Christ's hospitality : a re-examination from an African theological perspective.
This dissertation re-examines Christ's hospitality from the perspective of inculturation/contextualisation, which is a common trend in African Theology today. It starts on the premise that Christ is the ideal model of hospitality that African Christianity ought to draw some lessons from as we embark on a theology of reconstruction. In so doing, it has sought to trace the concept of hospitality from the ancient times to the present times thereby relating it with the contemporary issues. The work is divided into six chapters and a conclusion that serves as a seventh chapter. The Introduction chapter sets the argument, describing the background to and motivation of the research, the review of relevant literature, the research problem, the theoretical framework and the research methodology. Chapter two defines the concept of hospitality tracing its linguistic roots, its ancient interpretations and practices; the Old and New Testament version of hospitality and concludes the chapter by assessing the characteristics of hospitable places with regard to Christ's hospitality. Chapter Three which is a continuation of chapter two continues with the survey of hospitality from Christian monasticism to post-reformation period where Rev. John Wesley emerges as a great beacon of hospitality after the Industrial revolution that took place in Europe. Chapter four revisits the concept of hospitality in Africa from the ancient times to the present times. It cites the general features of African hospitality and examines its uniqueness by comparing it with the Western hospitality. It also looks at the abuse of African hospitality through the ages citing some cases such as slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism. The chapter is premised on the conviction that African hospitality is compatible with Christ's hospitality hence the need to harness it through inculturation. Chapter five examines the faces of Christ in African Christian hospitality. It is based on the premise that Christ is in each and every one of us when we extend love to one another; for he is in the faces of the suffering and all the afflicted peoples of Africa and beyond. In this chapter, Christ is examined as one who cares and is therefore concerned, thereby challenging us to seek Christ in our day today lives. He is thus examined as a liberator, a reconstructor, a healer, a guest, a host, and a unique ancestor. Chapter six is the climax of our study, which specifically examines Christ as a model worth imitating as we grapple with the concerns of the twenty first century. Christ is portrayed as a model in terms of liberation, reconstruction, family level, cultural level, and rural ministry. As an area that has not been exhaustively done in African Theology, the chapter, in some sections, allows the various contributors to give their interpretations on Christ thereby coming very close to chapter five where we were looking at the faces of Christ. A good example is Christ as the model of liberation where the contribution of African Women Theologians (otherwise called the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians) is given prominence as a case in point where women in Africa, have to look at Christ as the model of liberation from patriarchal structures and as one who supersedes all genders. The chapter concludes by a passionate appeal that even if Africa may be walking through the valley of the shadow of death, we need not fear for Christ the ideal model in every sphere of life is with us. He will make us lie down in greener pastures, restore our souls, guide us in the paths of righteousness and lead us beside quite waters (Psalm 23). We must therefore seek to learn from him hence the caution, "my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6). The chapter therefore acts as a conclusion of the study in spite of the fact that we have chapter seven that concludes the whole study. Chapter seven concludes the study by an appeal to Africa of the twenty first century to swim into action and face the challenges such as sexism, tribalism, regionalism, HIV/Aids and corruption, with confidence knowing that the hospitable Christ is with us and will be there to guide us in our undertakings till the end of the age (Matthew 28: 1820).