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All Africa Conference of Churches

(603 words)

Author(s): Mbiti, John
The 380 million African Christians (2000 est.) constitute 46.4 percent of the total population (as compared with only 9.2 percent in 1900). Statistically the southern two-thirds of Africa is predominantly Christian, while the northern third is predominantly Islamic (Islam). The proportion of the population practicing traditional African religion is declining. The rapid growth of Christianity since 1900 rests on the ministry in the 19th century of overseas missionaries (Mission), the work of African Christians as evangelists and missionaries (E…

Burkina Faso

(964 words)

Author(s): Mbiti, John
1. General Situation Burkina Faso, known before August 1984 as Upper Volta, is a landlocked country in West Africa, bordered on the north by Niger and Mali, and on the south by Benin, Togo, Ghana, and Ivory Coast. The northern and northeastern regions, belonging to the Sahel zone, are very dry and abandoned to the advance of the desert. The vegetation is mainly grassland and savanna, with some thick forest patches in the South. The southern region has more rain, which comes in two seasons a year (M…


(346 words)

Author(s): Mbiti, John
The term “monolatry,” a combination of Gk. monos (one) and latreia (worship), refers to the religious practice of worshiping one God. Monotheism, in holding that only one God exists, is necessarily monolatry. Polytheism may be, insofar as its worshipers choose one of several deities as their sole object of worship. Over time, however, polytheists can change their worship from one deity to another, perhaps depending on which one seems more meaningful. Hinduism illustrates such a practice, for example, wit…


(852 words)

Author(s): Mbiti, John
1. General Situation Gabon straddles the equator on the west coast of central Africa. It is bounded on the north by Cameroon, on the east and south by Congo (Brazzaville), and on the north and west by Equatorial Guinea. Its population includes about 68 distinct ethnic groups, the largest being the Bantu family (esp. the Fang, Eshira, Bapounou, and Bateke peoples). French is the official language, with 40 other languages also spoken in the country. In 1995 the literacy rate of Gabon was 63 percent. Gabon’s per capita income is four times that of most other nations in Africa. Ext…


(857 words)

Author(s): Mbiti, John
1. General Situation The Republic of Guinea, on the west coast of Africa, was a French colony from 1904 until it gained independence in 1958 under the leadership of the Parti Démocratique de Guinée, the Guinea branch of the Reassemblement Démocratique Africaine (Colonialism). The constitution of 1958 declared Guinea a secular state, with equal rights guaranteed to all citizens, regardless of religion (art. 39). The independence struggle was led by Sékou Touré, who in 1952 became the party’s secretary-general. Although a potentially rich country with abund…

Biblical Theology

(6,752 words)

Author(s): Barr, James | Fahlbusch, Erwin | Mbiti, John | Yagi, Seiichi | Schoenborn, Ulrich | Et al.
1. Concept and History 1.1. Concept “Biblical theology” is not one single and simple concept, for it may be understood variously, depending on what is set in contrast with it: 1.1.1. Biblical theology may be contrasted with dogmatic theology. It lies on the level, and uses the methods, of biblical scholarship (Exegesis, Biblical), rather than the level and the methods of dogmatics. The difference has been stated thus: biblical theology, which is descriptive and historical, seeks to state the theology implied by the biblical b…


(5,173 words)

Author(s): Steck, Wolfgang | Donohue C.R., James | Mehedintu, Viorel | Mbiti, John | Senn, Frank C.
1. General In human life the funeral is the ritual by which a society, clan, or family reconstitutes itself after the death of a member. It is the rite of passage in which a community marks and sometimes actually effects the transition both of a living person to the realm of the dead and of bereaved persons through mourning to reestablished life. The funeral accomplishes the reintegration of the affected group by dramatizing the positive and negative elements in death and in this specific dead per…


(8,330 words)

Author(s): Fahlbusch, Erwin | Preuss, Horst Dietrich | Karrer, Martin | Lochman, Jan Milič | Ciobotea, Dan-Ilie | Et al.
Overview Eschatology is traditionally the doctrine of the last things (from Gk. eschatos, denoting what is last in time). It is of particular interest in modern theology, which speaks of a new phase and of the “eschatologizing” of all theology. At the same time, the haziness of the term (it is also used outside theology) and its varied use seem to make it an example of linguistic confusion in theology. The word was used first by the strict Lutheran theologian Abraham Calovius (1612–86), who, at the end of his 12-volume dogmatics, dealt with death, resurrection, t…