PHILOSOPHICAL EXAMINATION OF THE NIGERIAN RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE IN THE LIGHT OF
ANDRE GODIN’S IDEAS
of the humans in the world are born into one religion or the other.
The environment in which we live is densely religious. As a result, one starts
to hear, see and touch things about God very early in life. In the market, on
the road, even in drinking houses you see and hear people talk about God. Even
when you are in your house a loud speaker is at your window telling you about
a child, and a Christian, you look at a corner of your sitting room and see an
altar set up by your parents for the worship of God. Every morning you are
disturbed from an early morning dose of sleep in order to say the morning
prayers. In the school, before you settle for studies, you are confronted with
a session of prayers.
are what we call religious encounters, the conscious assimilation of which
becomes our experience – religious experience. We start having these
experiences very early in life, and as we grow up we internalize the one that
appealed to us. This will be our religious affiliation. But the question rests
on the possibility and texture or quality of this experience. Its all about
whether these encounters are necessarily qualified to be called an experience
and how we can come to that. Is religious experience possible? How do we
encounter God? Can we encounter God directly with or without the religious
experiences? What is the nature of the Nigerian religious experience? Is it
possible to encounter God in the country’s religious atmosphere? What are the
factors that underlie the Nigerians’ religious attitude? These questions
summarize what we shall discuss in this essay.
Godin, in his book, The Psychological Dynamics Of Religious Experience,
gave a psychological insight to these issues. He pointed out the different
aspects and dynamics of religious experience. In a very profound manner, he
tried to show how they could lead one to or away from the profound reality of
the individual which he referred to as the experience of God.
is a philosophical exposition of this view, in relation to the religious
experience in Nigeria (particularly Christian). Bringing out its relevance to
Christians here in Nigeria, I will then make a leap, in a way of remark, to the
way forward - from functional religion to the experience of God.
first chapter is the introduction. The second chapter examines the notion and
dynamics of religious experience, as was posited by Andre Godin. Chapter three
is devoted to a philosophical analysis of the Nigerian religious experience
(Christian perspective), in relation to the ideas of Andre Godin. Chapter four
is an effort to reconcile the experience of God with the end of religion. In
this chapter also we shall evaluate the whole essay.
1.1 Statement Of The Problem
word “experience” is very diversified. Often times we hear people talk about
their religious experiences. And as each day passes we encounter people with
one or more experiences, which can qualify to be called religious.
the sharing in the public transports, market places, to the activities at the
revival and crusade grounds, people have stories to tell about their
experiences. Most times, these issues are made more confusing and complicated
by the outward signs and changes (both physical and psychological) the persons
exhibit. A “rough” man who had been a drunkard and a smoker now appears more
sober and responsible. A girl who had been reckless and wayward suddenly
becomes more modest and “religious”.
one begins to wonder what these changes are all about. The questions now would
be, “what brought about these changes?” what are they for? What motivated these
people or what still motivates them?
may be a motivation born out of a desire to see a wish fulfilled (functional
religion), or a longing to meet, to encounter the otherness of God (experience
of God). Then what could be said of the Nigerian Christian community with
regards to this?
1.2 Purpose Of The Study
fact of the existence of religion is so obvious that any rational being can
hardly ignore it. Its effects in the society are so conspicuous that it becomes
odd and irrational to question its pervading presence. History is replete with
the impact of religion in the life of people and the society at large. This
fact is reiterated by Omoregbe when he affirmed that, “there is no other
phenomenon which moulds and controls man’s life as much as religion does.” It
has both sociological and psychological implications such that religious belief
can have such a firm grip on people’s life as to impart a permanent change on
is what Godin took up and explored. In his book The Dynamics Of Religious
Experience, he tried to bring out clearly, from a psychological point of
view, the motive behind those impacts and changes, which religion could have on
The concern of this study is to
examine the dynamics of religious experience as posited by Andre Godin. Then we
take a look at the nature of the Nigerian Christian religious experience so as
to see how it can enhance the worship of God by Christians in Nigeria.
1.3 Scope Of The Study
said already that the concern of this essay is an examination of the Nigerian
religious experience in relation to Andre Godin’s ideas on religiousExperience,
it is pertinent, therefore, that we limit ourselves to Andre Godin’s view of
religious experience and some other related, relevant themes. Other authors
will be introduced when necessary.
The first and major
method we shall adopt in this work is expository. In the second chapter, we
shall use it to explore Godin’s view on religious experience. This will help in
a comprehensive understanding of his argument. Then again, we shall as well
employ it in the third chapter to view the dynamics and nature of the Nigerian
Christian religious experience.
Secondly, we shall adopt
the method of critical analysis. This we shall use in the last chapter to make
a philosophical evaluation and justification of the ideas presented in the
course of the work.
Godin; Psychologie des experiences religieuses: la desir et la realite,
Eng. Trans. The psychological Dynamics of Religious Experience by M.
Turton, (Birmingham, Alabama: Religious Education Press, 1985), p.10.
Omoregbe; A Philosophical Look at Religion, (Lagos: Joja Educational
Books and Research, 1993), p. xii.