This study investigates how Mbiti and Oduyoye articulate their understanding of God in connection with the African traditional religio-cultural heritage to make the concept of God to become relevant to African Christians and to help African Christians feel at home in the Christian faith. Chapter 1 briefly describes the background of the study, the problem statement, the purpose of the study, the research hypothesis, methodology, delimitation, and structure of the study. Chapter 2 provides a historical sketch of origins and development of African theology and diverse types of African theology. This chapter maintains that African theology emerged not only as a theological reaction to the dominant Western interpretation of the gospel in Africa, but also as a theological attempt to secure the African cultural identity by reaffirming the African past. Chapter 3 describes the basic beliefs in African traditional religions, several African ethnic groups’ concepts of God, and the African theologians’ Christianization of the African God by employing Christian theological terms. This chapter concludes that it is not possible to presume a homogenous or one unified concept of God in Africa. One and the same God whom all Africans have worshipped is not real. In chapter 4, Mbiti’s understanding of God is scrutinized in relation to his methodology, the African concept of time, his understanding of revelation and of salvation. Mbiti has maintained African monotheism and ATR(s) as a praeparatio evangelica and has arrived at his conclusion that the God revealed in the Bible is the same as the God worshipped in ATR(s). This chapter criticizes Mbiti’s way of Christian theological interpretation of anthropological data of the African concepts of God. Chapter 5 presents Oduyoye’s understanding of God, her methodology, the status of African women in ATR(s) and the African church, her appreciation of salvation, of the Bible, and of the locus of experience. In Oduyoye’s theology, women’s experience becomes a crucial factor for doing theology, and salvation is understood as liberation from all oppressive conditions. Her understanding of God is closely connected with the theme of liberation. Chapter 6 examines the similarities and differences between the two theologians’ understanding of God, critically compares their way of understanding the interplay of the gospel and African culture, and categorizes the two theologians’ ways with their models of contextualization: Mbiti’s gospel-culture oriented model of contextualization and Oduyoye’s gospel-liberation oriented model of contextualization.
By a comparative-dialogical study of the two theologians’ models of contextualization, this chapter attempts to make a dialogue possible between the two, and suggests the interculturation model of contextualization in which each theology keeps its own theological characteristic and has an open mind to learn from the other through mutual understanding. It aims to overcome the absolutism of contextualization, syncretism, cultural relativism, and provincialism, to keep a balance between locality and catholicity, and to affirm cultural identity and Christian identity. On the basis of the interculturation model of contextualization, this chapter proposes some criteria for African Evangelical theology in order to do a biblically faithful and practically relevant theology in Africa. This study also suggests some guidelines to articulate the understanding of God so that it has theological relevance and legitimacy to African Christians as well as to Christians worldwide. Chapter 7, as the final chapter, gives a general summary and concluding suggestions for further research related to the subject of African theology.