The church's understanding of death and the dead : with reference to traditional Effutu beliefs and practices
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To be or not to be that is the question. The Church's Understanding of Death and the Dead with reference to the traditional Effutu people's beliefs and practices is an attempt to do theology in an African way as well as to understand the Christian Faith in terms of death and the dead. In the pervasive influence and challenge of the Christian message to Africans, Effutus not excepted, and demand upon their individual lives and their relationships with one another; in countless personal and group decisions made, and lives actually lived very differently from what they would otherwise have been, in the new high hopes and aspirations for individual and social destiny which it has awakened; in the sheer excellence of human performance in devotion and courageous, self-sacrificing service to others, and yet in other ways, Christianity still plays a role and exerts a force in the Effutu Traditional Area in particular and Ghanaians' way of life in general. This is none the less real and significant because Christianity eludes full and conclusive analysis. For instance, questions relating to the understanding of death; funeral rites; the relationship between the living and the dead - all have been issues of tension between African and the west. As a result there is widespread readiness today to repudiate the missionary past by the Africans who for more than a century now, have been doing theology regarding death and the dead in a strange language, in strange thought forms, in a strange ideology. African theology and especially that of death and the dead is at the crossroad. In some sense it finds some 'natural' affinities with Liberation Theology and historically, as far as Christ's death is concerned, could be connected with western theology. Yet, while it may and should attempt to draw from the richness of both theologies, African theology of the dead should guard against capitulating to either of those forms. It must be dynamic, ready to change and address itself to all situations in time and space. It should be liberating, freeing mankind from all chains, including social, racial, economic, cultural, and even confessional domination. In short, the primary concern of African theology and especially that of death and the dead must be the proclamation and 'incarnation' of the message that "Now we no longer believe because of what you told us; we have heard him ourselves and we know that he really is the Saviour of the world" (John 4/42), through his suffering and death, wrath 'and judgement - all working on behalf of man and his reconciliation.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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