1.1. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Christianity is a major religious tradition in Nigeria. The presences of its churches and related institutions are as ubiquitous as its faithfuls. Christianity has penetrated all aspects of Nigeria social system. It may not be an overstatement to say that Christian tradition has obtained the level of indigenous religion in the country. The teachings and doctrines are internalized and conceived as the driving force of life yawning by a significant number of the Nigerian populace. In the mainline churches, Nigerian Christians have made significant impacts in the propagation and practice of the faith. The Anglican denomination is now Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion instead of Church of England. In Catholicism, Nigerians constitute members of the College of Cardinals in recent times. This feat gives hope of a possible Nigerian Pope in the near future. Similar impacts are also recorded in other Christian denominations. Hence, the above are few examples. Again, Nigerian Christian churches and Movements now „export‟ indigenous Missionaries to other parts of the world, especially to prop-up the faith in areas where the commitment and practice is declining. Within the country, evangelism and creation of new church administrative units are on steady increase. But in spite of these factors of growth and expansion, the Nigerian church is faced with challenges and problems of division in the present time. The mind of God for believers is that we are united, that is the reason Jesus prayed in John 17 that his followers would have unity. He prayed in verses 20-23, “I do not ask on behalf of these ones alone, but for those also who believe in Me by their word; that they may all be one; even as God, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may know that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have released to them, that they may be united, just as We are united; 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 come into discipleship by their ministry (Britney; 1994). The Bible lets us understand that Jesus Christ is crediting his disciples with the numbers that will be produced. The major concern Jesus expresses at this time of his impending death is the matter of unity among the disciples as their unity will most definitely be a vital prerequisite for their preceding mission (Jessica; 2009).Disunity and division are threats seen 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” (Ebere; 2010). 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 instruction and takes a firm stand against division and factions in the Body of Christ, in light of both personal conflict 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 heresies, denoting a difference of sound doctrine, even to the point of being an unjustified group (Accordance 2010). 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 God head, 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. According to Mounce the term church conveys the idea of fellowship, communion, participation and sharing (Mounce 2012). Paul subsequently uses the term only in a religious sense rather than a secular one to denote something higher 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” (Hauck 2010). 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 fellowship (Prime 2013). This proof of church is an external, physical expression of the spiritual gathering that is enjoyed by the Body being knit together with the Godhead (Hunsinger 2009). Thus, church is the internal religious participation of sharing in the benefits of a relationship with Christ, yet showing 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” (Schmitz 2010). Hence, the study examines the factors responsible for the division of churches in some churches in surulere Local Government in Oyo State.
1.2. STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
The Church of Jesus is increasing in conflict instead of unity. This disunity mostly comes in form of cell division. Churches are splitting, conflict in church seminars are increasing as reconciliation consultants are succeeding, while conflict abounds (Raymond; 1996), and denominations continue to grow in number due to social conflict 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 positional (Carson 1980).Christianity today suggests a proactive separation may be in order as only a sentimental unity remains among major denominations (Christianity Today 2009). Blomberg asserts that indeed this unity is difficult to acknowledge in light of the many splintering factions (Blomberg 2013). As a result, the observed lack of unity in the Body of Christ is a devastating witness to the world. Christianity in Nigeria is faced by challenges. However, right from the time of its propagation in Nigeria, there have been problems and challenges to surmount. But what is the nature of current problems challenges? Hence the study examines the factors responsible for the division of churches in some churches in Surulere Local Government in Oyo State.
1.3. AIMS OF THE STUDY
The major aim of the study is to examine the factors responsible for the division of churches in some churches in Surulere Local Government in Oyo State. Other specific objectives of the study include;
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H0: There is no significant relationship between the factors responsible for the division of some churches and Church unity in surulere Local Government in Oyo State.
H1: There is a significant relationship between the factors responsible for the division of some churches and Church unity in surulere Local Government in Oyo State.
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?”. This study would also be of immense benefit to students and scholars who are interested in developing further studies on the subject matter.
1.7 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The study is restricted to factors responsible for the division of churches in some churches in Surulere Local Government in Oyo State.
LIMITATION OF THE 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.
1.8 OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
Division: disagreement between two or more groups, typically producing tension or hostility
Churches: a building used for public Christian worship.
Christian: a person who has received Christian baptism or is a believer in Jesus Christ and his teachings.
Unity: the state of being united or joined as a whole.
Disunity: disagreement and conflict within a group.
OTHER SIMILAR THEOLOGY PROJECTS AND MATERIALS