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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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General Evaluation and Conclusion

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Our study has investigated the ecclesiological elaborations of the four marks of the Church by Francis Sullivan, and their consequent utilisation as ecumenical option for the Church in Nigeria. Admittedly, this topic is quite large and broad and we cannot pretend to have attended to all of its nuances and aspects. Nevertheless, this serves as an attempt at providing a plausible ecumenical standpoint for a sustainable ecumenical engagement in the Nigerian Church; a Church whose birth as we demonstrated in chapter four was punctuated by rivalry and division consequent to the indoctrination that was planted by the early missionaries; a Church which has pronounced peculiarities and uniqueness; and a Church which deeply yearns for a sustainable ecumenical engagement.

It was in response to the profound uniqueness of the Church in Nigeria that the choice of Sullivan as a theologian under study was made, especially with reference to the admirable way with which he elucidated the intricate ecclesiological nuances of the four marks of the Church. Furthermore, the ecumenical plausibility of the four marks of the Church, especially as is found in Sullivan’s ecclesiological elucidations appears to be a fitting response to the peculiarity and ecumenical urgency of the Nigerian Church, which as a matter of fact, demands a profound catechetical engagement as a legitimate means of accomplishing a sustainable de-indoctrination. These, together with the ecumenical consciousness of the Second Vatican Council, whose echo presently reverberates in the Nigerian Church, necessitated the division of the work into...

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