The quest for identity in African theology as a mission of empowerment.
The thesis links African Theology with three notions: identity, mission and empowerment. Out of this linkage arise three interrelated themes that dominate the thesis. Firstly, different African theologies can be read as different modes of the quest for identity. The thesis demonstrates how the quest for identity in African Theology fits into political, philosophical, religious and other quests for identity in Africa, which are driven by historical factors such as the slave trade, imperialism, colonialism and neocolonialism. The responses of inculturation and liberation theologies to these historical factors of disempowerment leads to the conclusion that being Christian can be both liberating and fully compatible with being African. Secondly, the quest for identity in African Theology properly belongs to the notion of mission understood as missio Dei. This conclusion is derived from an examination of critical aspects of missio Dei. These include determining the purposes of missio Dei as being the restoration of the imago Dei and the salvation and liberation of humankind. The conclusion is also derived from acknowledging that missio Dei is effected through missiones ecclesiae and missio hominum. Thirdly, constructing mission as missio Dei leads to the notion of the quest for identity as a mission of empowerment and an empowerment for mission. A multidiscipline theoretical framework of empowerment leads to a stipulation of ways in which African theology, through a quest for identity, is empowering or can empower its interlocutors. At the same time the mission of empowerment becomes an empowerment for mission. This is especially significant in the light ofthe acknowledged southward shift in Christianity's centre of gravity. That shift implies African Christianity having a missionary responsibility that extends to the rest of the world. The quest for identity in African Theology is fraught with ambiguities, dilemmas and risks. But this is a price various African theologies are willing to pay in order both to help uplift the historically disadvantaged Africans and also to secure the future of Christianity on the continent.
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