Apostasy And Church Growth
This study concerns apostasy, which responds to a major religious crisis in the life of a believer by a deliberate alienation and abandonment of faith; and its effect on church growth. This crisis involves a conflict on an intellectual, social, or emotional dimension. The problem of the study may be stated as follows: How can understandings of the dynamics of apostasy benefit gospel workers? The methodology adopted is historical approach. To this question the study answers in three different ways: Biblical, theological, and pastoral. From the findings, the Biblical approach, is a rather detailed survey of two typical cases which serve to define apostasy as a sinful process.
The first example, belonging to the Old Testament, treats the Fall of Man, while the second example, belonging to the New Testament, deals with the Hebrews to whom the letter bearing the same name was addressed. Moreover, each of two cases offers the possibility to make plain certain elements of a theological value, whose understanding will increase the practical importance of dealing with such a topic. In the theological approach, focus is placed on the three elements of theological significance involved in any case of apostasy: freedom of will, sin, and sin against the Holy Spirit.
In the sinful process of apostasy, it is man’s freedom of will which makes sin possible. In its turn, the unremittance of sin brings man to the ultimate stage of apostasy–the sin against the Holy Spirit. The pastoral approach, examines the dimensions of religious commitment versus religious defection, and the main factors influencing believers toward apostasy. But it underlines the fact that apostasy is not a hopeless, unsolvable event in one’s life. For this reason, some practical suggestions to prevent and to cope with apostasy are mentioned at the end of this chapter. Finally, Chapter Five summarizes the conclusions and suggestions for further exploration of this important subject.
Table Of Content
- Title page
- Certification page
- Table of content
- 1.1 Background Of The Study
- 1.2 Statement Of The Problem
- 1.3 Objectives Of The Study
- 1.4 Significance Of The Study
- 1.5 Scope/Limitations Of The Study
- 1.6 Definition Of Terms
2.0 Literature Review
- 2.1 The Period Of The Introduction Of Latin Christianity
- 2.2 The Period Of Denominationalism And Missionary Activities
- 2.3 The Period Of Evolution Of Independent Churches
- 2.4 The Period Of Indigenous African Churches
- 2.5 The Period Of Charismatic Evangelical And Pentecostal Churches
- 2.6 Empirical Studies
4.0 Results And Discussion
- 4.1 Implication Of Proliferation Of Churches To Church Growth In Nigeria
- 4.2 Discussion
5.0 Summary And Conclusion
- 5.1 Summary
- 5.2 Conclusion
1.1 Background of the Study
The church of Christ in this era has mainly been instituted on the sermons of a prosperity gospel, that has caused her apostate condition. Todayʼs Christianshave unfortunately not well appreciated that the current apostasy in the church, undeniably amounts to a house that has literally renounced her loyalty unto the Lord. Jehovah the God of covenant firmly honours His pledges to the extent that mankind can literally live off every word that proceeds out of His mouth. In the clamour to sustain her earthly livelihood, the church of Christ committed the greatest blunder ever, by forgetting that the most important foundation upon which her provision was well promised, is righteousness.
Then there came the deception, as if in an answer to her prayer, one in the guise of the prosperity gospel from heaven, which she readily accepted without any careful afterthought. Pointing to this reason, over the greater part of her life, the church has virtually engaged in the sermons of a false form of christianity that fronts the spiritually reckless living in compromise with sin. Strewed in the churchʼs impaired vision of prosperity are all the excesses of earthly wealth and pleasures to the extent that holiness has been sidelined.
This has essentially rendered the church spiritually too faint and feeble to even enter the bloodstained path that Jesus charted out for her, on the Cross at Calvary. Though the church well recognized the bloodstained highway of holiness from the beginning, contrarily her act is as though she were not provoked into a bitter controversy with the broader highways of this sinful world. Following His passionate suffering on the Cross, the Lord Jesus unmistakably aggravated the church into an eternal controversy with this evil dark world. It is His undaunted stature on the Cross and the suffering of such a condition of things to exist, that raised to the church a red flag on the parleying with sin, that she may not give the enemy an advantage over her life.
By conceding to the disguised demands of this sinful world, nothing good has come out of the churchʼs worship, neither has God been glorified by her praise. In the absence of holiness, the evidence of christian walk is today worthless to break the stronghold of rebellion in the church and summon Godʼs might, because human capacity, strength and power have indeed predictably weakened in the face of such a humongous mountain of earthly darkness to surmount. Unfortunately for todayʼs apostate pastors, while this scenario perfectly rolls out, faith, which is the pillar of christian walk in the church now reposes in God. This kind of weakening of faith is what has opened a huge door to deception and rampart falsehood into todayʼs house of the LORD. Only a righteously obedient walk in the highway of holiness can unravel for the church the true defining intent of holiness when the LORD said,“Above all things, I desire that you prosper” (Isaiah 35:8-9).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Since the loss of his inheritance in heaven, the enemy has determined to find revenge by causing the church to share in his disgraceful fall. Very much aware that in our own strength it is impossible for us to deny the clamour of our fallen nature, the enemy has perpetually taken advantage of hereditary weakness and hence fully engaged his false insinuations to ensnare all whose trust in God is not. He has devised new schemes and channels with which to assault especially the church.
