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PROJECT TOPIC: THE ROLE OF CORDIAL INTER-TRIBAL RELATIONS IN THE CHURCH

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ABSTRACT

The Role of Cordial Inter-Tribal Relations in the Church, in Reference to Ephesians 2:11-22. A Case Study of Foursquare Gospel Church (LIFE Chapel District), Ikorodu Lagos. The researcher aimed at identifying the various views of inter-tribal relations; concept, theories, perspectives in African view and panacea to inter-tribal conflicts. The problem of tribalism in the church can never be overemphasized; it affects the life stream of any organization and often leads to different sects in church and causes great division. This work made used of historical research. Oral interview and questionnaire were instruments of this research, administered to church leaders and individual Christians in the Church. A detailed survey of related literature was carried out in the library of LIFE Theological Seminary, Ikorodu. However, the negligence of individual Christians and church leaders who tend segregate, building a wall of partition, rather than neglecting what race or tribe an individual originates from or language differences and uniting the church for the edification of the society. Thus, this attitude has relegated the Church which supposed to be an example of unity has been consigned. The focus of this work involved the Church in inter-tribal relations, the obligation of the church in settling tribal conflict, giving solutions the distortion and misconception of inter-tribalism, and also the responsibilities of church in aiding inter-tribal relations for the health of the society. From findings, the researcher discovered that the reasons for most inter-tribal conflicts are Languages and cultural beliefs. Second, inter-tribal relation help changes the outlook of the church and makes room for evangelization to other cultures. However, LIFE Chapel which is used as a case study was cited role model to aid in solutions to solving problem of inter-tribal frictions in Churches and the society. At the end of the work, recommendations were made; the scripture should be the foundation for cordial inter-tribal relations in the church, believers should act based on the scriptures.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

  • Background to the Study

In Africa, everyone belongs to a tribe which forms the social, cultural and religious life of the society. Tribe is very important that one cannot be separated from it no matter how bad or serious a situation is. The family, community, land, and the people belong to the tribe which forms the basis for life. The federation of Nigeria, as it exists today, has never really been one homogeneous country, for it is widely differing peoples and tribes (Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba) are yet to find any basis for true unity. In the society, any insistence upon relating with other tribes within the church is largely resisted by few people. The society (ethnicity, tribe and race), demands association whether be it in the church or the society at large. However, it is a common knowledge that man hates loneliness and wants to relate to people, bearing in mind that man is a dependent being, thus, inter-tribal relations becomes of utmost importance to meeting this natural desire in human. Be it as it may: man has a colossal problem of differences in ideas, values and beliefs and these differences often leads individuals to disagreement, misbehavior and sometimes lack of respect. Dr. C.C Orgu in his book Jesus the Royal Messiah in the African Context opined that; “human beings are full of vices, such as greed selfishness, corruption and the like. These vices are self-destructive and antisocial. Greed is the mother of corruption and corruption breeds crime, violence and other vices. It is of an unhappy case to see what happens these days concerning tribal relationship amongst Christians. Orgu states that “one imitates Christ not by copying, lest it becomes hypocritical formalism.” Therefore, a thorough analysis of Ephesians 2:11-22 reveals that the church is not in any way limited to one tribe alone, be it the Jews or the gentiles. Categorically speaking, Inter tribal conflict weaves underneath its sleeve a high level of corruption that has the tendency to stunt the growth of the church both spiritually and numerically.

Forthrightly, intertribal relation is the act of two or more tribes coexisting together to achieve a goal or an assignment. Thus, treating one tribe better than the other is unfair and distorts the rapid attainment of organizational goal and ministerial fulfillment: at such the church leaders should frown at. People with equal needs are to be treated with equality not based on tribe. Truthfully, when expounding on the attributes of God, people tend to look at all other aspects of Gods attribute exception of His impartiality. For example, the Hellenist murmured against the Jews because their widows were neglected in daily distribution, probably meaning: in giving of sustenance to the poor and needy. This shows that partiality was, is and will be in the church bearing in mind that the church is composed of people who have different cultures, backgrounds, beliefs, values, and practices. Ethnic, tribal and social differences have been successfully used to build up or tear down communities and the society.

