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EFFECT OF DENOMINATIONALISM ON THE UNITY AND SECURITY OF THE CHURCH IN NIGERIA CONTEXT

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Abstract

The study was carried out to examine the effect of denominationalism on the unity and security of the church in Nigeria context. The dangers of doctrinal differences among churches in Nigeria often hamper on unity among the competing denominations in the 21st century. This study used a mixed method approach combining secondary data and survey of the denomination involved. The findings of the study revealed that there is lack of national unity among Pentecostal and Orthodox churches in Nigeria. Major causes of disunity in churches were doctrinal differences, social and political in nature. Factors that conditioned the doctrinal controversy included sacraments, indulgence, perpetual virginity of Mary, purgatory, infallibility of the Pope, women ordination, teaching on marriage and divorce, mode of dressing, worship, baptism among others. The difference in doctrine and belief remains the major causes of denominationalism and division among churches in the region. Which in turn threatens the unity and security of the church of God in Nigeria. It was recommended that there is need for church leaders who govern the different denominations in Nigeria to intervene and resolve the division between the Christian denominations in Nigeria.

                                               Table of Contents

Title Page                                                                                i

Certification                                                                                      ii

Dedication                                                                               iii

Acknowledgement                                                                             iv

Abstract                                                                                  v

Table of Contents                                                                    vi

CHAPTER ONE: –

1.0 INTRODUCTION

1.1.    Background to the Study                                                       

1.2.    Aim/Objectives of the Study                                         

1.3.    Significant of the Study                                                                             

1.4.    Scope of the Study                                              

1.5.    Methodology                                                                          

1.6.    Definition of Terms                                                                                   

1.7.    Literature Review         

CHAPTER TWO: THE HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN DENOMINATIONS IN NIGERIA

2.1 Origin and growth of Christianity in Nigeria

2.2 Major Church Denominations and their Doctrines

2.2.1 Roman Catholic

2.2.1 Anglican Church Doctrine

2.3 The disparities Between Orthodox and Pentecostal Churches

CHAPTER THREE: EFFECT OF DENOMINATIONALISM ON THE UNITY AND SECURITY OF THE CHURCH

3.1 The Diversity of Church Tradition

3.2 Effect of Denominationalism on the Unity of the Church

3.3 Danger Posed by Denominationalism on the Unity of the Church

3.4 Effect of Denominationalism on the Security of the Church

CHAPTER FOUR: EXAMINATION OF FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR DIVISION IN THE CHURCH

4.1 Fellowship of the Old Testament

4.2 Denominational Unity and the Church

4.3 Factors that Causes Division in the Church

4.4 Effect of Disunity on Churches

CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION

5.1 Summary

5.2 Conclusion

5.3 Recommendation

References

                                            CHAPTER ONE

                                        1.0 INTRODUCTION

1.1.    Background to the Study   

The recent proliferation rate of churches in Nigeria has left the church insecure due to the reoccurring cases of inter-denominational clashes. The practice of denominationalism have caused chasm among churches that they seems to have forgotten that every church supposedly drive its practices from the Holy Scripture but with different hermeneutical approaches and emphasis in mind. Although the crisis and disunity in the Nigerian churches, politics, disloyalty, oppressive ideas, tussle for leadership, are causes of divisions not only triggered by the Pentecostal churches in Nigeria (Peter et al., 2011, p. 360). The situation emanated from an unseen struggle between the churches established by Western missionaries and those native to Africans founded and maintained by Africans.

Doctrinal controversies led to denominationalism which birthed Pentecostalism as one of the fastest growing Christianity movements in Nigeria. The increasing number of Pentecostal churches, which seems uncontrollable, is substantiated in the heavy presence of its churches in every nook and cranny of the Nigerian society. Today, the rate at which churches are springing up in Nigeria is alarming, almost every street in country has at least two churches not to mention the rooms and parlous which are converted to churches. Churches are now seen as a lucrative business ventures, to the extent that most Bible College students see it as a license to plant or open a church after completion of the college without considering the necessity of God’s calling (Ibiyinka, 2011).

