The Bible in Africa: Transactions, Trajectories, and Trends

By Gerald O. West; Musa W. Dube | Go to book overview
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Andrew Olu Igenoza

In Africa, the majority of the people grapple with problems related to human existence on a large scale. The sick, who are mostly poor, seek for healing in different ways. The poor masses, of course, look for ways out of their plight. The rich, too, search for security and protection and the childless want to become parents, etc. Perhaps only the elderly might resign themselves to fate. This is even doubtful. With so much belief in witchcraft, sorcery and sundry preternatural powers, many would go to any lengths to counter perceived or imagined forces of evil. These forces may also be seen to be operating in the social, economic and political spheres. In a continent where the people are known to be very religious, it is not surprising that many use the Bible in addition to other methods in dealing with their problems. Churches and fellowships have continued to mushroom as a result, offering varied and often conflicting solutions purportedly based on the Bible. Some groups for example, use the Bible to justify their refusal of every form of medication while others use the same Bible to support the performance of rituals and sacrifices in pursuit of healing.1 Some define prosperity in purely material terms while others believe otherwise.

It is in the light of these complexities that the approach of the Scripture Union to the use of the Bible in addressing these human issues is examined here with particular reference to Nigeria and Ghana. Nigeria is the scene with which I am most familiar, but in December 1996, I had the opportunity of observing a Scripture Union programme in Ghana and reading some of their literature

In Nigeria, for example, the Christ Apostolic Church in the 1930s officially renounced the use of every form of medicine because of their belief in divine healing, using texts like Exodus 15:26 among others. At the same time, it is known that some so-called “white garment” churches prescribe animal sacrifice for therapeutic and apotropaic purposes based on the Old Testament and traditional sacrifice systems (Isaacson 1990: 87, Turner 1979: 165–172, Makhubu 1988: 59–64).


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The Bible in Africa: Transactions, Trajectories, and Trends
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