Old Apostolic Church
The Old Apostolic Church is a Christian religious community, with historical roots in the Catholic Apostolic Church and the New Apostolic Church. The Old Apostolic Church is part of a branch of Christianity called Irvingism, and is separate from Protestantism.
After the death of three Catholic Apostolic Apostles in 1855 the apostolate declared that there was no reason to call new apostles. Two callings of substitutes ("Jesus calleth thee Apostolic Messenger. He would use thee Coadjutor for him whom He hath gathered to Himself.") were explained by the apostolate in 1860 as Coadjutors to the remaining apostles. After this event another apostle was called in Germany in 1862 by the prophet Heinrich Geyer. The Apostles did not agree with this calling, and therefore the larger part of the Hamburg congregation who followed their Bishop F.W. Schwartz in this schism were excommunicated. Out of this sprang the Allgemeine Christliche Apostolische Mission (ACAM) in 1863 and the Dutch branch of the Restored Apostolic Mission Church (at first known as Apostolische Zending, since 1893 officially registered as Hersteld Apostolische Zendingkerk (HAZK)). This later became the New Apostolic Church.
In 1889 Evangelist Carl George Klibbe arrived in South Africa to begin mission work for the New Apostolic Church. He was ordained Apostle in 1893 by Apostle H.F. Niemeyer of Australia. At that time the office of Chief Apostle was not yet established and each Apostle functioned independently from one other. Due to the personality cult of Chief Apostle Hermann Niehaus, Niemeyer separated himself from the German branch of the Church and founded The Apostolic Church of Queensland in 1912.
The South African branch also severed all contact with the German branch. The following reasons are given by the Old Apostolic Church for this act:
- Niehaus' ban on prophetic gifts (visions, dreams and prophecies),
- Niehaus' refusal to appoint Prophets,
- Niehaus' acceptance of the literal interpretation of the Bible,
- establishment of the office of Chief Apostle, and
- personality cult that formed around the Chief Apostle.
Niehaus tried to remove Klibbe from office and a counter-Apostle, Wilhelm Schlaphoff was appointed. In 1913 Klibbe was excommunicated from the New Apostolic Church. For some time, there were two conflicting organisations in South Africa using the name New Apostolic Church; the registered church under the leadership of Klibbe and a breakaway group under the counter-Apostle Schlaphoff.
Finally, in 1926, an agreement and settlement was reached between the two churches. The church that became independent in 1915 would change its name to the Old Apostolic Church, so that Schlaphoff could register the New Apostolic Church(Africa). The name "Old Apostolic Church" was chosen due to Klibbe's dedication to the original doctrine At the time of Klibbe's death on 22 May 1931 the Old Apostolic Church had more than 1 million adherents. Apostles Ernest Fredrick Willhelm Ninow, Carl Fredrick Willhelm Ninow and William Campbell were appointed by Klibbe as his successors before he died.
In mid 2006 three Apostles and their followers of the German church Apostelamt Jesu Christi joined the Old Apostolic Church. In the beginning of 2007 this German branch of the OAC was registered as Altapostolische Kirch e.v. (Deutschland).
At present the Old Apostolic Church is estimated to have around 2 million members in Africa and 30 000 in Europe. Congregations can be found in South Africa, Swaziland, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, USA, Canada, British Isles, Netherlands, Belgium, Australia, New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates. The Old Apostolic Church is independent from the New Apostolic Church and the United Apostolic Church.
Schisms from the Old Apostolic Church
The following groups broke away from the Old Apostolic Church:
- 1925 "Apostolic Church" under the leadership of Heinrich Velde, the son in law of Apostle Klibbe. This group became part of the Apostolic Church of South Africa - Apostle Unity and the United Apostolic Church.
- 1968 Twelve Apostles Church of Africa, due to doctrinal differences under the leadership of Helper-Apostle Ndlovu after he was removed from office.
