Challenges And Prospects Of Teaching Theology In Africa -- By: Samuel W. Kunhiyop

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 15:2 (Summer 2011)
Article: Challenges And Prospects Of Teaching Theology In Africa
Author: Samuel W. Kunhiyop


Challenges And Prospects Of Teaching Theology In Africa

Samuel W. Kunhiyop

Samuel W. Kunhiyop serves as General Secretary of the Evangelical Church of West Africa in Jos, Nigeria.

He was previously the head of the Postgraduate School at South African Theological Seminary, and prior to that role he was Provost and Professor of Theology and Ethics at Jos ECWA Theological Seminary. Dr. Kunhiyop earned the Ph.D. from Trinity International University, and is the author of African Christian Ethics (Zondervan, 2008).

Introduction

There is no doubt that African Christianity is indebted to her rich heritage including the role Western Christianity has and continues to play. History is replete with the major contributions and sacrifices that the Western church made and continues making towards the birth and growth of Christianity among African peoples. Even after the church in Africa has grown, the West still provides human and material resources that impact the church in Africa. Missionaries continue to be sent to evangelize unreached African peoples; the Bible is translated into many languages; Bible teachers provide theological education, and many other social services are rendered to alleviate the suffering and poverty afflicting Africans. In spite of all these positive influences, there are, however, areas that need to be improved in order to make the church stronger. In this paper, I will focus on the teaching of theology in an African context, a subject that plays a significant role in the development of ministers and teachers for the church.

Teaching theology in Africa is always an exciting venture, full of challenges, and criticism. In regard to criticism, many today argue that teaching theology in Africa must be done differently. Since systematic theology is so indebted to the West, some say, it cannot speak to the African situation. Furthermore, “Western” theology is often viewed as merely theoretical and abstract and thus not relevant to the real issues of life. Africans, in general, we are told, do not like abstract and theoretical thinking but instead prefer to focus on practical issues. It is for this reason that many criticize the teaching of theology in Africa, especially theology indebted to the West. In terms of the challenge of teaching theology in Africa, then, there are many. For example, the teacher often finds his students raising questions that are not immediately relevant to the discussion at hand. Often the question begins with a story that needs a response, and this can be confusing to the teacher since he does not know exactly what the question is. However, as one begins to understand the African worldview and way of asking

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