Religious denomination is a subgroup within a religion that operates under a common name, tradition, and identity (Nmah, 2012). It also refers to as a congregation of Christians in a region who have united themselves to work and worship together. They have a pattern of organizational work that they are to do, and funds they are to do this work. Christianity as a noun connotes Christian faith, religion, being a Christian character or the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ Christianity refers also to the history of Christianity that is a history of salvation (Adamolekun, 2012). It is a way people or ethnic group exhibits or practices its Christian faith. Unity is the state of being united or joined as a whole, the state or fact of being united or combined into one, as of the parts of a whole; unification. Unity is the state of different areas or groups being joined together to form a single country or organization. The quality of being one in spirit, sentiment, purpose, etc.; harmony; agreement; concord; uniformity. The unity of believers is derived from Ephesians 1:10 where Paul emphasizes the unity of believers into one faith.

The Church of God is increasing in division instead of unity. Disunity and division are security threats found among the members of the church especially as the Church increases and grows in numbers. The will of God for the church is that they remain united, which is why Jesus prayed in (John: 17) that his disciples would have unity. He prayed in John: 17 verses 20-23;

“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me”.

Jesus’s prayer did not just focus on the eleven remaining disciples but also to those who would reach discipleship through their ministry (MacArthur, 1994). The Bible lets us know that Christ Jesus is crediting his disciples with the numbers that will be produced. The primary concern Jesus expresses at this time of his impending death is the issue of unity among the disciples as their unity will most definitely be a vital prerequisite for their subsequent mission (Jessica, 2004). As Christ is definitely supplicating the Father with references to God and himself, it is clear the unity herein described is more transcendent than that of “simply human fellowship or the harmonious interaction of Christians” (Jessica, 2004).

The elements that instigate crisis and conflict in Nigeria include “ethnicity, politics and religion”. The hostilities have become so pronounced that unity of the nation is and that of the church in particular is under threat. Some of these security threats to the church is as a result of the church meddling into political issues, militancy, land disputes, trade disputes, and inter-denomination crisis among others. It has become very challenging for Christians to carry out their religious duties in most parts of Nigeria without the fear of insecurity. This has led quite a handful of General Overseers and Senior Pastors to go almost everywhere with hired security personnel for fear of being attacked. This is probably why (Olawale, 2013) tagged Nigeria a “security risk nation” to which many international communities have warned their citizens not to live or even travel to Nigeria. Nigeria has been experiencing a number of inter-denominational crises and lack of cordial relationship among sister churches or denominations.                                                 

1.2 Aim/Objectives of the Study                                           

The main aim for this research is to examine the effect of denominationalism on the unity and security of the church in Nigeria context, the study intend to achieve the following objectives;

  1. To examine major church denominations in Nigeria and their doctrinal impacts to the society.
  2. To outline the disparities between orthodox and Pentecostal churches in Nigeria.
  3. To ascertain the effect of church proliferation on the unity and security of the church in Nigeria.
  4. To find out the factors responsible for divisions in the Nigerian church.
  5. To examine the danger posed by denominationalism on the unity of the church.
  6. To proffer possible solutions to the challenges posed by denominationalism on the unity and security of the church

1.3.    Significant of the Study                                                                                     

This study will be of immense importance in the sense that it will help theologians have a better understanding about the meaning of denominationalism, origin of Christianity in Nigeria and its impacts on the society.

The findings of this study will be useful to every church general overseer, pastors, church leaders, government and the general public on the effect of denominationalism on the unity and security of the church in Nigeria.

The study will generate valid data on the causes of division among churches which if adopted by policy makers will help in combating inter-denominational crisis, religious conflicts and insecurity in the country.

This study will also serve as a resource base to other scholars and researchers interested in carrying out further research in this field subsequently, if applied will go to an extent to provide new explanation to the topic.

1.4 Scope of the Study                                       

The scope of this study revolves around the entire federation; since it examines the effect of denominationalism on the unity and security of the church in Nigeria, the dynamic scope has a national outlook and it will thus be universal to embark on the study. However, it becomes very necessary for the researcher to narrow it down to the premises of Anglican Church of the living faith Agboroko with a view of finding a lasting solution to the problem.

