The purpose of this definition
The following definition is not intended to prescribe what African theology ought to be. Such a definition would demand extensive engagement with different perspectives on African theology (please see the forthcoming encyclopaedia article on the subject). Rather, this working definition is intended to provide a framework with which to approach the field of study. It will therefore function as a guide for contributions to this website, although not all contributors will necessarily sign up to every detail.
For the purposes of this website, African theology refers to the rich and varied forms of theological expression that have developed in and with reference to the diverse religious, socio-political, and cultural contexts of Sub-Saharan Africa.
From its location in different contexts, African theology draws on the Scriptures, Christian traditions, and Christian reason, etc., but also on resources from African traditions (languages, stories, practices, philosophies, experiences, etc.) to speak about the triune God and God’s relationship to creation on the one hand, and about African realities on the other hand.
African theology comes in many different genres, including, but not limited to: prayers, songs and dances, translations of scripture, biblical commentary and sermons, post-synodal apostolic exhortations, mother tongue catechisms and confessions of faith, systematic reflection, visions and dreams, testimonies, prophetic or reformatory calls to change, liturgical practices, struggles for liberation or dignity, architecture, paintings and sculptures, academic debates on the relationship between African Traditional Religion and Christianity.
As the examples suggest, much African theologizing occurs outside the academy. Nevertheless, academic theology plays a crucial role in discerning the value of different theological expressions. Reflecting a variety of genres, African academic theology is profoundly interdisciplinary and makes use of a wide range of approaches, including: scriptural exegesis, contextual hermeneutics, historical research, ethnographic study, ecclesiological reflection, action research, missiological reflection, intercultural dialogue, philosophical analysis, systematic reflection, social criticism, political commentary, etc.
Finally, the scope of African theology may be local (relating to a particular place, time or group), broad (relating to a wider region, time period or church tradition), or global (reaching for universality). Therefore, African theology is studied in order to discern both its contribution to churches in Africa and its contribution to churches worldwide. Regarding African contexts, theological expressions are examined to commend what is faithful, fruitful, and insightful, and to criticise what is false, dangerous, and shallow. Regarding other contexts, theological expressions are examined to enrich and enable critical reflection on theologies worldwide.
The focus of the website
Given this definition, the website focusses on the following kinds of resources:
Theological resources. Primary or secondary resources mainly associated with other disciplines are only included if they are particularly relevant for theological reflection or if they engage in interdisciplinary conversation with theology.
Christian resources. Resources related to African Traditional Religion, Islam, or Asian World Religions are only included if they are particularly relevant for Christian theological reflection or if they engage in interreligious conversation with Christian theology.
African resources. The term ‘African’ is not easy to define. We do not want to enter into this debate. For practical reasons, we use the criteria of residency, cultural belonging, or engagement with the contexts of Sub-Saharan Africa. Most resources related to contemporary African diaspora theology are included, but resources related to North African theology or to African American theology are only included if they are particularly relevant for African theological reflection or if they engage in intercultural conversation with African theology.
Editorial Board and Team
The editorial board consists of five scholars representing the main regions in Sub-Saharan Africa that we distinguish to ensure an appropriate coverage of theological contributions from sub-Saharan Africa: English-Speaking West-Africa, French-Speaking West-Africa, French-Speaking Central-Africa (including Madagascar), English-Speaking East-Africa, and English-Speaking Southern-Africa. We are particularly aware that Portuguese speaking Africa is not sufficiently covered and hope to find the means to add this in the future. The editorial board further includes specialists on African theology from outside the region.
Dr Issiaka Coulibaly is the Francophone Chair and Francophone West Africa Regional Editor. As President of the Université de l'Alliance Chrétienne d'Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, he has extensive experience in theological education and a wide network across Francophone Africa.
Dr Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu is the Anglophone Chair and Anglophone West Africa Regional Editor. He is President of Trinity Theological Seminary, Legon, Accra, Ghana and a leading scholar on African Pentecostalism.
Dr Benno van den Toren is the Editor-in-Chief. He taught systematic theology from 1997 until 2005 at the Faculté de Theogie Evangélique de Bangui and is currently professor of Intercultural Theology at the Protestant Theological University, Groningen, the Netherlands.
Dr Liz Mburu is the East Africa Regional Editor. She is Langham Literature Regional Coordinator for Africa and has extensive experience in theological publishing.
Dr William Mbuluku is the Francophone Central Africa Regional Editor and Francophone Assistant Editor. As both a lecturer and the librarian at the Faculté de Théologie Évangélique de Bangui (currently located in Yaoundé, Cameroon) he brings important skills to the project.
Dr Jurgens Hendriks is the Southern Africa Regional Editor. As Professor of Practical Theology and Missiology (Emeritus) at the Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa and the NetACT Programme Coordinator, he has extensive experience in theological education and wide networks across Anglophone and Lusophone Africa.
Dr Diane Stinton is an International Editor. She is Associate Professor of Mission Studies and World Christianity at Regent College, Vancouver, Canada, and a leading scholar on African Christology.
Dr Benno van den Toren is Project Director and Editor-in-Chief.
Sam Bussey is the Managing Editor and a Doctoral Student at the Protestant Theological University working on theologies of sacrifice in African Theology.
Dr Bosco Bangura is the Anglophone Assistant Editor. He is a missiologist and researcher at the Evangelical Theological Faculty, Leuven, Belgium and at the Protestant Theological University in Groningen, the Netherlands and is the Academic coordinator of the Centre for Theology and Christianity Worldwide (CTCW) at the same institution. He has a wide network across the African Diaspora.
Dr William Mbuluku is the Francophone Assistant Editor. He teaches New Testament and is head of the library at the Faculté de Théologie Evangélique de Bangui, Yaoundé campus, Cameroon.
This website is a not-for-profit enterprise and as such we welcome any donations. Information about giving online can be found here.
The development of this website is made possible by the generous gifts of the John Templeton Foundation, an anonymous donor, and the Protestant Theological University. Kerk in Actie and another anonymous donor made it possible to add a range of resources designed to help theological institutions in Africa respond to new the need and opportunities for online teaching and research that have resulted from the 2020 Covid-19 crisis.
Individual or institutional donors who want to explore the possibility of supporting the development of a particular existing area of this website, or the development of new areas for this website (such as new regions, a focus on a particular area of theology, Christian ministry/mission, or a new language area) are welcome to contact the Editor-in-Chief.