The Biblical Examination of Factors Responsible for Divisions in the Churches
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.
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
In order to answer the question, “To what degree are Christians in accordance with Scripture in tolerating separations in the Body of Christ?” it is deemed worthy to examine previous concepts and literature regarding unity, and its dissolution. It needs to be understood Biblically what consequences are generated as a result of any breach of unity. As the undertaking of any study of this nature is quite grand in scale, it is the intent of this chapter to examine relevant and credible texts, both current and many older seminal works, to identify and accurately understand with full theological fidelity, that which is the corpus of the Church: what is unity, koinōnia, the defining points of the Church, historical understanding, division and personal conflict, and finally, to introduce the concept of sacred space. The movement of this investigation is to initially focus on the general understanding of ecclesial unity, and progress to the more specific or narrow, and thus the justification of the dissertation, or division within the Body of Christ, and for what possible reasons. Though it is large in scale, it is necessary to understand the blueprint for wholeness, if brokenness or division is to be truly understood and justified
CONCEPT OF UNITY
Augustus Hopkins Strong asserts in regards to unity, “It is a rope of iron fillings held together by a magnetic current” (Strong 1907:904). In order for an adequate analysis of permissible division in koinōnia, a sufficient understanding of what unity is, in and of itself, must be sought if there is to be a proper appreciation for the severity of division of the Body. For this, the Church need only to look to the “dynamic interrelationship” (Kregel 2005:151) between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit as the perfect model of relational unity or oneness which precedes any human existence (EFCA 2011:156); it is found in the eternally existent Trinitarian Godhead. D.A. Carson concedes that, “the Bible actually gives us very little about the ontological Trinity but rather in the revealed nature of the Trinity, the economic Godhead” (Carson 2012). The three persons of the Trinity eternally existed in perfect loving unity, perfect governmental order and perfect relational harmony within the being of God. There was no division between the persons of the Trinity, only distinction (Calvin 2008:78). Tertullian likens this “unity of nature” as a ray of the sun, which cannot be divided nor diminished as it never departs from the source (Tertullian 1953:105-109). Erickson builds upon this in claiming that they are numerically distinct, so as to be counted, yet, they are “manifestations of a single indivisible power”. Hence, there are distinctions but no divisions or separations (Erickson 2003:358). This imagery was borrowed, in part, from the likes of Tatian and Justin Martyr who claimed that though the Word and Father are distinct, they were as unable to be separated as light is unable to be separated from its own source (Erickson 2003:358).
The researcher used descriptive research survey design in building up this project work the choice of this research design was considered appropriate because of its advantages of identifying attributes of a large population from a group of individuals. The design was suitable for the study as the study sought to examine the factors responsible for division in the churches.
Sources of data collection
Data were collected from two main sources namely:
(i)Primary source and
These are materials of statistical investigation which were collected by the research for a particular purpose. They can be obtained through a survey, observation questionnaire or as experiment; the researcher has adopted the questionnaire method for this study.
These are data from textbook Journal handset etc. they arise as byproducts of the same other purposes. Example administration, various other unpublished works and write ups were also used.
PRESENTATION ANALYSIS INTERPRETATION OF DATA
Efforts will be made at this stage to present, analyze and interpret the data collected during the field survey. This presentation will be based on the responses from the completed questionnaires. The result of this exercise will be summarized in tabular forms for easy references and analysis. It will also show answers to questions relating to the research questions for this research study. The researcher employed simple percentage in the analysis.
SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION
It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was to ascertain the factors responsible for division in the churches.
In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in addressing the factors responsible for division in the churches
Let us put the shoe on the proper foot: whatever ecclesiastical division the Christian Reformed denomination suffers is not the result simply of a synodical decision which a few malcontents are refusing to swallow. The truth is rather this: the synodical decision to permit women’s ordination has brought to the surface the already existing division resulting from incompatible views of Scripture’s authority and incompatible methods of Bible interpretation. Our central point, then, is that the hermeneutic of women’s ordination has been, is, and will remain, A Cause of Division. This claim is not first a prediction for the future, but an assessment of the present. We pray fervently that the LORD will see fit to use this pamphlet to awaken our Christian Reformed readers to humble submission to His Word, that they may return to that Word’s authority and full teaching. And we sincerely hope that the LORD will use these pages to warn and alert our non-Christian Reformed readers of the pitfalls and snares into which they too may fall, if they fail to be diligent in spiritual devotion and discipline.
The fact that the true Church of Christ has multiplied into so many denominations has in effect made impotent the value, and even the ability to implement and sustain the true act, and benefit of excommunication. The profit of excommunication therefore, is seldom realized, as there is no lack of fellowship experienced on the part of the excommunicated. As a result the effectiveness of church discipline has been eroded to a lesser stature and significance; as a consequence, church discipline has been compromised. The responsibility of discipline and excommunication has taken on that of a secondary doctrine, and even more times than not, been exhibited as an antiquated or obsolete practice.
Haven completed the study, the researcher recommends that church needs to encourage sound Bible teachings for all church members. This will afford them the opportunity of knowing biblical position on issues. There should be adoption of policy on systematic discipleship training for all church members especially the leaders.41 Introduction of training, seminars and conference activities into the church schedules will help to expose church membership to basic truth that will make them effective and good leaders. Special training can be organized for different department of the church to increase effectiveness in the service of God. Also, there is the need for good communication between the leaders and the followers. A leader’s communication must be consistent, clear and courageous.42 He must also be a good listener. The contemporary church leaders need to use modern management principles, tools, and techniques in administration. The importance of information communication technology cannot be overemphasized for any church that wants to remain relevant in this age. Leadership must avail them the opportunity of the managerial software for efficient and effective communication.
- Adams J 1986. Handbook of Church Discipline. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. Alexander RH 2010. The Expositor’s Bible commentary: Jeremiah~Ezekiel. Vol 7. General Editors, Tremper Longman III & David E. Garland. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
- Allen RB 2012. The Expositor’s Bible commentary: Numbers-Ruth. Vol 2. General Editors, Tremper Longman III & David E. Garland. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. Allen RM 2007. “The Church and the churches: A Dogmatic Essay on Ecclesial Invisibility.” European Journal of Theology 16.2: 113-119.
- Alnor J 2012. http://rrrapostasyalert.blogspot.com/2012/01/january-20-2012-showmy-perspective-on.html
- Anderson TL 2002. Is Anathematization a Tool for the Evangelical Theologian Today? A Dissertation. Deerfield: Timothy L. Anderson.
- Annen F 1990. Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament. Vol. 1. Eds Horst Balz and Gerhard Schneider. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.