For an excellent understanding of the traditional religions and the spiritual beliefs of the African people I cannot recommend this book too highly. Dr. Turaki is an African who has lived and ministered in both Nigeria and Kenya and has a number of advanced degrees from America. He knows the spiritual climate in Africa both experientially and scholastically. He therefore brings to the table a wonderful blend of the practical and the theological.
Some of the highlights of the book include:
1) African religions are pragmatic. People want a religion that they can use to meet their needs and provide for their wishes (p. 15, 107, 117).
2) African religions are not cognitively-oriented systems with esoteric doctrines and strict rules or regulations. Rather they are existential and experiential – more felt than understood (pp. 19, 33).
3) There are five fundamental beliefs of African religions. A belief in (pp. 23-29):
• Impersonal mystical powers (p. 24).
• Spirit beings (pp. 68-70; 81-87).
• Many divinities (this is why Africans can believe in Jesus without rejecting their other gods).
• A supreme being (God) – who is usually seen as transcendent but not intimate.
• A hierarchy of spiritual beings and powers.
4) Africans desire a religion of power (pp. 35-36; 47-48, 56-57, 89-96). They are not interested in a religion that does not provide power.
5) Even when Africans do become Christians, there is a tendency for Christianity to be seen as only a first step to greater mysteries and power (p. 96).
6) In African religions God is manipulated; in Christianity He is praised (p. 78).
7) Africans believe that words have innate power (pp. 97-98) and thus the need for incantations, rituals and the use of magic.
8) Africans use magic to manipulate the world and spirits around them (pp. 99-104).
For anyone preparing for ministry in Africa, or seeking to understand how the gospel is being perceived and received by Africans, this book is a must. It will explain many questions, such as why there is a supposed revival of Christianity in Africa but so little of the gospel is actually changing lives. Foundations of African Traditional Religion and Worldview will also provide much needed help on how to present the good news to the African people.
WHERE TO FIND THIS BOOK: Publisher: Word Alive; ISBN #9966 805 82 6; www.canapublishinguk.com/theology.htm