Summer 2012, Vol.
Reading the Bible with Help from African Pentecostals: Behind the Eyes of the Beholder: The Impact of
Worldview on the Reading of Scripture
Second Lecture, February 16, 2012
Douglas P. Lowenberg, D.Min.
2011-2012 J. Philip Hogan Professor of World Missions
Assemblies of God Theological Seminary
All readers, whether Africans from the Southern Hemisphere or Americans from the North, look through invisible, but very real, tinted lenses as they read Scripture. These lenses, located between one’s eyes that behold the words of the text and the brain that deciphers and interprets the meanings of word symbols, revise the meaning of what is inscribed in the biblical text, and are called the person’s worldview. Simply stated, worldviews are ways which people perceive the world and see themselves in relation to all else. 1 Worldview consists of presuppositions, biases, values, morals, expectations, and beliefs learned consciously and unconsciously over a lifetime which impact perception and understanding. The content of the lenses will determine the degree to which the author’s intent is modified from its original content and purpose. Richard J. Gehman observes, “Each society understands the Word of God through the colored glasses of a particular culture and historical context.” 2 Hans-Georg Gadamer, employing the term “fore-meanings” as a synonym for worldview, observes:
We may ask how we can break the spell of our own fore-meanings. There can, of course, be a general expectation that what the text says will fit perfectly with my own meanings and expectations. But what another person tells me, whether in conversation, letter, book or whatever, is generally supposed to be his own and not my opinion; and this is what I am to take note of without necessarily having to share it. Yet this presupposition is not something that makes understanding easier, but harder, since the fore-meanings that determine my own understanding can go entirely unnoticed. If they give rise to misunderstandings, how can our misunderstandings of a text be perceived at all if there is nothing to contradict them? 3
Noticing the variety of ways people read a biblical text and “contradict” each other’s understandings indicates the presence of unshared worldviews. If the readers are to understand the communicator’s intent and meaning, whether referring to biblical authors, interpretive peers, or people of another culture simultaneously involved in the understanding process, the hermeneuts must not hold blindly to their own presuppositions, as though everyone else shared their fore-meanings or that their lenses provided the clearest perception, but must be open to considering other perspectives. Gadamer advises,
Of course this does not mean that when we listen to someone or read a book we must forget all our fore-meanings concerning the content and all our own ideas. All that is asked is that we remain open to the meaning of the other person or text. But this openness always includes our situating the other meaning in relation to the whole of our own meanings or ourselves in relation to it. 4
Contra modernity, which postulated that one could achieve complete neutrality with respect to the prejudices and biases when reading the text, it seems reasonable that ingrained worldview affects perception, understanding, and meaning of a text. Del Tarr writes, “Those who hold that scripture can be translated and proclaimed ‘culture free’ are simply naïve.” 5 Being open to others as they present their perspectives of truth is essential in hearing the full message of what God is speaking through the text. 6 And as Gadamer observed, this “openness” requires a situating of the various meanings and their interrelational distance. If one believes the author’s intended meaning is inspired of God and profitable (2 Tim. 3:16), that meaning must establish the benchmark for evaluating other interpretations and serve as the goal toward which one seeks to align his or her understanding, values, beliefs, and behavior. This transformation of interpretive perspectives can be personally unsettling and can spark adversarial reactions from members of the dominant perspective.
EXAMPLES OF READING WITH AN AFRICAN WORLDVIEW
The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard
An example of differing worldviews intraculturally and crossculturally can be demonstrated by comparing the vast array of expert opinions regarding the meaning of any given text. Dissimilarities are observed, not only when comparing interpreters from contrasting cultures, but even among scholars from the same hemisphere and country. Numerous interpretations surface when examining Jesus’ teaching of “The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard” (Matt. 20:1-16, title supplied by the NIV). Ben Witherington III proposes that the parable emphasizes the divine generosity and mercy of the Lord that is extended to those who are marginalized and in need—those overlooked by others. 7 At the final judgment, God’s grace to those who respond to His invitation to work in His kingdom far exceeds fairness or some type of reward based on merit. Addressing His disciples, Jesus acknowledged that they may have been chosen first and made significant sacrifices to follow Him, but God’s grace was unearned, either by them or the least likely who joined the work force at the last moment.
Grant Osborne reports that the parable refers to the final judgment when the landowner, an allusion to God, will reward all those who labored for Him in the harvest of the vineyard, symbolizing the nation of Israel. 8 The reason for the repeated visits to the market to employ more workers was not due to an earlier faulty calculation concerning the number of hirees needed, but rather the owner responding to the precarious circumstances of day laborers whose subsistence survival required employment and earning some daily income. He knew if the day laborers did not work they could not provide for their families and themselves. The owner was motivated by compassion rather than business savvy and profit margins. Those who joined the workforce late in the day were not idle due to laziness but on account of extenuating circumstances: no one would hire them because they appeared unimpressive. 9
Osborne notes that when the wages were dispersed at the end of the day, the treatment of each laborer was equal. This transaction served as a major reversal of expectations for both those who only labored one hour, anticipating receiving only a portion of a day’s wage, and for those who bore the heat of the day and toiled with arduous exertion for twelve hours. Grumbling arose from the early cohort when they were remunerated the same as the one-hour workers. The owner defended his fairness and moral integrity in that he fulfilled the contractual agreement legally struck at dawn. In his speech to the initial group, he contrasted his goodness (agathos, being “generous” NIV) with their evil (ponēros, being “envious”) eyes of envy, resentment, and miserliness. After receiving their just due, the complainers were dismissed and ordered out of the vineyard (“Take your pay and go,” Matt. 20:14). According to Osborne’s interpretation, this text is not about degrees of reward or punishment, but God’s generosity and identical grace apportioned to all. Readers of Matthew’s text would stand amazed, on one hand, at the landowner’s generosity towards the last workers and equally shocked at his fixed salary payout to the full-day laborers.
R. T. France surmises that the parable, which he calls “The Parable of Equal Wages for Unequal Work,” stresses grace for all who enter the kingdom, the reversal of human thinking that assumes reward is commensurate with sacrifice. 10 Similar to Osborne, France claims that the reason for the repeated visits to the marketplace was the owner’s compassion for the needs of the unemployed, not the need for extra workers in the harvest. Noting the historical context of the delivery of the parable, France believes the story is Jesus’ answer to the disciples who were questioning their final reward. 11 Looking to the recipients of Matthew’s Gospel, whom France considers to be primarily Jews, the message confronted any assumptions by long-standing disciples who felt justified in claims of superiority in God’s kingdom. 12 For France, the parable propagates the principle that there will be identical reward for all who believe: the blessing of eternal life. Any envious comparisons between the laborers concerning their worthiness or sacrifice are inappropriate and preempted.
A different perspective is proffered by Robert H. Gundry, who sees the text emphasizing the Gentile inclusion into the kingdom and mission of God. 13 Longer-serving Jewish Christian detractors who leveled criticism against Gentile converts were silenced by Matthew as he used Jesus’ parable to show Gentile legitimacy in Christ’s expanding kingdom. In the form of a mild rebuke to his Jewish critics addressing one representative as “friend” (hetairos in the vocative, Matt. 20:13), the story indicates that the first reward will be for the Gentiles. 14
In contrast to Gundry, D. A. Carson writes that the primary purpose for the parable is not about workers, whether early- or latecomers, Old or New Covenant believers, Jews or Gentiles, but about God’s sovereign grace and compassion. 15 “Nothing in the parable implies Jews have borne the burden of the law and now Gentile outcasts are made equal to them.” 16 The owner is a person of integrity, fairness, and generosity who rewards all laborers equally.
Donald A. Hagner mentions that all the workers represent disciples hired from the marketplace to work urgently in the harvest, implying that God’s final judgment was rapidly approaching. It is the urgency of the harvest that repeatedly drives the landowner back to the marketplace seeking more workers. Comparing this parable to the parable of the two sons (Matt. 21:28-32), Hagner likens the eleventh hour task force to the tax collectors and prostitutes who enter the kingdom later, are sent out to work (go, even you, hypagete kai hymeis, 20:7), 17 and, in the end, receive their reward before those first commissioned. The first group, expecting to receive more, are angered that they are treated the same (equal to us, ?σους ?μ?ν, 20:12). The emphasis of the parable is on the goodness of the owner who contrasts his own goodness with their envy, using the emphatic in his closing interrogative: “Are you envious because I am generous?” (egō agathos eimi, I myself am good, v. 15). According to Hagner, the disciples identified themselves with those who worked the whole day by Peter’s “inappropriate” question: “We have left everything to follow you. What then will there be for us?” (19:27). He concludes that Matthew’s readership would associate those who worked the whole day with Israel and those who came last as unworthy Gentiles. But in terms of final reward, they are equal. 18 Attention needed to focus on harvest completion rather than reward.
Craig S. Keener, affirming that Matthew’s church consisted of Gentile and Jewish believers, asserts that the text portrays God as embracing the poor and discarded classes of society. 19 He proposes that those chosen later in the day were absent from the marketplace at dawn because they were subsistence farmers who spent the early hours working in their own small plots. When finished, they sought additional employment to subsidize their meager incomes. The parable is about equal pay for unequal labor, which provokes disrespectful and angry murmurings over the unmerited generosity extended by the owner.
With a fore-meaning significantly different from the other North Hemisphere interpreters, R. C. H. Lenski proposes that the parable focuses on Christian laborers doing the work of the church (the vineyard) and receiving temporal provisions from the Lord (one denarius, one day’s wage). 20 Rather than end-time harvest, the parable addresses the attitudes of Christian workers regarding the temporal rewards they receive. The marketplace pictures the rebellious world from which Christians are selected. The call comes at Christ’s discretion rather than depending on the preparedness of the workers. Whenever He calls, they are expected to immediately follow.
