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The Trinity in Africa

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image of Journal of Reformed Theology

The African pre-Christian experience of God has turned out to be the gate through which Yahweh has penetrated Africa. This does not only mean that for the African Christians the Trinity must emerge from Nyambe, Nyame, Nyasaye, and so on—as various African peoples call God—but also that the Son and the Holy Spirit are now constitutive in the identity of those names. In this case, confession of one God (monotheism) is not in the 'common substance-essence' terms of the Greco-Roman heritage, nor in the 'monotheism as one-ness, non-divisible essence' in Islam and Neo-Platonism, nor as oneness in the sense of 'absolute subject' in the philosophy of Idealism. Here, oneness of God is confessed in the context of the fatherhood as contemplated from the point of view of the Father whose NTU is split between the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Father in this case is the 'Great Muntu' (God) who uniquely shares the Divine NTU with the Son and the Holy Spirit. In this mix of things, four things are noteworthy: 1) there emerges yet another way of thinking about God, 2) the Christian faith receives alternative resources for renewal of the church, 3) assumptions of conventional theological thinking are once again re-examined, and 4) Christians have an opportunity to use their own cultural identity for God's glory.

Affiliations: 1: Associate Professor of Systematic Theology; Daystar University, Kenya;, Email:


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