Rumors of salvation

suti-0000013Perspectives of salvation in African Christian thought

Authored by: David Tonghou Ngong

The Routledge Handbook of African Theology

Print publication date:  June  2020
Online publication date:  May  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138092303
eBook ISBN: 9781315107561
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315107561-33

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Abstract

Discourses on salvation in African Christian theology have often focused on the various understandings of salvation in sub-Saharan Africa, as African theology is often understood as sub-Saharan African theology. Thus, in his insightful classification of perspectives of salvation in African theology, the South African theologian, Gerrit Brand, focuses on sub-Saharan African theology to argue that, from an African perspective, Western discourses on salvation have mostly paid attention to the means and how of salvation rather than on the content of salvation. The focus on the means and how of salvation has led Western Christian theology to emphasize the various theories of atonement and debates on the question of who is saved. In Africa, however, the focus on the content of salvation has led many to seek to see evidence of salvation. They seek to see evidence of salvation not in the Calvinistic or puritanical sense of transformed morality and church life but the sense of the overall transformation of human life—spiritual, personal, social, political, economic, ecological. This focus on the evidence of salvation has led some to see the Christian view of salvation as elusive. To them, the Christian understanding of salvation is like “a fabulous ghost,” which constantly evades people as they try to grasp it. The typology of an African theology of salvation which Brand presents, therefore, focuses on the content or nature of salvation and thus suggests an African Christian contribution to the idea of salvation in world Christianity. In other words, for Brand, an African contribution to the understanding of salvation in world Christian theology is the view that salvation must be made tangible and verifiable in this life rather than perpetually remaining an unfulfilled or postponed dream. Brand classifies African theology of salvation into five types: anthropological, social, cultural, ontological, and vitalistic. 1

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