At the nativity of our LORD Jesus in a cuddled Bethlehem manger, the enemy already knew that One had now come with a divine commission to dispute his dominion over mankind, and to finally set the church free. This caused the adversary to tremble much, at the angelʼs message attesting the authority of the new born King. Much as it was difficult to fathom the mystery of this great sacrifice of love, the glory and the peace and majesty and the joy of heavenly communion, were mightily manifest abound. That the Son of God should come to this earth as a man, certainly filled the adversary with fearful amazement and with an extreme sense of apprehension, to mention the least.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The time of this promised endtime revival is nigh and here. Markedly, an indismissible Holy Ghost revival is today beginning to restore righteousness and holiness across the ends of the earth. It is the youthful modesty and grace of this, endtime Holy Ghost revival that will eventually disarm the prejudices of the prosperity priesthood in its totality in order to unconsciously open their minds to the word of God, that the Holy Spirit may speak to their hearts. But while that blessed revival is yet to totally consume the earth, todayʼs spiritual decay indeed marks a significant departure from the expected norm.
This is owing to the fact that any church which especially walks the highway of holiness, should have trusted the LORDʼs counsel explicitly on matters of repentance. Furthermore, even in the greatest milieu of money-preaching and prosperity advocacy, the fears on the unexpected return of the Messiah are beginning to be aroused. The church in her best spiritual performance and sensibility knows it too well that never was an earthly confined living, the original intention for which Jesus was sent to the Cross to pay such a horrific heart-wrenching price of redemption. Because of its obvious inborn spiritual shortfalls, the prosperity gospel has completely failed to rebuke the sin that has today intruded the church, and instead opted to accommodate worldliness and spiritual decay within the christian fraternity. Rejoiced as they may seem today, this kind of apostate church cannot however afford the luxury of forgetting the grief and anxiety that their unreadiness will cause upon the return of the Messiah.
1.4 Significance of the Study
It is the faulting of the word of God in this dispensation, that has largely magnified apostasy today and the blatant practice of open lawlessness and shameless heedlessness in the church of Christ. As pronounced in the word, in his open expression of his intention to prosper mankind here on the earth, nevertheless was it Godʼs object that such prosperity focus the heart of the church entirely into the perishable decay realm. By design though, Godʼs ultimate blueprint for manʼs creation very much implied that every blessing of prosperity would be able to cause him to be caught up with the Messiah in the glorious gathering at rapture.
However, it is now more and more evident and to a greater extent that the conception of this novel plan of God still remains for the most part, misconstrued to the present church. For this reason, the grievous spiritual misinterpretation that today presents the false gospel of prosperity, has by and large wiped-out the churchʼs authority and honour, to a state of near-irrelevance. With most of todayʼs believers in this degenerate condition, worship observance has now been seriously reduced to a mere formalism.
1.5 Scope / Limitations of the Study
This study is on apostasy and church growth.
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.
1.6 Definition of Terms
The abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief or principle.
Church Growth is a movement within evangelical Christianity which aims to develop methods to grow churches based on business marketing strategies.
5.0 Summary And Conclusion
Although there have been no noticeable agitations or studies associating the development of ecclesiastical architecture in Nigeria with apostasy or heresy, architecture has played a significant role in shaping ecclesiastical environment in Nigeria as the nation ranks among the best in the development of ecclesiastical architecture in terms of number and cost. The wealth of the Church is more evident in its architecture as building construction is one of the most capital intensive ventures.
We have attempted in this work to discuss the Apostasy and church growth in Nigeria. Five periods of establishment are discussed notably, the period of introduction of Latin Christianity, the period of Denominationalism and Missionary activities in the 19th century, the period of independent churches, the period of Indigenous churches, and the period of the birth of Charismatic Pentecostal churches.
It is discovered that the dramatic rise of the so-called ‘charismatic’ or Pentecostal movement led to the emergence of new churches and evangelical groups which rapidly grew up to become a powerful new social and religious force. These Pentecostal fellowships later known as Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) increased the number of churches in Nigeria. It is to be noted that the increased missionary activity in the 1960s and 1970s from abroad and increased student interest helped spark revival that gave rise to a Trans denominational ‘charismatic’ movement in the 1970s and 1980s. with a strong base in the Universities and student groups, fueled by an influx of literature and evangelism from the United States gave rise to rapid and powerful new force on the born again scene which was a nucleus to Pentecostal churches in Nigeria. Doctrinal approach of these Pentecostal churches (e.g. Christ’s chapel) include prosperity, the centrality of the holy spirit, speaking in tongues, miracles of healing and monetary reward. The doctrine of prosperity is based on Mark 10:30 in which the spiritual and material fortunes of a believer are dependent on how much he gives, spiritually and materially, to God (or God’s representatives) who will reward him by ‘prospering him’. This is associated with the rise all over Africa of the ‘Faith Movement’ as an outgrowth of American evangelism on the Continent. Indeed many of the pastors of the ‘Pentecostal churches received their religious training in one of the Bible College run by prosperity preachers in USA (Rhema Bible Colleges of Kenneth Hagin Oklahoma, is one of the more popular Bible Colleges
The Growth of the Church has brought development to the nation. The social impact of this growth is seen in the increase of the number of churches all over the Country which establish Nursery and primary schools, Secondary Schools, and Universities that provide job opportunities for many people. Some of such Universities established by mission Church include Ajayi Crowther University (Anglican), Babcock University (Seventh Day Adventist), Bowen University (Baptist); Joseph Ayo Babalola University (CAC), Methodist University, Ondo, Covenant University, and Catholic University among others. Teaching Hospitals and Mission hospitals are also established by churches. All these provide job opportunities for people.
It is our suggestion that as more churches are established, the ethical and moral teaching of Christian literature be practiced. The growth of the church should not be based on orthodoxy but orthopraxis so as to change African Society for better.
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