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 fulfil 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). Ethics appears to have a dynamic character and moves along man within time and space (Kohlberg, 2009). Similar seems to be the character of Christian ethics (Fowler, 2013; Mantzaridis, 2009). Fowler (1986) and Gibson (2014) considered the fact that spiritual maturity is a result of development relating to chronological age. The Bible teaches that spiritual growth progresses in a gradual manner: “we are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory (2 Corinthians 3: 18). “We instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more” (1 Thessalonians 4: 1, compare v. 10). “You faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing” (2 Thessalonians 1: 3). Growth is pictured in the Scriptures as a lifelong process (Richards, 1972). Benson, Roehlkepartain and Rude (2003) documented this lack of attention to religious and spiritual development during childhood and adolescence by reviewing the frequency of publications on these topics. The study of this psychological process regarding ethics and church growth may add additional knowledge on the nature of Christian ethics and thus Christian faith. This happens because psychology as a science consists a basic element of the special scientific domain of “Psychology of Religion”, aiming at the psychological investigation of the religious phenomenon as well as due to the relation of psychology to “pastoral psychology” (Begzos, 2011). This relationship is also supported since both sciences deal with the human soul and by the fact that psychology investigates human experience, the origin of this experience, the nature, feasibility and their effect on psychological human balance (Nisiotis, 2006). This form of studying Christian ethics through psychological processes may contribute to a better preparation of those undertaking the difficult task of pastoral care of the soul and church growth.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
The learning of ethics happens through the life style of each man and woman. Christian religion supports that one is not responsible for him or herself, but has the “grace of adoption”. Man exists throughout the image and likeness of God. Even though there is the “image” the perfection of man for “likeness” of God is not imposed by God but it is the result of human freedom respected by God. This way of formation of ethics is enhanced by the view that knowledge of what is right or wrong in order for people to make the right choice is something derived from the increase of experiences during peoples’ development (Piaget, 2014; Kohlberg, 2009). The quality of experiences is an issue of social environment where people live in and it plays an important role in their moral and religious lives since experiences consists the framework for information contributing to moral development and church growth (Nissan, 2011; Proios et al., 2006; Ryan & Lickona, 2012). For example, faith in Christ offers relevant information: “But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?” Thus, this study will analyse some of this ethics and how they aid in church growth.
1.3 AIMS OF THE STUDY
The major purpose of this study is to examine selected Christian ethics and their impact on church growth. Other general objectives of the study are:
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.5. RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H01:There is no significant impact of Christian ethics on church growth.
H02:There is no significant relationship between Christian ethics and church growth.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This research work is significant in the following ways:
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is based on selected Christian ethics and their impact on church growth, case study of selected churches in Lagos state.
1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Ethic: An ethic is defined as a set of moral principles or values; a theory or system of moral values. Ethics are principles of conduct, i.e., what is good, what is bad, etc.
Christian Ethic: The study of the principles and practices of right and wrong in the light of the Scriptures; The application of Christianity to conduct; and Translating doctrine into deeds, i.e., the study and application of the Christian faith.
Church Growth: Is a movement within evangelical Christianity which aims to develop methods to grow churches based on business marketing strategies.
OTHER SIMILAR THEOLOGY PROJECTS AND MATERIALS