An assessment of African Christian beliefs in ancestors in view of a responsible interpretation of 1 Corinthians 8:4-6 within the South African context

Mqala, Lieberman Mxolisi (2003-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2003

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The object of this study is to assess African Christian beliefs in ancestors in lieu of a responsible interpretation of 1 Corinthians 8 :4 - 6. Warranting this assessment is the confusion that arises from the perception that African beliefs in ancestors and the tenets of Christian faith are compatible. Scriptural teaching seems to address the question of "ancestral worship" and does seem to portray it as something mutually exclusive to the tenets of Christian faith. Some of the authors cited in the thesis attest to this, and others seem to be rising in defence of "ancestor worship" by accommodating it without any problem on the same level as Christianity. Syncretism arises in the desire to strike a compromise between the two religions and allow African Christians to practise "ancestor worship" whilst confessing to be Christians at the same time. The selected text, ] Corinthians 8: 4-6, will be the centre of the assessment into the practice of "ancestor worship" by African Christians. This is because it contains a passage where Paul addresses the issue of food dedicated to idols. Paul's resolution of the issue - with his intention of maintaining harmony in the church and in the spirit of love - seems to accommodate the eating of meats offered to idols, but encourages abstinence in consideration of the weak. This principle of love may seem to bring accommodation, yet after a rigorous discussion the thesis concludes that the text still excludes the worship of idols. "Ancestor worship" is in this thesis seen to be within the given definitions of idolatry as it involves the sacrificing of meats and foods to ancestors and the deceased. In the final analysis the quest for a solution to ancestor beliefs and practices by African Christians challenges the Church to focus on a responsible interpretation of Biblical texts, and in such a way that it would bring light as to whether ancestor beliefs and practices are in continuation with Biblical perspectives or not.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die doel van hierdie studie is om Afrika-Christene se opvattings met betrekking tot hul voorouers aan die hand van 'n verantwoorde verstaan van 1 Korintiers 8:4-6 te evalueer. Die studie is genoodsaak deur verwarring oor die vraag of die beginsels en praktyke van "voooroueraanbidding" met die Christelike geloof versoen kan word. Vol gens die studie blyk dit dat die gekose teks die vraag van "vooroueraanbidding" aanspreek, en wel as onversoenbaar met die wesensaard van die Christelike geloof. Sommige van die bronne waarna die tesis verwys, onderskryf hierdie standpunt, terwyl ander "vooroueraanbidding" verdedig en probleemloos op dieselfde vlak as die Christelike geloof akkommodeer. Die gevolg is dat sinkretisme ontstaan as 'n kornpromis tussen die twee perspektiewe, wat dit vir belydende Afrika-Christene moontlik maak om "vooroueraanbidding" te bedryf. 1 Korintiers 8:4-6 vonn die kemgesigspunt vanwaar die praktyk van "vooroueraanbidding" deur Afrika-Christene geevalueer word. In die gedeelte bespreek Paulus die vraag of Christene voedsel mag eet wat aan afgode gewy is. In die lig van sy bedoeling om 'n gees van liefde en eenheid in die gemeente aan te moedig, laat hy ruimte vir Christene se vryheid om afgodsvleis te eet, maar beveel aan dat dit ter wille van swakkeres in die geloofliefs gelaat moet word. Hoewel die liefdesbeginsel ruimte mag laat vir die akkommodering van "vooroueraanbidding", kom die tesis 11<'1 indringende bespreking tot die slotsom dat I Korintiers 8:4-6 dit as 'n opsie vir Christene uitsluit, "Vooroueraanbidding" word hier gedefinieer as afgodery, aangesien dit die offerande van vleis en ander kos aan voorouers en afgestorwenes insluit. Om enigsins 'n oplossing vir die probleem van "vooroueraanbidding" deur Afrika- Christene te vind, vra in die finale instansie dat kerke sal fokus op 'n verantwoorde interpretasie van die Bybel, wat sal kan aandui of sodanige geloofspraktyke 'n voortsetting van Bybelse perspektiewe is al dan nie.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/49744
This item appears in the following collections: