Conversion in missionary christianity, Northwest Tanzania : a critical assessment of methods and their impact on Haya Christian life

Rweyemamu, Josephat Alphonce (2012-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This dissertation is an interdisciplinary missiological study. It engages the sociological theory of structuration to critically explore the missionary Christianity approach and methods of conversion in the Lutheran Church, Northwest Tanzania, and their impact on the Haya Christian life. To this end, a theoretical scaffolding matrix of conversion is explored based on biblical and theological understanding, social theories of conversion, patterns and models of conversion. It is also pointed out that conversion is not only a theological but also a social phenomenon. Consequently, the Haya religio-cultural spiritual life and worldview are further investigated. The methods that were employed by missionary Christianity to missionize Northwest Tanzania are also explored based on the missionaries‟ home socio-political cultural context that informed these methods. Lastly, the Haya‟s earlier and later responses to the methods are highlighted and analyzed. The dissertation argues that the missionary Christianity approach and methods of conversion were important in that they accelerated social change through modernization, new ways of dressing, accessibility to western medicine and appropriation of western education that was instrumental in the production of both church and national potential leaders who later brought about political awareness, modern development and socio-political transformation. Nonetheless, the research has ascertained that the missionary Christianity approach and methods of conversion produced mainly dual converts who remained adherents of both Christianity and Haya traditional religion. This was because from the outset most western missionaries aimed at almost perverting Haya religion and culture in the placement of Christianity that was intrinsically embedded in western culture. This suggests the reasons for the inadequacy of the missionary Christianity conversion strategic approach to seriously take cognizance of the Haya religio-cultural spirituality and worldview which, as it was unpacked in the study, inherently embraces both the physical and metaphysical existential realm. Thus for the Haya, if this fact is not taken seriously, conversion seems irrelevant. That is why Haya Christians tend to actualize “real” conversion within the Revival Movements and Pentecostal-Charismatic churches‟ form of Christianity instead of maintaining loyalty to the doctrine of their mother churches, for this spiritual form of Christianity has to a greater extent demonstrated the ability to attempt to indigenize Christianity among them as, without ignoring modern ways of life, it addresses the Haya religio-cultural spirituality and worldview. Engaging structuration theory analysis, the study argues that the Haya realization of what seems “real” conversion within the revival framework and other spiritual movements and Pentecostal-Charismatic form of Christianity by most Haya Lutheran Christians in Northwest Tanzania, is an attempt to indigenize Haya missionary Christianity conversion. This is because for the Haya‟s comprehension and praxis of conversion is not only determined by missionary Christianity activity, but to some degree their traditional religio-cultural context plays a role in shaping and structuring conversion that makes sense to them. Since social structure comprises rules and resources (Giddens 1984; Wuthnow 1987; Richard 1994) which human agents draw on and reproduce as they act and yet remain open for transformation, the Haya traditional social structure therefore provides an arena for them to draw on religiosity and other spiritual resources and reproduce them even as they convert to Christianity. The study further proposes that the sociological theory of structuration in an interdisciplinary study of conversion provides a useful tool in attempting to understand the dynamics of conversion among the Haya within the Lutheran Church in Northwest Tanzania, along with their tendency to actualize their “real” conversion within the revivalist or Pentecostal-Charismatic form of Christianity. Since “real” conversion cannot be limited or absolutized in these forms of Christianity, the research proposes an “integrative model of conversion” as the most relevant approach to our contemporary missionary preoccupation and engagement. This model suggests the hermeneutics and ecclesial praxis of conversion that is based on religio-cultural sensitivity that suggests harnessing spirituality and religio-cultural rules and resources from within the framework of Haya traditional religion, missionary Christianity, East African Revival and the Pentecostal-Charismatic form of Christianity through a mutual dialogue.