A senior ACNA clergyman has raised questions about the qualifications of a bishop-elect for the US-based Diocese of the Trinity (ADOTT) of the Church of Nigeria. The Rev. Dr. Augustine Unuigbe is scheduled to be consecrated suffragan bishop of the diocese by the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, on 3 July 2019 in Lagos.
While a priest of the Diocese of CANA East a complaint was lodged against Dr. Unuigbe alleging he was a false teacher and propounded the “word of faith” and “prosperity gospel”. It is unclear if the charges were resolved before Dr. Unuigbe was incardinated into the ADOTT last year, however the New Jersey minister told Anglican Ink the accusations of his being a word of faith devotee are untrue while supporters state his entry into the ADOTT was in good order
Word of faith, or word-faith, is a neo-charismatic theology that teaches the believer may access the power of God through uttering faith speech. As the Lord created the universe by speaking it into existence (Genesis 1), word-faith preachers such as Kenneth Hagin argued that God has endowed believers with this power. Citing Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, word-faith preachers believe that by making a “positive confession” of God’s promise and believing God’s word stirs the power of resurrection which raised Christ from the dead. A word-faith believer thus can “decree and declare” health, prosperity and protection for others.
Popular word-faith preachers such as Hagin, Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn teach the believer should expect health and prosperity as an outworking of their faith. It holds that the believer are “little gods”. Citing Psalm 82:6, Kenneth Copeland told believers that “You don’t have a God in you. You are one.”
The 2018 GAFCON conference held in Jerusalem denounced the prosperity gospel as a heresy and a form of witchcraft. When the issue arose earlier this year, the Bishop of Cana West, the Rt. Rev. Felix Orji, released a pastoral statement forcefully denouncing prosperity gospel/word-faith teachings as being contrary to Scripture and the catholic faith.
The Rev. Matt Kennedy, rector of Good Shepherd Anglican Church in Binghamton, NY published a critique of Dr. Unuigbe’s Pentecost Sunday sermon noting that the bishop-elect’s teaching is that the believer can use “the name of Jesus to claim riches and wealth for yourself.”
Last Sunday’s sermon was “right down the line word of faith, prosperity gospel,” he observed, arguing that these teachings speak of a great crisis in the Church of Nigeria and GAFCON.
“I don’t know what has been told to Archbishop Okoh,” about Dr. Unuigbe’s teachings. But it can be demonstrated that “he has not recanted these teachings,” and is a “false teacher who shouldn’t be standing in the office of bishop,” Mr. Kennedy said.
Mr Kennedy’s critique of Dr. Uniogbe’s Pentecost Sunday sermon can be found here.
Senior Church of Nigeria and GAFCON leaders are aware of the controversy, Anglican Ink has learned, and stated the matter has been passed on for review. If the allegations of false teaching, which have not been adjudicated by ecclesial authorities, are correct it would likely cause a breach in fellowship within the GAFCON movement as sharp as the divide over homosexuality within the larger Anglican Communion.