AN APPRAISAL OF COLLOSIANS 2: 16 – 18 AND IT’S IMPLICATIONS FOR CHRISTIAN PARTICIPATION IN TRADITIONAL FESTIVAL: A CASE STUDY OF OSOGBO FESTIVAL IN OSUN STATE
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This study is an in-depth exegetical study of Colossians 2:16-19 in relation of its effects of traditional festival and its impact on church growth with on Osun Osogbo Festival. The study is an historical research. The research work adopts library and field based approach; this includes the study of related materials and books, the use of questionnaires and oral interviews. This is to gain insight on the practices of Pagan traditions and how it affects Church growth. Tradition is as old as man itself and everyone has his own tradition. It is observed that syncretism has crept in into the church. People who made a decision to follow Christ are still entangled in some heathen traditional practices. Based on the research carried out, some of the Christian around Osun State still believe that they are still indebted to the deity of the land and that Christianity does not overrule their tradition and culture. It has also been seen from the research that attachment to this pagan practices has deeply affected both the quantitative and qualitative growth of the church in Osun State. The researcher therefore recommended that Pastors, Leaders, should endeavor to disregard any practice that goes against the will of God and does not profit or edify the body of Christ, thus save the Church from going against the perfect will of God.
1.1 Background to the Study
Religion is the strongest element in the African culture and exerts great influence upon the conduct of the African people. Religion is closely bounded up with the traditional way of Yoruba People; therefore, religion has shaped the lives of Yoruba people, at the same time, life has shaped their religion. There is hardly any world religion that did not emerge out of its surrounding culture. Religion is part of the culture of any group of people. Christianity is not an exception. Religion is definitely embedded in African culture. Whenever two or three cultures meet, there is potential conflict but if the religion is practiced within the culture of the people, it lasts long and develops rapidly.
“Tradition” is currently defined: “the handing down of statements, beliefs …from generation to generation…” In theology, it especially refers to teachings handed down from past generations but not written in the Bible. “Tradition” in the Bible means: “a giving over which is done by word of mouth or in writing … by instruction, narrative, precept, etc. …” – Grimm-Wilke-Thayer. This is a related form of the verb “deliver.” So, tradition is simply teaching that has been delivered. The source or means of delivery is not inherent in the meaning, nor is the age of the teaching.
The theme of Christianity and its relation with other religions is indeed a delicate issue that must be handled with care. At present, there is no excuse for avoiding it. Needless to say, it is a topic to be explored and carefully mapped out, if illusion is to be dispelled, suspicion removed and conflict minimized.
In our society today, the progress of church growth is largely resisted, even among many Christians. Legalism, they cry, defending their rights of Christian liberty. These free-spirited believers maintain that despite the fact that they are regenerated they can still get involved in traditional practices based on their freedom in Christ. They claim that resisting them from what they believe to be their cultural heritage in simply binding them in a spiritual straightjacket. The society demands association whether in the church, neighborhood and so on; and knowing that man hates loneliness and wants to relate to other people. In an attempt to do this the individuals in the society bring ideas, values and beliefs that totally leads them away from God thus eternal destruction. These differences lead individuals in the society to disagreement, misbehavior and sometimes lack of respect for Christian values thus gets involved in traditional values on the basis of freedom and these drastically affect the growth of the church especially spiritually. For such misbehaviors to be put to order in order to enhance the growth of the church, it demands that the Christian disciplines his/her self thus not letting go of the Christian values on the basis of freedom of holding on to cultural heritage.
It is of keen interest and a sorry case to see what is happening these days concerning the discipline amongst Christians today. Formerly, when there is an act of indiscipline, the offender would feel remorseful, easily obey and carry out the punishment earmarked for him/her. But in today’s church many are not ready to obey or even carry out the punishment. They would rather go to another church and pretend as if all is well.
Generally, Christians today are not disciplined in terms of self-control and where they need to maintain discipline in appropriate ways, there would be chaos and misunderstanding. Hence there are a lot of activities taken with levity which is now lowering the standard of discipline in the church and in the life of Christians. But where discipline is properly administered, it would correct lapses and bring about change, better understanding, and growth in the church and would restore individuals into their rightful position. Discipline is what moderns need most and wants the least. Too often times, young people leave home, students quit school, husbands and wives seek divorce, church members’ neglect services, employees walk out on their jobs. They are simply trying to escape discipline. The true motive may often be camouflaged by a hundred excuses, but behind the flimsy front is the hard core of aversion to restraint and control.
Much restlessness and inability can be traced to this basic fault in modern characters. The kind of discipline needed is far deeper than the rule of alarm clocks and tie cards; it embraces self-restrain, courage, perseverance and resiliency as the inner panoply of the soul. God will not look you over for medals, but for scars (Hubbard). This is another way of saying he wants no “pampered saints”. In today’s turbulent world God needs disciplined men; soldiers tried, true and battle ready. The plight of modern men may be summed up in his striving for the road of self-indulgence. The way of least resistance is their goal. Sacrifice, discipline, restraint-these words present ideas that are hard to come by in this generation.
