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PROJECT TOPIC: THE NEGLECT OF THE ROLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE CONTEMPORARY CHURCH

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ABSTRACT

The classical dispensationalist claims the Holy Spirit activity ceased with the apostolic age. This was the major perception of the church before the end of the 4th century, during the time of Augustine and Chrysostom. A major spokesman of this view was Hippolytus, a contemporary of Tertullian. Proponents for the Holy Spirit such as Michael Green, boldly declared, ‘It is simply not the case that healing, prophecy, exorcism and speaking in tongues died out with the last apostle’. The fact that the Holy Spirit remains active in contemporary dispensation is the truth which is firmly embedded in Scriptures and unmistakable teaching of Jesus Christ. Pentecostals contend that, subsequent to conversion, but can on some occasion simultaneously, there is endowment with power with the evidence of speaking in tongues as the Holy Spirit gives utterance. This paper seeks to contribute to the interpretation of the role and function of the Holy Spirit in individuals’ Christian experience and in the corporate church. This is to help rethink the subordinate and neglected place of the Holy Spirit. Face to face in-depth interviews and library materials were deployed for data collection.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

  • Background Of The Study

During the time of Augustine and Chrysostom, a major proponent of this view who was also the first articulate spokesman is Hippolytus, a contemporary of Tertullian. He held the view that prophecy ended with Apostle John whose apocalypse was the last valid prophecy to have come from the Holy Spirit. According to Arthur cited in Asamoah, tongue speaking as a gift of the Holy Spirit is for a sign not to believers but to unbelievers. It was never intended for only believers but to also convince unbelievers. To him, miracles, healings and tongue speaking were used to confirm believers and to convince unbelievers; and after the New Testament work has been completed, nothing in Scripture indicates miracle, healings and deliverance of the apostolic era were to continue.

The Holy Spirit is one of the most neglected and abandoned aspects of Christian theology. The strict puritanical control of behavior leads to a dispensational view of the Holy Spirit confining Him to the early church. The Holy Spirit is treated in popular Christianity basically for healing and performing miracles. The classical dispensationalist believers but convince unbelievers. To him, miracles, healings and tongue speaking were used to confirm believers and to convince unbelievers; and after the New Testament work has been completed, nothing in Scripture indicates miracle, healings and deliverance of the apostolic era were to continue.

In the West, in Latin orthodoxy, the work of the Holy Spirit has not received the prominence He deserves. The Western orthodoxy traces the Holy Spirit to the Father and the Son. This is reflected in the Filioque debate between the Greek East and Latin West. However, the Eastern orthodoxy church subordinates the Holy Spirit to the Father only, it rejects the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Son. The Holy Spirit personality and function have been denied in a most open and undisguised manner. Unsettled opinion and doubt prevail on this issue of the Holy Spirit to a surprising degree everywhere even among those who profess to accept the authoritative words of the prophet, apostles and the sayings of Jesus Christ. Yet this is the truth which is firmly embedded in Scriptures and unmistakable teaching of Christ.

However, proponents of the Holy Spirit such as Michael Green, boldly declared, It is simply not the case that healing, prophecy, exorcism and speaking in tongues died out with the last apostle’. Scholars including Calkins have observed that wherever Christianity has become a living power, the personality, functions and the role of the Holy Spirit has uniformly been regarded equally with the atonement and justification by faith as the article of a standing or a falling church. Other theologians advocate the view that a vital apprehension of this truth of the Holy Spirit as the energizing force can redeem the individual and the corporate church from the apathy of an uninspired orthodoxy, of a formal ritual or a purely secular activity and cause it to be what God designed it to be.

1.2 Statement of the problem

The researcher observed that though some Pentecostal churches in Nigeria profess spirituality but there is a gross neglect of the place and role of the Holy Spirit in both their administrative and spiritual work-frame. Most of who only use human psychology and philosophy to organize programmes and church activities professing them to be by the leading of the Holy Spirit which is not. It is thus, very crucial to have a recall to this problem and proffer a probable solution.

1.3 Purpose of Study

The researcher purposes that this work would be an eye opener to all members and ministers alike of the Pentecostal churches in order to see the missing point and have a quick turnaround as to the priority of the ministry of the Holy Spirit as they await the second advent of Christ.

1.4 Significance of the study

This study will be of great benefit to;

  1. All Pentecostal ministers. To re-awaking those who have neglected the place of the Holy Spirit and encourage those who are been discouraged due to the influence of others.
  2. All those who yearn to experience the move of the Holy Spirit as at Pentecost.
  3. The church at large to examine the authenticity of the usual programmes if they are actually led by the Holy Spirit.
  4. All intending ministers to prioritize right relationship with the Holy Spirit as the tutor and mentor of their ministries.

1.5          Limitation to the study

Parts of the constraints that the researcher was faced with during this work were inadequacy of handy materials, lack of personal electronic gadget (Laptop), internet-enabled phones and finances. More so, unwillingness of several ministers to say the truth about either been led by the Holy Spirit for a programme or not.

1.6          Delimitation of the study.

This study is basically focused on the Pentecostal churches and the neglect of the role of the Holy Spirit in directing their affairs. So administration of questionnaire are limited to Pentecostal pastors and leaders.

1.7          Research Methodology

This research is mainly library based. Libraries were consulted such as LIFE Theological Seminary Library and other libraries available to the researcher. Information was also gotten from friends and folks of the researcher while internet sources were greatly used and referenced.

1.5          Definitions of Terms.

Church: A group of Christians.

Contemporary: A person or thing living or existing at the same time as another.

Holy Spirit: The Spirit of God who dwells in the lives of Christians and governs the Church.

Neglect: The state of being uncared for

Pentecostal: Constituting any various Christian religious bodies that emphasize individual experiences of grace, spiritual gift (such as glossolalia and faith healing), expressive worship, and evangelism.

Role: A prescribed or expected behavior associated with a particular position or status in a group or organization.


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