The Doctrine of God in African Christian Thought

The Holy Trinity, Theological Hermeneutics and the African Intellectual Culture

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The Christian faith knows and worships one God, who is revealed in the Son and in the Holy Spirit. This is the meaning of the doctrine of the Trinity in Christian thought. Although Christian orthodoxy defines the doctrine of the Trinity, the intellectual tools used to capture it significantly vary. At different times and in different places, Western Christianity has, for instance, used neo-Platonism, German Idealism, and the conceptual tools of the second-century Greeks. Taking elements from the known African intellectual framework, this book argues that for African Christians, the respective pre-Christian African understanding of God and the Ntu-metaphysics, in particular, function as conceptual gates for an attempt towards articulating the Trinity for African Christian audiences.
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Biographical Note

James H. O. Kombo, D.Th. (2000) in Systematic Theology, Stellenbosch University, is Senior Lecturer of Theological Studies at Daystar University, Kenya, and a Priest in the Anglican Church of Kenya. He has widely published on African Christianity, theology and philosophy, the African independent churches and the different nuances of African theology.

Table of contents


Foreword

Prologue
Preliminary Considerations: Africa, African Peoples and Theology
Defining the Problem
Working Hypothesis
Methodology

PART I
THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY: THE BIBLE AND THE CHURCH FATHERS

1. An Analysis of the Biblical Roots of the Doctrine of the Trinity
Introduction
The Term Trinity and its Relationship to the Bible
The Biblical Revelation of God

2. The Emergence of the Doctrine of Immanent Trinity
Introduction
The Problem of the “Third Race”
Monotheism
The Incarnation Question
The Basic Issues in the Development of the Doctrine of the Trinity
The Trinity as a Primary Name for God

PART II
WESTERN THEOLOGIES’ RESPONSES TO THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY

3. God as Essence
Introduction
Augustine and Neo-Platonism
The Contribution of Boethius
Influence of Islam and Judaism in the Middle Ages
The Contribution of Thomas Aquinas
Basic Characteristics of “God as Essence”

4. God as an Absolute Subject
Introduction
The Beginnings of “Self-Consciousness”
The Doctrine of God within the Scheme of “Self-Consciousness”
Barth and Rahner: Illustrations of the Idealist Construction of the Doctrine of God
Basic Characteristics of the “God as Absolute Subject”
Conclusion

5. God as Community in Unity
Introduction
Motives for Renewed Interest in "God as Community in Unity"
The Idea of the Divine Perichoresis
Basic Characteristics of “God as Community in Unity”
Conclusion

6. Pertinent Issues in the Western Reinterpretations of the Doctrine of God
Introduction
Differences of Western Models of Interpreting the Doctrine of God
Issues Common to the Theological Models
Conclusion

PART III
THE DOCTRINE OF GOD IN AFRICAN INCULTURATION THEOLOGY

7. The African Conceptual Framework
Introduction
The Nature of African Conceptual Framework
Models of the African Conceptual Framework
Conclusion
The Challenge

8. The Notion of God among the African Peoples: The Accounts of J.S. Mbiti, B. Idowu and G. Setiloane
Introduction
B. Idowu: God of Africa is the God of the Christian Faith
J.S. Mbiti: African Concepts of God as Preparatio Evangelica
G.M. Setiloane: The African Concept of God as Mysterium Tremendum et Fascinans
Conclusion

9. Moving Beyond the African Notion of God: Clearing Ground for the Doctrine of the Trinity
Introduction
The Comparative Interpretation of the Scripture
The Problems Raised by the Paradigm of Reflection
On the Way to the Doctrine of the Trinity
Conclusion

PART IV
FROM THE AFRICAN CONCEPTS OF GOD TO THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY

10. God as the “Great Muntu” Manifested by the Son and the Holy Spirit
Introduction
Christianization of God as He Appeared to the Africans
Inculturation of the Christian View of God
The “Great Muntu” as Community in Unity
Implications of Understanding the “Great Muntu” as Community in Unity on Christology and Pneumatology
Conclusion

11. Fostering the View of God as “Great Muntu” Manifested by the Son and the Holy Spirit
Introduction
Reasons for Promoting the View of God as the “Great Muntu” Manifested by the Son and the Holy Spirit
The Method of Fostering the Proposed View of God
Conclusion

Selected Bibliography
Index of Names

Readership

Those paying attention to the Trinity in African scholarship; the Trinity and its relationship to philosophy (neo-Platonism, German Idealism and second-century Greek thought); the Trinity and African philosophy especially the NTU-metaphysics; African theology, theological hermeneutics in Africa.

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