Lenski divides the work force into two groups: those who complain because they are dissatisfied with God’s daily provisions and those who labor faithfully accepting the gift supplied. The first group manifests a “mercenary spirit” paralleling Peter’s attitude (Matt. 19:27), working for temporal blessings. 21 While the last group consisted of idlers who had no excuse for their laziness, they were found and employed by Christ. They responded to the invitation, entered the work of the church, and in one hour of strenuous exertion surpassed the accomplishments of those who were hired early but loafed. Summarizing the thrust of the parable, Lenski claims that eternal life and God’s temporal blessings are His gifts to all, whether idlers or loafers, and none should murmur against God’s sovereign grace.
Before considering two African interpreters, one should note the variety of emphases: the goodness and generosity of the landowner; the importance of the harvest; the constituency of the labor force; the tangible needs of the laborers; workers’ attitudes; and expectant and actual rewards. Each interpreter examined the text through lenses consisting of diverse fore-meanings and expectations and assumed his reading accurately identified the meaning inscribed by Matthew.
Lazarus M. Chakwera, taking a different tack, says the idea of harvest is central: “Its importance causes the landowner to disregard what would seem to be sensible business practice. There seems to be an urgency and a passion that override every other consideration. He seems to take no rest himself. All his harvest has to be brought in—that day.” 22 As the day wanes, the landowner continues to hire and send workers, paying them all the same because of the value of the harvest. The message is for the church living in the last days prior to God’s end time harvest. The harvesters are those who have recently begun to labor among the unreached peoples to make them disciples of Jesus Christ. The “eleventh hour harvesters,” called to bring in the harvest just before the end of the day, represent the newer indigenous churches of Africa and elsewhere, overlooked by the long-standing mission organizations from the West. Endued and commissioned by the Holy Spirit, they join in world evangelization at the “late” hour when Christ’s return is imminent.23 The African Pentecostal church has entered the harvest and will receive the identical reward as their long-serving cross-cultural colleagues from the Northern Hemisphere.
Gazing through a different African lens, Justin S. Ukpong presents a unique exposé of the parable. 24 He notes that wealth in first century Galilee, similar to Africa today, was controlled by a few while many endured the realities of poverty, unemployment, and subsistence living. Possessing wealth was not inherently evil, claims Ukpong. The manner by which individuals procured wealth and the way they viewed earthly treasures determined how the Lord judged them and governed the types of instructions Jesus gave the rich concerning the management of their possessions. Matthew’s account of the rich, young ruler just prior to the parable (Matt. 19:16-24) provides not only the historical and literary contexts for the parable of the harvest, it supplies the interpretive tools for unlocking its lessons. The young man wanted to be perfect, but his greedy attachment to wealth prevented him from becoming a follower of Jesus. Ukpong suggests that the reason the Lord told him to give his riches to the poor was that he had acquired them through exploitation of the marginalized. 25 He needed to renounce his greed and make amends with the poor, the class he had abused, by distributing his wealth among them and establishing wholesome, respectful, and empowering relationships with those he formerly disdained. The parable that ensues provides instructions for the manner in which followers of Jesus should handle wealth and show generous compassion for the less fortunate.
Regarding the various clusters of poor hired by the wealthy landowner throughout the day, Ukpong comments, “That those hired later in the day accepted to work for the landowner without first agreeing on the pay indicates that they were desperately in need of a job.” 26 The repeated visits to the market to hire workers emphasizes that the farm was large, it was a busy agricultural season, and the owner was very wealthy. Ukpong’s fore-meaning for the text, shaped by the present realities of Africa, assumes “an ethos of exploitation and monopolistic distribution of wealth.” 27 The parable, which is bracketed by the formula, the first will become last and the last first (Matt. 19:30; 20:16), provides the hermeneutical theme to be grasped from the implications of the story. The first and last not only refers to the reversal in the order of payment, it contrasts the divine ideal of generosity over against societal aspirations for wealth and power. In general, the masses would consider the wealthy landowner as good, generous, and blessed by God. The desperate laborers, who faced poverty and uncertainty daily and depended on the employment and compensation of a rich patron, occupied the lowest stratum of Jewish society, and seemed to exist beyond God’s purview. This parable teaches that those with means should be generous and humble with those less fortunate, especially marginalized and exploited individuals.
Ukpong determines that the landowner was prideful, selfish, and indifferent to the fragile conditions facing the subsistence farmers whom he callously exploited to increase his own wealth. The owner’s contractual agreement with the first group resolved that they had no right to expect more than a meager, minimum daily wage. When evening came, the principle that Christ was teaching regarding the reversal of those typically esteemed with those normally disparaged began to be implemented: those who had been overlooked and marginalized throughout the day were the first to receive wages and they received more than expected. But rather than affirm the salary cap of a one-denarius—considering it an act of generosity, Ukpong says this amount should be considered unreasonably insufficient and selfish since it was the bare minimum needed to sustain the workers and their families. The parable indicates that the single coin given to the first group of workers was bestowed with self-congratulatory smugness; the landowner was exploiting the workers for his own advantage and deserved criticism from his workers and condemnation from society and heaven. Ukpong further notes that when the others grumbled, due to the inequitable distribution of salaries and feeling used (Matt. 20:11-12), the owner shrewdly singled out one individual to humiliate and intimidate by accusing him of possessing an evil eye. The parable ends with the wealthy man defending his legalistic compliance and prideful generosity.
The theme of reversal, the first last and the last first, revealed that the one usually revered as the generous patron in society was materialistic, an abusive exploiter of the poor, and represented the corrupt status quo that the followers of Jesus were to overthrow. The purpose of Jesus orating this parable was to emphasize the need for reversing societal values to conform to kingdom priorities. The societal ideal was the accumulation of wealth. God’s ideal was equitable and generous distribution of wealth in favor of the disadvantaged of society. 28 True generosity would give all the workers a higher wage than a subsistence penance.
The African who Carried Jesus’ Cross
What is the worldview of Tokunboh Adeyemo that controls his examination of the man drafted to carry Jesus’ cross to Golgotha (Matt 27:32-33; Mark 15:21-22; Luke 23:26-33)? 29 Adeyemo notes that the whole human race is present through representative members of Noah’s family at this God-ordained, salvific moment. Shem’s descendants, the Jews, accused Jesus of blasphemy against God and sedition towards Caesar. Japheth’s progeny, the Roman colonizing forces, pronounced the death sentence and stood ready to carry out the execution. What of Ham? According to Adeyemo, Simon was from Cyrene, North Africa, populated by ancient Libyans who descended from Put, the third son of Ham. Surmising that Simon was a person of color because he was singled out by the Romans while no Jew would be forced to carry the cross of a criminal, Adeyemo proposes that the Romans apprehended him as he approached Jerusalem. With the disciples of Jesus noticeably absent, God ordained that an African provide comfort and relief for Jesus in the excruciating moments before His death. 30 Adeyemo observes:
Of the three sons of Noah, one disowned him, the other condemned him to death, while the other participated with him in his sufferings by carrying his cross and bringing relief and comfort to him. Simon … represented Africans in the divine drama of the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus. 31
How radically different is Adeyemo’s worldview of African people, the progeny of Noah’s rejected son, when compared with Americans who misused Scripture through their racist lenses to defend slavery and pronounced the Hamitic race cursed and inferior. As a tragic example, Benjamin M. Palmer, a pastor from New Orleans, wrote in his sermon of 1858:
The race of Shem … was providentially selected as the channel for transmitting religion and worship; … Japheth … seemed designated to be the organ of human civilization … The descendants of Ham, on the contrary, in whom the sensual and corporeal appetites predominate, are driven like an infected race beyond the deserts of Sahara … 32
The Prophetess Anna through African Female Lenses
While gender issues are of great concern for Christians in both hemispheres, one gains unique spiritual, cultural, social, and political insights listening to African, post-apartheid women comment on the prophetess Anna (Luke 2:36-38) when compared to the exposition of many Western scholars. Joel B. Green, representing the Western Evangelical perspective of this small pericope notes that Anna, as one who faithfully anticipated the coming Messiah, was given prophetic insight to identify the child Jesus and grasp His significance as the prime participant in salvation history. 33 Anna was highly respected due to her devotion to God and His temple, her prayer life, her commitment to remain single, her ancestral heritage, and her age.
Gloria Kehilwe Plaatjie, in dialogue with South African women, observes that African readers, undoubtedly because their cultural conditions are similar to those of Anna, note much more in these few verses. 34 They propose that Anna may have been oppressed by the dominant Jewish patriarchal system, in general, and more specifically, through the priestly sacerdotal system as she served in the temple. The Roman imperial political structures would have further downgraded her value and status as an old, religious, Jewish, unmarried woman.
As a young widow, it would have been expected for her to be inherited, enter into a levirate marriage with a brother of her deceased husband, and bear children. In the African context, widow inheritance involves degrading widowhood rituals, which are extremely difficult to escape because of traditional and social pressures. 35 Having no children and remaining single would have marginalized Anna as a barren widow, portrayed her as rebellious against tradition, and limited her economic potential. The African women suggested that she would have been among the most economically deprived members of society with no political or legal recourse. On the other hand, they noted that her years of faithful service in the temple would have proved to be an ongoing challenge to the patriarchal system, to traditional cultural practices, and to class structures. She was a strong, independent, and faithful woman, trusting in God who had called her to a prophetic ministry. She maintained her independence from the religious and cultural systems that would have attempted to remove her from the temple and silence her prophetic voice. The post-apartheid women noted that Anna was trustworthy because of her consistent pursuit of the will of God, faithful to her marriage vows even after her husband’s demise, an example for other people to follow, and a minister of hope as she delivered God’s long awaited message to the people gathered in the temple precincts that day.
Plaatjie admonishes her fellow Bible readers to be alert to and critical of their own cultures and traditions, and even a reading of Scripture influenced by a white, male-dominated, pro-patriarchist biblical guild, which oppresses, subverts, and marginalizes the dignity, equality, and opportunity of any members of society based on age, gender, race, or social status when it is essential to affirm that all people are created in the image of God.
