Even Christians, if someone is sick, we go to the doctor; we don’t think about casting demons out of people. INTRODUCTION TO AFRICAN TRADITIONAL RELIGION. Now I want to stop right there and say that in the early missionary encounters with Africa, many of the missionaries did not believe that the Africans worshipped a supreme being, and so they came back and said they were polytheistic, that is, they believe in many gods rather than monotheistic belief in one god. So this shaman figure is used quite a bit in these societies. This is a basic cosmology. vi, 216. Well, this is achieved when one understands three basic assumptions which I think are characteristic of all African cosmologies. And therefore a better approach is to construct a broader African religious cosmology which extends beyond any one term. Buy New $23.95. Oftentimes when you look at world religion, you ask questions like: “What do they believe?”; “What are their underlying doctrines?”; and so forth. The Africans inhabit a much bigger universe, and therefore they do not see this clear line of demarcation between the material / the spiritual, the visible/ the invisible, and so forth. Introduction Three religions dominates African continent: ATR, Islam and Christianity. "Mbiti's Introduction to African Religion gives richness, boldness, and pride to Africa's religious heritage in the face of proselytizing religions like Islam and Christianity. Introduction to African Religion John S. Mbiti Snippet view - 1975. But nevertheless, we want to distance ourselves from a number of the terms that have been used. In taboo, it can mean also that a physical object, a person, or a place, can not only be forbidden, but may carry spiritual powers that one has to manipulate ritually. However, this supreme being as they studied more and learned to understand the African system more, was a kind of a distant figure, a deus otiosus, a person, a deity who is beyond us. Introduction to African Religion, Second Edition John S. Mbiti. Unfortunately, missionaries and the colonialists who came in to Africa originally often portrayed Africans as savages, as backward. They are as numerous as the ethnic groups that are present on the continent of Africa, and so therefore there’s no single creed or orthodoxy that can easily summarize the belief systems of African religions. Something that’s a very common aspect of traditional religions is the recognition that some objects carry spiritual power, and therefore should be forbidden in some ways. Another rite of passage of course is death itself, and so when a person dies, there are certain rituals that are performed that will carefully convey this person into the unseen world and to the world of the spirit world, and there’s all kinds of elaborate funeral preparations that are often done in African societies. East Africa comprises the modern states of Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. Super Duper Safety School: Safety Rules For Kids & Grown-Ups! Current price is , Original price is $24.95. That is to say they have a supreme being, but they have multiple deities that serve in a subsidiary way that serve the supreme deity. Fetishism refers to the use of a natural or artificial object which is believed to have supernatural power or preternatural power to protect or aid its owner. Introduction to African religion by Mbiti, John S. Publication date 1991 Topics Africa -- Religion Publisher Oxford [England] ; Portsmouth, N.H., USA : Heinemann Educational Books Collection inlibrary; printdisabled; oliverwendellholmeslibrary; phillipsacademy; americana Digitizing sponsor Kahle/Austin Foundation Contributor Phillips Academy, Oliver Wendell Holmes Library Language … Now this is important because we have kind of an enlightenment world-view in the west which creates a real firm barrier between that which we can see – the observable world of science (reflective of the world of hypotheses and concluding proofs of those hypotheses), that embraces science -- and the invisible world. This shopping feature will continue to load items when the Enter key is pressed. You’ll find for example that many African Traditional Religions are monotheistic and poli-divinistic simultaneously. But in my view none of these terms will ever be fully adequate to describe the African religious tradition. So we’re trying to balance these two things out. These are people that have lived on earth as humans, were honored by their people, and then they died and they entered into this pantheon of ancestors which we’ll say more about later. Introduction to African Religion. Paperback View All Available Formats & Editions. 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Usually it’s in the context of moral issues. But in this case, we’ll refer to “deity” as that supreme being who occupies the highest tier, and as I mentioned before because there are hundreds of versions of African Traditional Religion in the world, and in sub-Saharan Africa, then of course we have to leave this as a generic supreme being but realize that it will be fleshed out in a particular form, in a very personalized form in the particular theologies of the local tribal religions. And so you should always view this kind of shading going on. But a well-known African scholar named John Mbiti did a study of African gods – this is found in actually several of his books, but one is entitled Concepts of God in Africa – and when John Mbiti studied, he wanted to particularly look at African traditional religious practitioners in tribes that had not received either Christianity or Islam, and look at them and see if in fact they had a belief in a supreme being. And so it’s now widely believed that Africa generally did not develop a supreme being as some kind of later development, after its encounter with Christianity or Islam. 