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"EX AFRICA SEMPER ALIQUID NOVI": Some Random Reflections on Challenges to Christian Mission Arising in Africa in the Twenty-first Century

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In this article, South African missiologist Willem Saayman outlines and reflects on four issues and challenges which arise from Africa and serve to define missiological thinking today. The first three are "problems": (1) the AIDS crisis and its implications for an African sexual morality; (2) the question of authentic contextualization or inculturation; (3) the scandal of African poverty and the call for justice in an age of globalization. The fourth issue and challenge reflects on the reasons for the growth of the church in sub-Saharan Africa. Saayman cites six reasons for such growth: (1) a holistic understanding of the gospel; (2) joy in evangelizing; (3) a non-apologetic approach to evangelism; (4) the presentation of the gospel as truly good news; (5) the worshiping of a person, not a book; and (6) mission carried out as an action in hope-against-hope. Saayman concludes with a caution about the quality of such rapid church growth. Quoting a line from the late Orlando Costas-"Sometimes, when we think the church is growing, it is actually simply getting fat!"-Saayman warns that the church needs to grow as well in theological depth and the capacity for self-critique.

Affiliations: 1: UNISA, P. O. Box 392, Pretoria 0001, Republic of South Africa.


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