Unfortunately, Plaatjie claims that the Bible is limited in its ability to address gender and racial oppression because it was “composed, edited, and complied in patriarchal cultures and because it uses male symbols.” 36 One, however, should note Luke’s intentional, repeated inclusion of women in his Gospel, as he balances their participation with men. 37 For example, Paul J. Isaak writes, “Luke is concerned for the marginalized and oppressed. He is the one who provides female readers with female characters as role models in a world of mainly patriarchal characters.” 38 Isaak observes that Luke, opposing societal norms, emphasizes the respect the temple crowd demonstrated for the aged prophetess Anna as they quietly gave ear to her inspired speech. 39
The Healing of the Leper
In Africa, “where the HIV/AIDS pandemic unabatedly prevails as a killer-disease,” Ukachukwu Chris Manus illustrates the effect of such perspectives and concerns on one’s worldview with his intercultural reading of the healing of the leper (Matt 8:1-5; Mark 1:40-45; Luke 5:12-16). 40 Scholars such as Craig Keener, Craig Blomberg, Donald Hagner, and R. T. France discuss leprosy and mention the dread of contracting the disease, ritual uncleanness, the agony of self-imposed social isolation, and the hopelessness of being a carrier—living as good as dead. 41 Of this group of biblical interpreters, only Blomberg makes a connection with HIV/AIDS, claiming, “The closest counterpart with which most people are familiar may be AIDS victims.” 42 On the other hand, Joe Kapolyo in Africa Bible Commentary sees the leper as a representative of “the millions of people in Africa who suffer from HIV/AIDS ... as outcasts ... struggling with social stigma, isolation and loneliness.”43
Manus pleads that “the Bible must be let to address the scourge of AIDS and its threat to the possible annihilation of whole communities in Africa. Lessons must be distilled from the Bible to draw attention to the dangers of promiscuous living and the unwillingness of people to change their habits and customs.” 44 But he also says texts like this challenge the church in its attitude towards and treatment of AIDS patients living unrecognized in the midst of the faith community. While the majority of AIDS victims in Africa are women, both infected genders are treated like the lepers of biblical days: “Sufferers are looked upon as social outcasts; they lose self-esteem, reputation, career goals, emotional stability and social status. The stigmatization … brings about the societal abhorrence and hate for sufferers … Society rejects them. Their opportunities to education, social security, economic advantages and life-span are blocked.” 45 The majority of times, victims are seen as living under God’s judgment and doubly suffering due to a failing immune system and isolation from family and society.
Manus focuses his study of Scripture on the breaking of traditions and taboos accomplished both by Jesus and the leper. The leper, unfit to mingle with society, approached Jesus even though Jesus was surrounded by the crowds (Matt. 8:1). In his desperation to be healed, reintegrated into society, enabled to rejoin his family, and eligible to participate again in religious worship, he humbly approached Jesus—confident of Christ’s power to heal, but uncertain of His willingness. His audacity to break religious and social taboos was equaled by Jesus who extended His hand and touched the leper, bringing instant healing.
Keener comments that Matthew uses Jesus’ actions to teach the Christian community about Jesus’ character. 46 Going further, Manus interprets the text paradigmatically as a lesson on the specifics of how the Church should emulate Jesus. Christ’s representatives need to lovingly embrace, heal, and restore people socially ostracized by sin and disease. Believers can touch, remove the isolation, and restore individuals abandoned because of their plight by providing support and care until they are healed on this or the other side of eternity. While victims who may have engaged in inappropriate behavior need to desist from promiscuous lifestyles and find forgiveness and salvation in Christ, the Church needs to unconditionally offer holistic salvation for everyone, demonstrating the principles of the kingdom laid out by Jesus, which immediately precedes this exemplary act of healing.
Paul Isaak reads this pericope as a call for the church to engage in healing ministry. “Such stories invite us to reflect on the church ministry of healing today.” 47 He observes that African Instituted Churches have stressed “healing by the power of the Holy Spirit.” 48 Acknowledging the subconscious influence of African worldview, no matter the individual’s education, social status, or official religion, that believes disease and misfortune are the product of malicious evil powers, he advocates implementing the biblical worldview to complement African cosmology where healing is sought in the name of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Lord’s Prayer
A final example of worldview’s impact on Bible reading is provided by Musa W. Dube in her consideration of the Lord’s Prayer, a prayer she prayed for many years in Botswana before discovering that it was inscribed in the New Testament. 49 Dube’s description of prayer is insightful as she considers its purpose and breadth: prayer is a person seeking partnership with the Divine regarding one’s vision and wishes for herself and also for others. Prayer indicates that the individual is intent on seeking God’s will for oneself and for others, interpersonally and internationally, including the earth and all aspects of God’s creation. In contrast to the individualistic approach to prayer utilized by many in the West focusing on personal communion with God and petitions for private needs, she views prayer as individual, communal, global and environmental, beseeching God on behalf of all His works.
She examines the implications of praying this prayer in an “age of globalization” where lives are increasingly interconnected by global economic systems in which a few masters profit while many servants are exploited. 50 Calculating the cost of the “coca-colonization” of the world and seeing capitalism, free market systems, local corrupt governments, and international trade organizations operate unethically, causing great suffering for the masses, she prays Matthew 6:9-13 pondering its implications for interpersonal and international relationships that will honor the King and further the Kingdom of God.
She prefers that the opening line, “Our Father,” be read as “Our Divine Parent,” so that gender exclusion and subordination to patriarchy are avoided and people are encouraged to recognize they are all children of one family—God’s. While worshiping God who is exalted in the heavens, they are to express equal consideration for all members of their global family.
God’s dwelling in the heavens represents His realm characterized by equity, peace, and self-sufficiency. To pray for the name of God to be hallowed or sanctified, she claims, is to welcome the coming of His heavenly kingdom to earth entreating God for His rule and will to be established over all people, nations, and all of creation; a kingdom of equity, peace, and self-sufficiency. Requesting partnership with the Divine for His will to be done on earth challenges those complicit with and benefiting from “the ethics of imperialism, colonialism, and globalization” rather than pursuing healthy, empowering, and liberating interpersonal and international relationships for all the members of the global family of God and for God’s earth. 51
The remaining three requests regarding daily bread, forgiveness, and deliverance from temptation are concerned with the material and non-material needs of people. Expanding one’s vision beyond food for her own personal table, the child of God expresses God’s heart for all to have enough. This requires more than an equitable distribution of food on the planet, but the creation of economic systems where every person can work fairly for his or her own daily bread.
Forgiveness of debts is bi-directional, according to Dube, who understands debts primarily as material and financial rather than spiritual and moral. In the historical context of those taught by Jesus, it addressed Jews who owed debts to the colonizing, exploitive powers of Rome and to fellow Jewish business owners, money lenders, and revenue collectors for the Roman and the Jewish religious establishments. This prayer is not a means of circumventing responsibilities for addressing financial obligations to God and Caesar. However, it confronts structures that “lock many responsible, hard-working individuals and nations into a vicious circle of poverty and debts.” 52 While praying this request, Christians must be willing to forgive and release the nagging bitterness towards those individuals, local governments, and international businesses that have exploited them by unjustly taking their land, money, autonomy, and dignity. Simultaneously, leaders and administrators of national and international systems must release people crippled by debts that cannot be repaid. God’s people and the organized Church must prayerfully determine appropriate ways to confront political and economic systems that create enslaving debt and initiate policies that promote justice, righteousness, godly rule, and an equitable distribution of resources that move people and nations closer to the reign of God’s heavenly kingdom on earth.
Her exposition need not be viewed as another expression of liberation theology promoting socialism for she does appeal to individual responsibility and does not advocate that the state is the solution to peoples’ financial plight. However, Dube does speak to the forces of selfishness and greed that can lead to the dehumanization and exploitation of others within capitalistic and globalizing systems. Praying with the Lord for the forgiveness of debts and debtors should lead one to be more caring about the dignity and welfare of employees, more generous in the material distribution of resources, more sensitive to the societal and environmental consequences of international expansionistic business enterprise in a global economy, and more quick to forgive offenses of word and deed unleashed against oneself.
This is not the naïve prayer of one who overlooks the reality of sinful, human nature and the existence of greedy, carnal people who will continue to occupy executive positions until the cataclysmic in-breaking of God’s kingdom at the second return of Christ. It is the cry of rich and poor followers of Jesus who are committed to transforming church organizations, political governments, and economic structures to promote equity, justice, peace, self-sufficiency, and mutuality as a witness to the presence of God’s kingdom in the “already but not yet.”
The final request reminds all of God’s children that they are vulnerable to Satan’s temptations on personal and corporate levels dealing with micro- and macro-realties. It is an appeal for God’s help to stay vigilant against carnality and greed that would exploit others for personal, national, and international gratification.
While Dube’s lens is a Kingdom perspective pursuing global, holistic economic development based on the Lord’s Prayer, adding a Pentecostal dimension would give her project a missional and spiritually-transformational orientation. Blending Pentecostal and economic approaches to seeing the Lord’s Prayer fulfilled holistically; spiritually and materially; individually and communally; locally and globally, in this age of globalization provides an interesting vision of Christianization, civilization, and commercial development accomplished in a way that promotes spiritual transformation, economic liberation, social development, generosity, responsibility, and godly justice for all God’s children and His planet. This approach would be radically different than the agenda imposed by the West on the majority world in the name of Christ during the period of colonization in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
The interpretation of Dube is global and economic. Joe Kapolyo reminds the reader of the personal and intimate aspects of the prayer as one cries, “Abba, Daddy,” to the God of heaven and earth. 53 He stresses that the ultimate source of daily, material provisions is God rather than individuals, employers, or governments. He recognizes that debts are accumulated through offenses against others and against God. While generously forgiving one’s offenders, the individual pleads for God’s gracious absolution of rebellious, carnal actions against Him and others.
