Original Research

The semper reformanda principle under scrutiny in an African context in relation to inculturation

Graham A. Duncan
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 39, No 1 | a1846 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v39i1.1846 | © 2018 Graham Alexander Duncan | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 February 2018 | Published: 10 October 2018

About the author(s)

Graham A. Duncan, Department of Church History and Church Polity, University of Pretoria, South Africa


The semper reformanda [always reforming] principle has been poorly promoted by all traditions since it was conceptualised following the 16th-century Reformation. A significant problem caused by the missionary movement was the imposition of a Western-style approach to theology, liturgy and polity with little regard for the cultures that were being invaded and diminished. This article examines the hermeneutical problem in the African context, as well as the concept of and practice of inculturation, and proposes a way forward on the basis of faithfulness to the semper reformanda principle.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article is interdisciplinary in the sense that it transcends the theological disciplines of Church History, Church Polity, Dogmatics, Practical Theology, African Theology and Missiology. The topic indicates the relevance of an interdisciplinary approach in order to produce an inclusive, integrated and well-rounded approach within the broad field of hermeneutics.


Culture; hermeneutics; inculturation; missionaries; semper reformanda


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