SELECTED CHRISTIANS ETHICS AND THEIR IMPACT ON CHURCH GROWTH (A CASE STUDY OF SELECTED CHURCHES IN LAGOS STATE)

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

Christian ethics can most simply be classified as the way of life appropriate to those who accept the Christian faith. However, in the course of nearly two thousand years, Christianity has become a worldwide protean phenomenon. Ethics involves standards of behaviour that dictate how one should conduct oneself at any given time. The word ethics is derived from the Greek term ethos, which has reference to custom, usage, manner of life, or pattern of conduct (Verbrugge 2011). In general terms, ethical inquiry is a journey into one’s moral nature for the purpose of discovering areas of personal responsibility and how to fulfill them. Christian ethics, as part of the wider concept of ethics, is a new scientific field that studies proper human behaviour. This results into a number of questions, such as what “Christian ethics” exactly is as a spiritual practice or whether it is identical or totally different from moral philosophy. Therefore, Christian ethics could also be a set of principles derived from Christian faith by which we act. Considering the characteristics defining ethics in general, we could consider that both forms of ethics present similar elements, i.e. principles that regulate human behaviour in relation to others. For example, the Bible tells us that we are to follow the authorities that God Himself has put into place (Romans 13: 1). By using the principles we find in Scripture, Christians can determine the ethical course for any given situation. Some scholars also supported a relationship among spirituality and moral development (e.g., Day, 2010; Holley, 2012; Young, Cashwell, & Woolington, 2010). For example, it is stated that Christian ethics is not a set of moral rules, but rather a proof of participation in the life of God (Mantzaridis, 2009); the philosophical/secular moral values are not based on the discovery of a transcendent deity, but they are rather the outcome of human experience (CVE, 2012). They have become what certain people at a particular time and place hold to be good. They have ceased to be values and have become valuations …” The ethics advocated by the Church is “beyond good and evil”, without any evaluative categories involved. Good and evil are conventional categories (Giannaras, 2011). Religious ethics is supported to be part of Divine commands and depend upon the will of God, that God commands what is good and prohibits what is evil (Heidt, 2010).

SELECTED CHRISTIANS ETHICS AND THEIR IMPACT ON CHURCH GROWTH (A CASE STUDY OF SELECTED CHURCHES IN LAGOS STATE)