Original Research

Brothers and sisters, can you hear us? Remarks on facilitating a productive dialogue between the Western and African notions of practical theology in light of the decolonisation discourse

Alfred R. Brunsdon
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 51, No 2 | a2284 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v51i2.2284 | © 2017 Alfred R. Brunsdon | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 June 2017 | Published: 09 October 2017

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Alfred R. Brunsdon, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, South Africa


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Abstract

This article is conducted within the framework of the inter-contextual dialogue between the Western and African notions of practical theology. It sets out to probe the usefulness of the notion of decolonisation in the design of practical theology. The application of this notion in Emmanuel Lartey’s Postcolonializing God – An African practical theology (2013) is investigated. An overview of Lartey’s work is provided with the following question as subtext: Does the resultant African practical theology remain within ‘hearing distance’ from Western notions of practical theology that is traditionally reliant on a Christian epistemology? The finding is that decolonisation is of restricted use in the design of such a practical theology. While it provides insight into an authentic African practical theology, a critical discussion raises concerns regarding inclusivity, the perceived African context, the interrelatedness between culture and faith as well as the theological nature of the proposed African practical theology. The concluding section of the article suggests that inter-contextual dialogue can move forward on the basis of seeking the theological middle ground. In this regard the notion of Esther Acolatse’s pastoral hermeneutic of primal speech is introduced that provides valuable parameters for inter-contextual dialogue. In creating room for intercultural dialogue, it operates from the stance of a perichoretic relationship between theology and culture. The resulting theologies thus retain their trinitarian character. Such an approach promises to keep dialogue partners from different contexts within hearing distance from one another, opening the possibility for symbiotic co-existence.


Keywords

practical theology; inter-contextual dialogue; decolonisation, African practical theology, contextualisation

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