What is the view from our heart? The heart’s view is what we perceive to be reality. In Christian Theology and African Traditions Matthew Michael encourages us that theology must engage at this level: at the level of worldview.
Michael’s book is a good companion volume to How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind by Thomas Oden.  Oden shows theology’s roots in Africa and Michael tells us that therein also is its future. Africa is at the heart of theology and theology must now keep the heart of Africa in mind. As Christendom moves to the Global South, theology must engage Africa at the level of traditions and worldview. The heart of the matter is the heart of Africa
Worldview functions in the heart at the level of “what goes without being said:”
“Without being said…” is an often repeated phrase in Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes by Randolph Richards and Brandon O’Brien, and is a helpful way of understanding the realities of seeing with the heart, or through cultural lenses. “Without being said” points to unconscious assumptions as to the nature of reality. Richards and O’Brien write, “…the most powerful cultural values are those that go without being said. 
I observed different worldviews while visiting an orphanage in Uganda. The phenomenon of lightning was discussed in this cross-cultural setting. The question posed was, “What do people think when a person is struck by lightning?” A Ugandan replied that the belief was likely to be that this person had committed some evil, so spiritual forces were punishing them. An American thought someone from our culture could respond either with a technical discussion of lightning or with a more fatalistic comment that the person was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Such phenomena are often not critically analyzed, but regarded at a worldview level.
“Without being said…” is a phrase that points us towards what is “taken-for-granted” in culture and lies in our unconscious mind and is built into us by the cultural conditioning of our families and societies. Many of us believe that it is taken-for-granted that parents provide for and protect children. Therefore, when we read of God as “Father” in the Bible, we take provision and protection for granted. (With this we hear echos of Martyn Percy and Shaping the Church: The Promise of Implicit Theology,  when we realize how much our life-context affects our theology.)
In A Secular Age, Charles Taylor writes, “…all beliefs are held within a context or framework of the taken-for-granted, which usually remains tacit, and may even be as yet unacknowledged by the agent, because never formulated.” 
Such is the nature of worldview. A metaphor likens worldview to an iceberg: the bulk of our beliefs are underwater while tradition above water. What really matters is out of sight.
Matthew Michael asks, “…Black Americans have black skin color, but their worldview or way of life is practically Western…Is there anything like an ‘African way of thinking’ or ‘worldview’? The answer to the last question is yes, there is a particular way the African people look at the world…Thus despite modernization of the African people in terms of modern and Western advancement such as planes, internet…yet in their thinking or worldview Africans have always remained African…It is such worldview that gives the tradition its force or vitality.” 
In large measure Matthew Michael wrote this book as a call for Christian Theology truly to engage African tradition at a deep worldview, life-changing level. He says, “…African traditions have remained strong on the continent despite the onslaught of colonization, civilization, and even Christianity because these antecedents have merely scratched the surface or externality of the African way of life. They have not readily engaged the African people at the level of their worldview.”  He says that Theology must clearly keep God in the center of focus. But it “…must engage the worldviews of the African people especially in terms of the beliefs, values and traditional orientations of the African people.” 
His thesis is that to see real whole-life change theology must engage at the level of worldview. If worldview is not changed to a Biblical worldview, lives will not ultimately be changed. “Unfortunately, it is at this level that Christianity has failed to change the African people.” 
Michael supports this statement by stating, “In the African church, despite its supposedly Christian influence, many church members still patronize [witchdoctors] as agents of spiritual guidance. The reasons for their popularity…the missionary churches refused to provide its members with an adequate replacement for the services provided by these institutions of guidance in traditional African society…Secondly, the efficacy of the solutions provided by these traditional mediums often overshadows the ministry of the church among Africans. The African people are always vulnerable to a show or manifestation of spiritual powers…” 
Two examples of how this problem may be addressed: Like Paul in Acts 17, we may study worldview as he did with the altar to the unknown god on Mars Hill. Even though these Greeks were polytheistic Paul engaged them at that level, in their world, and showed them how God-in-Christ answers their deepest heart-quest. From there Paul could declare and demonstrate that the Biblical worldview is superior.
Second, when missionary and professor Chuck Kraft arrived in Africa, with his systematic theology prepared, the people with whom he worked stopped him and said (in essence), “Bottom line: is your god more powerful than ours?” The fear-power world view common in Africa must be satisfied at this level.
Michael states,“…the present work is also the study of the Bible in close dialogue with African traditions. In this sense, Christian theology is primarily tailored to speak or engage the different traditions that have now become synonymous with the African people.”  He challenges theology and African traditions to be in dialogue. 
1. Thomas C. Oden, How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind: Rediscovering the African Seedbed of Western Christianity (Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 2007).
2. E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien, Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders To Better Understand the Bible (Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 2012), 12.
3. Martyn Percy, Shaping the Church: The Promise of Implicit Theology (Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing, 2010).
4. Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007), 13.
5. Matthew Michael, Christian Theology and African Traditions (Eugene, OR: Resource Publications, 2013), 10-11.
7. Ibid., xvi.
8. Ibid., 11.
9. Ibid., 43-44.
10. Ibid., xv.
11. Ibid., 224.