This course introduces students to the non-religious and religious backgrounds of Africa as a linchpin for theological thinking centered on African experience. The course presents Africa theologically, both in its glorious and traumatic dimensions. Although the traumatic dimension is more recent and continuous, African theology is called to faithful representation of God's design in and through Africans. As such it introduces students to classical, modern and contemporary theological methods present in and about Africa as well as the major trends in theological thinking in Africa today.
By taking this course students gain an ability to produce theological discourses that are informed by African theological and non-theological backgrounds and contemporary realities. As such they overcome the intellectual temptation of theological thinking and discourses that lay aside historical dimensions of African present condition. With theological discourses informed by available backgrounds, students are able to identify effective Africa-related theological discourses and gain preliminary abilities to produce impactful actions for the present.
The necessity of this course resides in the hope that theological thinking grounded in African experience can be a window for deeper, positive, and enduring impacts on society with an African focused mindset. This approach will go a long way to discuss weakness of past theologizing that tends to work from a tabula rasa standpoint in Africa while seeking to achieve the same goal sought with abstract theologizing: faithful God's talk on African matters.
By introducing students to African theological backgrounds, students are exposed to preliminary materials showcasing African presence in Scriptures and plausible African authorships in Scripture. This direct African presence in Scripture is coupled with Scriptural practice of using history, memory, and present realities in order to speak on God's behalf. Both of these trajectories ground this course as a Biblical endeavor. The aim is to point to God's redemptive actions in the world as involving African contributions from Africa and from African people.
By focusing theological task on the African people and their experience, this course fulfills the missional purpose of specifically opening the door for Missio Dei for and through African people. Here, missional theology serves to understand and to further God's activity in African contexts.
The contextual nature of this course resides in the fact that it is concerned with the particularities of Africa and Africans. It emphasizes African-focused theological conversations and thinking, and thus acknowledges the possibility of similarities and differences with other theological constructions. The nature of theological thinking here is handled with an introduction to theological thinking in non-African contexts which students then distinguish from Africans' own intellectual endeavors.
Looking from the standpoint of African theological thinking, students taking this course gain insights into how their own culture shapes theological thinking as well as recognize the importance of recognizing various cultural contributions to theological knowledge. They also appreciate the fact that taking cultures into consideration is necessary for a positive mediation of God's restorative engagement with the world. Positive and negative examples of taking cultures into consideration in Africa will help students evaluate the importance of culture in theology.
The aim of emphasizing African viewpoints is to be able to recognize, handle, and effectively address African issues using theological discourses. Students are introduced to African competency in their theological responses to issues affecting Africans in the present.
Students are led to work through past, present, and future (simulated) African experiences in light of insights gained from this course. Students taking this course while in ministry focus on one selected theological topic and focus on experimenting and evaluating with the said topic in relation to an African context or life experience.