AIDS and the Ancestor Cult: Toward a Contextual Theological Conversation in the “New” South Africa

Knox, Peter (2004) AIDS and the Ancestor Cult: Toward a Contextual Theological Conversation in the “New” South Africa. PhD thesis, Saint Paul University.

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This thesis investigates the meanings of Christian salvation within the context of the AIDS pandemic in South Africa. The pandemic poses enormous social, economic, developmental, as well as theological, problems for the fledgling democracy of South Africa. The pandemic has stricken the whole continent of Africa particularly forcefully, but in South Africa, where there had been expectations of a new order since the peaceful overthrow of the apartheid government in 1994, the expectations of “salvation” for the nation have been cruelly dashed by the force of the pandemic. With the aid of a lemma, I show that salvation is neither equivalent to and coextensive with political liberation, nor reducible to a unassignable spiritual state of being in relationship with Christ. Rather, as in Old Testament writings, salvation should be understood as having direct bearing on the immediate context of the person or nation in question - which understanding is frequently overlooked. In the context of AIDS, then, an understanding of salvation should have a bearing on social death due to the stigma of the condition; on the healing of the illness itself; on the reconciliation of people whose lives are immediately affected by the pandemic; on addressing those social factors which allow the spread of HIV, and on the tardiness in the provision of effective medical care for people with various AIDS-related illnesses.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: Conclusion: The most obvious conclusion of the thesis is that the cult of the ancestors has a significant contribution to make, both to the wellbeing of Christians afflicted with AIDS, and to a better understanding of salvation in the context. Any attempt to understand the meanings of salvation in this context would be incomplete without a consideration of the cult. I make bold to extend this conclusion to other parts of the developing world which are in the grip of the AIDS pandemic. Christians involved in the crisis would do well to take account of the traditional wisdom and religious background of the people concerned. The Christian ministries of evangelisation and healing will be immeasurably enriched thereby.
Uncontrolled Keywords: choosing soteriology as an appropriate theological category, aids in south Africa, the ancestor cult in South Africa, Christian mission and the cult of the ancestors ,aids and salvation,
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
Divisions: Africana
Depositing User: JHI Africa
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2014 10:09
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2018 13:50

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