1.5 Methodology                                                                             

This research is empirical in nature, it is based on library work research. In respect to the study methodology, it will depend on both the primary and secondary source of data collection. The primary source shall include personal observation and oral interview; the secondary sources shall include journals, encyclopedia, documented information, textbooks, and relevant periodicals, among others. This research source of information shall majorly base its findings on secondary source.

1.6.    Definition of Terms

Denomination: A religious denomination is a subgroup within a religion that operates under a common name, tradition, and identity. The term refers to the various Christian denominations.

Denominationalism: is the belief that some or all Christian groups are legitimate churches of the same religion regardless of their distinguishing labels, beliefs, and practices.

Unity: Unity is the state of being united or joined as a whole, the state or fact of being united or combined into one, as of the parts of a whole; unification.

Security: Security is protection from, or resilience against, potential harm caused by others, by restraining the freedom of others to act.

Church: A church building, often simply called a church, is a building used for Christian religious activities, particularly for worship services. The term in its architectural sense is most often used by Christians to refer to their religious buildings, but it is sometimes used (by analogy) to refer to buildings of other religions.

Christianity: Christianity is a religion based on the person and teachings of Jesus Christ, or its beliefs and practices.

Doctrine: Doctrine (from Latin: doctrina) is a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the essence of teachings in a given branch of knowledge or belief system. The Greek analogue is the etymology of catechism.

Doctrinal differences: this is defined in this context as the different views, belief and mode of operation of various churches that varies with that of others.

Pentecostal: Pentecostalism or Classical Pentecostalism is a renewal movement within Protestant Christianity that places special emphasis on a direct personal experience of God through the baptism with the Holy Spirit.

1.7 Literature Review  

The main essence of the church existence is to provide an environment of peace, harmony and sound human development. Unresolved church conflicts result in church splits, civil litigation, divorce and a decrease in the number of church members. Churches are noted to be springing up at an alarming and unprecedented rate in all available spaces, shops, warehouses, hotels, sitting rooms, uncompleted building, both private and public school premises to mention a few. The proliferation of churches in Nigeria today is as a result of numerical strength of churches which was a result of church growth. This rapid multiplication of churches according to Ibiyinka (2011) borne out of the understanding that there is freedom of religious worship in Nigeria. The society is witnessing proliferation of churches which has brought changes in values, created job employment, which is a great source of solution to people’s problems.

Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) exists, not to represent all Churches politically but more importantly to shoulder ecumenism among various Christian groups in the country. According to (Clement, 2014, p.94), every group of persons that claims the name Christian qualifies for membership of CAN. However, the aforementioned scenarios no doubt, facilitated a number of blocks to which Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) is divided. The divisions and lack of sincere unity in each denomination is a clear signal that in each block of CAN there is altogether no complete truce. This has occasioned avoidable struggles that usually characterize the election of CAN’s key officials such as the President, the Secretary, etc. to the extent of taking issues about the body’s internal election to law court (Godwin, 2016). An overarching objective in the definition of CAN is that: The association is a Fellowship of Christian churches with distinct identities recognizable structures and systems of worship of one God in the Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Association makes Christ the centre of all its work and shall promote the glory of God by encouraging the growth unity of churches, and by helping them to lead the nation and her people to partake of Christ’s salvation and all its fruits.

The motto of CAN which is “that they may be one” according to (John 17:21 as seen in the CAN Constitution). This laudable goal is, however, being compromised on the platform of denominationalism and other selfish agendas up to date. In welcoming delegates to the 2012 Divine Commonwealth Conference (DIVCCON), Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, Primate, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) is quoted as identifying that, “Disunity among Christians as the main threat from ‘within’ the Church, and that “this trend had exposed the Church to so many disadvantages.” The whole issue is altogether compounded by the numerous and somewhat uncountable number churches, divisible into Pentecostal, Neo-Pentecostal, Charismatic, Indigenous Zionists, admixture of Islam and Christianity, etc. in the country as at the present time. Those who are through going prosperity preachers and have amassed tangible material wealth also deride the mainline Churches as collections of paupers. Unsettled church conflicts also affects church security as some members leaves the church and new members avoid joining the church as a result of corrupt leadership. All this church related issues led scholars to ask “What is a believer to do”? Should believers ignore denominations, should they just not go to church and worship on their own at home? The answer proffered by scholars to both questions is “no”.

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