Pauline Concept of Agape: Its Implication for Religious Peace and Harmony in Africa: The Nigerian Situation

Olugbenga Olagunju

Abstract


This paper is titled “Pauline Concept of Agape:  It’s Implication for Religious Peace and Harmony in Africa.” There is an unhealthy tension among different religious groups in Africa today. This tension is much more pronounced between the Christians and Muslims. Religion is being used as an instrument for destabilizing the unity, peace and progress of some nations in Africa especially Nigeria. Recently, there were incidences of religio-political conflicts in Nigeria and other nations in Africa. These conflicts have led to destruction of lives and properties.  Fear, anxiety and suspicion have been created through it. The African Union at different times have set up panel of enquiry to unravel the remote causes of these conflicts and suggest lasting solution that would bring sustainable peace  to the polity. But unfortunately, nothing tangible has been achieved from the panel of inquiries set up to find lasting solution to these problems. The results of religious intolerance are the breaking down of law and order, killing of innocent citizens and destruction of properties. Religious intolerance has led to hatred, social deprivation and injustices among various religious groups. One of the reasons why religious conflicts have not been controlled in Africa is because the government is not sincere in its approach to solving the problem and people are not ready to practice love for their neighbor. The practice of love is what Paul called agaph. Agaph is a common term in the Greco-Roman world which Paul borrowed and used as technis termini in his writings to the Corinthian church. A study of agaph and its application from the letters of Paul is timely for such a pluralistic and diverse society as ours in Africa. The ultimate aim of agaph is to create an atmosphere of peace, justice and unity among different religious groups especially between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria.

The thesis of this paper is that love is imperative and it should be practiced in order to achieve peace and harmony in Africa and most especially in Nigeria where religious bigotry and intolerance predominate.

The method used in this paper is eclectic. It is a method that combines historical-grammatical method in an intercultural hermeneutic. The paper is divided into five sections. Section one begins with the etymology of the term agaph . Section two exegetes 1Cor. 13:4-10 while section three deals with overview of ethno-religious crises in Africa using Nigeria as a case-study. Section four discusses the implication of agaph for ethno-religious peace and harmony while section five concludes with recommendations for the African state.

 


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