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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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2 Contextualization: A Vital Tool for Creating an Informed Interpretation and Appropriation of Justification by Faith Alone


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A Vital Tool for Creating an Informed Interpretation and Appropriation of Justificationby FaithAlone

2.1 Introduction

In the previous chapter the general background of the study was introduced and discussed. The motivations for and rationale of the study were given along with the research question and objectives. The overview of the study was also presented. The current chapter attempts to examine how contextualization can be used as a tool for creating an informed understanding and interpretation of justification by faith alone. This is done through a review of literature that deals with the three theoretical assumptions that undergird this study.

Contextualization is built on the assumption that consciously or not, all theologies are born out of a social condition and the needs of a particular context (Patte 2010: 277). It was Shoki Coe who, under the auspices of the World Council of Churches Theological Education Fund programme, gave the term a new impetus in 1972 (Shenk 2005: 192–193 and Patte 2010: 277). However, it is pertinent to mention here that theologians need to use “the critical lens of a hermeneutics of suspicion” in their contextual theological exercise so that it does not enslave rather than liberate (Nadar 2005: 17, Pui-Lan 2005: 60).

The doctrine of justification by faith alone was borne out of a historical context within a given culture in order to help people appropriate it in their ← 17 | 18 → day-to-day life experiences...

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