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Keywords: THE ROLE OF CHRISTIANS IN NATIONAL POLITICS: THE NIGERIAN EXPERIENCE
THE ROLE OF CHRISTIANS IN NATIONAL POLITICS; THE NIGERIAN EXPERIENCE
The Role of Christians in National Politics; the Nigerian Experience, a study of Christian’s participation in active politics from different denomination within Lagos state, Nigeria. The purpose of this study will be aimed at, to identify various misconceptions and distortions concerning Christian’s political involvement and a way out, identify why Christians are not in the political lime light of her time, the cause of neglect of this divine commission and the reasons for Christians active participation in national politics, among others. The negligence of the Church and individual Christians to active role in politics pose a dangerous threat to the sanity of the political system of our dear country. This negligence and non-challant attitude has relegated the Church which supposed to be at the lime-light of nation building to the back side of the line thereby creating a dilemma to the development of our country. The focus of this work will involve the Christians role in national politics, the responsibility of the church to the state, the distortion and misconception of political involvement, and also the responsibilities of Christian politicians for the well-being of our dear country. This work is to be a historical research. Instruments of research to be use will be oral interview and questionnaire administered to church leaders and individual Christians. A detailed survey of related literature will be carried out in the library of LIFE Theological Seminary, Ikorodu. Findings will be stated at the end of the work and recommendations will be made to the Church and Christians at large on the importance of participating in active politics with a logical conclusion profited for Christians and the church at large.
Christians generally believe that there is a battle field. But there exists confusion as to the real battle line. Many claimed to have traced and found it in economics, some found it in political ideologies, yet, others hold religions responsible, etc. reading the “sign” of the time prophetically (i.e., according to biblical revelation), we subscribe in agreement with Kaseem to the fact that “real battle-line in the world today as it may look like, is not one race against the other; it is not one religion against the other; it is not one sex against the other; neither is it one tribe against the other tribe. The battle-line today is between Christ and the anti-Christ who has revealed himself in socio-political, economic and religious spheres of life.”
The relationship between Church and state in all ramifications is complex and controversial. Historically, the Roman Catholic Church has maintained a consistent and close relationship with the state. This is true because of the influence of Aristotle’s “positive attitude toward the political order of the city… the state is the expression of humanity’s social nature, as belonging to nature, rather than the fall.”
The legacy of Protestant churches, which goes back to Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation, is a negative view of the state. Traditional Protestant churches have tended to follow this view, especially those churches that had their roots in western Christian missions. Because these Christian missions maintained a separation of Church and state, the national churches that emerged from Mission Churches also maintained this view. For example, Sudan Interior Mission (SIM), founded by Canadian and American missionaries, strictly held on to the separation of Church and state. The Church was seen to entirely different from the state. In Nigeria, the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA), which emerged out of SIM, followed the footsteps of its founding mission agency and maintained separation of Church and state. Pastors were forbidden to have anything to do with politics because it was deemed dirty and worldly. In fact, ordained ministers who had a desire to go into politics had to surrender their surrender their ministerial licenses. Most African Churches that grew out of Western missions developed aloofness and serious suspicion of the state, politics and the relationship of Christians and the Church to the state and politics Samuel Waje K. reported.
Samuel Waje K. reported that in contemporary Africa, the situation just described has undergone dramatic changes. The Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA) has renounced its strict posture of separation of Church and state. In a recent book, Professor Olowola, President of ECWA, urges that it is the duty of Christians and the Church to be actively involved in politics and government. There are ECWA members and even ordained ministers who pursue politics and are in government as a career. Christian Churches throughout Africa now hold a position of involvement.
Christians now realize that politics affects the economic development of society. Failure to get involved in politics could mean economic deprivation. Political involvement often enriches ones chances of getting a better life. Political involvement may help to bring about better infrastructures, education and life styles. The Church stands a better chance to develop if she engages in government and political realities of her context. Church members who get involved have an opportunity to make positive contributions in government and politics. Their contributions impact the community and eventually the Church, which then improves economically. The Church also benefits when her members are in government helping to meet their requests more easily and adequately.
Definitely, not all Christians are called of God to take up political offices on a full-time basis. But we are persuaded that some are; and we need to support them. The past attitude of viewing the world as a “sinking ship” and showering it with pity is very alarming. We must commit to the flames the idea of rescuing it as a whole from perishing. Rather, we aim at individuals therein. If ever our ministry is to be holistic, we must be prepared to go into all corners of human activity.
It is important for all church leaders and Christians to emulate the positive and bold step of the General Overseer of the Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria who declared these timely words of encouragement during their 33rd Annual Convention meeting:
Everybody knows that for the government to be better of, honest and dedicated people must be involved. Christians should improve to be the best of other people. I, therefore, seize this medium to call on all our brethren who feel called into the ministry of political Administration, like Daniel, not to drag their feet on the issue. They should make their desire known and we, as an organization, shall support them morally and spiritually.
The approach of Christians and the church to active politics is due for a proper reorientation and awareness on the need for Christians’ participation in national politics. If we continue to fold our arms in self-pity, we are indirectly advocating for a continuous misrule and political corrupt elements to manhandle the political system of our dear country. It is time to pick up the staff of political reformation handled by our fathers of faith in the Bible days and call the government of today to order by actively involving in our nation’s political sphere with the aim of influencing it positively to the glory of God.
This research work is aimed to identify various misconceptions and distortions concerning Christians’ political involvement and a way out, identify why Christians are not in the political lime light of her time, the cause of neglect of this divine commission and the reasons for Christians active participation in national politics and among others. This knowledge will enhance better approach and acceptance of the role believers must play in national politics.
The research work is to remind Christians and the Church of their obligation as an agent of positive reorientation to the nation, a light in darkness, a salt to the world. To remind them of their sacred duty in keeping their Father’s world from all manners of invasion. This work will be of benefit to the church and Christians who seek to pursue political offices as a career. It will facilitate Christians call to active participation in politics. This research work will provide materials as to some of those areas on the roles of Christians in national politics and will provide information for further research as well as contribute to the bank of knowledge gotten from previous work.
This study is to highlight the role of Christians to national politics and the Christians’ responsibility in nation building. It is limited to Church leaders, individual Christians who seek to hold public offices and the Christians at large in various denominations within Lagos state. The survey will be done on Christians and church leaders from different denominations within Lagos state-Nigeria.
Role:A character or part played by a performer or actor.The expected behavior of an individual in a societyThe function or position of something.
Christians:A believer in Christianity.An individual who seeks to live his or her life according to the principles and values taught by Jesus Christ.An individual who has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.A Christian is a person who follows or adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ
Keywords: THE ROLE OF CHRISTIANS IN NATIONAL POLITICS: THE NIGERIAN EXPERIENCE