1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
It is undoubtedly true that the present church and society is facing the hydra-headed challenges of moral decadence, global economic crises, political instability, terrible cultural erosion and materialism. The church of God today, should prepare to separate her members from the world of sin. God is not a confused God who wishes His church to wallow in immorality and see itself as sacred before God who does not play in sin. When appropriate measures to curb it are not put in motion, those evil deeds sink the positive reputation of the church into the dirt.
Morality today, has been noted, is gradually on the decay. Ethics is increasingly decreasing as a form of orderly living that propagates ideal communal life and interpersonal relationships. In many quarters there is fear that immorality is causing waves in society at the rate; the possible tendency is that there will be a severe collapse of law and order that could lead to anarchy. It is said that a lawless and unethical society is vulnerable to disorderly circumstance and chaos. An ideal society is that which is free of abuse, civil unrest, and unethical norms with a limited rate of crime and immoral practices. In recent years, strong legal and ethical values have been the priority of many social organizations. Therefore, many of today's social movements are targeted at curbing immorality and other such vices and drama is a major tactic used by numerous anti-immorality and anti-corruption campaign organizations. The church has taken one of the leading positions in the fight against immorality in Nigeria (Etire, 2002).
According to Attwater (2019) Benz (1963) and Chadwick (2017), the early church had a profound influence on her role, mission and message and the culture of her life that impacted people around them positively. But in this post-modern age, or in this contemporary era, there appears to be a decline or regression in Christians. The pendulum seems to have swung too far in the opposite direction in Africa, which muddles with many challenges in its evolving stages, socially, religiously, economically and politically. Among Nigeria's pressing concerns is the state of the clergy, which seems to have given rise to indiscipline and corruption.
It is not necessary to overemphasize the prevalence of sin in churches among adherents. It has grown to a degree of terror and tension in the heart of everyone who worries about Nigeria's future as a country and that of the flooding Christian communities of Nigeria. Society is struggling with many interpersonal issues of church members and clergy/pastors, including extortion, fraud, coercion, drug violations, smoking, flirting, theft and armed robbery, violent behaviour and display, vandalism, exam malpractices, cultism and thuggery, according to Ekundayo & Oyeniyi (2018) and Adebule (2012). Dotonu (2011) stated that heterosexual and homosexual behaviours are frequently seen as part of the behavioural problems that are prevalent in some of the churches in Nigeria, in addition to the well publicized behavioural concerns listed above. Sexual harassment, sex offences, sexual misconduct, immorality, promiscuity and maladjustment are coined in the literature (Omoteso, Adeniyi & Bada, 2010 and Anise, 2011). Dotonu (2011), however, observed that among the young people and church leaders participating in this mess, sexual abuse and deceptive misappropriation of money appeared to be one of the most serious and prevalent immoralities.
According to the Holy Bible's New Testament, God's will is opposed to jealousy, murder, deceit, adultery, fornication, stealing, hereticism, vanity, and various sinful actions. The church, however, is directed by the word of God that is against all kinds of sin, but in churches, especially in the contemporary church, there is still some degree of immorality. The contemporary church has been criticized, compared and evaluated by scholars such as Waapela (2016), Akiode in Ogunwale (2016), Apenda (2016), Ejizu (2018), Parsitan and Mwaura (2010), Haverdine (2013), Nkonge and Maina (2014), and Nkonge (2014) as it relates to its position, mission, message and effect on the society in which it exists. They argued that in the post-modern period, the church seems to be derailing or ignoring its mission and is not an exception to the post-modern Nigerian church. This status of the Christian Church and its activities, which seem to be far apart from its mission as stated in the Bible, contributed to this New Testament assessment of the church, its mission, function and influence in its community. This research therefore, sought to inquire if the church in this post modern era in is still in line with her mission or declining in her relevance and impact by leading her members to lake of fire.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Contemporary Christianity is the constant modification of New Testament religion to attract the unregenerate and carnal Christians, please the flesh, and be relatively acceptable to the world. The pressure is upon Christianity to adopt new theological interpretations; yet, that will lead to a modification of church life experiences affecting collective worship as well as Christian personal devotion. While internal ecclesiastical contemporary trends are challenging the essence of Christianity, external challenges are posed by a radical question related to the needs of the world which require ethics, morals and conscience.Without doubt, there is an increasingly low level of morality and ethical standard in the society today especially in the church, many interest groups have laid blame on modernism and developments. One of the outstanding remarkable virtues of a good society should be sexual purity which has received little or no attention from the society today. Also, sexual immorality has eaten deep into the fabric of the society. It has become the mainstay of the peoples’ behaviour (Adebule, 2012). Fraudulent accumulation of wealth has also been the order of the day in churches. Researchers have shown (Omoteso, Adeniyi & Bada, 2010; Anise, 2011 and Odebiyi, 2011) that sexual immorality and corruption has thousands of destructive effects on the society. However, the researcher is examining the issues of immorality in church with the hope of identifying the way forward.
1.3PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The major purpose of this study is to examine the contemporary church, the comfort zone for sinners on their way to lake of fire: issues and way forward. Other specific purposes of the study are;
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
H0:The contemporary churchhas no influence on sinners in their comfort zone
H1:The contemporary churchhas a significant influence on sinners in their comfort zone
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The following are the significance of this study:
Outcome of this study will educate the church leaders and the general public on the issues of immorality and sin in the church and identifying the way forward on the issue of Christians finding comfort in sinning in the church.
This research will also serve as a resource base to other scholars and researchers interested in carrying out further research in this field subsequently, if applied will go to an extent to provide new explanation to the topic.
The study is designed to investigate the contemporary church, the comfort zone for sinners on their way to lake of fire: issues and way forward.
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
Contemporary Church: It means church that is appropriate and meaningful for people who are living now, rather than people who lived 100 years ago or who will live 100 years in the future. That means that every generation in every culture faces the question of contemporary church. Thus, contemporary churches focus on addressing the issues of people face today and addressing them through music, videos, drama etc.
Contemporary Worship: Contemporary church is defined as music styles that are contemporary. This style can be: soft rock, pop/rock, easy listening or classic rock, but could also include other forms of heavily syncopated music with rock influences such as jazz, rap, blues, hip-hop, punk, ska, or modern country and western.
Church: A building designed for worship for groups of Christians. It may be small and simple, just large enough to hold a neighbourhood congregation, or it may be huge and complicated, containing different spaces for various religious activities and observances, as in a grand cathedral
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