Original Research

Issues of doctrine and reality in Christian attitude towards traditional medicine in Nigeria

Solomon O. Ademiluka
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 58, No 1 | a3047 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v58i1.3047 | © 2024 Solomon O. Ademiluka | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 December 2023 | Published: 18 April 2024

About the author(s)

Solomon O. Ademiluka, Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies, Faculty of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa; and, Department of Religious Studies, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Kogi State University, Anyigba, Nigeria


Among Nigerian Christians, there is a clash of doctrine and reality revolving around the question of the correct Christian attitude towards traditional medicine. The clash resides in the fact that, while most of them consult traditional healers, especially in critical health situations, some still hold that, using traditional medicine, contradicts the Christian faith. Employing the descriptive approach, this article attempted to reconcile the use of African traditional medicine with the Christian faith. This research found that Western missionaries condemned African healing practices, teaching that Christians should find healing only at the hospitals and in Christian prayer. However, African converts continued to rely on native healers, particularly for ailments for which Western medicine was ineffective – a practice which continues till date in Nigeria. Moreover, many Nigerian Christians, especially the Aladura group, still believe that sometimes ailments have supernatural causes, and therefore combine African and Christian methods for healing. This article postulated that this approach to healing is appropriate because it is not offensive to the Christian faith and provides alternatives for Christian patients.

Contribution: This article is a contribution in Christian ethics. It argues that a solution to the clash between doctrine and reality in Nigerian Christians’ attitude to African traditional medicine is to adopt traditional African healing practices that are not offensive to the Christian faith.


doctrine and reality; African traditional medicine; Western medicine; Christian missionaries and traditional medicine; Nigerian Christians’ attitude to traditional medicine

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being


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