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This study was to examine theinfluences of doctrinal differences among churches in Nigeria, which often hampered unity among the competing denominations in the 21st century. The findings of this study showed that there is lack of national unity among the churches in Nigeria. Factors that conditioned the doctrinal controversy included sacraments, sola scriptura, sola fide, sola gracia, indulgence, perpetual virginity of Mary, purgatory, infallibility of the Pope, women ordination, infant baptism, homosexuality among others. The work recommended that oneness of Christians in Nigeria should be Christocentric, unity in diversity, and sola scriptura. Methods of approach are historical, comparative and descriptive methods.
This study used a mixed method approach combining focus group discussions, in-depth interviews and congregant’s survey. The findings of the study revealed that conflict was understood differently in church, understanding conflict as violence and conflict as misunderstandings. Major causes of church conflicts are doctrinal differences, social and political in nature.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Doctrinal differences led to Pentecostalism which is now one of the fastest growing Christianity movements within Nigeria and the world at large. Today, one will not go through the history of the Early Church without getting involved with this subject, and be struck by the observation that he/she is dealing with an age of innumerable controversies arising from churches with different doctrines. Pentecostalism in Nigeria was inspired by new Religious Movements in Nigeria caused by doctrinal differences, which share some common features with them. Gaiya (2002:para.4) buttresses this view that “during an influenza epidemic in 1918, revivals flared within Mission Churches and the Aladura Churches expanded”. For example, the Cherubim and Seraphim Society was founded in 1925 as well as the Church of the Lord(Aladura) in 1930 respectively. The Anglican form of prayer known as the Precious Stone Society came up to heal the influenza victims in 1918.The group left AnglicanChurch in the early 1920s and was affiliated with Faith Tabernacle Church based in Philadelphia. Also Joseph Babalola of Faith Tabernacle led a revival that converted thousands of people. The movement initiated ties with the Pentecostal Apostolic Church in Great Britain in 1932, but the ties were dissolved over the use of modern medicine. Pew Forum on Religion (2011: para.1) reports that the Celestial Church of Christ also came into western Nigeria from Benin and rapidly grew and expanded across the northern region. Later it became one of the largest Aladura Churches in Africa. Pa Josiah Akindayome, one of their members later established the Redeemed Christian Church of God. The Redeemed Christian Church of God “became increasingly Pentecostal in theology, practice and growth” Pew Forum on Religion (2011: para.2). It has become very large and their churches cut across the globe including United States. Another form of revival emerged between 1930 and 1960 which included both Charismatic and Pentecostal movements. Kalu (2008:34) maintains that this wave of revival includes “the Charismatic Youth Movement among the youth ofvarious denominations that occurred in different parts of the country; challenging the parent group which allegedly suffered from power failure”. The group aimed at re- evangelizing the mainline churches and converting new souls for God. The Pew Forum on Religion (2011: para.2) confirms that the 1930 and 1960 revival aided the evangelical revival of the 1970s.This was a wave of Pentecostal expansion that started operating as fellowship but was later transformed into the establishment of new Churches. One of the leaders of such Churches was Benson Idahosa, who established the Church of God Mission International in 1978.
According to Francis Wernick, division and disunity have marked the history of the Christian Church from at least the end of the first century. While not immune from this danger of dissent, Seventh-day Adventists have been relatively free of serious discord, having a remarkable unity on Bible truth. But danger is always present as the enemy of the church seeks in every way possible to bring in variance and disagreement. Controversial issues have the potential of dividing the church. It is in view of this that the researcher intends to investigate the impact of doctrinal difference on in Nigerian churches.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The continuous question of why are there so many Christian denominations in Nigeriahas led to the argument that will be addressed in the course of this study. Looking at scholar’s response to the above question, we must first differentiate between denominations within the body of Christ and non-Christian cults and false religions. Denominations are based on disagreements over the interpretation of Scripture. An example would be the meaning and purpose of baptism. Diversity is a good thing, but disunity is not. If two churches disagree doctrinally, debate and dialogue over the Word may be called for. This type of “iron sharpening iron” (Proverbs 27:17) is beneficial to all. If they disagree on style and form, however, it is fine for them to remain separate. This separation, though, does not lift the responsibility Christians have to love one another (1 John 4:11-12) and ultimately be united as one in Christ (John 17:21-22).Unlike other religions with just one or few denominations, the Christian religion posted so many challenges ranging from doctrinal differences. Which led the researcher to look into this problems.
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The main purpose for this research work is to examine the impact of doctrinal difference on the church.
1.4 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
the researcher intend to achieve the following objectives;
i) To ascertain the effect of doctrinal difference on the church
ii) To examine the relationship between the early church and today’s church
iii) To find out the issues between Pentecostal churches and orthodox churches in Nigeria.
iv) To examine the role that doctrine plays in solving religious fanatics issues in Nigeria
v) To proffer possible solutions to the challenges associated with doctrinal differences in Nigeria.
1.5 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study will cover the role of the church and Christianity in general as regards to the issue of doctrinal differences, societal peace and harmony.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The following are the significance of this study:
1. The findings of this study will be useful for the government, church leaders and the general public on the role of the church in ensuring sustainable peace and harmony among churches.
2. This research 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.
1.7 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
In the cause of the study, there were some constraint which limited the scope 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 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. Why are there so many Christian denominationsin Nigeria?
2. What is the doctrinal difference between the orthodox and Pentecostal churches?
3. What is the impact of indoctrination in curtailing religious misconception among Nigerian churches?
1.9DEFINITION OF TERMS
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.
Differences:the quality or state of being dissimilar or different, like the different between right and wrong or black or white.
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.
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.
Pentecostal:Pentecostalism or Classical Pentecostalism is a renewal movement within ProtestantChristianity that places special emphasis on a direct personal experience of God through the baptism with the Holy Spirit.
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