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World Cup of Theologians: Nigeria – Matthews Ojo

The World Cup of Theologians is a blog series that coincides with the 2014 World Cup Tournament. Each team in the round of 16 has an entry with the biography of a noteworthy theologian or leader from that same country.

OjosMatthews Ojos is Vice-Chancellor of Bowen University in Iwo, Nigeria and the former Professor of Church History in the Department of Religious Studies at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. His extensive research and writing have explored the growth of Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity, especially in West Africa.

From his article, The Charismatic Movement in Nigeria Today, Ojo begins to describe the similarities and differences between charismatic expressions of Christianity between Western churches and the particular expressions found in Nigeria, writing,

In the Western world the term “charismatic” is generally applied to Christians within Protestant and Roman Catholic churches who testify to the baptism of the Holy Spirit, who experience its accompaniment of speaking in tongues, and who exercise the gifts of the Holy Spirit, principally the gift of healing. Charismatic Christians in Nigeria share these features with their Western counterparts.

While the charismatic movement in the Western world traces its roots to the Pentecostal movement that arose from the 1906 Asuza Street revival in Los Angeles, the Nigerian movement has an indigenous origin. The pioneers and early leaders were Nigerians without any previous contact with American Pentecostalism. Nigerian charismatics share similar doctrinal emphases and practices like baptism of the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, and healing. In addition, the mass media, charismatic literature, and the common use of the English language have helped to forge close links between the Western and Nigerian movements. Nevertheless, the Nigerian movement is essentially indigenous, and it has succeeded in adapting the Pentecostal faith to the Nigerian contemporary milieu, thus making it contextually meaningful.

International Bulletin of Missionary Research , Vol. 19, No. 3

Michael Shepherd is the editor of GlobalTheology.org. He is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary and Hope International University in southern California, USA, where he lives with his wife and son.

World Cup of Theologians: Algeria – Augustine of Hippo

The World Cup of Theologians is a blog series that coincides with the 2014 World Cup Tournament. Each team in the round of 16 has an entry with the biography of a noteworthy theologian or leader from that same country.

augustineAugustine of Hippo was born on November 13, 354 in the Numidian city of Tagaste (present day Souk Ahras, Algeria). As a young man prone to following his passions, Augustine famously prayed, “Give me chastity and continence, but not yet.”

After converting to Christianity and being baptized in 387, Augustine went on to become one of the most influential Church Fathers of the Western church. He is most well known for his spiritual memoir Confessions and his lengthy philosophical work, City of God.

In this well known quote from the Confessions, Augustine reveals how his perspective on desire has changed, having been made new by the love of God:

Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new: late have I loved you. And see, you were within and I was in the external world and sought you there, and in my unlovely state I plunged into those lovely created things which you made. You were with me, and I was not with you. The lovely things kept me far from you, though if they did not have their existence in you, they had no existence at all. You called and cried out loud and shattered my deafness. You were radiant and resplendent, you put to flight my blindness. You were fragrant, and I drew in my breath and now pant after you. I tasted you, and I feel but hunger and thirst for you. You touched me, and I am set on fire to attain the peace which is yours.

Download the free audiobook of Confessions here.

You can read St. Augustine’s full biography here or here.

Tim Hoiland blogs at timhoiland.com and tweets at @timhoiland. It took him months to read through City of God last year, and he pretends he understood it.

Identity and Family in African Perspective

Last fall, I had the opportunity to sit down with Martin Onen, the pastor of Gulu Bible Community Church, one of our church partners in Gulu, Uganda. I wanted to get his take on the four themes that our church has identified as core to our community: Identity, Family, Mission, and Sacrifice. As one of our church’s pastors (by extension), his different perspective on these themes might give us a glimpse into our blind spots and lead us to imagine the application of these elements in our church differently.

Martin Onen, Pastor of Gulu Bible Community Church (Photo: Andrew Richards)

Martin Onen, Pastor of Gulu Bible Community Church (Photo: Andrew Richards)

 When we talk about identity as one of our four markers, what comes to mind for you?

 When we talk about identity in our cultural identity, we talk about who we are. I am Acholi. (Pronounced ah-CHO-lee) My identity and my blood is Acholi. But what makes you Acholi? It is common, shared, goals and values that we share with our community that make you either to be Acholi or not Acholi. We say there are certain things that Acholi must do or Acholi must not do.