ASPECTS OF AFRICAN WORLDVIEW
These illustrations of Bible reading through African eyes have provided some insights into the worldview of African Christians. Their core values consist of a community orientation rather than individualism. While in the West one might say, “I think therefore I am,” in Africa the statement is: “I am because we are, and because we are, I am.” 54 Character, dignity, and respect are more important traits to pursue than having popularity and power. Africans are holistic in terms of spirit, soul, body, intellect, emotions, and actions. This means the church must be more than a place of spiritual revitalization and consolation. It is a launching pad for the proclamation of the gospel and holistic ministry that confronts all aspects of sin and injustice that devalue and enslave human lives. Africans are more inclined to the practical and address the immediate rather than deliberating on theoretical abstractions. David T. Adamo comments, “Western biblical scholarship suffers most from being ‘without context.’ It is carried out abstractly and therefore leads to abstract results and truths, which are not related to any context … It is contextual Bible reading and contextual Bible hermeneutics that we need most.”55 This distinction is evidenced in the previous examples of interpretation. In the parable of the day laborers, the story is applied to contemporary African missional engagement or the plight of Africa’s marginalized day laborers. Anna provides encouragement to single women, widows, and married as she stands strong in the Spirit and in her resolution to be faithful to God, marriage, prophetic calling, and her self-dignity. Jesus’ healing of the leper addresses the church’s response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The Lord’s Prayer offers instructions for articulating personal and communal requests to God in a complex globally-oriented world.
Africans give their attention to the present and past rather than the future. They use personal resources to promote relationships and provide security and safety for their extended families as opposed to accumulating wealth to guarantee a comfortable self-aggrandizing future. People are more important than things. People live in a symbiotic relationship with nature: one must faithfully serve the other. For Pentecostal African pastors and missionaries, spiritual harvest with concomitant suffering is more important than a comfortable life in the present.
Typical ways of communicating in Africa are different than those common in the Northern Hemisphere. Where Westerners pride themselves in being direct and to the point, Africans are masterful at indirection and ambiguity. Tarr comments, “African indirect speaking with parables and legends and sayings has the capacity to coax us to discover something new.” 56 Out of respect, Africans avoid direct eye contact with the person they are addressing. Oral methods are preferred over written forms of communication. Discussions are salted with proverbs to champion significant points. Typically, the proverb, known by the group from childhood or created by an individual ad hoc to clarify or amplify a truth, communicates a paragraph of content with a few pithy, picturesque words. 57
Gender and Family
Gender distinctions are very important dimension of life in Africa. In most cultures, males are the leaders of households, villages, businesses, tribes and nations; and male children are valued more than females. Many jobs are gender specific and prohibited from the opposite sex.
Most of Africa is patriarchal and hierarchical. The father is chief of his family whether he is monogamous or polygamous. He is responsible to lead his family and provide for their needs materially and spiritually. Typically, his decisions are unilateral and unquestioned except to consult with his aged father, uncles, or peers. Kapolyo observes, “In much of Africa, the relationships between children and their parents have traditionally tended to be formal.” 58 Intimacy and nurturing have not been normal characteristics in father-children relationships, but family structures are changing. Respect for one’s father, even to the point of fear, is a given.
As a boy reaches his teenage years, demonstrates his manhood by some achievement of strength, and proves his courage, he undergoes a rite of passage, usually circumcision, and enters the world of adulthood. As soon as he has the resources to provide a home for a wife and can afford the dowry, he marries.
Families are responsible to find a suitable marriage partners for their children. Dating is rare, and singles seldom spend time alone with a member of the opposite sex. If a couple is attracted to each other, they inform friends and members of their families to inquire of the other family about the possibility of arranging their marriage. Dowries are negotiated and collected from the groom’s family to compensate for the costs of raising and educating the girl and reflect the potential worth of the daughter in terms of her formal education, potential for generating wealth, and ability to bear children. Even with modernization and urbanization, whether Christian or not, families expect dowries for their daughters. The first installation is paid before the wedding to the bride’s family, and ensuing payments are made for several years.
Women are expected to marry soon after they reach the child-bearing age. In many cultures, to prepare teenage girls for marriage, there is a time of orientation into the traditions and responsibilities of being a wife and mother. Girls undergo this indoctrination followed by initiation rites which can entail circumcision. A married woman’s duties typically include having children and generating income by farming in the fields or selling in the market. She subsidizes family resources as well as earns money for her own personal expenditures. In traditional cultures, her place in society is among the women and children; discussions with her husband over extended family matters, religion, finances, and politics are rare.
In most marriages, the woman’s main duty is to bear and oversee the raising of offspring. If the couple is unable to have a child, it is assumed that the woman, not the husband, is barren and possibly cursed. Depending on cultural norms, the husband may divorce his wife and marry another woman for the purpose of having children. In some cases, the barren wife is retained, but marginalized within the extended family as other wives are added. Because having children is so valuable, even Christian men struggle over the decision of taking another wife if their first is barren. Speaking of women’s involvement in church and society, Nyambura J. Njoroge states:
Because of deeply entrenched patriarchal, hierarchical and sexist attitudes and practices, and the male-dominated leadership in many of the churches in Africa, women have a critical and prophetic role to play in “stirring the waters” and “speaking the truth” by asserting their God-given humanity and gifts—not for their own sake but for the sake of the integrity of the gospel. Many women continue to claim their full potential and have taken leading roles … Women still face a daunting task in advocating and modeling gender justice in the church and in society. 59
Throughout most of Africa, homosexuality is taboo. Yusufu Turaki notes that African tradition has varied in regard to the practice of homosexuality. Some communities have accepted it while the majority of communities reject it. Some politicians, soldiers, and professionals believe certain spiritual powers can be gained through homosexual behavior. Turaki concludes, “The Bible clearly defines homosexuality as a sin … Pastors and counselors need to recognize that homosexuality has deep roots in our sinful nature … Only Christ can provide deliverance.” 60 Homosexuality is growing slowly on the continent but primarily through external influences coming from the Northern Hemisphere.
In terms of spiritual realities, for many Africans influenced by traditional religions, God is all-powerful, holy, all-knowing, transcendent, and a Spirit. Because of God’s transcendent state and busyness, He is seldom approached directly by people. While Jesse Mugambi adamantly states that the African concept of God is theistic rather than deistic, and that the idea of God being distant is “missionary ethnography,” African Pentecostal practitioners disagree with him stating that the majority of Africans believe in God, but He is preoccupied and not available or interested in their personal issues. 61 In times of crisis, the entire ethnic group or nation may seek His intervention, but this function is seldom carried out for an individual. Most of the time, lower deities, spirits, ancestors, angels, demons, or the powers of nature (mana) are petitioned for blessings and protection. Abel Njderareou explains that in the traditional African view, God was so exalted that people “created a whole pantheon of gods to take care of different human needs. In Africa, spirits or physical objects were eventually given so much prominence that the worship of the Most High was lost sight of in the day-to-day business of life.” 62
Those gifted or trained to communicate as mediators between the human and spirit realms are employed by individuals, families, tribal groupings, and nations to consult the spirits and determine their will. The members of the spirit world control the quality of life and human destinies bringing blessings and provision, life and health, fertility and safety, or sickness, barrenness, conflict, and death. In times of sickness and calamity, the mediators are expected to communicate with the powers to assess what human activities have offended the spirits and caused misfortune. In turn, the person can determine the appropriate sacrificial response to appease the gods. Because the spirits and the ancestors can be capricious and unpredictable, people live in fear of accidentally offending them. The members of the tribe are never sure of all the requirements for pleasing the ancestors and guaranteeing blessings and protection. Morals and ethics are closely linked to traditions that placate the ancestors and maintain the status quo and well-being of the ethnic unit. Ignoring traditional practices, being a non-conformist iconoclast, and abandoning the ways of the elders and ancestors disrupt the normal social flow of activity and are believed to bring curses from the realm of the ancestral spirits.
Rituals in the Life Cycle
Life is marked by the passing of major events in people’s lives; many of these occasions are group experiences. Life is hallowed and believed to begin at conception. At some point after birth when it seems definite that the child will survive, a name for the child is given with great celebration for the arrival of the new member of the clan. The process of individual and group socialization occurs both formally and informally. Circumcision is administered with age mates for both boys and girls as community events whereby the cohort passes from childhood to adulthood and is endorsed by the entire village. Marriages are festive, public occasions uniting two family units and creating a web of relationships that connect families and children. Old age is highly honored and the elderly are cared for by their children and grandchildren.
Death is not the end of life, but simply the passing from the realm of the living into the presence of the living dead. Ancestral spirits intermingle with the living and are believed to channel blessings and cursings upon their extended family members contingent on the way the ancestors are honored. For most African Traditionalists, the concepts of an eternal heaven and hell do not exist. The spirit of the dead persists in the community for several generations, then migrates into the realm of the ghosts—spirits whose identity has been forgotten. 63
CONTEMPORARY AFRICAN CULTURE
Africa did not experience the thralls of the Renaissance, Reformation, or Enlightenment. However, they endured the tragedy of Western expansionism, imposed slavery, colonization, and civilization—with its Western ideologies and values. Western imperialism was repulsed in the early and middle twentieth century when new nations were born usually adopting geographical borders arbitrated by the colonizing governments. In many of the new African nations, national leaders simply occupied the seats vacated by the colonial administration and nationalized economic, educational, and military structures while implementing few changes that improved the quality of life for her citizens.
As Africa undergoes an extended post-colonial metamorphosis and attempts to establish her own identity, independence, interdependence, and future direction, she faces challenges of military dictatorships; corrupt, nepotistic leaders; international and civil wars; and huge economic gaps between the privileged minority, who control the wealth, and the majority, whose tenuous lives border on abject poverty. Lasting solutions to cyclic droughts and famines have either not been found or not implemented. While the disease of HIV/AIDS has garnered global attention, other significant killers such as malaria, typhoid fever, and Hepatitis A have received much less political attention and funding for research.
A major force that both unifies and divides Africa is ethnicity. According to the Joshua Project, there are 3,746 unique people groups on the continent. 64 Some groups have been divided by geo-political borders, but the commonality of background, language, and culture unifies them. When adversity enters the society, ethnic loyalty surpasses national patriotism. Economic assistance, political favoritism, and marriage negotiations remain intra-tribal. Conflicts create a response of support for the insider and a commitment to revenge the external perpetrator.
