The Southern Baptist foreign mission enterprise in western Nigeria: an analysis
Florin, Hans Wilhelm
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This dissertation attempts to determine the range and the intensity of the Western missionary impact on the African scene. The Southern Baptist mission field in Western Nigeria serves as an example in case. The phenomenon of the missionary impact is of a twofold nature: religious and cultural. The cultural impact of Christian missionaries on the African scene has been of interest for some time, especially to students of the social sciences. As such, it has repeatedly been mentioned in sociological studies concerning certain aspects of social and cultural change. However, rarely has the missionary-induced culture change been studied per se, and never has such change been studied in a context which does justice to Christian missionary motivation as a primary source of action. It is, therefore, the objective of this study to describe this impact both as to its theological cause and its cultural implications. For this purpose, a methodology has had to be designed which would do justice to both the theological concern for and the sociological interest in the culture-mediating activity of the missionary work. The methodology can be broken down into the following two steps. First, the Southern Baptist mission enterprise is described in terms of the theological, philosophical, and cultural forces which contribute to the Southern Baptist mission outreach to the Western Nigerian scene. Against the background of this knowledge, the program of the Southern Baptist mission operations is observed in its interaction with Nigerian Baptist institutions. Secondly, any Nigerian Baptist reactions resulting from this interaction are submitted as data to an analytical model. For the detection of genuine Nigerian Baptist reactions, there was derived a key-factor which serves as a catalyst in determining the analytical values of those data submitted to the model. The resulting values are co-ordinated through the process of quantification and are then integrated into a graph which gives evidence of the qualitative distribution of impact factors, as they contribute to the formulation of the Nigerian Baptist outlook. The evaluation of this evidence makes possible a determination of the range and the degree of intensity of the Southern Baptist mission impact on that portion of the Western Nigerian scene which has become identified with this mission work: the Nigerian Baptist Convention. This methodology represents one portion of the results of this dissertation. The other set of results is provided by the evaluation of the information which was extracted from this analytical process. This evaluation gives some insight into the range and the intensity of the Southern Baptist cultural and theological impact on the Nigerian Baptist scene: 1. Through early autonomy and timely transfer of power to their Nigerian Baptist constituency, Southern Baptists have succeeded in keeping the traditional tensions between overlords and dependents at a minimum. 2. Because of this minimum of tensions, the Southern Baptist mission impact may have prolonged effects on the Nigerian Baptist outlook. 3. The Southern Baptist domination of the theological outlook of the Nigerian Baptist Convention may serve as an example of this prolonged effect. Exceptions are the Nigerian Baptist theological and ethical expressions which have their origin in the experience of the traditional Yoruba social structure and customs. 4. Nigerian Baptists' preoccupatian with the national future of Nigeria, together with the fact that they are a religious minority group, explains their adherence to a Nigerian rather than a Southern Baptist philosophical identity. The positive ecumenical spirit of the Nigerian Baptists is based upon the same phenomenon. 5. Nigerian Baptists--together with most other Nigerians--only now begin to respond to an indigenous cultural identity over against the previously accepted Western cultural identity. 6. Baptist principles of freedom and democracy and Nigerian Baptist political aspirations have not yet come into competition with one another.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston University Abstract: leaves 328-330. Vita. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 320-327). Microfilm. s
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