Conversely, every issue needs to be solved properly in the church when relating. Because, church divisions dismay and distress mature believers, disappoints new believers, causes havoc in the lives of pastor as well as their families and generally kill the life and growth of such growth. Apparently, despite the prevalence of Inter tribal conflict in churches rather than inter-tribal relations, there are but a few academic and theological works on this topic. In Nigeria, Inter tribal relations is not a popular topic to engage people thus less attention is given to it except for some few journals and books. In view of this prevailing hitch, the study therefore aims at providing a lasting and workable solution to the menace of Inter tribal relations and conflicts in the Church, using Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigerian (LIFE Chapel District) as a role model, through an exegetical study of Ephesians 2:11-22

  • Statement of the Problem

The frictions of Inter-tribal relations in the church can never be over emphasized. It ranges from spiritual to psychological and then to the physical, thus, it affects the being of a man, and in turn affects the life stream of any organization. Intertribal relation’ greatest problem is that it is a silent poison that if not managed well can kill a whole organization. Its subtle in its operation, it makes the favoured feel alright but yet set the unfavoured at war with the favoured and bitterness with the one showing the favour. This often leads to sects in church; it causes great division and in turn shortens Gods hand from such organization. The greatest cause of inter-tribal relations is leadership incapacity to grow his mind. Bad leadership breads inter-tribal clashes while good leadership breeds peace and unity, thus, if this issue is to be resolved, the leader really needs to play the lead role in relegating power to policies to run the organization.

Furthermore, it creates unhealthy competition in the church which sometimes leads to physical battle in the case where the unfavoured is not a matured Christian. It is basically giving audience to a particular tribe and not giving to others based on their appearance, marriage, style, talent, bank account, connection and others. This problem pushes victims to leave the church and maybe go to an occult to find acceptance. The show of inter-tribalism is the lack of Christ kind love. It is loving based on what such an individual can bring to the table and not based on what can be done to help such an individual. Thus, a great need to solve such problem, thus the need for the research.

  • Purpose of The Study

The antidote of Inter-tribal conflict is understanding of the scriptures. Inter-tribal relations have different meaning to different people. Underscoring the fact that there are limited interest in this field of study, the researchers major objective is to investigate, and explore the real reasons that gives rise to Inter-tribal war within and among the Pentecostal churches in Nigeria and present the need for a balance of equal treatment to all individual as unto the Lord. Furthermore, is:

  1. To carry out an Exegetical Study of Exegesis of Ephesians 2:13-18 and its implication on solving the problem of Inter-tribal conflict in the church.
  2. To present Biblical standard for equality in the body of Christ without treating one person in a particular manner against others due to physical appearance or language.
  3. To find out the problems causing inter-tribal conflicts using Foursquare Gospel Church (LIFE Chapel District) as a role mode to give solutions.
  4. To contribute to knowledge and stir people to do more works on religious inter-tribal relations.
    • Significance of The Study

It is believed that some of the ideas and suggestions that are brought forward in this research on the subject matter will be helpful in the following ramifications: It will help pastors and organization leaders in striking a balance in his/her relationship between his members and his ministerial duties. It will also proffer strategies for churches to solve the already existing problem of Inter-tribal relations.

This research work will benefit the Christian and Christian Leaders:

  1. Help them view Inter-tribal relation in the right perspective.
  2. Help Christians extract the hidden knowledge in Ephesians 2:13-18 and apply it to their personal life and other Christians for long lasting impact.
  3. To stir up more academic research to Inter-tribal (ethnicity, tribe and race) relation.
    • Delimitation of The Study

The research work is not aiming at treating all aspects of intertribal relations; the main point focuses on Intertribal relations. Focusing majorly on intertribal relations in the Church. The Church is made up of different tribes, cultures and ethnic groups of people with different languages. In fact, the art of intertribal relation goes a long way in the society and the entire populace of the church. Every church leader must be Inter-tribal. However, the researcher cannot list the entire challenges of inter-tribal relations in the church but would treat basically the pressing ones due to time and shortage of material factors. Also the researcher would exegete Ephesians 2:13-18 alone and not all chapters in Ephesians. And this study would do the following:

  1. Focus on Inter-tribal relations among Christians.
  2. The study would also look at the Church and Inter-tribal misconceptions.
    • Limitation of the Study

Time limitation is the obvious one. The attitudes of interviews towards the questionnaires and oral questions during the interviews might affect the actualization of the main objective of this study, but efforts will be made to make it a success.

  • Research Procedure

The methodology would take the form of historical research. The researcher would go further by looking at the existing procedure or ministerial guidelines on the process of dealing with intertribal conflict in the church. Moreover, relevant books, magazine, journals, commentaries would be consulted from libraries especially LIFE Theological Seminary Library.

  • Definition of Terms

Intertribal:

According to this paper it means Involving members of more than one tribe.  Conducted between or involving two or more tribes.

Relations:

The way in which two or more people or things are connected; a thing’s effect on or relevance to another. The various connections between peoples, countries, etc. Social, political connections or dealings between or among individuals, groups, nations, etc.

Church:

This refers to the New Testament from the church that had its birthday at Pentecost. It is a local group of believers and believers in universal fellowship. A body or organization of religious bodies or as the whole body of Christians. A place of called out ones. Church is a group of people gathered together in a particular location with the same aim of worshipping God. The English word derived from the Greek adjective “kupiakod” which means belonging to the Lord. It is also an assembly or the gathering together of people who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior and they meet regularly to promote the interest of Gods kingdom in their lives and in the world.


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