While education is limited in its accessibility to most Africans, it is prized. Some countries sponsor mandatory primary education, but school facilities are limited, classrooms are jammed, teachers are ill-prepared, and study materials are grossly lacking. Due to the cost for higher education, secondary and post-secondary studies are usually privatized and become the responsibility of the family. Only a small percentage of children who complete elementary school continue their education. In general, illiteracy remains high and, according to African Pentecostal leaders, most congregants are non-readers.
Because of economic hardships coupled with patriarchy, more boys attend school than girls. Families sacrifice to send their children to school viewing education as the major avenue to a better quality of life. Many children are sent to boarding schools if available space is found and the student’s previous academic achievements satisfy the government-imposed standards. Living outside the network of the immediate and extended family impact the youthful boarders because their major socializing agents are their peers and teachers. The results are both beneficial and damaging. Racism and exclusive tribalism are weakened as students from different ethnic and geographical backgrounds live together. Interracial marriages have increased as the number of students attending boarding schools has grown. On the other hand, students are displaced and, following graduation, do not return to serve their families and sponsoring communities. Influenced by peer values, cultural standards for morality and rites of passage are ignored. Upon completing secondary school, the number of students who qualify to enter university decreases exponentially. Only students with top scores on their high school exit examinations qualify for further study on the university level.
Africa is transitioning from a rural to an urban continent. Cities are growing at accelerated rates as people abandon their small farms for the myth of a better life in the city. Cities have not adjusted to urban sprawl and have inadequate transportation and health systems, insufficient energy, potable water, sewage and trash removal, too few and ill-trained police, and insufficient resources for guaranteeing a sustainable quality of life. There is a growing middle class, but finding jobs remains difficult. Slums occupy vast amounts of land and are occupied by the millions. Crime, prostitution, drugs, disease, homelessness, and unemployment degrade the lives of many people.
Changes in the Family
Family structures are changing. Both men and women are postponing marriage. The delays are due to men and women pursuing more education and better jobs. Men need more time to get established financially and be prepared to meet the inflationary costs of dowries. Women are becoming more independent, better educated, more advanced in business leadership, and are discovering their dignity and value independent of marriage and motherhood. If they do marry, they want to be sure that their spouse is financially equipped to provide a secure livelihood. The number of children being born to urban families, especially those with advanced education, is declining. The realization that children are a financial liability rather than an economic resource has caused couples to reassess the number of children they can afford. Polygamy is still practiced, but receiving less approval because it is costly. Women do not want to be part of polygamous family units and resist pressure from their families to enter such relationships; furthermore, it increases the risk of HIV/AIDS.
Neo-colonial powers are making their influence felt across Africa. The most visible ones are international corporations promoting globalization. Financial and economic empires from the East and West, such as China and the United States, continue to apply pressure on governments as they negotiate trade, aid, and military agreements. Searching for natural resources, work opportunities for their massive labor force, and new markets for imports and exports, China has intentionally built cordial relationships with most African governments. Construction on national and international road and train infrastructures is supposedly being donated. Mandarin language schools for African students are operating. Qualified African university students receive scholarships to study in China and then return to the continent with revised worldviews.
The United States has embassies in most African capitals and works to implement an agenda typically slanted at what is best for the U.S. By controlling the release and amounts of aid packages, America attempts to impose her politically correct moral, religious, economic, and military agenda on her African partners.
Resurgent and radical Islam is extending its influence as it seeks to convert local citizens from African Traditional Religions and Christianity to the Islamic faith. It subtly promotes the public elections of Muslims to strategic government offices and manipulates the presidential appointments of Muslims to key government offices in exchange for votes. As Islam grows stronger, the imposition of Shariah law increases.
THE MANY FACES OF AFRICAN CHRISTIANITY
In Africa, over the last two centuries, a number of different Christian church structures have evolved. Mission expansionism from the Northern Hemisphere started missions-sponsored churches that were indoctrinated, directed, and funded by the mission. Some of the Western leaders were oppressive and racist towards the people and the indigenous culture, lampooning their traditions and customs as endemically evil and requiring complete eradication—the replacement being the “superior” traditions, cultures, values, and beliefs of the West. At the time of political liberation, a number of these churches became indigenous and broke all ties with their founders while others maintained fraternal relationships while operating independently.
From the arrival of the mission organizations, some churches were planted to be indigenous. Missionaries moved quickly from being church pioneers and planters to partners working with indigenous leadership who directed the ministries. Indigenous churches of this nature became healthy to the degree that their leaders were well-trained, properly motivated, and given the freedom to guide their own people using local cultural forms to express their Christian faith, while their churches were simultaneously taught tithing in order to support their own leaders and ministry initiatives.
In some cases, God sovereignly manifested himself to individuals through dreams and visions who received prophetic callings and started independent churches with no contact from outside Christian sources. These churches had strong leaders with prophetic ministries who tightly controlled the doctrines and practices of their followers. The churches were usually ethnically oriented, targeting one specific people group and evangelizing their own people using their indigenous language. As these prophet-based churches persist, leadership remains in the tight grip of the prophet’s family who maintain firm control over finances, land, facilities, doctrine, and practice.
African Independent Churches (AICs) have existed since the early days of missionary presence. Some of the AICs were spawned as a reaction of the local people against the attitudes, theologies, and practices of the missionaries. In some cases, African leaders were suffocated under foreign domination, both theologically and in the exercising of their ministry abilities. Reacting to this restrictive attitude, they sought freedom to exercise their God-given spiritual calling. In other cases, the indigenes felt the doctrines of the Western believers were inadequate in addressing the realities among their people. For example, missionaries with a cessationist perspective did not identify nor confront the powers of demons, curses, and sickness. When the emerging Christians began to read the Bible in their own languages and discovered Jesus and the apostles challenged spiritual powers, they felt they had been slighted by the missionaries so they revolted and started their own ministries.
With the establishment of various independent church denominations, some local leaders adopted the indigenous leadership model of a hierarchical chiefdom. Leaders served as bishops or general superintendents until death or until nearly incompetent without any ratification from their followers. Because the culture respects age, rather than rebel, younger leaders have withdrawn from the church to start their own churches and denominations.
In the last decade, a new breed of church has emerged in Africa—Africa Instituted Churches. 65 The foundations of these churches vary greatly. In some cases, the pastor was part of a historical-mission church or an African independent church and simply desired to found a new ministry where they could exercise leadership. In other cases, the originating pastor has been influenced by contemporary doctrines and styles in the West and wants to implement these techniques and technologies in Africa. Concerning the orthodoxy of doctrines and practices, some of these churches preach an uncompromising gospel, but incorporate a high level of indigenous culture and style. Most of these churches are “traditional Pentecostal” in practice and are committed to seasons of prayer, healings, and exorcisms. Some, however, exercise no doctrinal or practical restraints and blend aspects of traditional religious practices that border on syncretism. The etic assessment of these churches is usually negative. The emic view considers the practices acceptable forms of contextualization that help people address the existential needs in their lives, such as concerns for physical and spiritual security, power, health, prosperity, success, and fertility.
Some new denominations have been founded in the larger cities as urban African leaders recognize that the needs of city dwellers and the rising middle class are radically different from those in rural settings. Because many of the early churches originated in the villages, denominational leadership predominantly reflects a village mindset. Those of the old school who have not changed with the times and are insensitive to the cultural transformations occurring in the cities are watching urban pastors maneuver their churches out of their denominations to start their own in order to more effectively address people caught in the flux of city life.
CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP TRAINING OPTIONS
Tokunboh Adeyemo claimed, “The church in Africa was a mile long in terms of quantity, but only an inch deep in terms of quality.” 66 Byang Kato echoed Adeyemo’s feelings as he noted the challenges confronting the African church such as syncretism, universalism, and Christo-paganism: “The church is generally unprepared for the challenge because of its theological and biblical ignorance.” 67 This being the case, the training of pastors and church leaders is a significant priority for Pentecostal churches and their partnering missions. The importance of formal training for church leaders is growing. While an anti-educational bias remains among some indigenous denominations, most churches encourage or require their pastors to have some level of training to receive ministerial credentials. Two- and three-year diploma programs using the local vernacular are attracting the largest enrollments in terms of training options. Men and women study several books of the Bible, take one course in biblical interpretation, examine theology, look at cross-cultural missions and church planting, and devote attention to the practice of ministry such as preaching, teaching, church administration, and finances. Chapels and extended times of prayer are part of the DNA of the Bible institutes as they contribute to character development, confirm the sense of calling to vocational ministry, and promote loyalty to and unity within the sponsoring denomination.
After several years of ministry experience, some pastors pursue a bachelor’s degree in a local or regional Bible college. The language of instruction is English, French, or the national language of the country. Some schools have developed their own curriculum and have received endorsement, accreditation, or a charter from the national department of education. Other institutions use training programs developed externally, which may or may not be accredited by an external board. Higher thinking skills, development of ministry aptitudes, expanded reading, greater awareness of the need for contextualization, advanced research methodologies, and enhanced writing techniques characterize most bachelor degrees that offer a general education core along with additional studies in Bible, theology, and missions. Students are increasingly expected to have computer skills and be able to access the Internet through local cyber cafés.
Regional graduate study programs are available and attract pastors from larger churches, administrators and teachers of undergraduate programs, denominational leaders, and missionaries. Finances, distance, the language medium of English, and busy schedules are the major obstacles for those interested in further training for greater effectiveness. Most master’s programs concentrate their academic programs in biblical studies, leadership, and intercultural ministries. Schools affiliated with Pentecostal traditions stress a Pentecostal hermeneutic and the need for guidance, power, and insight from the Holy Spirit to fulfill the Great Commission.
THE FORMATION OF WORLDVIEW
Worldview could be defined as the way a people group sees, interprets, organizes, and explains reality. Worldview is located at the core of one’s thinking and perceptions. It determines and affects the religious faith system one adopts, values, emotional responses, and behavior. Worldview is learned indirectly from the moment of birth, taught indirectly by significant others, including parents and members of the extended family. As one matures, enters school, and is exposed to a broader segment of society, other voices influence the configuration of worldview.
