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

By Mika Vähäkangas | Go to book overview

CONCLUSION

The purpose of this study has been to analyze systematically the structure of Charles Nyamiti's theology, especially as seen through his methods. The working hypothesis was that Nyamiti's thinking contains an interplay between western and African patterns of thought. This is due to the fact that the Christian message that has been con veyed to Africa has been conveyed in its western interpretation. Any theologian of African mission-established churches wishing to con struct African theology cannot simply ignore that fact and its impact of his thinking.

The basis and ultimate criterion of Nyamiti's theological work is his conception of Revelation. For Nyamiti, Revelation is, by its nature, infallible. Thus the main question that remains is that of what can be counted as genuine revelation. The primary source of Revelation is naturally the Bible; rather the Bible should not only be seen as a source of Revelation but Revelation as such. Thus, the believer may trust in the infallibility of the Bible concerning faith and morals.

What is more important for the outcome of Nyamiti's theologiz ing is that he does not see any essential break between the Bible and the later official Tradition of the church. This means that those parts of Tradition which have been declared infallible in due order really are infallible and thus are practically on the same level as the biblical Revelation. Neither the form nor the content of, for exam ple, the credal formulas may be dropped. According to Nyamiti, Revelation can never be without its cultural expression and thus it is impossible to separate the content or intention of classical dogmas from their philosophical-cultural expressions. This results in a “sac ralization” of the philosophical framework which has been used to formulate dogmas. Consequently, this framework practically receives the status of infallible Revelation, even if it is formally counted only as a vessel of the message of the dogmas. A proper distinction of form and content of the dogmas cannot be found in Nyamiti due to the way he perceives the Roman Catholic view of Revelation. This has two consequences. Firstly, there is an inconsistency in Nyamiti's demand for proper distinction between nature and Supernature, because the form of any Revelation clearly belongs to the sphere of

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