"The saints are responsible for
the structure of the social world in which they find themselves. That structure is
not simply part of the order of nature; to the contrary, it is the result of human
decision, and by concerted effort it can be altered. Indeed, it should be
altered, for it is a fallen structure, in need of reform. The responsibility of the
saints to struggle for the reform of the social order in which they find themselves is one
facet of the discipleship to which their Lord Jesus Christ has called them."
-- Nicholas Wolterstorff, Until Justice and Peace Embrace
However, this was not always the case.
Christian missionaries sometimes opposed oppressive colonial rule, worked to maintain the
rights of the colonized, and at least strove to fully respect and understand elements of
the local culture.
As the twentieth century progressed, many
missionaries began to move to a more incarnational model, one that sought to work within
the language, customs, and cultural structure of indigenous peoples and that, equally,
sought to downplay their own Westernized understanding of matters.
In addition, Christian missionary education
also provided a solid Biblical education, one that exposed local leaders to Biblical ideas
of justice, mercy, and peace. In particular, many native activists adopted the
language of the Exodus, Jesus, and the Apocalypse in order to convey the need for
Eventually, third world theology grew out of
local Christian churches, some of which stressed liberation and justice (cultural,
political, and economic) for all the oppressed.
Increasingly, Western Christianity has come to
learn from Third World Christians how to better understand often overlooked aspects of
Christianity, Scripture, and Theology.
First, we should admit that Christian missions
played a large role in the Colonial process of cultural and political hegemony in Africa,
India, and the Caribbean. Very often Christian missionaries cooperated with European
political rule, depending on the governmental power to maintain their own status.
Likewise, quite often Christian missionary schools assumed the superiority of European
education, language, and ideas; and as a result, they downgraded local indigenous culture.
Cyril Okorocha on Igbo View of Salvation
Ezi ndu: the desirable, superior life or salvation
- A viable, enviable, full life.
- Concerned with total well being.
- Holisticno sacred, secular, dichotomy; no distinct material and spiritual
- Concerned with moral rectitude and fair play.
- Communal in structure--seeks order in a tranquil community.
- The power to accomplish or provide this life.
- Stresses the continuation of posterity and children.
- Wants peace with the gods.
- Experience of blessing NOW.
Question: How does Okorocha's discussion of Igbo
notions of salvation cast new light on the reasons why certain segments of Igbo culture so
readily embraced Christianity?