Overview (Masterplots II: Christian Literature)
There is a widespread notion that Christianity in Africa has been merely an instrument of colonization. Conversely, some have believed that Christianity brought progress to African peoples by supplanting traditional religions that were bound by superstition. To a committed African Christian such as Anglican priest John Samuel Mbiti, both of these notions are too simplistic to be of any value. He states that “aided by the biblical revelation and faith in Jesus Christ,” Africans built their approach to Christianity on a foundation that already existed in traditional African religions. However, African cultures that have adopted Christianity view religious practice and salvation quite differently from European cultures. Mbiti holds that a respectful understanding of the differences can help to ensure the viability of the Christian church in Africa.
According to Mbiti, European and American Christians tend to separate mind and body and to view salvation as a phenomenon solely of the afterlife: Jesus died on the cross so that we might have everlasting life. African Christian cultures, in contrast, view salvation as a phenomenon both of the hereafter and of the here and now. Earthly life and the afterlife are parts of the same continuum; far less emphasis is placed on the afterlife than in Western Christian cultures. Africans look for evidence of God’s love and protection in their daily lives, for example, in the form of deliverance from present evil. The...
(The entire section is 833 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Bible and Theology in African Christianity Summary. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!