CHRISTIAN UNITY IN NIGERIA: EMPIRICAL STUDY OF VARIOUS CHRISTIAN DENOMINATIONS IN UYO, AKWA IBOM STATE
INTRODUCTION 1.1 Background to the study
Palestine in the first half of the first century was a meeting place of varied cultural and religious streams. The intense religious crises of the Hellenistic world under Roman rule and the rapid growth of mystery cults ended in religious hostility (1). This situation if change and frustration was the matrix for the emergence of a religious community centered on Jesus. This community grew within two centuries into a religious movement of worldwide importance called Christianity. Throughout its history the Christian church of the New testament has been subject to divisions, heresies, quarrels and wars. No century has passed without religious intolerance display. Cou tless numbers if believers suffered torture and were cruelly death with and put to death for their faith in Jesus. Warned that they would be betrayed and brought before governors and kings they were stirred to great deeds of heroism and paid the ultimate price rather than deny their lord. Not only did the early church of the new testament survived this onslaught, but it increased in strength and by the fourth century was firmly established throughout the Mediterranean world. The church of Jesus Christ in Nigeria is therefore an extension of new testament church that started in Jerusalem.
The new testament society was a pluralistic society just as Nigeria today with different cultural a.d religious groups of the extential differences in cultural behaviour/philosophy of life and even certain attitudes and values. It is pertinent to remark that whenever religion primarily employs force either ti win more converts or to elicit o edience from.members, it's negative effects of religion is religious interance. Nigeria like New testament society is a large society withany tribes with different religious backgrounds. Therefore, freedom of conscience and religion should be defended and nurtured wherever it is imperiled. Hence, no religious group should claim ownership of this Country which belongs to all (Mgbemiere, 2007).
1.2 Problem Statement
The religious situation in which the New testament emerged was quite complex, a time of religious unrest. The new testament society was a victim of religious biogotry, chaos and anarchy that disturbed the harmony and peaceful co existence of the entire citizens because new testament Christianity lived long along side with other religions. Religious uproar, incognity and disparity in new testament society led to riot, divisions imprisonment, death of some, dissension, party spirity and crises. Like in the New testament, violent clashes connected with religion are not unknown in Nigeria. What is s stinctive about the recent occurrences connected with religion are their scale, intensity and symmetry. Various Christian denominations, traditionalist s and Islamic groups have been engaging in bitter arguments and disputed in contemporary Nigeria just as in new testament society, disparity and lack of agreement among Christians has led to the birth of many churches with various denominations in Nigeria. Thus there us need to assess christian unity in Nigeria.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The major objective of the study is the empirical study of various Christian denominations in Uyo. Which is to be achieved through the following specific objectives
(i) To examine the basic factors that affect Christian unity in Nigeria
(ii) To make a brief historical study of these factors?
(iii) To present ways of achieving peaceful religious coexistence in various Christian denominations.
1.4 Research questions
The above objectives are to be achieved through the following research questions.
(1) what is Christianity?
(2) what are the various Christian denominations in Uyo?
(3) Does unity exist among these various denomination?
1.5 Significance of the study
The research gives a clear insight into the empirical study of various Christian denominations. The study also explains the problems associated with christian unity in Nigeria. The study will therefore serve as a corrective measure to the mamxe of denomination dispute in Uyo.
1.6 Scope of the study
The research focus on the empirical study of various Christian denominations in Uyo.
Achebe China, The trouble with Nigeria (Enugu: Fourth Dimension publishing 1983).
M.O. Mgbemiere. The New Testament Religious Intolerance: Department of Religion, University of Nigeria Nsukka. November, 2007..