4.6 out of 5 stars 32. It is best distinguished as ATR. He calls this the flaw of the excluded middle. African religions are very diverse. *Hiebert, Paul G. , Anthropological Reflections on Missiological Issues, 1994. $18.50 paper. In African religion you must distinguish between the term “deity” and the term “divinity”, because in the west, we often use the word divinity or deity almost interchangeably because we’re in a context where monotheism has been dominant. Anthropologists actually contributed to this as well, and oftentimes wrote denigrating studies of these early religious encounters which helped to create false impressions. Real Life. The world beyond us is simply put aside as not really subject to our normal societal inquiry. Now while there are certainly magical objects in west Africa, such as charms and amulets which are used, and indeed from a part of the religious complex and can be referred to as fetishes, it’s a very inadequate description or designation for the entire religious system. ed. Introduction to African Religion (African Writers) "synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title. Because of the general acceptance of the evolutionary theory which dominated the latter half of the 19th century, Tyler’s theory was interpreted to mean that animism gave rise to polytheism, which in turn evolved further to the stage of one supreme god over all other spirits, and this eventually led to the idea that ultimately Trinitarian monotheism was the highest form of religion. On the other hand, the scholars that have attempted to dismiss approaching African religions as if it’s impossible have been nevertheless brought back to the fact that there are a number of fundamental similarities in the structure of indigenous religions in general, and of African religion in particular. Real Stories. London: Heinemann, 1975. We live in the west in a rather crunched-down universe because the invisible world, the spiritual world, has been taken away. So at this time we’re going to examine a particular example of this in the Yoruba religious cosmology in African religion. Buy Used $16.48 $ 23.95. Visit the President's page to see his availability to speak at your church or ministry. You approach people directly, you speak to them directly; you don’t go through intermediaries. In looking at African religion, there are a number of things that we have to look at. John S. Mbiti. Introduction to African Religion John S. Mbiti No preview available - 2015. Introduction to African Religion. Introduction to African religion by Mbiti, John S. Publication date 1975 Topics Africa -- Religion Publisher London : Heinemann Educational Collection inlibrary; printdisabled; oliverwendellholmeslibrary; phillipsacademy; americana Digitizing sponsor Kahle/Austin Foundation Contributor Phillips Academy, Oliver Wendell Holmes Library Language English. He was trying to find a way to capture the one and the many in the African context. Transcript. Well that’s fine, that is a Christian adaptation of the enlightenment world-view, and it leaves the basic structure or cosmology of the west intact. Inside Charlie’s Chocolate Factory: The Complete Story of Willy Wonka, the Golden Ticket, and Roald Dahl’s Most Famous Creation. One of the more creative suggestions that we have come across is one by E. Bolaji Idowu, who I’ve already quoted here, who described African religion as “diffused monotheism”. So this is something that is part of the fetishes or ritual objects that are manipulated in African society. In the African context, this is not the case. A divinity is another spiritual power, oftentimes non-human though sometimes in some cases the ancestors can evolve into these non-human figures. 523 NE Everett St They’ll make sacrifices, they’ll offer chants and so forth, and this is the general structure of the African Traditional Religion. London: SPCK, 1975. This is a 3-hour summary lecture on the basic components of African Traditional Religions. On one hand, there’s one god at the highest tier, but he expresses himself through many second-tier deities known as divinities. Language . $23.95. His religion lay at the bottom of religious evolution, whereas Islam and Judaism and Christianity were at the top since they’re monotheistic. And what he points out is that the enlightenment world-view in the west created what he calls the “excluded middle”, in a sense that we had a scientific world-view that accepted all of the things of the sense-world. *You will get your 1st month of Bartleby for FREE when you bundle with these textbooks where solutions are available ($9.99 if sold separately.) The African cosmology is essentially dynamic, with various levels of power and being and vital interaction with one another, and with humanity. When they function as single individuals, we usually call them “healers”, or sometimes they’re called “shamans”. So if you wanted to discuss the possibility of a marriage arrangement, you would go through a wide range of people in order to finally get back the answer, rather