The external manifestation of worldview is culture. Mugambi defines culture as “the total manifestation of a people’s self-understanding and self-expression, through politics, economics, ethics, aesthetics, kinship, and religion. Language, science, and technology are the means through which this self-understanding and self-expression is communicated and appropriated.” 68
The major forces that form worldview are personal experiences, religious teachings or traditions, and the values and practices of the prevailing culture. 69 For people raised in a Christian family or in a location where they are exposed to the Bible, the reading of Scripture can exert a powerful influence on the formation of worldview. As beliefs and perceptions are reinforced and legitimated, they are reified and become increasingly difficult to change.
According to Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann, the process of shaping or transforming worldview involves four steps: externalization, objectivation, internalization, and legitimation. 70 Externalization is the process whereby someone presents an aspect of worldview that it is observed or experienced by others. Because worldview is an internal, invisible system, it must be modeled, explained, and taught or caught either directly or indirectly to the novice—initially from those significant others in the family; later the externalizations of teachers, leaders, heroes, authors, missionaries, and revolutionaries.
The second step is objectivation. The one in the molding process must give attention to the individual who is externalizing. There may be no acceptance in the moment, but the one communicating the message, whether verbal or non-verbal, is being noticed.
The third step is internalization where a new aspect of worldview is imbibed. Because worldview is a complex and integrated system, accepting anything new requires an expansive complex set of adjustments. If the newly accepted component of worldview is highly significant, the entire worldview may be disoriented and a time of internal chaos results. During this period of trauma, it is crucial for someone or some event to legitimate and reinforce the newly accepted perspective. Having people nearby who advocate the new views helps the reconfiguration process to be less painful and prolonged.
Legitimation cements the new perspective and supports the reshaping of the other aspects of worldview so that equilibrium is regained. Legitimation is provided by significant others who adhere to the newly accepted worldview and are admired. Power encounters, miracles, and rituals can reinforce one’s new orientation. If legitimation is lacking, one who has initially changed can easily slip back to the default mode and return to the old, more comfortable ways of dealing with reality.
THE TRANSFORMATION OF WORLDVIEW: IS IT POSSIBLE
Because transformation of worldview is challenging and traumatic, runs contrary to the values and beliefs of the majority culture, conflicts with the significant others who shaped the worldview in the first place, and creates disequilibrium and a flood of unresolved questions, change is not usually welcomed. For example, if one was raised with a worldview shaped by African Traditional Religion, to come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ requires a new orientation and a traumatic reconstruction of worldview. More radical is the conversion of Muslims to becoming disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
For spiritual transformation to occur, the gospel message must be externalized in word and deed by a witness of Jesus Christ. People within the resident culture must take note of what is being proclaimed. Using local language and adapting to the local culture can lower the threshold for objectifying the newly presented message. Signs, wonders, and miracles encourage onlookers to pay attention to the alternative message and worldview. Internalization takes more than human reasoning. It is a gift from God, the gift of faith, but is available through the global presence of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit implants the presence of Christ into the person’s being and begins the deconstructive and reconstructive processes. Legitimation could be described as discipleship where new converts have people available to explain the new faith and experience and answer questions as attempts to reestablish equilibrium are pursued. Further miracles, revelations, dreams, and study of God’s Word reinforce the new perspective and new life. Old things pass away; new things come, but the transformation is a harrowing process.
Questions will continue to be raised as one examines his or her culture through the lens of Scripture and through insights from the Holy Spirit. Care must be taken to decipher what aspects of culture are good and neutral and can be maintained, and what aspects are evil, enslaving, destructive, and contrary to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. A Spirit-guided contextual examination of culture and all aspects of worldview is necessary so that the conversion experience transpires at the worldview level rather than merely leading to unique cultural expressions of a faith that is not truly Christ-centered nor the product of worldview transformation. Spirit imposed conversion results in worldview metamorphosis accompanied by an emic expression of authentic biblical Christianity within the resident culture.
DISCOVERING A BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW
While the Bible is composed of sixty-six books, written by over forty authors, during a millennium and a half of inscripturation, plus years of collation, canonization, transmission, and translation, there is a single Author behind the process and a metanarrative that provides cohesiveness. Many cultures and worldviews are represented by the authors and the recipients of the original autographs, but each author had a heavenly perspective on earthly, cultural matters that needed people’s attention. Collectively, it seems possible to synthesize their progressive transmissions as God’s self-revelation, His will, and His acts in history, to establish the way He wants people within each culture to view, understand, and explain ultimate reality. Paul H. Hiebert refers to a biblical worldview as a diachronic worldview theme, which documents that the one true God who revealed himself to Abraham and David is the same God who revealed himself in the person of Jesus Christ. 71 His life, death, and resurrection was God’s exclusive method of offering salvation to all people who are sinners and in need of a Savior. Yet, Hiebert acknowledges, “All our attempts to understand what God has revealed in Scripture are partial and biased by our historical and cultural perspectives.” 72
A biblical worldview acknowledges that God is Creator and everything in the universe is His creation. All living beings, matter, and laws that operate within the created order have been established by Him and are subject to His sovereign will. He is holy, loving, all-powerful, omniscient, and everywhere present as Spirit.
A biblical worldview must center on Christ who is the ultimate, definitive revelation of God and the One to whom all Christian believers are to conform. The historical reality of His incarnation, life, death, resurrection, miracles, and teachings provide the objective foundation for saving faith and godly living. The salvation He offers is holistic, both for this life and eternity. He is to be known and experienced by faith.
A worldview formed by experiencing God, observing general revelation, encountering Christ as Lord, and receiving revelations from the Holy Spirit who abides within and operates throughout the universe must also attend to Scripture. The Bible is the objective revelation God has provided to complement His incarnation and multifaceted participation in salvation history.
Human knowledge is partial, limited by a people’s historical and cultural context, and by their individual and corporate fallenness. Knowledge consists of objective matter, laws, truths, principles, and subjective revelation. A biblical worldview recognizes that God and His revelation, not reason or divination, is the ultimate arbiter of truth. One affirms that “human knowledge is never exact and complete, but it can be true in the essentials with regard to the questions being asked.” 73 It is the church, the local, indigenous gathering of believers, which is to examine Scripture in light of people’s personal experiences to collectively understand God’s truth for their culture and context and address the spiritual, cognitive, affective, and behavioral dimensions of life and faith.
A biblical worldview is expansionistic, Spirit-driven to spread to the regions where no gospel message is heard, but averts the imposition of a gospel clothed in a particular culture’s or denomination’s garb. The goal is the introduction of the King, the Lord Jesus, and His rule over individuals, families, tribes, and geo-political nations. The mission of every church should be the conversion of people, both near and far, to transforming faith in Christ, followed by discipleship, indigenous church planting, and the contextualizing of ministries that promote liberation, peace, and justice—impacting every dimension of a person’s life and worldview and all aspects of society.
A biblical worldview will maintain the priorities modeled by Jesus, God dwelling among His creation, who did not come to be served but to serve and give his life for the salvation and reconciliation of all people. His serving included, but was not limited to, addressing temporal, felt needs. His ultimate service in entering the human condition was to provide eternal salvation, the reuniting of people with their God forever. The Church, like its Founder and Master, must recognize its ultimate commission, which is to prepare people to meet God.
Salvation must begin in the lives of individuals who experience forgiveness of and freedom from enslaving sin and the transformation of worldview, including belief systems, values, motives, attitudes, and behavior. Only then can one expect to see the power of the gospel at work in the global economy and in political systems. Directed and empowered by the Holy Spirit, ambassadors for Christ will be incarnational in their service, announce the gospel, and bear spiritual fruit in their personal lives. They will serve as salt and light in their communities bringing hope and dignity to people. They will perform miracles and manifest supernatural giftings that glorify God, build His church, and bring comfort to the sick, hurting, marginalized, and poor. The Church, spiritually militant, will confront systems of injustice and exploitation and proclaim that ultimate hope is in Christ’s second coming when He returns as the supreme Victor and creates a new heaven and earth.
POSTMODERNISM IN AFRICA: CLASH OR SYNTHESIS?
While some plaudits from both hemispheres call for a moratorium on missions because some missionaries in the past imbibed colonialist attitudes, were racists, or failed to implement indigenous church planting approaches, or because the needs at home seem to outweigh those among regions and peoples who are distant, the commission of Christ for all of the Church to go to all of the world has not been rescinded. The African Church must do her part to establish God’s Kingdom where it does not exist within the continent and throughout the world. The churches of the North, likewise, must obey Christ’s call to disciple the nations in the South where vast spiritual Christian vacuums persist. New representatives of Christ coming from the Northern Hemisphere, indoctrinated in postmodernism, must be extremely sensitive to the worldview and cultural baggage they carry because some aspects of postmodernism blend well with the worldview and values of Africa while other dimensions are problematic.
Prepared to tolerate ambiguity, inefficiency, injustice, corruption, and dictatorial political leadership, cross-cultural advocates for Christ’s Kingdom must learn to appreciate a people-orientation rather than time- or materialistic-priorities. A holistic worldview that avoids compartmentalization needs to be modeled by praying for the sick along with medical treatment; prayer for deliverance accompanying counseling; messages on prosperity, healing, and blessing included with those on cross-bearing and sacrifice; and expressions of love manifest in compassion, touching, and generous giving integrated with gospel declaration and appeals for salvation. While proclaiming freedom and liberation through Christ, the Northerner must offer more than relief and development. A cup of cold water, flowing from a recently provided, mission-funded borehole, offered in His name is helpful, but people do not live eternally on water alone. Water without gospel leaves people groping for eternal life, the way, and the truth.
Missionaries must recognize that their divine calling is not the promotion of Western-styled democracy, capitalism, socialism, or individual rights. Some individuals from the United States are uncritically patriotic and consider their country to be the best, the most powerful, and the global centurion against evil empires. It is imperative to realize the offensiveness of such views to non-Americans. While being loyal citizens of earthly kingdoms, one’s supreme commitment must be to the King whose kingdom has no borders and no people of favored status.
