Original Research

Considering the this-worldly religious focus of the African traditional worldview as found in South Africa

Desmond Henry, Jacques Malan
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 38, No 1 | a1742 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v38i1.1742 | © 2017 Desmond Henry, Jacques Malan | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 February 2017 | Published: 25 August 2017

About the author(s)

Desmond Henry, Department of Theology, North-West University, South Africa
Jacques Malan, Baptist Theological College, Randburg, South Africa


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Abstract

Most articles evaluating the African traditional worldview focus an attack on the ancestor cult or highlight positive aspects of the worldview. In either case, mention of the this-worldly religious focus tends to be ‘in passing’. An evaluation of this aspect of the worldview is a gap in the research, which this article seeks to address. The findings should significantly affect evangelical ministry method to many people in the country. The this-worldly religious focus of the African traditional worldview as found in South Africa is considered. It is a focus which hardly, if ever, looks beyond this world and this age. The this-worldly focus is a significant feature of the African traditional worldview and related African Traditional Religion (ATR). The concern raised is that this feature of the worldview is prevalent in the country, is unbiblical and is a major problem affecting the church. The article first describes the this-worldly religious focus and how it is expressed in ATR and in those strongly influenced by ATR. It then discusses its prevalence in South Africa. A biblical evaluation is then done, considering what the Bible has to say on the matter and considering the views of some evangelicals. Finally, some proposals are made for responding to the challenge. There are significant steps that can be taken to counteract the problem and so design evangelism and discipleship that the African believers are moved to resist rather than follow the this-worldly religious focus and so more faithfully follow the way of our Lord.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: Most articles evaluating the African traditional worldview focus an attack on the ancestor cult or highlight positive aspects of the worldview. In either case, mention of the this-worldly religious focus tend to be ‘in passing’ across the research spectrum. An evaluation of this aspect of the worldview is a gap in the research across many disciplines, which this article seeks to address. The findings should significantly affect evangelical ministry method to many people in the country working within these communities. This approach considers anthropological and Biblical insights in a compelling manner.


Keywords

African Traditional Religion; worldview; religion; ancestor; prayer; healing; blessing

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