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A Critical Analysis of the Interpretation of the Doctrine of «Justification by Faith Alone» by the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria, Gongola Diocese


James J. Reynolds

Within the context of the Lutheran Church in Nigeria, Gongola Diocese, this book examines the issues of the interpretation, transmission, and appropriation of the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Using contextualization as the main tool in this exploration, James J. Reynolds argues that intercultural communication holds the key to unlocking how effectively and appropriately these three engagements with theology are executed. The Lutheran church, and indeed most Protestant denominations, assert that justification by faith alone is the cardinal doctrine of Christianity. Scholars, however, are concerned that there is a great level of ignorance among members and misappropriation of justification by faith alone in the lives of members of these denominations. To investigate these underlying factors, three theories are used as a framework with which to test the church’s interpretation of this doctrine: gospel and culture in dialogue, translatability, and contextual theological education programmes for the training of both clergy and laity. In order to initiate this process, the gospel and culture must engage in dialogue through a viable and contextual theological education programme for the training of both clergy and the laity. The Lunguda practice of ntsandah provides an ideal entry point for a proper informed interpretation of justification by faith alone. Ultimately, the author argues that the employment of intercultural communication in transmitting the message of justification by faith alone will be successful in helping address this problem.
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First, I thank God Almighty for guidance, protection, health and success of this study. I thank my sponsors, Karlslunde Strandkirke Congregation Denmark for their magnanimity in offering me sponsorship and also assisting my family. My appreciation also goes to my friend Rev. Jesper Ertmann Oehlenschläger and his family, who has been very instrumental in making the connection between me and the congregation. My wife Labauga and children Mercy, Hope, Joyce, Grace and John have been wonderful companions throughout this journey. I thank them for their sacrifice and support.

Secondly, my profound gratitude goes to Prof. Isabel Apawo Phiri, my supervisor, for her devotion, encouragement and availability. She was not only a supervisor to me but also a mother and mentor. I thank Dr. Roderick R. Hewitt for accepting to co-supervise my work; and for his commitment and valuable suggestions and contributions which made significant impact on this study. I would also like to mention the UKZN community for granting me admission. I thank the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics for creating a conducive environment for study and also granting me scholarship to help me finalize my study. I thank Sister Maggie Govender of the UKZN Campus Clinic Pietermaritzburg, whose timely intervention saved my life when I was stressed up due to what the family was passing through back home. My thanks also go to Dr. Sean Drew, who handled my situation with diligence, respect and commitment. I thank Dr. Jay P. Karappian.

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