Religion and Divine Presence: Appropriating Christianity from within African Indigenous Religions’ Perspective
The continuing influence of indigenous religious beliefs on the majority of African Christians demands revisiting of the question: “What have African Indigenous Religions to do with Christianity?” I will engage this question simultaneously with another question in mind, namely: “What has Jesus to do with both Christianity and African Indigenous Religions?” At a meeting of the African Association for the Study of Religions in Chicago in November 2008, Professor Jacob Olupona commented: “If we require the leaders of Africa who have stolen the wealth of their countries to take an oath in the shrines of the local gods they will stop stealing. Christianity’s teaching on future judgment has helped to perpetuate the criminal activities of many African leaders.” As a theologian with interest in the relationship between Christianity and African Indigenous Religions, his comment struck me as profound. It intensified my curiosity and desire to rethink, from a theological perspective, the relationship between Christianity and indigenous religions of Africa. I left the meeting pondering whether the Christian religion has done more harm than good to Africans. This chapter is partly the result of my reflections on Olupona’s comments.