This thesis suggests as well as expands the idea that the Church is a
theocentric Community - a Community of re-created persons whose lives are to
be centered on the only Living God, who as God the Father, the Son and the
Holy Spirit brought the Community into existence. This way of looking at
the nature of the Church differs from the over-Christocentric approach which
tends to identify the Church exclusively with one member of the Godhead.
At the same time, to regard the Church in an African context as a theocentric
Community is an attempt to develop a specifically African Christian under¬
standing of the Church in the hope that the type of ecclesiology to emerge
from the study will be relevant and intelligible to an African convert.
It is the contention of this thesis that an enquiry into the nature of
the Church will have to take into consideration the doctrines of God and man.
If such a doctrine of the Church is to be understood by a given people and
is to be responsive to their needs, then their traditional notions of God
and man should not be ignored, no matter how distorted these may be.
The above position dictates the approach which is taken in the develop¬
ment of this thesis. The first chapter, which is the General Introduction
to the Study, deals with some of the factors which are behind the presentday
interest in ecclesiology. This chapter also treats briefly the nature
of African Christian theology. This background material shows the need
for an African Christian ecclesiology.
The second chapter of the thesis shows certain aspects of traditional
African (with special reference to traditional Nigerian) ideas of God and
man which are considered helpful in developing a theocentric model of the
The third chapter is devoted to the development of the idea that the
Church is a theocentric Community, and this is preceded by a brief discus¬
sion of the Biblical basis of the theocentric model which underlines the
fact that the model is first and foremost rooted in the Biblical doctrines
of God and man.
The fourth chapter is the summary and the conclusion of the study.
This thesis maintains that the theocentric model of the Church rules
out any exclusive identification of the Church with one member of the
Godhead, because the model identifies the Church with the only God who
exists, the one who has revealed himself as God the Father, the Son and
the Holy Spirit. The creation, the sustenance, and the consummation of the
Church is always an act of one God who is the Triune God. Correspondingly,
the Church is called to live its God-given life to the glory of the same
God who alone is the Living God. The theocentric model assists the
African convert to feel at home spiritually in the Church because the model
identifies the origin of the Church with the same God whom the African
knows in his traditional religions as the Supreme God who made the heavens
and the earth, the ultimate sustainer of all that he has created.