than going directly. by John S. Mbiti | Read Reviews. Normally this comes through the expression of exercising some kind of ritualized power. And it can create great problems if you don’t do that. It adequately fills the void that confronts people (not just students) meeting African traditional religion for the first time, and addresses the true nature of the religion. And so these were named “witch doctors”; they’re often sometimes called “medicine men”. That occurs on the second tier. Thirdly and finally (and these are just some general observations about the different cosmologies), Africans believe that the world was created in a spiritual harmony or equilibrium between all the forms of creation and the sources of power. Unlikely Friendships: Dogs: 37 Stories of Canine Compassion and Courage, Qué Puedes Esperar Cuando Estás Esperando: 4th Edition (Que Puedes Esperar) (Spanish Edition), Dig If You Will the Picture: Funk, Sex, God and Genius in the Music of Prince, FTCE Elementary Education K-6 Book + Online (FTCE Teacher Certification Test Prep), AP® Biology Crash Course Book + Online (Advanced Placement (AP) Crash Course), The Epicurious Cookbook: More Than 250 of Our Best-Loved Four-Fork Recipes for Weeknights, Weekends & Special Occasions. Sometimes the ceremony, even though it’s associated with birth, may wait for weeks or months or even as long as a year after the birth to make sure that the child is going to live before they perform this rite of passage for the birth. In this second edition, Dr Mbiti has updated his material to include the involvement of women in religion, and the potential unity to be found in what was once thought to be a mass of quite separate religions. Often, regions were denigrated as un-evolved as compared to the west, with no civilizations. Course: Essentials of African Traditional Relgions, Lecture: Introduction to African Traditional Religion. African Traditional Religion has grown out of the African soil. Project. by John S. Mbiti | Read Reviews. About the Author: Canon Professor John Mbiti, an Anglican priest from Kenya, taught Theology and Religion for many years at Makerere University in Uganda. The second fundamental difference between the African and the western world-views is that fundamental to the African world-view is the belief in the hierarchy of power and being. After that he served as Director of the Ecumenical Institute Bossey, of the World Council of Churches near Geneva, Switzerland. This affects even the more practical considerations of life. Portsmouth, N.H., and London: Heinemann Educational Books, 1991. We mentioned earlier how when the missionaries came, they referred to African religion as “fetishism” or as “juju”. Add to Wishlist. If you look at African religion region-by-region, generally sub-Saharan Africa is divided into west Africa, east Africa, and south Africa. Common terms and phrases. Then in the third tier you have these mediators. In the African context, the wall doesn’t exist. And it’s fundamental to understand African religions to see that you don’t have the basic western approach which is: Christianity explains that which we cannot see. And so in many African societies your genetic descent is very important, and your clan’s relationship to other members of the clan is very important. So what we are trying to do in this case is to acknowledge the fact that we do have people, and most traditional communities in Africa have resident experts who are experts in divination, in rituals, and the performance of magic. But certainly traditionally, in the Christian world-view in the west, we did not have this kind of open frontier approach that you find in Africa between the visible and the invisible world, where spirits and deities and God all interact in a very dynamic way. So normally we refer to African Traditional Religions in the plural, and it’s simply summarized or written in notation form as “ATR” – African Traditional Religion. The purpose of this is to help to orient a person who would like to work in the context of Africa. The medicine man or the healer, as the name implies, usually seeks to heal diseases in the community, and then he’ll come to them and they believe that their illnesses are caused by the cause of some spiritual power. And this allows us to look at it as a structure, and then the particulars can be filled in based on where you are and what you’re looking at. First of all, unlike Christian cosmological thinking, African systems do not recognize a fundamental distinction or clear demarcation between the visible world and the invisible world. There are innumerable African stories and myths which are told which talk about how the world got off kilter, how things got out of harmony, and why certain rituals are being used to get things back. The fundamental problem with constructing an African religious cosmology is to understand how the one god and the many gods or lesser deities can co-exist in the African context. But we also want to balance that out as E. Bolaji Idowu has said, “There is a common African-ness about the total culture and religious beliefs and practices of Africa.” So from that point of view, it can be spoken of in the singular. To the African, the visible and the invisible – the material and spiritual, the temporal and non-temporal, the sacred and the profane -- all overlap and shade into one another. 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