- 1972 Reformed Old Apostolic Church under the leadership of Apostle Robert Lombard, broke away due to the unwillingness of the Old Apostolic Church leadership to take part in political debate concerning racial segregation, and a leadership dispute with other OAC Apostles concerning revelations received by Lombard. It was first established as the Non-White Old Apostolic Church but forced to change its name in a court case in 1975
- 1993 The Foundation of Apostles and Prophets Church, was founded by Vika, a former Helper-Apostle of the OAC who was removed from office for actively promoting politics in the church.
The leadership of the Old Apostolic Church is a body known as the Conference of Apostles. This body is responsible for all temporal and spiritual matters relating to the church. The conference of Apostles consists of all active and retired Apostles of the church. No single Apostle has a leadership role over other Apostles and the office of Chief Apostle or any other equivalent as is found in the New Apostolic Church or the Twelve Apostles' Church in Christ, is not recognized by the church. A Chairman is elected for a period of two years and do not have a vote, except in case of a tie.
The OAC is divided in districts for administrative purposes. There are currently nine districts, (Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Kwazulu-Natal, Free State/Northern Cape, Gauteng, Northern Districts, Botswana/Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Germany. Each district is under the control of the Forum of Apostles, which consists of the Apostles working out of that District Office.
The District Office is under the administrative leadership of the District Secretary, who is usually a Fourfold Officer (Overseer, Prophet, or Evangelist). The District Office also has welfare officers and staff to administer the church's funeral fund.
Each Apostle is responsible for a specific area known as an Apostleship. An Apostleship consists of several Overseerships.
An Overseership is led by a troika of an Overseer, Evangelist and Prophet. An Overseership is divided in several Elderships.
An Eldeship, under the leadership of an Elder might be one or several congregations, and consists of several Priests and Underdeacons. The Priest is responsible for the spiritual welfare of the congregants and is assisted by the Underdeacon who leads Bible study and evangelistic testimony.
Some Elders and Priests may receive specific responsibilities such as Evangelistic, Prophetic, Youth, Senior Citizens, Hospital Chaplaincy or Military and Police Chaplaincy.
Ministers in the OAC are appointed and ordained by the Apostle through the laying on of hands. They are chosen through the discernment of spiritual gifts given by God, and though they do not receive any theological training, doctrine and scriptures are taught through the breaking of bread within the Church, and by teachings which are inspired by the Holy Spirit and by the Scriptures. All ministers are lay persons, and do not receive any salaries.
The Old Apostolic Church is an exclusivist church and believe that it is the only path to salvation. According to the New Catechism of the Old Apostolic Church, there is no salvation outside of the church. Salvation is only obtained and maintained by being an active member within the body of Christ (the church)Members are taken up in the church after receiving testimony and is sealed by the laying of the hands of the Apostle which serves as confirmation of receiving the Holy Spirit.
According to Question and Answer 10 in the New Catechism, not everyone that calls the name of the Lord will enter heaven. In Question and Answer 11, the authority to preach the Kingdom of Heaven was given only to the Apostles (of the Old Apostolic Church.
Other churches are not able to give salvation as it places human interests before the interests of God. Because of this human interests (also called the flesh), other churches are not willing to listen to the Spirit of God.
For some years, a relationship was maintained with the German Apostelamt Jesu Christi (AJC), a church with similar views. This relationship was broken when three AJC Apostles and several congregations formed the German branch of the Old Apostolic Church in 2006.
The Old Apostolic Church is a free church. It is intrinsically separated from government (as opposed to a theocracy, or an "established" or state church). The Old Apostolic Church does not define government policy, nor have governments define church policy or theology, nor seek or receive government endorsement or funding for its general mission.
Members of the Old Apostolic Church are not allowed to become registered members of any political parties, stand for election, or openly declare their political views. The OAC do not support any political parties. Members are however allowed to vote.
Members must obey all laws of the countries in which they reside.
The leadership of the Old Apostolic Church did make some submissions to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (South Africa), and was the only Apostolic (Irvingist) Church to do so. The church policy stipulates that all assistance will be given to government.
