FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR DIVISION IN THE CHURCH, A CASE STUDY OF RCC AMPANG-WEST
FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR DIVISION IN THE CHURCH, A CASE STUDY OF RCC AMPANG-WEST
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The will of God for Christians is that they should be united, that is why Jesus prayed in John 17 that his disciples would have unity. He prayed in verses 20-23.
I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in me through their word: that they may all be one, even as you, father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you sent me. The glory which you have given me I have given to them that they may be one: I in them and you in me, that they be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that you sent me, and loved them, even as you have love me.
This prayer he made did not just focus on the eleven remaining disciples but also to those who would reach discipleship through their ministry (Britney, 1994). The primary concern Jesus expressed at this time of his impending death is the issue of unity among the disciples as their subsequent mission (Jessica, 2004: p.497). Disunity and division are threats found among the members of the body of Christ especially as the church increases and grows in number. As Christ is definitely supplicating the Father with reference to God and himself, it is clear the unity here described is more transcendent than that of “simple human fellowship or the harmonious interaction of Christian” (Ebere, 1970). The external expression of this unity is to be the evangelization of the church to the world, which attests to the sending of Christ by the father.
In 1 Corinthians 1:10 Paul exhorts, “Now I exhort you, brethrens by the name of our lord Jesus Christ that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment”, here Paul states this directive and takes a hard stand against division in light of doctrines. Unfortunately, Paul himself falls victim to one of these large differences of opinion in his relationship with Barnabas, Paul’s terminology to address doctrinal differences (1 Corinthians 11: 19 and Galatians 5: 20) denoting a difference of sound doctrine, even to the point of being an unjustified group (accordance 2010).
Just prior to the prayer in John 17, Jesus had established the institution of the lord’s supper in light of the Passover celebration, an institution give in great part to exhibit and foster unity with God head, and unity as members of body of Christ, Paul affirms in 1 Corinthians 10: 16, that the pinnacle of this desired oneness of communion, or church is displayed materially in the act of the lord’s supper, as it is a “sharing” in the blood and the body of Christ. Mounce (2006) holds the term church conveys the idea of fellowship, communion, participation and sharing. Paul subsequently uses the term only in a religious sense rather than a secular one to denote a fellowship of a higher level; he as well uses this term to express a “religious fellowship of believers” (Hauck 1983; p. 804). In 2 Corinthians 13: 14, Paul in his final message to the Corinthians, pray and point out the unity between Jesus Christ, God and the holy spirit. (The grace of the lord Jesus Christ the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all). And in 1 John 1:3, the disciples point out that, if they preach the gospel and you believe and confesses Christ, you are in fellowship with the father and with his son Jesus Christ.
However, (Prime 2008) stated that, it is the Holy Spirit alone who brings believers into this fellowship. This evidence of church is an external, physical expression of the spiritual fellowship that enjoyed by the body being knit together with the God head (Hunsinger 2009: 347). Thus, church is the internal religious fellowship with Christ, yet manifesting itself at times in a physical expression through the body of Christ.
The biblical teaching on unity according to St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 1: 10 which says “I appeal to you brothers, in the name of our lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no division among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought”. But the churches in Ampang-west have fall victim of division and disunity among the members as a body of Christ, some of the church elders whose tenure has elapsed, still desire to be elected again. When they lose, they stir the church by conspiring with some youths against the new elected elders by saying they are not functioning in the church, that the elected are just there to be sharing the church money among them. As such, the youth refuses to partake in the church activities, subgroups in the church.
Divisions have caused setbacks in the churches; as a result of the division lack of unity occur. The churches have forgotten that all of them, be they ECWA, COCIN, Catholic, Assembly of God etc are one in Christ as believers, followers of God (Christians). They hold unto denomination forgetting that we are one in the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12 says), there are many denomination in Ampang-west, but all are part, unit and body of Christ with many parts.
The effects of the church division have brought segregation among the people which some say I am for this denomination, I am for that. St Paul addresses similar issue in the church in (1 Corinthians 3:3-6).
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The church of Jesus Christ is increasing in division instead of unity. This disunity mostly comes in term of cell division. Churches are splitting, division in church seminars are increasing as reconciliation consultants are succeeding, while division abounds (Ragmond; 1996), and denominations continue to grow in number. Theoretically, orthodoxy would confess that unity is possible through the giving of Christ’s glory. The church as a whole is rightly able to proclaim theological truths, but is also expected to evidence them to the world through its witness, as declared unity is not merely positional (Carson 1980; P.201) Christianity today suggest a proactive separation may be in order as only a sentimental unity remains among major denominations ( Christianity today 2004: P.23). Bloombery asserts that indeed this unity is difficult to acknowledge in light of the many splintering factions (Bloombery 2008; P.22). As a result, the observed lack of unity in the body of Christ is a devastating witness to the world. With these strong assertions, this research is interested in considering the deferent groups of Christians in Ampang-west to see if the unity they have is sentimental as asserted by Christianity today. It thus considers the nature of factors causing division among Christians in Ampang.
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The chief purpose of this study is to examine Biblical teaching on Christian unity. Because Christians are said to be light of the world (Mathew 5:14-16), that means they are to work in unity for the light to shine. But if there is division among the churches, that means the light would not shine.
To examine the biblical teaching on Christian unity as the body of Christ. Because we need to know how united is the body of Christ (churches).
To examine whether the church is united in alignment with the scripture. Because Christians are said to be Christ like (Acts 11:26). So we need to know whether the church is united in accordance with the biblical teaching on Christian unity.
To examine the causes of the division and what tolerance of division are biblically permitted in the scope of scripture. Because we need to know what causes the division among the churches when the bible is saying, how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity (Psalms 133:1): and we also need to know if there is any biblical teaching that supported or permitted the division among other churches.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study will contribute to the body of knowledge of Christian’s obedience in light of scripture in that it seeks to identify that paradigm of acceptable schisms or, permissible divisions. It then seeks to answer the question, “To what degree are Christians in accordance with scripture in tolerating separations in the body of Christ?”
The researcher aim at identifying the implication of clearer understanding so that believers who are participating in any acts of division may understand the error or validity of their actions, As such, this research would be beneficial to both denominations and Christians in general, through personal contacts as well as those who can lay their hands on the research work, and also by organizing seminars for the church leaders and the churches in general.
1.5 SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS
This study centers on the biblical teaching on Christians unity and the factors responsible for divisions in the churches with a view of finding a lasting solution to the problem. So the research is interested in examining what the bible teaches on Christian unity and to know if the churches are in unity, if not what cause the disunity or division.
1.6 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.
For these reasons the research is covering the churches in Ampang-west as a point of reference to other places.
1.7 RESEACH QUESTIONS
The research will be guided by the following questions;
What are the factors responsible for division of churches in Ampang-west?
What are the biblical teachings on Christian’s unity?
To what extend does the division of churches affects the church in Ampang-west?
HO: Differences in belief is not the major causes of church division.
HA: Differences in belief is the major causes of church division.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Division: disagreement between two or more groups, typically producing tension or hostility.
Churches: a building used for public Christian worship.
Christian: a person who has received Christian baptism or a believer in Jesus Christ and his teachings.
Unity: the state of being united or joined as a whole.
Disunity: disagreement and division with a group.
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