2018 Abstracts


African folk Christianity: A Case of Reformed African Traditional Religion or the disconcerting Homologies between Christianity and African Traditional Religion? by Mr Fidelis Olokunboro from University of Notre Dame in Indiana

It is no news that Christian evangelization in Africa was conducted and “successful” at the expense and obliteration of African Traditional Religion (ATR). The disappearance of shrines, other vestiges of ATR and the multiplication of Churches in many parts of Africa will give an impression of the spread of Christianity and the annihilation of ATR. But a thorough examination of some Christian practices in Africa appears to suggest continuity between practices in ATR and African folk Christianity. That is, what is practiced as Christianity seems to be a recycling of practices in ATR. Since ATR enjoys theistic plasticity, it is not impossible that Jesus Christ may be functioning as the head of the pantheon of African Christianity. This invites us to re-evaluate changes in the religion of Africa. Are the African religious practices new forms of ATR or they are Christian practices?

I intend to investigate and establish the convergence and continuity between the indigenous religious practices and some folk Christian practices, using the rituals of Roman Catholic and African Independent Churches as a case studies. To do this, I will examine some forms of African Christologies and Theism and how they play into Theistic understanding in ATR. I will also investigate some Christian religious practices and how they coincide and are a reproduction of some core rituals in ATR. I intend to conclude by delineating the creedal crisis and the countercultural merits of African folk Christianity, and how it operates on a different logic as a popular religion.

Postcolonial Considerations on Shusaku Endô`s Silence and Indigeneity by Rev Dr Tobias Schuckert from International University Liebenzell in Germany

In 1966, the Japanese author and Catholic Christian Shusaku Endô published his novel Silence (沈黙, ”Chinmoku”). In this book, Endô portrays a Jesuit priest who came to Japan in the 17th century. The priest is confronted with the great suffering of Japanese Christians caused by a severe persecution through the Japanese officials. Throughout the story, the Jesuit priest, who represents the Western church, discusses issues of Christianity with Japanese people. Eventually, he learns that Christ is different as he had thought before coming to Japan. This novel does not only deal with the question how the God of love can be silent although the church is suffering, but it also contains a significant indigenous view on Christianity in Japan.

Shusaku Endô, who grew up as a minority Christian in Japan, uses the novel to present a postcolonial critique on the European church and the attitude of missionaries with a colonial mindset from Western nations. Furthermore, Endô presents a fresh perspective on Christology from Japan.

This paper proposes a postcolonial reading of Silence and thus, gives new perspectives from Japan. It introduces indigenous Asian views on missions, ecclesiology, and Christology based on insights from Endô`s novel, relevant for a global theory on indigeneity. Thus, it proposes not only new ways of intercultural encounter of Christians from different cultures, it also delivers new indigenous forms of Christian living based on a Christology that starts from Christ`s weakness rather than his victorious character. Moreover, it attempts to foster cultural identity of indigenous groups, with consideration on the Japanese minority, the Ainu from Hokkaido. It relates, furthermore, theological insights from Silence to current global issues of indigeneity. By doing so, it leads to a theory of church in poverty characterized by hospitality and inclusivity.

The Iroquois Seventh Generation Principle and the Church by Dr Cory Seibel from Central Baptist Church/Taylor Seminary

The Seventh Generation Principle originates from the Constitution of the Iroquois Nation, which provided the political, social, and ceremonial foundation of the Five (later Six) Nation Confederacy. This constitution, likely first recorded in writing sometime between the 12th and 16th centuries CE, declares that, “In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation.” In contemporary society, this principle has been widely appropriated within discussions of environmental justice. However, considerably less attention has been devoted to exploring the relevance of the Seventh Generation Principle for the life of the church. This paper will argue that every church will be helped to endure faithfully by considering how present decisions may impact future generations. The paper will begin by introducing the Seventh Generation Principle and by investigating its implications within its original context. The paper then will move to a brief examination of why a mindset of solidarity with future generations is commonly lacking within contemporary society and the church. Drawing upon the work of Rachel Muers in Living for the Future: Theological Ethics for Coming Generations, this paper will argue that engagement with the Seventh Generation Principle can aid us in rediscovering solidarity with future generations as a neglected biblical theme. The paper will conclude by briefly exploring how consideration of future generations might impact decision making within the church.