After seeing people converted, the globally-relevant gospel prioritizes loving God with their whole being and loving their neighbors as themselves. For the people and location where one serves, worldviews, beliefs, values, behaviors, customs, traditions, and social systems may fall short of biblical, Kingdom standards, but God’s envoys must clearly promote the values of the heavenly kingdom that can only penetrate the resident culture through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Patience, endurance, and a long-term commitment to externalization (being living, verbal witnesses) are required in order to experience change in the target culture.
Christ’s representatives from the North need to be aware of the unconscious impact postmodernism has made on their values, beliefs, and conduct. Steve Wilkens and Mark L. Sanford portray postmodernism as individualistic while valuing community participation. 74 They note the attachment to consumerism, which drives people to spend beyond their means to possess what they do
not really need and cannot afford. The result is the burden of debt and interest payments that divert investments from kingdom work and delay peoples’ ability to go into the harvest fields.
Postmodernism has endorsed moral relativism and pluralism. One must be prepared not only to uphold biblical standards of morality and holiness, but to graciously tolerate local church standards in the South that may seem legalistic and extreme. Marriage is to be a life-time covenant between a man and a woman. 75 Sex outside of marriage is sin. Abortion is the killing of an unborn child. Leaders must be servants who put the interests of others ahead of their own. Treasures must be shared with neighbors, not motivated by paternalism or to create dependency, but to build independence and develop economic-generating potential as well as to alleviate suffering.
While the West may pridefully embrace pluralism, universalism, and tolerance, ministry in Africa will demand the exclusive message of the New Testament church: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). That singular salvific name is the Lord Jesus Christ. A postmodern, pluralistic message in Africa is untenable. One must declare unswervingly that there is absolute truth found in the life and teaching of Christ. Rather than smidgens of guidance from multiple sources, there is a metanarrative, a single overarching story—God’s creative, redemptive story recorded in salvation history. Rather than uncertain hope, Africans can be informed of an eternal heavenly destiny awaits those who follow Christ. While postmodernism has leveled a legitimate critique against secular humanism, scientism, and positivism, envoys coming from the West must understand that all people, even though limited and flawed, are made in the image of God with the ability to know Him and make Him known; each person has eternal value, unlimited capacity, and an unending destiny. Humankind cannot solve all the problems of the world and must recognize the limits of science and scientific inquiry. Scientific knowledge is not based purely on external, objective observations, as some claim, but is the work of limited human observations and finite minds affected by their fallenness and limited historical context. Christians in the postmodern era do recognize the myopia of every worldview, and should pray according to Jesus’ instructions that God’s heavenly kingdom would come to earth. This prayer indicates that His kingdom is not of this world; it is supernatural rather than natural; it arrives according to His will and timing; His kingdom is transformational instead of reformational; and His kingdom has the characteristic of being already present on earth, but not yet in its fullest manifestation.
Postmodernism acknowledges the validity of every tribe and culture without any assessment of their underlying assumptions, beliefs, or ensuing practices. While respect is essential and slowness to judge is godly, the prism of the gospel must refract and evaluate every component of each culture by divine standards. In all cultures, aspects will be noble and contribute to the betterment of people; parts will be value neutral; and some dimensions will be evil and destructive. Evaluation of culture needs to start with the culture of the envoys as they acknowledge the “plank” in their own eyes (Matt. 7:3-5). All assessments must be calibrated against God’s canon of righteousness.
Postmodernism purports that there are no metanarratives and that human languages, socially constructed and bound by the limitations of a particular people and culture, are incapable of conveying objective meaning. 76 In the African and biblical contexts, there is a metanarrative. God is at work throughout human history to accomplish His ultimate purposes. Because He has a plan for humankind, life has meaning. God uses words to communicate objective, life-transforming truths that can be exchanged for lies (Exod. 20:1-19; 31:18; Matt. 4:4; John 8:32; 18:37; 20:31; Rom. 1:25). The mind of the communicator employs verbal signifiers that represent specific objects or concepts. The listener and translator can decode the message to approximate the meaning inscribed by the author. As people created in the image of God, they hold the ability to communicate and understand. God has communicated truth through oral and written words and through the Living Word. With the assistance of the Holy Spirit who aided the biblical authors and listeners in their comprehension of His truth, the same Spirit enables people to read and understand his written Word. As Bradley T. Noel writes, “Truth is certain … Transcendent reality guarantees that truth exists; humanity does not create truth, but discovers it.” 77 The African worldview accepts the validity of transcendent truth (a Modern perspective) and acknowledges that truth is ascertained not only through reason, but emotions, experiences, and intuition (a Postmodern view).
All people look through worldview lenses— none of which are completely translucent. All worldviews provide a gaze at reality that is limited, flawed, and partial. Members of every culture ultimately need new lenses. Transformation of worldview is difficult and, though never complete, evolves towards greater clarity through conversion and the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit in their comprehension of reality. Only at the arrival of the eschaton will they see as they are seen and know as they are known—face to face (1 Cor. 13:12). In the meantime, looking at Scripture together with people of other cultures will better clarify the believing communities’ vision. Christians from North and South can humbly read Scripture together for greater understanding and increased commitment to seeing His kingdom come and His will being performed on earth as it is in the heavenlies.
Adamo, David Tuesday. "Introduction." In Biblical Interpretation in African Perspective. Edited by David T. Adamo, 3-6. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2006.
Adeyemo, Tokunboh. "General Introduction." In Africa Bible Commentary. Edited by Tokunboh Adeyemo, vii-x. Nairobi: WordAlive, 2006.
———. Is Africa Cursed? A Vision for the Radical Transformation of an Ailing Continent. Rev. and updated. Nairobi: WordAlive, 2009.
Allen, Willough C. Gospel According to Saint Matthew. 3rd ed. Edinburgh, England: T. & T. Clark, 1912.
Berger, Peter L., and Thomas Luckmann. The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge. New York, NY: Anchor, 1967.
Blomberg, Craig L. Matthew. Nashville, TN: Broadman, 1992.
Carson, D. A. Matthew. Rev. ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010.
Chakwera, Lazarus McCarthy. Reach the Nations: A Biblical Mandate. Springfield, MO: Africa Theological Training Services, 2001.
Dube, Musa W. "To Pray the Lord's Prayer in the Global Economic Era (Matt. 6:9-13)." In The Bible in Africa: Transactions, Trajectories and Trends. Edited by Gerald O. West and Musa W. Dube, 611-630. Boston, MA: Brill Academic, 2001.
France, R. T. The Gospel of Matthew. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007.
Gadamer, Hans-Georg. Truth and Method. 2nd ed. Translated by Joel Weinsheimer and Donald G. Marshall. London, England: Continuum, 2004.
Gehman, Richard J. Doing African Christian Theology: An Evangelical Perspective. Nairobi: Evangel, 1987.
Green, Joel B. The Gospel of Luke. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1997.
Gundry, Robert H. Matthew: A Commentary on His Literary and Theological Art. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1982.
Hagner, Donald A. Matthew 14-28. Dallas, TX: Word, 1995.
Hesselgrave, David J. Communicating Christ Cross-culturally: An Introduction to Missionary Communication. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1991.
Hiebert, Paul H. Transforming Worldviews: An Anthropological Understanding of How People Change. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008.
Isaak, Paul J. "Luke." In Africa Bible Commentary. Edited by Tokunboh Adeyemo, 1203-1250. Nairobi: WordAlive, 2006.
Joshua Project. "Africa." http://www.joshuaproject.net/continents.php (accessed February 10, 2012).
Kato, Byang H. Biblical Christianity in Africa. Achimota, Ghana: Africa Christian Press, 1985.
Kapolyo, Joe. "Matthew." In Africa Bible Commentary. Edited by Tokunboh Adeyemo, 1105-1170. Nairobi: WordAlive, 2006.
Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009.
Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 1943.
Manus, Ukachukwu Chris. "The Healing of the Leper: Its Relevance to the HIV/AIDS Pandemic." In Intercultural Hermeneutics in Africa: Methods and Approaches. Edited by Ukachukwu Chris Manus, 139-151. Nairobi: Acton, 2003.
Mbiti, John S. Introduction to African Religion. 2nd ed. Nairobi: East African Educational Publishers, 1991.
Mugambi, J. N. K. "Foundations for an African Approach to Biblical Hermeneutics." In Interpreting the New Testament in Africa. Edited by Mary Getui, Tinyiko S. Maluleke, and Justin S. Ukpong, 9-29. Nairobi: Acton, 2001.
Ndjerareou, Abel. "Yahweh and Other Gods." In Africa Bible Commentary. Edited by Tokunboh Adeyemo, 861. Nairobi: WordAlive, 2006.
Njoroge, Nyambura J. "The Role of Women in the Church." In Africa Bible Commentary. Edited by Tokunboh Adeyemo, 1471. Nairobi: WordAlive, 2006.
Noel, Bradley T. Pentecostal and Postmodern Hermeneutics: Comparisons and Contemporary Impact. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2010.
Nolland, John. Luke 1-9:20. Dallas, TX: Word, 1989.
O'Donovan, Wilbur. Biblical Christianity in African Perspective. Carlisle, UK: Paternoster, 1996.
Osborne, Grant R. Matthew. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010.
Palmer, Benjamin M. Our Historic Mission: An Address Delivered before the Eunomian and Phi-Mu Societies of the La Grange Syndical College, July 7, 1858. New Orleans, LA: True Witness Office, 1859, cited in Strauss, Mark L. How to Read the Bible in Changing Times: Understanding and Applying God's Word Today. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2011.
Plaatjie, Gloria Kehilwe. "Toward a Post-apartheid Black Feminist Reading of the Bible: A Case of Luke 2:36-38." In Other Ways of Reading: African Women and the Bible. Edited by Musa W. Dube, 114-142. Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2001.
Pobee, John S., and Gabriel Ositelu II. African Initiatives in Christianity. Geneva: WCC Publications, 1998.
Reggy-Mamo, Mae Alice. "Widow Inheritance." In Africa Bible Commentary. Edited by Tokunboh Adeyemo, 323. Nairobi: WordAlive, 2006.
