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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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6 The LCCN Gongola Diocese’s Interpretation of the Doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone: Field Work


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The LCCN Gongola Diocese’s Interpretation of the Doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone

Field Work

True theology is the attempt on the part of the church to explain and interpret the meaning of the gospel for its own life and to answer questions raised by the Christian faith, using the thought, values and categories of the truth which are authentic to that place and time (Gilliland 1989: 10–11).

6.1 Introduction

Chapter four discussed how the doctrine of justification by faith alone was transmitted from Luther to the LCCN through the agency of the missionaries. First, the discussion revealed that the view of justification by faith alone that was transmitted by the missionaries has undergone many processes of modification. Second, the way the missionaries presented this doctrine did not facilitate its understanding and appropriation by the LCCN members. Third, the indigenous leadership of the LCCN did not make deliberate effort towards educating members about this doctrine. Chapter five presented the research design and the procedure for collection and analyzing the data that will be generated from the field work. That chapter formed the bridge between the previous chapters and those which now follow. The present chapter attempts to investigate further the underlying reason[s] for ← 105 | 106 → the situation described in chapter four which has an effect on how the doctrine is appropriated by current church members.

While the previous chapters were historical and theological...

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