 What would be some of those things?

 For example, it starts before a child is born and as you raise a child. For a mother, when she is pregnant, she cannot touch a razor blade or any sharp thing, She cannot jump over bamboo, or there are certain types of food that you are not supposed to eat, especially when you are newly married. It is a kind of initiation. And when the child is born, they cut your umbilical cord using the sharp thing from the grass, so you grow up with the identity formed in that culture and shaped by the shared value. And there are certain things that Acholi people are known for, like in Uganda, they are best at cultural performance like dances, poems, and stories and those kinds of things. But also known as people who can cook good food, so people identify with these things. And also they are known as strong people. That is why when the British came, they divided Uganda into many parts. Like the central, Kampala, they are supposed to be administrator. The northern, they are supposed to provide security for the whole nation because they are strong and they are courageous. So when you talk with Acholi people, their identity is formed by A, B, C, 1, 2, 3, the things that they do.

But in the Biblical perspective, (more…)

Forgiveness and Fambul Tok

After years of civil war, the people living in the country of Sierra Leone returned to communities in which neighbors had experienced trauma at the hands of one another. The fabric of community had been torn apart and the reunification of these areas was vital to resettling and restoring peace. The relational ties that form the foundation of local culture needed to be restored and one way that the people engaged in forgiveness and “peace-building” was through a ceremony called Fambul Tok.

Fambul Tok, or “family talk” is a sacred bonfire that creates a space for victims and perpetrators to tell their story, ask for, and receive forgiveness from the people they had wronged. Following the bonfires, victim and perpetrator will join in planting crops or playing games together as a sign of forgiveness and restoration.

How can the church learn from this example of radical forgiveness of deeply personal and traumatic grievances?

Tim Høiland has a wonderful article in a current issue of PRISM magazine about the ceremony, its impact upon the community and lessons to learn regarding forgiveness. (Read the full article at PRISM)

Westerns struggle to understand forgiveness without retribution. This is true even for Christians, who believe we have been reconciled to God through Christ while we were still his enemies. The grace and forgiveness we have received is completely unmerited, and we’re instructed to go and do likewise, laying down our lives for others.

But when it comes to those who have wronged us, it doesn’t always follow that we automatically forgive. After all, shouldn’t the perpetrator be made to pay for his crime? (more…)

Kwame Bediako Interview

Some interesting thoughts from the late  Dr. Kwame Bediako.

1. Comparison between initial Christian mission to Northern Europe and missionary activity in Africa

2. The utilization of pre-Christian elements that persist into a Christian era

For more information about African Christianity, see our recent post in the Global Theology Countdown.

(Video is extra interview bites from Dr. Kwame Bediako for a documentary film project on African Christianity produced and directed by James Ault in 2009)

African Theology Countdown

A new format we’re trying here on the blog is the Global Theology Countdown, where we will break down a large topic into more easily accessible parts, linking to other sites for those who would want to go deeper.

  • 4 Keys to Understanding
  • 3 People to Know
  • 2 Blogs Worth Reading
  • 1 Book to Read Immediately

This post covers Contemporary African Christianity and we welcome contributors to share on a different context or more information regarding Christianity in Africa. Enjoy! (more…)

globaltheologyadmin:

A quick thought from a friend about the significance of non-Europeans in the foundation of continental theology. He hits the nail on the head that theological reflection is not restricted to Europeans and provides the opening of a larger conversation about how contemporary non-Western theologians can be more adequately incorporated into the life of the church.

Originally posted on Job and the Storm:

Some (small) food for thought:

Much of orthodox Christian theology owes its success to the work of African and Asia-minor thinkers. Regarding the former, one need look no further than the North African theologians. Augustine, Tertullian and Cyprian are just a handful (and what a handful!). One could also throw in there for good measure Origen (from Alexandria, Egypt) and Athanasius (Also Egyptian. Fun fact: he was derisively nick-named the “black dwarf” because of his physical appearance). And the Asia-minor thinkers? Look no further than the Cappadocian Fathers (Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nanzianzus), residents of what is now Turkey and undisputably important theologians.

All of the thinkers mentioned above are powerhouses who contributed enormously both to Orthodox theology and Western thought generally. And none of them are European. Before Barth, Tillich, Multmann, etc. there were the African and Asian thinkers who laid the foundation for…

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