Similarities between Christianity and Africa Traditional Religion

Similarities between Christianity and Africa Traditional Religion

African Religion and Beliefs

by Richard Chowning

communionI toyed with the idea of calling this short piece, “Commonalities between Christianity and African Traditional Religion.”  In reality, there are no commonalities between religions.   Religions are experiential and the unique heritage of people living in community.   The best we can do is say there are similarities.

Here are some broad strokes at some important concepts that show the similarities between Christianity and African Traditional Religion.

Creator God

  • The supreme being in most African Traditional Religions is seen as the creator of humans and all other living things. This supreme being is viewed in different forms and has diverse dwelling places, yet he is the almighty.
  • He is often distant from humans because of something humans have done to him.
  • There is much discussion among African theologians and missionaries concerning whether or not the creator God of various African Traditional Religion’s is Jehovah God.
  • Some Bible translators have chosen to use a traditional name for creator God and others have settle on “Jehovah.”

The Presence of Evil

  • Humans are often the battle ground between evil and good forces.
  • Humans can also call upon evil forces to punish or persecute wrong doers or enemies.



Unseen Realm

  • In African Traditional Religions there is no division between the seen and the unseen realms. Existence is lived in wholeness of those two realities.
  • Christians base their entire faith on the existence of life beyond the physical.
  • In both religions the personalities in the seen and unseen realms interact with each other.
  • People can move into the unseen realm during dreams, visions, or trances and, of course at death.

Communication Between the Seen and Unseen

  • Most African Traditional Religions have functionaries who communicate with God and the spirits on behalf of individuals and the community.
  • This does not negate the ability of individuals to communicate with the unseen. These functionaries are trained and initiated.  In many cases, they are from a bloodline that has a special window into the unseen realm.
  • Communication takes many forms. Chief among them are prayers, incantations, sacred objects, and incense.
  • Christians profess to have God’s ear, He is always ready to listen.  They communicate with Him through the Holy Spirit.



Emphasis on Community

  • Community is composed of friends, age mates, and relatives.
  • Each member of the community has defined roles and responsibilities to uphold for the common good.
  • Christian communities share gifts and resources for the common good.

Covenant

  • African Traditional Religion and Christianity agree that God has made covenants with humans.
  • Man quickly broke the covenants and that is what has caused a separation Creator God and humans.

In a later post I will discuss some of the differences or contrast between African Traditional Religion and Christianity.

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