THE BIBLICAL EXAMINATION OF FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR DIVISIONS IN THE CHURCH, A CASE STUDY OF CHRIST APOSTOLIC CHURCH

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Table of Contents

Title Page                                                                                                        i

Certification                                                                                                    ii

Dedication                                                                                                      iii

Acknowledgement                                                                                          iv

Abstract                                                                                                          v

Table of Contents                                                                                           vi

CHAPTER ONE: – INTRODUCTION

1.1.      Background of Studies                                                                      

1.2.      Statement of Problems                                                                       

1.3.      Objectives of Study                                                                                       

1.4.      Significant of the Study                                                                                

1.5.      Scope of the Study                                                                                        

1.6.      Limitation of the Study                                                                                             

1.7.      Definition of Terms                                                                           

Endnotes                                                                                                                                

CHAPTER TWO – LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1.      Concept of the Church

2.2       Defining the Term “Unity”

2.3       Schism, Division, Separation, and Excommunication

2.4       Division and Personal Conflict

2.5       Establishment, Growth and Development of Churches

2.6       Unity and the Church

Endnotes                                                                                                                                

CHAPTER THREE – FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR DIVISIONISM IN THE CHURCH

3.1       Theological Teachings of Churches on Church Unity           

3.2       Fellowship in the Old Testament

3.3.      Induction of the Biblical Text on Division

3.4.      Personal Conflicts in the Old Testament

3.5       Factors that Cause Divisions in Churches

            Endnotes

CHAPTER FOUR: -THE BIBLICAL EXAMINATION OF FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR DIVISIONS IN THE CHURCH

4.1       The Contextualization of Division

4.2       Christological Separation

4.3       The Purity of the Church

4.4       Effects of Divisions on Churches

4.5       Possible Solutions to the Factors responsible for Divisions in the Church

Endnotes                                                                                                        

CHAPTER FIVE: – SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION

5.1       Summary                                                                                            

5.2.      Conclusion                                                                                         

5.3       Recommendation                                                                   

Endnotes                                                                                                        

Bibliography  

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1       Background of the study

The will of God for us is that we are united, that is why Jesus prayed in John 17 that his disciples would have unity. He prayed in 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”.

This prayer he made did not just focus on the eleven remaining disciples but also to those who would reach discipleship through their ministry1. 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 mission2. Disunity and division are threats found among the members of the Body especially as the Church increases and grows in numbers. 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”3. The external expression of this unity is to be the evangel of the Church to the world, which attests to the sending of Christ by the Father.

In 1 Corinthians 1:10 he exhorts, “Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment”, here Paul states this directive and takes a hard stand against division and factions in the Church Body, in light of both personal division and in light of doctrine. Unfortunately, Paul himself falls victim to one of these chasms of opinion in his relationship with Barnabas. Paul’s terminology to address doctrinal differences (1 Corinthians 11:19 and Galatians 5:20) is heiresses, denoting a difference of sound doctrine, even to the point of being an unjustified group4. Just prior to the prayer in John 17 Jesus had established the institution of the Lord’s Supper in light of the Passover celebration, an institution given in great part to exhibit and foster unity with the Godhead and unity as members of the Body of Christ. Paul affirms in 1 Corinthians 10:16, that the pinnacle of this desired oneness of communion, or church is displayed materially in the act of the Lord’s Supper, as it is a “sharing” in the blood and the Body of Christ. Mounce holds that the term church conveys the idea of fellowship, communion, participation and sharing5. Paul subsequently uses the term only in a religious sense rather than a secular one to denote something greater than a society, to denote a fellowship of a higher level; he as well uses this term to express a “religious fellowship (participation) of the believer in Christ and Christian blessings for the mutual fellowship of believers”6. 1 John 1:3 and 2 Corinthians 13:14 affirm that church is also held with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in addition to the communion of the saints, it is the Holy Spirit alone however, who brings believers into this fellowship7. This evidence of church is an external, physical expression of the spiritual fellowship that is enjoyed by the Body being knit together with the Godhead8. Thus, church is the internal religious fellowship or participation of sharing in the benefits of a relationship with Christ, yet manifesting itself at times in a physical expression through the Body of Christ. Schmitz cites homothumadon as being infused with ”togetherness”, such as is evidenced in the visible, inner unity of a group faced by a common duty or danger; it is a unity, or unanimity, not embracing a personal agenda, “but on a cause greater than the individual”9. Hence, descriptive of the early Church, it is used in Acts all but one other time in the New Testament, in an effort to accentuate the internal unity of the group.