The Old Apostolic Church's view on non-participation in politics has led to two schisms. In 1972 several coloured members formed the Reformed Old Apostolic Church, and in 1968 several black members formed the Twelve Apostles Church of Africa.
The Old Apostolic Church recognises and uses the Authorised King James Version as primary text. All Bibles used must be comparable to the Authorised King James Version. The Afrikaanse Ou Vertaling (Hersiene Uitgawe) is used in Afrikaans speaking congregations. In Germany the 1912 Luther Bible is used.
Before the introduction of the first Bible in Afrikaans in 1933, the Dutch Bible was used mostly among Afrikaans speaking members.
The Old Apostolic Church do not believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible and that the natural needs to be considered to understand the spiritual. The Bible should be interpreted spiritually or allegorical. The Bible is understood in a Natural and Spiritual way and Spiritual interpretation is preferred. The stories in the Bible are not historical events, but are lessons that have to be interpreted in the same way as the parables in the Gospels.
The Bible is not the only source of authority (Sola Scriptura), it must go hand in hand with the Holy Spirit to interpret the text. The Bible cannot give salvation but can lead the way to salvation which is by the Grace of God. According to OAC beliefs no more texts can be added to the Bible. Focus is placed on the fact that the Bible states that it is the prophecy of the book to which nothing can be added or removed rather than the more commonly followed view that it is the changing of the written text itself. The importance being mostly on the fact that it is the prophecy of the book that is of highest importance.
Salvation is by the Grace of God, which is according to the OAC is in Jesus Christ, and not in the Bible, though the Bible is used in teachings and testimonies. The church is not founded on the Bible, but on Jesus Christ, and the scriptures testify of Jesus Christ.
The OAC also believes that these sacraments can be given to the departed. This is performed by an Apostle by giving the sacraments to two substitutes (normally a Fourfold Officer and his wife). According to OAC belief, the dead do not enter the body of the substitute, or reside within any members, as only one soul (the mind of the person) and one spirit (Holy Spirit) can be present within a body.
The Old Apostolic Church in Popular Culture
- In the novel Roepman by Jan van Tonder and the Afrikaans movie with the same name, Salmon, Erika's boyfriend is an "Old Apostle", and this is a cause of friction between Erika and her father who is a staunch member of the Dutch Reformed Church.
-  History of the New Apostolic Church
- Kreunen v Klibbe and the New Apostolic Church, 432 of 1926 (SA)
- Duncan. B.R. Die Nuwe Apostoliese Kerk: Waarheid of dwaling. Christelike Opleiding en Kerkgroei. Kuilsrivier.
- Old Apostolic Church: History of the Western Cape District
-  Leitender Apostel verlässt das AJC K.d.ö.R
-  Old Apostolic Church
-  History of the Apostle-Unity
-  History of the Twelve Apostles Church in Christ.
- Martin, Harry. I Tell You The Truth
- Old Apostolic Church of South Africa v Non-White Old Apostolic Church of Africa 1975 (2) SA 684 (C) at 687 D-E. 4.
- Old Apostolic Church, New Cathechism.
- Old Apostolic Church, New Cathechism: Question and Answer 10 and 11
- Old Apostolic Church, New Cathechism: Question and Answer 12 and 13
- Old Apostolic Church: Household Rules
- Old Apostolic Church: Confession of Faith
- Old Apostolic Church, Constitution.
- Roepman. Jan van Tonder. Human & Rousseau. ISBN: 9780798155342
- Tang, M.J.: Het Apostolische Werk in Nederland.
- History of the New Apostolic Church in South East Africa
- History of the Apostolic Church of Queensland
- http://www.oldapostolic.com The Old Apostolic Church Official Page
- http://www.oldapostolic.eu Old Apostolic Church: European Mirror Web Page
- http://www.oldapostolic.net Unofficial Web Page
- http://www.vasvat.co.za Old Apostolic Church - Drug Addiction and Welfare Program
- http://www.oldapostolics.com Old Apostolic Church Social Network