In Search of Foundations for African Catholicism: Charles Nyamiti's Theological Methodology

In Search of Foundations for African Catholicism: Charles Nyamiti's Theological Methodology

In Search of Foundations for African Catholicism: Charles Nyamiti's Theological Methodology

In Search of Foundations for African Catholicism: Charles Nyamiti's Theological Methodology

Synopsis

This study deals with the interaction between neo-Thomism and African traditional thinking in Charles Nyamitis theological methodology. The approach of the study is groundbreaking as it is the first monograph published on the theological method of any African theologian. The question about the position and relevance of Western philosophical-theological systems in a non-Western context also has a wider relevance concerning contextual theologies in general. Nyamitis theology is a germane and a fruitful choice for the study of this issue because of his programmatic attempt to build a coherent African Roman Catholic theological system. His theology is also well-known for its strong African flavor in elaborating theological questions within the framework of orthodox Roman Catholic doctrine.

Excerpt

The intellectual and cultural atmosphere of today's Africa is marked by an encounter with western influences. African traditional cultural patterns are challenged and Africans have to determine which of the new influences are desirable, and in which form, while attempting to preserve their African identities. However, traditional cultures themselves also need to be re-evaluated in the light of modern needs. Christ calls Africans in this complex situation and they answer in various ways. African theology in the written academic form is one way of answering the call and clarifying the situation. the major part of African theology, however, takes place outside of lecture-halls and libraries, in the life of Christian communities, a growing num ber of which are so-called African Independent Churches (AICs).

African theologians of today are faced with a tremendous task. They are called to reflect on the Christian faith in the light of African cultures and the socio-political situation, trying to render the Christian message understandable and relevant to their peoples. However, one cannot simply separate the Gospel from the foreign cultures which served as vessels of the once new faith in order to insert the pure Gospel into a new culture. in spite of this, if Christianity is to become authentically African and if African cultures are not intended to become westernized in addition to being Christianized, a distinc tion has to be made between the Gospel and the culturally condi tioned forms through which its content has been expressed.

John Paul II 1979, art. 53.

On the challenges of universalism and particularism in connection to incultur
ation see Roest Crollius 1981, 1415. the question is also partly, seen from a larger
frame of reference, that of meaningful communication in general, which has been
discussed much in philosophy (see for example Wittgenstein 1959, art. 3 ff.), or that
of religious language and its context (see Schlochtern 1996 on the relation between
that discussion and contextual theology).

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