Commonalities between Christianity and Africa Traditional Religion
By Richard Chowning
The supreme being in most African Traditional Religions is seen as the creator of humans and all other living things. This supreme being is viewed in different forms and dwelling places, yet he is the almighty. He is often distant from humans because of some bad actions of humans. There is much discussion among African theologians and missionaries alike concerning whether or not the creator God of various African Traditional Religions is Jehovah God. Some bible translators have chosen to use the traditional name for creator God and others have settle on "Jehovah" or "God".
The Presence of Evil
Humans are often the battle ground between evil and good forces in the world. Human can also call upon evil forces to punish or persecute wrong doers or enemies. Special functionaries have the greatest input into the forces of evil but all people can wield it to a lesser degree.
African Traditional Religions do not divide the world into the seen and the unseen realms. Existence is lived in wholeness of those two realities. The two realms interact with each other. Some personalities have lived in both realms more than once. People can move into the unseen realm during dreams, visions, or trances and, of course at death.
Communication Between the Seen and Unseen
Most African Traditional Religions have functionaries who communicate with God and the spirits on behalf of individuals and the community. This does not negate the ability of individuals to communicate with the unseen. These functionaries are trained, initiated and, and in many cases, from a bloodline that has a special window into the unseen realm. Communication takes many forms. Chief among them are prayers, incantations, sacred objects, and incense.
Emphasis on Community
Some would say that family as at the core of African society. Family is indeed emphasized. Society is broader than that. It is composed of friends, age mates, relatives: community. Not only does each member of the community have a defined role to play, but there responsibilities to each other that when transgressed bring about judgment from God or the spirits.
God has made covenants with humans on several occasions. The breaking of those covenants is what has caused Creator God to be so distant from humans. There are some parallels in this relationship to redemption. These are called redemptive analogies.
Most African Traditional Religions carry with them the idea that the soul lives forever. Often it is born back into life after spending a period in the realm of the dead. Most African Traditional Religions also provide for eternal lostness of those who habitually transgress taboos.