Introduction to Missiology Ch.21 Traditional Religions
An Historic ProblemColonial Missionaries ignored the religious heritage of receptor people groupsChristianity was introduced in a form that reflected western worldview and cultureThe long-term result has been reaction against non-indigenous Christianity reflected in syncretistic native church movements
Animistic Worldviews Animism – beliefs in personal spiritual beings Animatism – beliefs in impersonal spiritual forces Primal religion – historic beliefs held by a people group from their beginning Traditional religion – religious beliefs reflecting traditions passed down through many generations of a people group. The most common term.
Characteristics of AfricanTraditional Religion There exists a remote High God that does not interact with man. The physical world is charged with spiritual energy that influences the flow of life. – This energy is distributed in a “lumpy” way. The struggle is constant to balance and appease spiritual forces to avert disaster and elicit blessing. – Life often seems out of control. Time centers on the past and present. The living dead are involved still in the daily affairs of their village.
Diagram Remote High God Living Dead Spirits (impersonalized dead) Created Spirits IntermediariesRealm of humanity and things
Compared to ChristianityTraditional religion is local and based on myth.Christianity is universal and based on historic narrative.Result is contrasting epistemologies – Esoteric truth claims anchored in myth – Propositional truth claims anchored in history
Culture ClashWhen Christianity fails to address felt needs arising from within the traditional religious system, circumstances eventually provoke a separatist movement.Reactions tend toward independent church movements with exotic theologies that reflect traditional religious sensibilities
Missiological ImplicationsDoes African traditional religion form the base upon which to build Christian truth?When does contextualization become syncretism?What is the legitimate role of power encounters in contextualized Christianity?