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The relationship between faith and culture (Theology brewed in an African pot)

In Orobator’s discussion of the relationship between faith and culture, and how this has unfolded in the African context, he provides some useful distinctions for words that can sometimes sound pretty similar!

Adaptation – modifying Christianity using compatible parts of African religion.
Accommodation – tolerating aspects of African religion.
Indigenisation – handing over leadership to Africans / giving things a local flavour.
Contextualisation – taking life situation into account for the meaning and practice of Christianity. NB I think Arthur and I use this word to mean something more penetrating, something more like Orobator’s inculturation (see below.)
Translation – making Christianity understandable in African culture.
Inculturation – akin to incarnation; a dynamic process between word and flesh; includes mutual listening, appreciation, transformation.

Orobator favours inculturation because he feels it is more all encompassing, and pays most respect to African cultures. He takes general revelation seriously: Christianity has something to learn from African religion and can be open to the possibility of being enriched by it, to the extent that African religion and culture is made by and reveals God.

Categories: Tanzanian culture Written by Tamie

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Tamie Davis

Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at

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