Abstract: The study examined the Impact of Denominationalism on World Evangelization in RCCG, Ekiti Province 2. A survey research design was adopted in the study. The Population of this work includes all the preachers of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Ekiti Province 8 H/Q. The sample size of this study consisted of twenty (20) preachers selected from RCCG Lagos Province 8 H/Q using simple random sampling technique to be considered as the sample size for the study. Four (4) research questions were formulated to guide the study. A structured questionnaire was used by the researcher to gather information from the respondents and simple percentage statistical method was used to analyze the data collected. The findings of the study revealed that, denominationalism has a significant impact on world evangelism. The study concludes that, inspite of these different denominations, doctrinal differences, Christians should have this understanding that we belong to the same umbrella since Christ is our focus. The study recommended among others that, as more Churches are established, the ethical and moral teaching of Christian literature should be practiced in order to avoid the spread of heretical teachings. The church should go back to the gospel of holiness ethics rather than only prosperity preaching. This is because, the Pentecostal churches seem to be more interested in money and material riches than salvation of mankind in recent times. The church is the theatre of the Holy Spirit irrespective of denominational differences; hence people should seek the Holy Spirit. The growth of the church should not be based on orthodoxy but orthopraxis. That is right belief so as to change Nigerian society for better.
CHAPTER ONE : INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background of the Study
Denominational identity is an accurate predictor of theological stance, worship style, organizational preference or social class as it once was. There is no indication that denominations will soon disappear but neither does it appear that anyone is eager to justify them theologically. According to Vason1 the trend seems to be towards a new kind of denominationalism one that is no longer based primarily on association of congregations with a common heritage. The term “denomination” in general refers to anything distinguished by a name. In religious contexts, the designation has traditionally applied both to the broad movements within Protestantism, such as Baptists and Methodist, and also to the numerous independent branches of such movements that have developed over the years. Presently, these denominations are engaged in evangelism. Jerome opines that evangelism is the preaching of the gospel or the practice of giving information about a particular doctrine or set of beliefs to others with the intention of converting others to the Christian faith.
Evangelism is focused on the command of Jesus to his eleven disciples “Therefore go and make disciples of al nation baptizing them in the name of the fatter and of the son and of the holy spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matt. 28:19-20). The work of evangelism is vested on a person who is known as evangelist. Sometimes, the regular minister of the church is called a preacher in a way that other groups would typically use the term Pastor. The evangelist in some churches is one that travels from town to town and from church to church spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many Christians of various theological perspectives would call themselves “evangelists” because they are spreaders of the gospel. Many churches believe that one of their major functions is to function as evangelists to spread the evangelist belief that Jesus is the savior of humanity which is also a general belief.
Christianity in Nigeria dates back to the 16th century when the Portuguese introduced Latin Christianity in Benin and Warri. Looking at Christianity from that early beginning to the present time, many stages of development had taken place resulting to the planting and growth of churches. The period of denominationalism and missionary activities started from 1840 when missionary bodies set up in Europe and America in the 18th century succeeded in converting Nigerians to Christianity and opened permanent mission stations among the people. The period was just after the abolition of the slave trade; the abolition of slave trade stimulated a fresh religious enthusiasm among the Europeans and Americans. With the support of the missionary bodies, “The freed slaves in places like Sierra Leone and Abeokuta encouraged missionary enterprises. This was a period of denominationalism when many churches from the British Isles and America sent missionaries to the coast and interior of Nigeria.
The Anglicans under the Church Missionary Society (CMS) were the first but the Niger Expedition in which they came in 1841 failed. However, the first successful penetration of Christian mission into the interior of Nigeria was made in 1842, when the Wesleyan Methodists on the invitation of the freed slaves who had settled at Badagry and Abeokuta, sent Rev. Thomas Birch Freeman and an assistant William de craft and his wife from the Gold Coast (Ghana) to Badagry and some months later Henry Townsend to Abeokuta. In the more southern part of the country, on the Cross River in the old slave-trading town of Calabar, the Presbyterians sent Rev. Hope Masterton Wadded accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Edgerl A. Chishalm and E. Miller, who arrived in Calabar in April 1846, to establish the church of Scotland Mission. Their work was very successful because a Presbytery, the Presbytery of Biafra, was created in 1858.
The American Baptist Mission began work in Nigeria in 1850. The Rev. Thomas J. Bowen, the Pioneer Missionary, established stations at Ijaiye and Ogbomoso. The Roman Catholicism, through the Society of the African Missions, came in 1862. The ex-slaves were organized and stations established in Lagos and Abeokuta. When the Italian Priest, Father Broghero, visited Lagos in1863, there was a catholic church in Yoruba land. The Holy Ghost Fathers started work among the Igbo of Eastern Nigeria in 1885 through Father Joseph Lutz working at Onitsha. Samuel A. Bill started the Qua Iboe Mission in the Qua Iboe River area from 1887, though it was not until 1891 that the Qua Iboe church was established as an Independent evangelical and interdenominational body.
Mission work in Northern Nigerian started in 1893 through Rolland Bingham, Walter Gowans, and Thomas Kent in 1904, the Sudan United Mission (SUM) joined the Sudan Interior Mission (SIM) in the mission work in the North, concentrating in the regions of Adamawa, Benue and Bornu.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Niebuhr refers to denominationalism as an “unacknowledged hypocrisy” and “a compromise between Christianity and the world.” He carries on referring to the “evil of Denominationalism”. Eighty years later Joubert3 expresses similar sentiments when he says that denominations are human creations. He continues to say that we decided in our own circles that denominationalism is the real truth.
However, denominational borders are human barriers that often stand in the way of the essential nature of the church as Jesus foresaw it. The essence of the problem is that denominationalism fosters divisiveness among Christians. When each denomination starts to reserve the truth for itself, the focus inevitably gets shifted from Jesus to the church.
It is to be noted that this period was characterized by missionaries’ activities being based on denominations and limited to the Southern part of the country. The missionaries who came were trained and really prepared, though many were swallowed up by the climate. The language barrier that had existed was reduced to the minimum by the use of interpreters and the missionaries themselves learning the language; Trained Nigerian Ministers started to emerge; churches and later schools and hospitals were erected. More importantly, baptism was administered to the converts as an indelible mark for the new faith they had embraced and the old ways they had forsaken.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The study sought to find out the impact of denominationalism on world evangelism.
Specifically, the study sought to:
- To find out the impact of denominationalism on missionary activities in Nigeria.
- To find out the impact of denominational practices on World Evangelization.
- To find out the impact of Evangelism on the Spread of the Church.
- To find out the relationship between denomination and Church Growth.