowing him to say anything in his own defense and thus consigned him to the sidelines of History. It is a sacrilege.
His second error arose from basing all his opinion on the biography of one man. I think it was Luther or Augustine or one of the fathers who warned us: ” Beware of a one- book man”. A man who has read only one book is a dangerous man.
Even Archdeacon H. Dallimore who he quoted out of context to insult Babalola he did not even know him or his origin. That is how bad it was because he never did any research. He was not even sure whether Elton was fully naturalized or not; nor his daughter. He wasn’t sure about even his facts yet he spoke with the temerity of a self- assured soul.
For anyone who is interested on knowing more on these issues and to cross check the facts I have stated here you may consult the following works:
* Moses Oludele Idowu, The Great Revival of 1930: The Origin of Modern Pentecostalism in Nigeria (2007)
* ________. Joseph Ayo Babalola: The Mantle of an Apostle: A Study of Spiritual Power (2007)
* ————–. An Instrument of Revival : The Challenge of Joseph Babalola (2012)
To show that he was not illiterate and fully understood what he was shown by God see
* Moses Oludele Idowu, Joseph Ayo Babalola: Collected Works Works of an Apostle (2010)
See the following works:
And references to several works you will find at the back of my book on GREAT REVIVAL.
I have gone to this length and at great personal cost to refute certain unfounded lies about our collective heritage.
I suspect that Pastor Sunday Adelaja has a motive for all these broadcast about Nigerian Church and ridiculing the leaders of the church. What he said about Babalola are so uncouth, untrue and so caustic that I wonder whether he ever read anything independently about him.
I have a feeling that this man is trying to destroy every foundation and every man of reputation so that he can supplant them. I am not surprised when after his broadcast he asked youths to join his mentorship program. So our man wanted to destroy the heroes that the children know so that he could become the new hero.
May be I am harsh. But whatever is the motive he has misrepresented facts especially about Babalola which is why I had to answer him. Babalola is a father of the Nigerian Church and the injunction to honour your fathers and mothers in the Lord in order to live long is also true today although it appears many Pentecostal preachers do not know this.
The notion that a black man cannot do or create anything of value without a white man teaching him or remote-controlling him fits comfortably with the Hegemonic Theory of White Supremacism which still rules even our universities and scholarship. The Great Revival of 1930 disproved that and many African revivals of that era. It is sad and unbelievable that a generation of supposedly educated sons and daughters are still trapped by this Theory and would even pervert their own history and their collective heritage to accommodate it.
I welcome rebuttal from anyone who can controvert the points I have raised here. At the end of my book THE GREAT REVIVAL OF 1930 I threw a challenge that I welcome anyone to meet me in a debate on these issues or to dispute them from either the university or seminary or anywhere. That challenge has not been taken 13 years after.
Facts are sacred.
I am Moses Oludele Idowu
For more on the works of Moses Oludele Idowu you can see:
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Here is a final warning: Do not alter, edit or change anything I have written here. Post as it is or leave it alone. Avoid tragedy. You have been warned.
© Moses Oludele Idowu
November 3, 2020
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