A Haya interpretation of the Christian concept of God : how applicable is an invocation of the deity in a threefold form for indigenising and understanding the Christian trinitarian model?
Kahakwa, Sylvester Beyanga.
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The dissertation details and analyses an interpretation of the Christian concept of God that emerges through the interactions between the missionaries, post-missionary Christianity and the Raya people in Tanzania. It investigates the nature, implications and possible problems encountered in the processes of interpretation. Four main issues are investigated and addressed. Firstly, each group interacted in its own way and played a significant role in creating an arena for successful communication. The main two challenges facing the missionaries were: delivering the Christian message so that the hearers derive its meaning, and the use of the traditional but nonindigenous concept of God for identifying the Christian concept of God, according to the biblical and the classical doctrine of the Trinity. Secondly, the Raya and the convert's reactions to the missionaries' version of God had taken place in two phases, earlier and later interactions. In the earlier phase, the Raya responded to the missionaries' version of God on the basis of their traditional understanding of God. It led them to an initial acceptance of the missionaries' version of God and conversion. The converts later reacted to the missionaries' version and some asked: what happens after a conversion to Christianity? Challenged by their earlier experience of the Christian concept of God, some converts felt the need for a second paradigm shift. On the basis of an invocation of the Deity in a threefold form at a subjective level, these converts had embarked on a self-interpretation and understanding of the missionaries' version of the Trinity in traditional idiom and terms. It resulted in the construction of the Raya Christian theology of the Trinity. Thirdly, the study also addressed the further impacts and responses to the missionaries' version of God. While the missionaries' interpretative approach laid the foundation for the converts' interpretation, in turn both set the course for the post-missionary Christianity's interpretation. At this point, post-missionary Christianity had reinterpreted the Christian concept of God on the basis of a traditional Raya concept of God. The main question faced them is an application of the Ruhanga model according to its frame of reference, although partially applied it paved the way for a full application in later times. Fourthly, in response to the challenges raised by earlier interpretative approaches, missionaries, converts and post-missionary Christianity, the study embarked on interpreting the Trinity in traditional tenns. It aimed at reaching a higher stage of understanding the Trinity by all Haya converts, even the simplest ones. It demanded an investigation of the hypothesis that a Haya invocation of the Deity in a threefold fonn is a key to understanding both the Haya and the Christian concepts of God. An application of it involved addressing the question of how it could be applied at the church level to interpret and understand the Trinity in Haya idiom. It is proposed that initially this will be achieved through an interpretation and christianisation of the Haya concept of God and a re-interpretation and indigenisation of the Christian concept of God. While biblical, classical and contemporary interpretations of the Trinity are a referral basis for each approach, social and theological models are key methodological instruments. Finally, the need of this study has roots in the fact that, through my pastoral ministry, I have pondered and cross-examined myself on what the Haya and Africans as a whole can contribute to the enrichment of Christian theology. An investigation of the converts' interpretation of the Trinity into their own version of a Haya theology of the Trinity is looked upon as a small part of this contribution.