It is with great pain, that we of the Christian Awareness Initiative of Nigeria (CHAIN) read the statements credited to the Association of Christian Theologians (ACTS) which was published in the media on Saturday, November 23, 2013 and stating that ACTS was of the view that the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, “could not be trusted to present the views of Nigerian Christians at the conference.”
Not only does the statement of this group seek to bring the Church of Christ in Nigeria into disrepute, it further casts aspersions on this theologians group as a whole for the simple reason that what the group has done is against Christian theology as taught by Christ in Matthew 18:15-17; where Jesus said: “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector”.
The above steps for conflict resolution are those ordained by our Lord and Saviour. As theologians, it is expected that ACTS should be familiar with these steps. The question is, have they followed these God-ordained steps to resolve any conflict with CAN? How do they want to represent Christians at the National Dialogue with a divided Christian House? We believe ACTS should learn first to dialogue with CAN before meeting other Nigerians if they are going to make a good and godly representation at the conference.
On the contrary, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, under the leadership of Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor has set up machinery to resolve any existing conflict among her groups. Just last week, CAN under Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, called an interdenominational meeting of Christian groups and said: “There is a problem we need to reconcile with everybody”. The media was not called, outsiders were not called. Is that not how Christians should settle their matters?
The Bible enjoins us to obey constituted authorities which CAN is one. There may be issues and differences in the way we view matters in this country but we most be seen to be godly in our approach to getting things done right.
The Bible teaches us to obey constituted authorities which CAN is one. Thus we at CHAIN, call on the Association of Christian Theologians (ACTS), that if they are indeed theologians of the Holy Bible, they should as a matter of urgency purge themselves of this current unbiblical stance of theirs where they take disagreements to the pages of newspapers when they have not made any effort for reconciliation.
It is a settled matter that Pastor Oritsejafor was voted by Christian representatives at the last CAN Congress in Abuja for another final term in office in accordance with CAN Constitution.
We hereby call on those behind ACTS to retrace their steps if they are indeed Christians and adhere to the discipline expected of theologians by submitting themselves to the Ecclesiastical authority of CAN. If they do not like the present CAN leadership, the only option open to them is to engage them in constructive dialogue, pray for God to change their hearts or wait until the next elections and offer themselves for election into the offices of the president and executives of CAN and if they win then they can speak for Nigerian Christians. Until then, ENOUGH OF THIS DIVISION IN THE BODY OF CHRIST.
*Rev. John Joseph Hayab for Christian Awareness Initiative of Nigeria (CHAIN)