Tarr, Del. Double Image: Biblical Insights from African Parables. New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1994.
Turaki, Yusufu. "Homosexuality." In Africa Bible Commentary. Edited by Tokunboh Adeyemo, 1355. Nairobi: WordAlive, 2006.
Ukpong, Justin S. "Bible Reading with a Community of Ordinary Readers." In Interpreting the New Testament in Africa. Edited by Mary N. Getui, Tinyiko S. Maluleke, and Justin S. Ukpong, 188-212. Nairobi: Acton, 2001.
Veith, Gene E. Jr., Postmodern Times: A Christian Guide to Contemporary Thought and Culture. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1994.
Whitehead, James D., and Evelyn E. Whitehead. Method in Ministry: Theological Reflection and Christian Ministry. New York, NY: HarperSanFrancisco, 1980.
Wilkens, Steve, and Mark L. Sanford. Hidden Worldviews: Eight Cultural Stories that Shape Our Lives. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press Academic, 2009.
Witherington, Ben III. Matthew. Macon, GA: Smyth and Helwys, 2006.
1 David J. Hesselgrave, Communicating Christ Cross-culturally: An Introduction to Missionary Communication, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1991), 191-199.
2 Richard J. Gehman, Doing African Christian Theology: An Evangelical Perspective (Nairobi: Evangel, 1987), 5.
3 Hans-Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method, 2nd ed. trans. Joel Weinsheimer and Donald G. Marshall (London, England: Continuum, 2004), 270-271.
5 Del Tarr, Double Image: Biblical Insights from African Parables (New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1994), 2.
7 Ben Witherington III, Matthew (Macon, GA: Smyth and Helwys, 2006), 373-375.
8 Grant R. Osborne, Matthew (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 728-734.
9 Osborne, 729, classifies “standing around” (20:6 NIV, ?στ?τας) as a circumstantial rather than an adjectival participle. These day laborers are in the marketplace seeking work, but have been overlooked by other employers.
10 R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007), 747-752.
11 Matthew connects this parable with the preceding pericope (19:16-30) using γ?ρ (for) and uses an inclusio formula, “Many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first” (19:30 and 20:16). Likewise, continuity with the previous theme is supported by Donald A. Hagner, Matthew 14-28 (Dallas, TX: Word, 1995), 569.
12 Willough C. Allen, Gospel According to Saint Matthew, 3rd ed. (Edinburgh, England: T. & T. Clark, 1912), 214, takes the same position. This parable is a warning to Christ’s first disciples who need to be accepting of others who will be equal partakers of heavenly privileges.
13 Robert H. Gundry, Matthew: A Commentary on His Literary and Theological Art (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1982), 399.
14 ?τα?ρος, friend, is also found in Matthew 22:12 and 26:50. In all three cases, there is a relationship through the extending of grace, but ill intent lies in the heart of the “friend.”
15 D. A. Carson, Matthew, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 482-484.
17 My translation of the emphatic kai.
18 Craig S. Keener, The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009), 481, affirms the ideal of equal pay for unequal work. Like Hagner and Gundry, Keener sees the historical context comparing Israel with the nations.
20 R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 1943), 765-781.
22 Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, Reach the Nations: A Biblical Mandate (Springfield, MO: Africa Theological Training Services, 2001), 25.
23 Ibid., 12-13, 19-20, recounts that Assemblies of God missionaries founded an indigenous national church in Malawi in 1947 which was self-governing, self-supporting, and self-propagating, but there were no self-missionizing connotations.
24 Justin S. Ukpong, “Bible Reading with a Community of Ordinary Readers,” in Interpreting the New Testament in Africa, eds. Mary N. Getui, Tinyiko S. Maluleke, and Justin S. Ukpong (Nairobi: Acton, 2001), 188-212.
29 Tokunboh Adeyemo, Is Africa Cursed? A Vision for the Radical Transformation of an Ailing Continent, rev. and updated (Nairobi: WordAlive, 2009), 43-48.
30 Keener, 676, 677, reports that it was common in early Christian narratives to designate a person’s ethnicity. Matthew, painting a negative portrayal of the disciples, recorded that the soldiers recruited a bystander to do what the disciples were unwilling to do.
32 Benjamin M. Palmer, Our Historic Mission: An Address Delivered before the Eunomian and Phi-Mu Societies of the La Grange Syndical College, July 7, 1858 (New Orleans, LA: True Witness Office, 1859); cited in Mark L. Strauss, How to Read the Bible in Changing Times: Understanding and Applying God’s Word Today (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2011), 6.
33 Joel B. Green, The Gospel of Luke (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1997), 150-152. Green is a professor of New Testament interpretation at Fuller Theological Seminary.
34 Gloria Kehilwe Plaatjie, “Toward a Post-apartheid Black Feminist Reading of the Bible: A Case of Luke 2:36-38,” in Other Ways of Reading: African Women and the Bible, ed. Musa W. Dube (Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2001), 114-142. Tarr, 5, insightfully raises the question: “Does not the traditional lifestyle of Africa’s developing nations often more closely parallel the original context of the scriptures than does the North American lifestyle?”
35 Plaatjie, 129-30, reports that widows are expected to undergo culturally-imposed rituals that protect from any accusation that they were responsible for their husband’s death through witchcraft. Similar practices are carried out in East Africa where the woman is forced to marry the eldest brother of her deceased husband. If she refuses, his family members forcibly take her children and strip her of all material wealth and resources claiming that they belong to the patrilineal line. In many cases, the widow becomes another wife in a polygamous family, is vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, and her children are abused by their stepfather. See Mae Alice Reggy-Mamo, “Widow Inheritance,” in Africa Bible Commentary, ed. Tokunboh Adeyemo (Nairobi: WordAlive, 2006), 323.
37 See John Nolland, Luke 1-9:20 (Dallas, TX: Word, 1989), 122.
38 Paul J. Isaak, “Luke” in Africa Bible Commentary, ed. Tokunboh Adeyemo, 1203-1250 (Nairobi: WordAlive, 2006), 1206.
40 Ukachukwu Chris Manus, “The Healing of the Leper: Its Relevance to the HIV/AIDS Pandemic,” in Intercultural Hermeneutics in Africa: Methods and Approaches, ed. Ukachukwu Chris Manus (Nairobi: Acton, 2003), 139-151.
41 Keener; Craig L. Blomberg, Matthew (Nashville, TN: Broadman, 1992); and France.
43 Joe Kapolyo, “Matthew,” in Africa Bible Commentary, ed. Tokunboh Adeyemo, 1105-1170 (Nairobi: WordAlive, 2006), 1125-1126.
49 Musa W. Dube, “To Pray the Lord’s Prayer in the Global Economic Era (Matt. 6:9-13),” in The Bible in Africa: Transactions, Trajectories and Trends, eds. Gerald O. West and Musa W. Dube (Boston, MA: Brill Academic, 2001), 611-630. Dube is a New Testament lecturer at the University of Botswana.
53 Kapolyo, “Matthew,” 1122.
55 David Tuesday Adamo, “Introduction” in Biblical Interpretation in African Perspective, ed. David T. Adamo (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2006), 3.
58 Kapolyo, “Matthew,” 1122.
59 Nyambura J. Njoroge, “The Role of Women in the Church,” in Africa Bible Commentary, ed. Tokunboh Adeyemo (Nairobi: WordAlive, 2006), 1471.
60 Yusufu Turaki, “Homosexuality,” in Africa Bible Commentary, ed. Tokunboh Adeyemo (Nairobi: WordAlive, 2006), 1355.
61 J. N. K. Mugambi, “Foundations for an African Approach to Biblical Hermeneutics,” in Interpreting the New Testament in Africa, eds. Mary Getui, Tinyiko S. Maluleke, and Justin S. Ukpong (Nairobi: Acton, 2001), 15. Wilbur O’Donovan, Biblical Christianity in African Perspective (Carlisle, UK: Paternoster, 1996), 41, who has spent several decades in Africa, presents a view contradictory to Mugambi. He observes, “African life is rich with an awareness of the supreme Being … There is probably no native-born African who is not aware of the existence of God … God is well-known in Africa … only God can give rain … God is known to be the creator and the sustainer of life. He is respected and honored as the exalted One, high above all his creation, and high above all other divinities, all spirits and all men … He seems to be removed and separated from the everyday lives of many people. He must be approached through intermediaries … It is evident that the traditional view of God in Africa is very close to the biblical revelation of Almighty God.”
62 Abel Ndjerareou, “Yahweh and Other Gods,” in Africa Bible Commentary, ed. Tokunboh Adeyemo (Nairobi: WordAlive, 2006), 861.
63 John S. Mbiti, Introduction to African Religion, 2nd ed. (Nairobi: East African Educational Publishers, 1991), 126-127.
64 Joshua Project, “Africa,” http://www.joshuaproject.net/continents.php (accessed February 10, 2012).
65 See John S. Pobee and Gabriel Ositelu II, African Initiatives in Christianity (Geneva: WCC Publications, 1998).
66 Tokunboh Adeyemo, “General Introduction,” in Africa Bible Commentary, ed. Tokunboh Adeyemo (Nairobi: WordAlive, 2006), viii.
67 Byang H. Kato, Biblical Christianity in Africa (Achimota, Ghana: Africa Christian Press, 1985), 11.
69 See James D. Whitehead and Evelyn E. Whitehead, Method in Ministry: Theological Reflection and Christian Ministry (New York, NY: HarperSanFrancisco, 1980).
70 Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge (New York, NY: Anchor, 1967).
71 Paul H. Hiebert, Transforming Worldviews: An Anthropological Understanding of How People Change (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 266.
74 Steve Wilkens and Mark L. Sanford, Hidden Worldviews: Eight Cultural Stories that Shape Our Lives (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press Academic, 2009).
75 Gene E. Veith, Jr., Postmodern Times: A Christian Guide to Contemporary Thought and Culture (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1994).
77 Bradley T. Noel, Pentecostal and Postmodern Hermeneutics: Comparisons and Contemporary Impact (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2010), 32.
Friday, June 16, 2006 10:22 AM