THC4114EN - Kingdom of God in African Context

Course description

This course explores the nature and actions of the Gospel message in African contexts (home and diaspora) using the concept of Kingdom. As such it examines the Gospel in the context of Empire, thus taking seriously the Roman imperial context of Jesus and early Christian movement's activities. From this background, this course analyses the reception of the Gospel in Africa in the eras of Western penetration and discusses whether such reception was in accord with the initial Gospel understanding in the Roman Empire. An excursus into contemporary African life leads students to evaluate eight models of understanding God's Kingdom and ultimately to reconstruct what they think best represents God's Kingdom in Africa.

How this course benefits students

Students who take this course handle Christian ministry toward Africans by taking into consideration the nuanced ways that Africans have experienced the Gospel in the modern era. Students benefit from understanding the euro-american claims of humanitarianism and civilising mission in light of imperialist ruling (of Africa) and thereby evaluate the meaning of the Gospel alongside of the rise, progress, and assertion of Western powers in/upon Africa and diasporic Africans. By discussing topics bordering economics, politics, and geography, students learn skills that help them integrate non-theological topics with theological concepts amenable to further God's kingdom in Africa. This course therefore helps increase faithfulness to God's Kingdom by taking into consideration ruling that contradict God's rule in the African experience in Africa and in the diaspora.

Why this course is important

This course is important to address the heritage of confusing God's reign with other dimensions of Christian faith which, although important, are mistakenly equated with God's Kingdom. These include western missional enterprise, (anti-/non) denominationalism, and new(er) forms of local churches, etc. This course helps clarify the anteriority and distinctness of God's Kingdom above all the others.

Credit hours
3 hours
Subject area
Contextual Theology
Educational level
Learning type
Upcoming terms
* Schedule subject to change. Please contact the Registrar's office with schedule questions.

How this course relates to missional core values

Biblically based

This course helps students engage Christian faith from the the perspective of Scriptural emphasis on Empire as the domain of God's activity on earth. This way of reading of Scripture helps students understand how preoccupation with God's Kingdom as an alternative domain of activity on earth is germane with taking seriously Scriptural reading. With the task calling for understanding non-theological materials, students benefit from addressing issues usually addressed in social sciences while also remaining close to Scripture. Student use new dimensions of scriptural portrayal of God's Kingdom and its pertinence for African life, history, and contemporary experiences.

Missionally driven

Africa has been a major terrain of missional activities, the most known being those championed by modern western missionaries. However, the missional dimension of God's Kingdom can be appreciated from the standpoint of God's presence in Africa and among Africans in the Diaspora long before the evangelization of Africa, and beyond the western evangelization of Africa. By taking this missional approach, students critically examine the ways in which contemporary missional activities can learn from the pitfalls of Western missional activities, endogenous attempts to retrieve of the Gospel from its domestication into Western cultural mores, and from contemporary attempts to recast the Gospel as the rule of God's Kingdom.

Contextually informed

Students taking this class understand the present context of Africa and compare it with the Greco-Roman imperial context within which a particular understanding of God's Kingdom emerged through Jesus. This contextual understanding of the Gospel then and now (in Africa) helps students appreciate the liveliness of Christian faith as a Spirit-led construction of divine vision in response to pressing issues affecting real lives.

Interculturally focused

There already is a legacy of understanding God's Kingdom in the world among Christians. By focusing on an African dimension of that understanding in a way that takes past understanding into account, students experience an intercultural dimension of theological understanding. Thus, they prepare for theological hospitality within the larger world of theological studies. This intercultural dimension also prepares student to engage mission and ministry in Africa with the use of thought-driven theological concepts cooked with African spiritual, political, economics, and sociological realities.

Practically minded

This course helps students perform ministry actions in Africa or towards Africans in ways that are worthy of God's Kingdom. It leads participants to desist and encourage others to refrain from actions that offend God's Kingdom as has been and continues to be the case in some circles. Students understand those actions as performance to encourage and to be discouraged, as direct and indirect acts performed in God's name, many of which are in tension with God's Kingdom. Given the theological dimension of this course, students build strong roots for carefully chosen actions, and reorient Christian ministry actions that affect Africa and people of African descent in a suitable manner.

Experientially transformed

This course has the potential for redirecting students' experience of Christian ministry in African contexts. It is possible that African Christians reconsider their experience of Christian presence in society while other Christians may reconsider their involvement in furthering God's Kingdom in Africa. Such experiences depend on students' views of God's Kingdom and the extent to which such views are in according to its working pattern in the Roman context of Jesus and his disciples.