Domesticating a Religious Import: The Jesuits and the Inculturation of the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe, 1879-1980

Domesticating a Religious Import: The Jesuits and the Inculturation of the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe, 1879-1980

Domesticating a Religious Import: The Jesuits and the Inculturation of the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe, 1879-1980

Domesticating a Religious Import: The Jesuits and the Inculturation of the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe, 1879-1980

Excerpt

Catholic theologians in the last fifty years have developed the term inculturation to discuss the old problem of adapting the church universal to specific local cultures. The theologians conceive of inculturation as a dialogue between Christianity (the church) and culture. The concept of inculturation differs from the anthropological concepts of acculturation, which is the process of adapting to a culture that is not a person’s native culture, and enculturation, the process of learning a culture as one’s native culture. Europeans needed ten centuries to inculturate Christianity from its Judaic roots. The existence of the eastern churches in communion with the Roman Catholic church points to the time in history when there was greater development of local churches and, consequently, greater inculturation of the church (that is, prior to the schism of the eleventh century). As such, African efforts to make the church their own are a manifestation of the same process, but in a much shorter period of time.

African Christians were aware that European missionaries transmitted aspects of their cultures with the Christian message during the evangelization of Africans in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This African Christian consciousness emerged in an effort neither to destroy or appropriate symbols of authority nor to reclaim appropriated cultural patrimony. It was a deliberate attempt to introduce and incorporate elements of vernacular African religion into the Christian symbolic system. In Southern Africa, it appears that African Catholics, above all, sought to fashion for themselves a niche, a spiritual home within the church.

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