But many of these believers have so abused their freedom in Christ that they have virtually no spiritual discipline. They have swung the pendulum so drastically toward Christian liberty that their spiritual lives are out of balance. Such neglect of self-discipline prolongs their spiritual immaturity, leaving them with little self-control to resist temptation and sin. It is pretty clear that a lack of self-discipline is at the root of many of the troubles the nation is experiencing now.
The disturbing thing is that we find a lack of self-discipline, not just out in the world, but also in the church. In a recent study of 2,900 Protestant church members, 90% desire to please and honor Jesus in all they do, and yet only 19% read the Bible daily. The average Christian less than 5 minutes a day. The average pastor prays less than seven minutes a day. On top of that, respectable sins like gluttony and laziness are just as common in the church as in the world. This is why this researcher discussed Christianity and traditional festivals through an exegetical study of Colossians 2:16-18
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Traditional festival or better said practices, is a serious issue among Christians these days. If not seen among the pastors, then it will be observed among the membership or even the so called the leaders of the church. The concern of this study is to look at the aspects in which traditional practices has indeed affected the life of Christians and specifically church growth. Level of maturity in spiritual matters, and the exercise of spiritual gifts are necessary and must be considered when talking about church growth. This is because one wonders why there would still be acts of the heathen by Christians where the Scripture is being preached every time, thus, the need for research.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
When there is proper enlightenment about the Christian faith some unchristian practices in the church would be reduced. Christianity has different meanings to different people.
The purpose of this work is to bring out the effect of traditional practices on Christianity and its implications.
1. To examine the views of the Old and New Testament on traditional festivals and true worship of the living God.
2. To look into the role of Christians in abolishing heathen traditional act.
3. To motivate Christians, knowing the relevance towards being well equipped physically and spiritually in combating traditional practices.
1.4 Significance of the Study
This cannot be overemphasized but should go a long way to caution and educate Christian leaders and Christians. That is, workers, members and the entire worshippers in the church. Growth in personal holiness largely determines the progress the church makes in church growth. Without this foundational mindset, there can be no advancement in grace.
This research will benefit Christians and Christian leaders:
i. Help them view church growth in the right perspective.
ii. Help Christians extract the hidden knowledge in the scripture and apply it to their personal life and other Christians for a long lasting impact.
iii. This work can be used for further research.
iv. To raise true followers and ambassadors of Christ.
1.5 Delimitation of the Study
This research work is not aiming at treating all aspects of church challenges; the main point focuses on Christian church growth. Focusing majorly on traditional festival (practices), of Osun of Osogbo festival as a case study. Christians must be concerned with enlarging the kingdom which is church growth. In fact, their art of having this at the back of their mind goes a long way in the society and the entire populace of the church. Every Christian leader must be kingdom minded. However, the researcher cannot list the entire challenges of church growth in the life of Christians but would treat basically traditional festival due to time and shortage of material factors. Also the researcher would exegete Colossians 2:16-18 alone and not all the chapters in Colossian. And this study will do the following:
Focus on traditional festivals among Christians (Osun Osogbo as case study).
The study would also look at the Christian and the church growth.
1.6 Research Procedure
This methodology would take the form of historical research. The researcher would go further by looking at the existing procedure or ministerial guidelines on the process of dealing with traditional practices among Christians. Moreover, relevant books, magazine, journals, commentaries, were consulted from libraries especially LIFE Theological Seminary Library.
1.7 Limitation of the Study
The attitude of interview respondents towards the oral questions during the interviews affected the actualization of the main objectives of this study, but efforts will be made to make it a success.
1.8 Definition of Terms
In this study, there are few words to be defined because most of the words involved in the title are self-explanatory but for the sake of the study, the following words were defined
Traditional: According to Advanced English Learner’s Dictionary it is consisting of or relating to tradition.
Festivals: Full Dictionary defines festival as a day or period of time set aside for feasting and celebration.
Church: According to advance English and Thesaurus church is one of the group of Christians who have their own beliefs and forms of worship. Also a place of public worship for Christians. And also a service conducted in a house of worship. It is also defined as the body of people who attend or belong to a particular local church. This refers to New Testament from the church that had its birthday at Pentecost. It is a local group of believers and believers in universal fellowship. A body or organization of religious bodies or as the whole body of Christians. A place of called out ones.
Church is a group of people gathered together in a particular location with the same aim of worshipping God. The English word derived from the Greek adjective “kupikod” which means belonging to the Lord. It is also an assembly or the gathering together of people who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and they meet regularly to promote the interest of God’s kingdom in their lives and in the world.
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