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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

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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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1 General Introduction and Background of Study

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General Introduction and Background of Study

The doctrine of justification, by grace through faith in Christ is the old doctrine of the Reformation… yet the vivid apprehension of its meaning, and the cordial reception of its truth, must be a new thing in the experience of every one… (Buchanan 1984: 3).

1.1 Introduction

This study seeks to examine the translation and interpretation of the doctrine1 of justification by faith alone by the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria (LCCN)2, Gongola Diocese. Justification by faith alone looks at how a person receives or appropriates God’s gift of grace by faith rather than through personal merit. Justification by faith alone is a cardinal doctrine of the Lutheran Church and indeed the whole of Evangelical Christianity. The study attempts to examine how the doctrine has been appropriated by the church members of this diocese in relation to the religious, cultural and social context of the people. To achieve this, the possibility of using contextual theological education as a tool to help understand the church’s interpretation of this doctrine will be explored. In addition the translatability theory of Kwame Bediako will be utilized to assess the effect of the worldview of the congregants on their interpretation of the doctrine. Three ← 1 | 2 → criteria for judging the LCCN’s interpretation of the doctrine of justification by faith alone will be used. These are scripture, past confessional documents, and how the doctrine facilitates Christian spirituality...

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