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Towards a holistic soteriology for a Lutheran church in an African religious context : utilising Luther's theology and the Owambo traditions to overcome a spiritualised and privatised concept of salvation in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN)

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This thesis contends that the individualisation, privatisation and spiritualisation of the concept of salvation in the church in general and in The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia [ELCIN] in particular, where salvation is confined to the soul and its escape from this evil world into a blessed heaven at some future date after death, with the result that church members are reluctant to strive for the quality of the present life as believers, must be overcome. This study must be seen against the background of increasing secularism in Namibia. This encroachment constitutes a serious challenge to the Namibian Lutheran Churches of which ELCIN is the largest. The secularisation of a community renowned for its Christianity seems to indicate deficiencies in the core message of the church. The concept of salvation must be formulated in response to current deficiencies in the overall wellbeing of humanity and reality as a whole. Such a paradigm of salvation may be enriched by the holistic Pauline-Lutheran concept of salvation. The Lutheran message of salvation needs contextualisation and Africanisation in order to pick up valid concerns of the Owambo tradition for African Lutherans on this side of the grave. There is, therefore, an urgent need for theologians in ELCIN to revisit their concept of salvation and to redefine it in the light of the original Pauline-Lutheran concept of salvation on the one hand, and of the Owambo traditional concerns for human wellbeing on the other. This study recommends that ELCIN must integrate her message ofeschatological salvation with her practical services so that it becomes obvious to her members that the latter is, in fact, the consequence of the former and both are indispensable to shalom, that is comprehensive salvation. Such an integration will be her highest token of gratitude for the message of salvation which she received from the Finns albeit in the vessels of their own culture; the convincing sign of her theological maturity, and the best possible way to maintain her relevancy at all times.


Thesis (Ph.D.)-University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 1997.


Theses--Theology., Lutheran Church--Africa.