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An Ecclesiological Exploration of the Four Marks of the Church

An Eccumenical Option for the Church in Nigeria

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Philip Chika Omenukwa

The vibrancy of faith and the fast growth of different churches in Nigeria seem to obscure the reality of some precarious historical challenges that call for crucial and genuine ecclesiological inquiry. The Nigerian Church’s unique history loaded with various facets of indoctrination and the peculiarities of her constituents demands an urgent ecclesial and theological attention. Following an exploratory, analytical, critical and historical methodology, this book finds Francis Alfred Sullivan’s explication of the intricate nuances of the Four Marks of the Church as a fitting ecumenical model for the Nigerian ecclesial situation. It delves into this model and presents the findings through a catechetical prism as an alternative for effective and sustainable de-indoctrination. The author also finds dialogue as a probable effective tool for de-indoctrination, but also acknowledges that legitimate ecclesiological dialogue does not rule out difficulties in the process. He therefore argues that the consciousness of the ecumenical worth of the Four Marks of the Church as well as faithfulness to the principles of dialogue will lead to the resolution of much of these differences.
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Chapter One:Francis Sullivan and his Notion of the Church

Extract

Chapter OneFrancis Sullivan and His Notion of the Church

Introduction

This first chapter is structured into two sections. In its first section, a general overview of the life and works of our author Francis Alfred Sullivan1 will be presented. The historical and theological context of his theological elaborations will be surveyed in view of their possible influence on his works. The first section will be concluded with an investigation into Sullivan’s theological method.

In the second section of chapter one, our preoccupation will turn to Sullivan’s notion of the Church. Particularly significant is the fact that Sullivan refrained from proffering any definition of the Church. He however begins his reflection by explaining in what sense “we believe in the church.”2 Thereafter, he treats other themes, such as: the Church as the work of the Trinity, the Church and the Kingdom of God, the Biblical images of the Church, the Church as the Body of Christ, and the Church as one “complex reality.”3

His treatment of each of these themes will be carefully studied. Let us now begin with the first part of this section namely; an overview of Sullivan’s life and works.

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