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Is the interpretation of Christ as the "ancestor of the church" compatible with the Christian doctrine? : a study of the Christology and ecclesiology of Charles Nyamiti.

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This study tests the legitimacy of Charles Nyamiti's integration of the traditional Christian doctrines with the African (Bantu) thought-patterns in the construction of an African Christian theology. This study centres on Nyamiti's christology and ecclesiology It in African Christian theology which is constructed on the basis of perceived parallelism which exists between the role and authority of the traditional African (Bantu) ancestors and that of the person of Christ and his role in the Church. The traditional Christian doctrine (classical dogmatics) is the foundational framework of any theology. The traditional Christian doctrine teaches that God was incarnate in the person of Christ. Thus, the traditional Christian doctrine depicts Christ as both human and divine and the two natures are united together and are inseparable. Those who believe and have faith in Christ and his teachings are united together with him. Against this background, the study discusses the Bantu existential world-view which includes the role of ancestors in the community. Here, the concept of interrelatedness of hierarchy of dynamistic powers in the society are also discussed. Nyamiti tries to . bring these two world-views together and suggests that they are compatible. The study ends by offering a theological evaluation and reflection on Nyamiti's construct. The study has argued that Nyamiti picks up some of the elements found in the nature and function of Christ according to the explanation given in the traditional Christian doctrine and then parallels them to that of the role of the traditional Bantu ancestors to formulate his christology and ecclesiology. The study has concluded that although Nyamiti's theological construct aims at illuminating the Christian faith among the peoples of Africa who count on the authority of the traditional ancestors, it founders in a flood of methodological problems which detract from the conclusivity of his construct.


Thesis (M.Th.)-University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2000.


Christianity and culture--Africa., Nyamiti, Charles, 1931- --Criticism And Interpretation., Jesus Christ., Ancestor Worship--Africa., Theses--Theology.