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Samuel Waje Kunhiyop: African Christian Theology

In response to this, the author warns that African Christians should be very cautious. Just because somebody is performing a supernatural act in the name of Christ does not automatically mean that they have a spiritual gift. The truest test of any gift is the inspired word of God. Also, Kunhiyop discusses the issue of discipline in the church, the issue of ministerial ordination, the controversy over women ordination[3] and finally the issue of treatment of church workers.

The author concludes the book with a discussion on biblical teaching on death and the afterlife and also addresses the role traditional religion ascribes to African ancestors. The chapter discusses some key eschatological concepts and presents the biblical teaching on eternity, judgment, the second coming, heaven and hell. This chapter presents the divergent views concerning the eschatological issues such as rapture, tribulation and millennial kingdom. Though there are ancient concepts of life after death in Africa, the author argues that the biblical teaching about these things is clear and should supersede any competing views.

While this book is a great resource for a wide readership, it nonetheless has some inherent weaknesses. First, the author, in his attempt to actually “do theology in Africa context” did not say anything about the origin, history, and evolving approaches in African Christian theology. Also, some germane topical issues that are affecting the African Christian theology like polygamy, feminism, ecumenism, church politics, succession problems and denominationalism are not given adequate treatment by the author. Though he mentions some of them in passing, the space such important issues deserve is not given.

Meanwhile, the book has a lot of strengths and advantages. First, the author presents after each chapter a list of questions that enhance critical thinking on the issues and relevant books for further readings. This makes the book a very useful tool in the hands of students and scholars. Second, the topical arrangement of the issues discussed represents a very good thematic analysis of the issues that are prevalent in African Christian theology. Third, though Kunhiyop did not attend to any issues concerning the origin, history and approaches in African Christian Theology, this allowed him to concentrate on “doing African Christian theology.” He went straight to the matter at hand. Another noteworthy strength in this book is the place the author gives to the Bible in all his arguments. While he believes theological enterprise can be influenced by other sources like experience, reason and culture, he is careful to preserve the primacy and finality of the inspired word of God. On the whole, this book represents how Christian theology can be both African and biblical.

Reviewed by Adeboye Godwin Oriyomi


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[1] The author is an evangelical ethicist, and his area of core discipline is reflected here.

[2] The way the author delimits his treatment of church ordinances portrays him as an authentic evangelical. A majority of evangelicals solely emphasize baptism and the Lord’s Table.

[3] The position holds by Kunhiyop represents the African understanding of feminist theology.

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Category: In Depth, Winter 2016

About the Author: Godwin O. Adeboye, BA (First class honors-University of Ibadan, Nigeria), BA Th (ECWA Theological Seminary, Igbaja), MA (University of Ibadan, Nigeria), served as the pioneering Director of Research and Innovations at ECWA Theological Seminary, Igbaja, Nigeria. He currently serves as the African Regional Coordinator at Shepherd's Academy, Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life, UK, where he is also conducting his doctoral research as a Langham scholar. In collaboration with the University of Pretoria, his research seeks to provide a theological model for the survival of Christian missions in Islamic political contexts. He is the author of Can a Christian Be Cursed?: An African Evangelical Response to the Problem of Curses (Langham, 2023).

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