The African evangelicals recently began to disagree on their intention to develop a Christian theology in an African context. In connection to that, they have taken a plan to develop and African Bible commentary. Drawing illustrations from Matthew Michael’s Christian Theology and African Traditions, this paper notes some of the reality of the African traditions and how these traditions interlink with religious or theological issues. There has been an increased need for dialogue between African people and Christian theology. In the 20th century, the African theology movement began protesting against colonial and missionary ways of handling religion and culture in Africa. This led to the emergence of a strong connection between African traditions and Christian theology.
The book by Michael Mathew speaks about Christian theology, and he begins by noting that Christian theology may mean Christian teachings about God and other issues related to the central subject. Christian theology focuses on engaging the people’s traditions. It is almost inevitable for the Christian belief to isolate itself from the people’s way of life, especially their interactions with the challenges they face. The book pinpoints something of the future, citing that theology is becoming a non-Western religious exercise and it has become paradigmatic in shaping the future of Christianity in a tradition-based way. Christianity in Africa has been shaped mainly by the presence of Western forms of Christianity, which came in through colonization and through missionaries who arrived in the mid-20th century to spread the gospel. Important African theologians such as BolajiIdowu, and Kwesi Dickson have contributed to the extension of African traditional religion through, for example, the translation of the Bible into vernacular languages.
Michael identifies the long history of Christianity in the African continent, which dates back to the second century when the first church began in Egypt and subsequently such other areas as Numidia and Abyssian in the succeeding centuries. The general context of the book is Christian faith and how to engage the teachings in dialogue with African traditions. Describing the nature of African traditions, Michael states that Christian faith sought a home with a religious and cultural matrix of the Jewish community. During these times, the apostles were seeking to make Jesus the fulfillment of their hopes meaning they regarded Him as the most important figure in their religious practices. African traditions have maintained an absolute rigidity, but in the actual practice, there has been flexibility because each generation has its way of doing things differently from the older generations.
The nature of African traditions has shown the people’s quest to observe the religious and cultural traditions mainly practiced in the past after most of the countries in Africa had attained independence. Traditions have significant influence in the human way of life and hence need special attention. The worldview challenges faced by Africans should be taken seriously because they provide better insight to understanding biblical Christianity and Africa. Christian faith must, therefore, recognize and engage the people of Africa at the level of their worldview. Christian faith shares much with the African continent regarding the traditional way of life and beliefs. Despite Westernization of Africa in such matters as dressing, African traditions remain strong and an important point of reference.
The African culture provides a wide learning base for theological issues, which includes perceptions, beliefs, and practice of religion that is greatly influenced by the people’s culture or their traditional way of doing things. This book identifies these patterns and defines the trend of religious practices. Therefore, these subjects jointly reveal their correlation. It possible to say that religion and culture should not be treated as different disciplines: Their overlapping ideas makes it important to study them together. Also, we can add that understanding the African way of life makes it easier to understand their religious practices because both have to do with their lifestyle and their orthodox way of doing things. The author has helped me understand that there is no tangible difference between the way African people handle their religious and cultural issues. Therefore, it is possible to conclude that understanding their cultural values will lead to wider knowledge of religious beliefs.
. Douglas E. Thomas, African Traditional Religion in the Modern World (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2015), 13.
. Matthew Clarke, ed., Handbook of Research on Development and Religion (Cheltenham, England: Edward Elgar, 2013), 28.
. John S. Mbiti, Introduction to African Religion (Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, 2015), 32.
. Alister E. McGrath, Christian Theology: An Introduction (Chichester, England: John Wiley & Sons, 2016), 11.
. Laurenti Magesa, African religion: The Moral Traditions of Abundant Life (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2014), 56.
. William C. Placher and Derek R. Nelson, A History of Christian Theology: An Introduction (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2013), 24.
. John Pittman, ed., African-American Perspectives and Philosophical Traditions (Hoboken, NJ: Taylor and Francis, 2013), 79.
. Rita Sommers-Flanagan and John Sommers-Flanagan, Becoming an Ethical Helping Professional: Cultural and Philosophical Foundations (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2015), 55.
 Matthew Michael, Christian Theology and African Traditions (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2013).
Clarke, Matthew, ed., Handbook of Research on Development and Religion. Cheltenham, England: Edward Elgar, 2013.
Magesa, Laurenti. African religion: The Moral Traditions of Abundant Life. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2014.
Mbiti, John S. Introduction to African Religion. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, 2015.
McGrath, Alister E. Christian Theology: An Introduction. Chichester, England: John Wiley & Sons, 2016.
Michael, Matthew. Christian Theology and African Traditions. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2013.
Pittman, John, ed. African-American Perspectives and Philosophical Traditions. Hoboken, NJ: Taylor and Francis, 2013.
Placher William C., and Derek R. Nelson. A History of Christian Theology: An Introduction. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2013.
Sommers-Flanagan, Rita, and John Sommers-Flanagan. Becoming an Ethical Helping Professional: Cultural and Philosophical Foundations. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2015.
Thomas, Douglas E. African Traditional Religion in the Modern World. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2015.