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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

African Christianity and African Anglicanism

I'm quoting from a recent Anglican Communion News Service release here (ACNS 4175 KENYA 15 AUGUST 2006). My comments will appear below the quote:

The Bible is more than a text: it is our life

We underscore that all Christians in every place and time do have a pre-Christian past connecting them with the present. We maintain that no significant and enduring theology in the history of Christian thought has ever proceeded on the basis of a religious vacuum. What constitutes the pre-Christian preparation for the Gospel will vary in different cultural settings. We reject the early missionary and armchair anthropological conclusions of some Western scholars that African religion and philosophy had nothing significant to offer. Such skewed thoughts may explain the seeming lack of a Christian theology in Africa until recently. The Living God, as known and hallowed in many African pre-Christian indigenous traditions, is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ named in many vernacular translations of the Bible. It is possible therefore, to make a case for the indigenous ancestry of African Christian experience. We recognise a valid pre-Christian preparation for the Gospel in African religious and cultural traditions. Within them, we find an authentic transmission of the Gospel in Africa and hear Christ's call to Africans. It is what Africans do with Jesus Christ that matters - that is, how Africans respond to Jesus Christ in the complexities of contemporary life and society. This is the most vital theological challenge facing African Christians and African churches today. The rest of the world will learn from the African response.

My response:

I would agree with the post here except that I would apply what is known about God in pre-Christian African religions to the concept of common grace and natural revelation. I am not sure that I would say that these "gods" are the same God and Father of Judaism and Christianity, though there are certainly elements of genuine revelation present in all religions that precede and exist alongside Christianity. However, noticing the competing truth claims rules out that these "gods" are the same God of the Bible. Islam and Christianity are incompatible for this reason and so are other competing religions, be they pre-Christian indigenous religions or whatever. This is not to say that Africans have no valid contribution to the philosophy of religions or to theology in general. On the contrary, I think a multicultural understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ informs all cultures which are part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the catholic body of Christ. This does not mean that we should compromise the essential doctrines of the faith or the catholic creeds in order to do this.

Another post from the news that I agree with:

'Prosperity gospel' is a lie

The so called 'prosperity gospel' is a misrepresentation of the Gospel and an alien import to Africa. Drawing from the example of Job, we maintain that suffering and poverty are not necessarily the result of sin, ignorance and lack of faith and that righteousness, understanding and faith do not necessarily lead to good health and prosperity. The 'Prosperity gospel' leads to a false sense of wellness, security and, ultimately, false hope. It is exploitation and often adds pain to the sufferer. In African culture, prosperity was linked to work ethic and communal co-existence.

My remarks:

This is a very concise and yet forthright statement against American pop culture and Christian Science being syncretized with the Christian Gospel. The short of it is that the modern charismatic movement has essentially committed idolatry by confusing the success of capitalism and upward mobility with the Gospel. God expects us to live and work within our calling. And as Emil Brunner has pointed out, modern secularization of the theology of calling has misled people into confusing economic success with God's blessing and God's call. Furthermore, despite American pragmatism, the health and wealth gospel, which is a false gospel, does not work universally in every culture. That speaks volumes about whether or not it is genuinely from God as we understand Him from the Holy Scriptures.

The health and wealth gospel has its roots in Christian Science and New Thought, as has been adequately demonstrated by Evangelical critics of the word of faith movement and other aberrations of the Gospel within the pentecostal/charismatic movement. I find it refreshing that Africans are wise to this deviant view of and distortion of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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