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‘Why Christains must unite in faith’
By Simeon Mpamugoh
The need for various Christian denominations to work in unity was recently stressed by leaders of the faith from the South West. The 10th anniversary of the International Foundation for Christian Unity (IFCU), provided the platform for stocktaking. It was in collaboration with South West’s Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and leaders in Lagos.
Chairman at the event, Dr. Christopher Kolade, while listing pills for Christian unity quoted from Thomas Brooks’ 12 Ways To Preserve Christian Unity describing the bullets as precious remedy to devises of the Satan. He tasked Christians to “spend more time considering areas of agreement than disagreement. The doctrines Christians share with other believers are the foundational doctrines and the ones not shared are necessarily less central to the faith. If you descend into disunity, you hand Satan a victory, so, we should concentrate on those things that bind us than those that divide us. Maintain peace and deny Satan the triumph!”
Special Guest of Honour, General Yakubu Gowon (retd), challenged Christian leaders to do more work: “The problem with us is that we have not been disciple; we don’t have Christians who surrendered themselves to take a risk. For us when we talk about Christian unity, the problem is the fact that we have not been disciple.
“I am not talking about book discipleship; most churches have it. But it is not engrained enough; it is not a heart matter for most Christians. This is why we have the problems we face. The last CAN president did one unique thing in setting up National Christians Elders Forum. And that forum has been making some useful contributions.”
He was represented by Moses Ihonde, former Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United States. He said: “We do not have Christians who are committed enough. Churches who spend time on prosperity messages have to readjust because we are in an end time and there is urgency in the kings business at this time. Our church leaders need to devise a way to disciple the unbelievers.”
For Sam Ohabunwa: “We must stand up to defend our heritage as a Christian nation. I believe that if we are united, there is no force that can contain us in this country. So, unity is fundamental to our growth and development. It is something we should pursue with what God has endowed us.
“We need to change the image of CAN. Some of the things we see in CAN and the way they choose their leaders are what we see in political parties. Someone wants to contest leadership position of the organization and all kinds of things happen.”
He noted that there was no doubt CAN has a structure that was most prepared to bring Christians together: “We need to clean the image to an organization for true and born again Christians, faithful and completely exorcised so that they can carry the banner of unity for Christians to follow.”
Chairman, CAN South West, Most Rev Magnus Atilade, observed that Christians had stopped saying the same thing about the faith to the world: Even though we remained one people, we had lost the power of unity hence devil has stopped the advancement of the gospel in some parts of the world by marshaling his demons to united action while inflicting confusion in the ranks of the Christian faithful.”
Atilade who spoke on the theme: “Christian Unity: An Immediate Imperative,” asked, “can we not see unity in planning and execution of the Islamization project in Nigeria? While the Christians in the legislative and executive arms of governance are either sleeping or selling their future and that of their children for lucre, the Islamists are quietly implementing their well planned and methodically coordinated agenda in our educational, military, economic and political institutions.”
He said that Christian disunity was primarily a result of divergence in doctrines and teachings with the various denominations teaching and practicing according to their own traditions, creeds, and ideas. Some of these he said were clearly opposed to the word of God thereby turning deaf ear to warnings of the Lord to the Church through Apostle Paul. He added that these teachings had fossilized into religious dogmas firmly assimilated as truth.
Atilade canvassed for an urgent rethink of the divisive doctrines pointing out that in our divisiveness we had become powerless. He wondered the place of the united early church that raised the dead and healed the terminally sick as a routine occurrence that captured the attention of the world and drove thousands into their folds on a daily basis.
The president of the organization, Cyprian Agbazue, while emphasizing the importance of unity in the Church traced lack of it to the events of the Dark and Middle ages and grouped it under political, cultural and doctrinal causes. He spoke on “A New Strategy for Christian Unity”
He said the Church authorities on realizing the importance of the return to unity has over the years tried to tackle the problem through the process of Ecumenism; which is a process that seeks to tinker some sort of doctrinal unity among the mainline churches by way of negotiating consensus on selected doctrinal issues.
He called for organic or functional unity saying that the way forward was for the church to adopt functional unity which allows denominations to practice those peculiar doctrine they hold dear, yet qualifies them to belong fully to the salvation train adding that the leadership of CAN should work closely with all denominations to give the body the strength and power it needed to lead the church to victory spiritually, physically and politically.
He bellowed for unity in dealing with the imminent threat of Islamic jihad to Christianity in Nigeria adding that the battle was not against flesh and blood but satanic hordes working to scuttle the destiny of the country and the condition for victory was that the church in Nigeria must be united in the warfare.