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie dissertasie is ʼn interdissiplinêre missiologiese studie. Dit maak gebruik van die sosiologiese strukturasie-teorie om kritiese ondersoek in te stel na missionêre Christelike benaderings en metodes van bekering in die Lutherse Kerk in Noordwes Tanzanië, en die impak daarvan op die Haya se Christelike lewe. ʼn Teoretiese gesteierde bekerings-matriks word verken gebaseer op Bybelse en teologiese begrip, sosiale bekerings-teorieë, patrone en modelle van bekering. Daar word ook op gewys dat bekering nie net ʼn teologiese verskynsel is nie, maar ook ʼn sosiale een. Daarna word die Haya godsdiens-kulturele spiritualiteit en wêreldbeskouing verder ondersoek. Die metodes wat ingespan is deur die missionêre Christendom om Noordwes Tanzanië te missionaliseer is ook ondersoek met verwysing na sendelinge se eie sosio-politieke kulturele konteks wat hierdie metodes geïnformeer het. Laastens is die Hayas se vroeëre en latere reaksie op die metodes geïdentifiseer en ontleed. Die dissertasie betoog dat die missionêre Christelike benadering en metodes van bekering belangrik was aangesien dit sosiale verandering versnel het deur modernisasie, nuwe style van kleredrag, toegang tot Westerse medisyne en die toe-eiening van Westerse opvoedkunde. Dít was weer instrumenteel in die vorming van potensiële kerklike en nasionale leiers wat later politieke gewaarwording, moderne ontwikkeling en sosio-politieke transformasie meegebring het. Die navorsing het egter ook aangedui dat die missionêre Christelike benadering en bekeringsmetodes hoofsaaklik tweeledige bekeerlinge geproduseer het wat beide die Christelike en die tradisionele Haya godsdienste aangehang het. Dit was omdat die meeste sendelinge in hul pogings om die Christelike godsdiens, wat intrinsiek in die Westerse kultuur gegrond was, te vestig, die Haya godsdiens probeer demoniseer het. Dit dui aan dat die redes vir die ontoereikendheid van die missionêre Christelike bekering-strategie moet ernstig kennis neem van die Haya godsdiens-kulturele spiritualiteit en wêreldbeskouing wat, soos die in die studie uiteengesit word, inherent beide die fisiese en godsdienstige eksistensiële ryke omarm. As hierdie feit nie ernstig bejeën word nie, is bekering dus vir die Haya irrelevant. Haya Christene geneig is om “ware” bekering te aktualiseer in Herlewingsbewegings en Pinkster-Charismatiese kerke se vorm van Christelikheid pleks daarvan om lojaal te bly aan die leer van hul moederkerke, want hierdie spirituele vorm van Christelikheid demonstreer tot ʼn groter mate die strewe om Christelikheid onder hulle inheems te maak deur die Haya godsdiens-kulturele spiritualiteit en wêreldbeskouing aan te spreek sonder om die modern leefwyse te verontagsaam. Die studie maak gebruik van strukturasie-teorie analise om te betoog dat die meeste Haya Lutherse Christene in Noordwes Tanzanië se gewaarwording van “ware” bekering binne die Herlewings-raamwerk en ander spirituele bewegings en Pinkster-Charismatiese vorms van Christelikheid is ʼn poging om Haya missionale Christelike bekering inheems te maak. Vir die Hayas word die begrip en praksis van bekering nie net bepaal deur missionale Christelike aktiwiteit nie, maar tot ʼn mate speel hul tradisionele godsdiens-kulturele konteks ook ʼn rol in die vorming en strukturering van ʼn bekering wat vir hulle sin maak. Omdat sosiale strukture bestaan uit reëls en bronne (Giddens 1984; Wuthnow 1987; Richard 1994) waaruit mense put, wat hulle reproduseer en wat tog oop bly vir transformasie, voorsien die Haya tradisionele sosiale struktuur dus ʼn arena waarin hulle kan put uit godsdienstigheid en ander spirituele bronne en dit reproduseer, selfs as hulle-hulle bekeer tot die Christendom. Die studie voer voorts aan dat die sosiologiese teorie van strukturasie in ʼn interdissiplinêre studie van bekering ʼn nuttige werktuig bied om die dinamiek van bekering onder die Haya in die Lutherse Kerk in Noordwes Tanzanië te verstaan, tesame met hul neiging om hul “ware” bekering te aktualiseer in Herlewingsbewegings of in Pinkster-Charistmatiese vorms van Christelikheid. Aangesien “ware” bekering nie in hierdie vorms van Christelikheid beperk of verabsoluteer kan word nie, stel die navorsing ʼn “integrerende model van bekering” voor as die mees relevante benadering tot ons kontemporêre missionêre fokus en betrokkenheid. Hierdie model stel voordat ʼn hermeneutiese en ekklesiale praksis van bekering wat gebaseer is op godsdiens-kulturele sensitiwiteit en spiritualiteit en godsdiens-kulturele reëls vanuit die raamwerk van Haya tradisionele godsdiens, missionale Christelikheid, Oos-Afrika Herlewingsbewegings en die Pinkster-Charistmatiese vorms van Christelikheid deur wedersydse dialoog.

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