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No True Christian Can Survive Nigerian Politics –Falade

Former Communications Director of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in the SouthWest, Elder Kunle Falade, speaks with CHINYERE ABIAZIEM on the peculiarity of the church, resolution of the leadership crisis, Christians in politics and other issues.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in the East celebrated its centenary recently, congratulations and can you talk more about the church and its peculiarity?

The Centenary was for the church in the East but in this part of the country, the church is close to 109 years though the church took off in the United States in 1863. I make bold everywhere to say the Seventh Day Adventist is the original Church because it started right from the Garden of Eden.

Really?

Yes. That is the truth. Immediately God completed His work of creation, in Genesis Chapter 2, verses 2 and 3, He worked for six days, rested on the seventh day and pronounced rest for people. It is not something that came midway. If you look at the Ten Commandments, almost all have ‘thou shall not’, but when it comes to the fourth commandment, the Lord simply said ‘remember’. When you say remember you are foreseeing a time when some people may forget and you are telling them the way I have done is the way it should still be. That is why you cannot see anyone who will claim to be the General Overseer of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, if there is any General Overseer it is Jesus Christ Himself who was part of creation. If you want to go historically you will find out that there was a time referred to as the Dark Age in Christendom, 1260 AD – 1790 AD, that was the time Christianity became polluted, and some other doctrines were creeping in. Paganism influences Christianity more than Christianity has influenced paganism. Within the Dark Ages, a lot of unbiblical changes were brought in and it led to reformation. There were many people involved in the Reformation but Martin Luther was a star of the Reformation, he looked at the changes and said they were not in the Bible. He nailed 95 theses to correct the problems in the church and it led to serious persecution. A lot of the people at the forefront of the reformation were martyred. After that there was a group of people that came up to look at several changes to be effected, by going back to what the Bible says, they were called the Reformers. From here, a lot of denominations came up. Those who feel baptism should be by immersion were called the Baptists; those who feel Orthodox, that everything must be directed according to the Bible are the Methodists. But while the reformations were going on, they were those who kept the Sabbath. Also, those who lived 300 years after Christ never worshipped on Sunday’. What it means is that none of the disciples ever worshipped on Sunday. When some wanted to rationalise it, they said it is the day when Christ resurrected they are trying to honour and they have forgotten that Jesus Christ said heaven and earth will pass away and not a dot of the word will remain unfulfilled. He also said he came to fulfil the law and not to change it. The change in the day of worship was enforced by a decree from Constantine and people keyed into it for fear of persecution that is how Sunday worship became popular but till tomorrow it does not receive the support of the Bible and there was no time the Lord said it will be accepted as the right day of worship.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is known for its plant-based diet; does it mean animal-based diets are not scripturally endorsed?

One thing we are very proud to say is that any of our doctrines is backed up by the Bible. In fact we may be the only church (and I am saying this with every confidence) that can tell the congregation that if what we are preaching or teaching is not in the Bible do not do it. There is no other church that can say this, the reason being that they cannot use the Bible to back up Sunday worship. The idea of a plant-based diet over animal products is not legalised as such but if you study the Bible and look at Leviticus 11 you will see the list of what people should eat or not eat as regards meat but we are not making it a law. The church is not saying it is a sin, but basically, it has been found out and science confirms that 80 per cent of diseases that afflict humans come from flesh. Plant-based food should be encouraged and that is what we do. Do not be surprised that up to 80 per cent of Adventists consume meat. So, it is not a law and not regarded as a sin but because it is healthy we encourage and teach it. Researchers have found out that among all the Christians all over the world, the Adventists live longer. As I speak my mother who celebrated 100 years last August is still running up and down.

A few years ago the Southwest region of the church was enmeshed in a leadership crisis, has it been resolved?

In fairness to the church, the then leader was removed and posted elsewhere but because he has some adherents there are still remnants on the ground we are praying that very soon everything will be cleared.

Should churches be experiencing leadership tussles, especially as a result of sit-tight-attitude?

The sit-tight-attitude is now a trend because churches have been commercialized as churches are seen as the company of the General Overseers and that is why you see the General Overseer either being replaced by his wife or the son. In fairness to the Seventh-day Adventist, we do not have such a hierarchy and that is why members can tell a leader that he is not doing it right, they cannot continue and the structure decides to relocate the person. Although we are saying he should be punished, it is not only a matter of his relocation. This is to prevent him from being a bad influence on others. When it comes to sit-tight, the Seventh-day Adventist is not absorbed in that because there is not one person who can claim sole leadership of the church, it is not possible. But you know the leader in question who was moved is a case of someone who found himself in a position, getting entrenched and using the position to lure some people to support him. Unfortunately because of the liberal policy of the church you are elected for five years after which you will face another round of election. But you can be removed as a lot of people have been removed. But then he was trying to play some games to bastardise the election process and that was why people rose against him and he could not continue.

Due to the rate of politicking and some anomalies, the church has been accused of failing to be the moral compass of society. What is your take?

Christ had 12 disciples and among them was Judas, so as long as we are in this world of sin we will still have people who will qualify as Judas and not a saint. The fact that corruption is not the lifestyle of the church is the reason we were able to rise against the leader and he was removed. In some settings, it cannot be that easy because someone wants the church to be his but no one can lay ownership claim in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It is not possible, no one has such authority.

Some religious leaders are said to steer clear of speaking truth to power and some go close to the corridor of power for what they can get…

Where you have ulterior motives you cannot remain incorruptible, the Bible says the love of money over righteousness is the root of all evil and that is what you see among religious leaders. If the idea is to spread the gospel as Christ did, money will be an allurement to us. Today, it is like Christianity has been merchandised and it is like running some limited liability companies here and there. Once this is the situation uprightness cannot be easily established. You know when Christ came; he left the opulence of heaven to live a sacrificial life, the biggest sacrifice to offer. A Christian life should be a sacrificial life knowing that comfort is not of this world. If you look through the Bible there is no prophet succeeded by his offspring because it was a sacrificial life. But today, it is the trend so it is commercial. I happened to be in politics before, I hope I am not exaggerating, and there can be no true Christian in politics in Nigeria as it is today. Yes, you can make it a quote. As politics is in Nigeria today, no true Christian can survive in it. I left, I was one of those who led SDP during Abiola’s time, and I was the publicity secretary. I had to choose between my Christian morality and politics; I found out that both cannot be combined. Christianity and politics in Nigeria cannot go together, one will rubbish the other. If you see those comfortably there it is because they want to serve their bellies. Romans 16 verses 17 -18 say it.

A Reverend who once served in a commission under the past administration said there is hardly any cathedral or mission school that was not built with the largesse from government officials. What is your opinion?

I want to say I know so much about how Babcock University (owned by Seventh-day Adventist Church) came into being. I was part of those whom the Lord used. When I was on the field as a journalist so when the matter came up, I was able to have a discussion and approval from the government was given. But, I want to let it known that the structures the Seventh-day Adventist church has built were built out of the church’s funds. I can say it loud and clear that none has depended on the government for any of those churches or cathedrals. That is not to say when there are occasions that people do not give offerings but that we as a church went to solicit money from the government, it has never happened and I can beat my chest.

Do you have any word on the current economic reality in Nigeria?

I only plead that people allow for some time, what we are going through was not caused in a day and nobody can think of an overnight solution because it will take some time. When you talk about political office holders it will take some time for their orientation to change because they went in as if they are going into business. They spent quite a lot of money and the idea is that they would re- coup the money. But it is very damnable that in the situation that we are, legislators will be thinking of riding a vehicle of 150 million naira, it does not show they are sharing in the affliction of the people. This is not the time to live a luxurious life.

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