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1.2       Statement of the problem

The Church of Jesus is increasing in division instead of unity. This disunity mostly comes in form of cell division. Churches are splitting, division in church seminars are increasing as reconciliation consultants are succeeding, while division abounds10 and denominations continue to grow in number due to social division as the causal mechanism.  Theoretically, orthodoxy would confess that unity is possible through the giving of Christ’s glory. The Church as a whole is rightly able to proclaim theological truths, but is also expected to evidence them to the world through its witness, as declared unity is not merely positional11. Christianity today suggests a proactive separation may be in order as only a sentimental unity remains among major denominations12. Bloomberg asserts that indeed this unity is difficult to acknowledge in light of the many splintering factions13. As a result, the observed lack of unity in the Body of Christ is a devastating witness to the world.

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1.3       Objectives of the study

The chief objective of this study is to examine the factors responsible for divisions in the churches.

To know the biblical and theological justification which support divisions of fellowship within the Body of Christ.

To know what tolerances of division are biblically justifiable, or permitted in the scope of Scripture and

To know whether the Church is actually in alignment with Scripture, and how that should affect the behavior of Christians today in their role of glorifying God.

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1.4   Significance of the study

This study will contribute to the body of knowledge of Christian’s obedience in light of Scripture in that it seeks to identify and then justify that paradigm of acceptable schisms or, permissible divisions. It then seeks to answer the question, “To what degree are Christians in accordance with Scripture in tolerating separations in the Body of Christ?”

The researcher aimed at identifying the implications of clearer understanding so that believers who are participating in any acts of division may understand the error or validity of their actions. Division in churches must be clearly defined if it is permitted in the scripture. This research has components that benefit on many levels: personal, professional, academic and practical.

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1.5       Scope of the Study

This study centers on the biblical examination of factors responsible for divisions in the church, a case study of Christ Apostolic Church with a view of finding a lasting solution to the problem.

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1.6       Limitations of study

Financial constraint– Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).

Time constraint– The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.

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1.7   Definition of Terms

Division: According to Cambridge Online Dictionary, Division is a disagreement between two or more groups, typically producing tension or hostility14

Churches: According to Cambridge Online Dictionary, Church is a building used for public Christian worship.15

Christian: According to Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, A Christian is a person who has received Christian baptism or is a believer in Jesus Christ and his teachings.16

Unity: According to Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, Unity is the state of being united or joined as a whole.17

Disunity: According to Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, Disunity is a disagreement and division within a group.18

ENDNOTES

  1. MacArthur Britney, “Reckless Faith: When the Church Looses Its Will to Discern”. (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1994), 657.
  2. Jessica Berry, “Philosophy in Review”.  (Oxford University Press, 2004), 497.
  3. Jessica Berry, “Philosophy in Review”.  (Oxford University Press, 2004), 497.
  4.  Jessica Berry, “Philosophy in Review”.  (Oxford University Press, 2004), 497.
  5.  Mounce William 2006. “Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words”. (gen. ed. William D. Mounce Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006), 127&247.  (Mounce 2006:127, 247)
  6. Hauck “Theological Dictionary of the New Testament” (Kittel G, ed.; Bromily GW, tr., vol. III. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1983), 804.
  7. Prime D, “Under God’s Smile: The Trinitarian Blessing of 2 Corinthians 13:14”. (Ryelands Road, Leominster: Day One Publications, 2008), 105.
  8. Hunsinger D (2009). “Practicing Koinōnia”.  (Theology Today, 2009), 346-367.
  9. Schmitz ED, “The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology” (Brown C, gen. ed.; vol. 3. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1986), 907.
  10. Raymond, “A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith”. (Second Edition, revised. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1996), 79.
  11. Carson, “The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus: an Exposition of John 14-17”. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1980), 201.
  12. Christianity Today, “No-fault division? It may be time for mainline churches to consider an amicable divorce”. (Christianity Today, 2004), 23.
  13.  Bloomberg, “Commentary of the New Testament use of the Old Testament”. (Gen Eds G.K. Beale and D.A. Carson. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008), 224.
  14. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/Division accessed on 20 January 2021
  15. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/Church accessed on 20 January 2021
  16. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Christian accessed on 20 January 2021
  17. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unity accessed on 20 January 2021
  18. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disunity accessed on 20 January 2021

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