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Philosophia Reformata 66 (2001) 2338

CULTURE, WORLDVIEW AND RELIGION A Perspective from the African Continent Bennie J. van der Walt Why is a Reformational philosophy needed in Africa? It is necessary, because something is missing in African Christianity. Most Western missionaries taught Africans a broken or dualistic worldview. This caused a divorce between traditional culture and their new Christian religion. The Christian faith was perceived as something remote, only concerned with a distant past (the Bible) and a far-away future (heaven). It could not become a reality in their everyday lives. It could not develop into an all-encompassing worldview and lifestyle. Because Reformational philosophy advocates the Biblical, holistic approach of a comprehensive worldview, it is welcomed on our continent. It contains a healing and liberating message to our bleeding and lost continent. What Africans, however, neither want nor can afford, is an ivory tower philosophy, playing intellectual games; a philosophy which does not do or change anything. They want a philosophy which is a marriage between abstract ideas and the facts on the ground. They need a Christian philosophy with compassion that may even contribute to the alleviation of their poverty! Living on a bleeding continent does not allow one the luxury to philosophise merely for ones own enjoyment. The crucial question accordingly is how to approach the topic Religion, worldview and culture so that it can become more alive, concrete, with direct practical value.1

1 In the original text (see symposium file) I have tried to achieve this practical goal by discussing these three concepts in relation to development. For the past fifty years (1950-2000) the West have in vain tried to develop Africa and other so-called underdeveloped third world countries in the southern hemisphere according to Western cultural ideas of a developed society. Because of limited space allowed for the publication of papers, I was, however, forced to limit myself to a discussion of the three basic concepts (culture, worldview and religion) and their relationship. I was only able to provide some suggestions of their possible relevance to the issue of development. Readers interested in the application of a Reformational perspective on the issue of development on the African continent are invited to write to me for the complete text. (Those who can read Afrikaans, may be provided with an even more extensive discussion in my book on the topic: Kultuur, lewensvisie en ontwikkeling; n ontmaskering van die gode van die onderontwikkelde Afrika en die oorontwikkelde Weste. Potchefstroom: IRS, 1999. 284 pages). Due to the fact that I did not include references in the text, to assist those who would like to study the topic of culture, worldview and religion in detail, I have added a brief reading list. This selected bibliography focusses on two important areas only: (1) a Christian worldview and (2) the interaction between the Gospel, Christianity and culture. (For a detailed bibliography on development, see my above-mentioned book, pages 181-188.)

24 1. Culture

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In Reformational philosophy, especially amongst the older generation (Kuyper, Vollenhoven and Dooyeweerd), much was said and written about religion and worldview. I am glad that the younger generation is paying more attention to religion and worldview in their relationship to culture. I am especially thrilled by the fact that this conference wants to take a closer look at the contemporary multi-cultural situation in which Reformational philosophy has to fulfil its world-wide calling. I will encourage this trend by dealing more extensively with culture than with the other two concepts. 1.1 Many definitions of culture We have many hundreds definitions of culture. I only mention the following two: the segmental and the comprehensive. The first includes in the term culture only spiritual achievements like intellectual and artistic products (orchestras, performing and other arts, museums etc.). Culture is regarded as something that bestows lustre upon life, a higher level of existence, the icing on the cake. It can therefore only be acquired by and is reserved for the wealthier and more leisured members of society. Inhabitants of monasteries and universities have much of it, while prisoners and the poor dont have any! I am aware that this viewpoint is more or less outdated today. It is furthermore a Western idea never held in Africa. I mentioned it in order to contrast it with a second, more acceptable viewpoint. This second, comprehensive view of culture regards human life in its totality as culture, not merely the intellectual and artistic aspects. It is not something sublime or disconnected from, but includes our ordinary attitudes, customs, behaviour, values, beliefs, institutions, etcetera. It is not necessarily acquired by (formal) education and reserved for a section of the population. Every human being is a cultural being prisoners and the poor included! Culture is our frame of reference for human thought and conduct. We are hardly aware of it. It is like the air we breathe; like the water in which a fish lives; we are programmed by our own culture. We only become aware of our culture when something goes awry or when we encounter people of other cultures. 1.2 Distinctions also important I prefer the comprehensive view of culture, but simultaneously realise that one should distinguish between different facets of a culture. The distinction made by Reformational philosophy between different modalities or aspects of life can help us indicate which aspect of culture we have in mind: the domain of faith, moral or ethical, aesthetic, juridical or political, economic, social, lingual, technical or historical, logical, sensitive, biotic, physical, spatial and arithmetic

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aspect or modality. The arts is an example of the aesthetic aspect of culture and commerce an example of economic culture. 1.3 A simple diagram I am aware that, while a diagram can help us to understand difficult issues, it at the same time oversimplifies and should therefore always be used with great care. To reduce the complex phenomenon of culture to comprehensible proportions, I use the following diagram, consisting of five concentric circles:

For the sake of simplicity, I distinguish between only five layers. Feel free to add and subtract to the number! My five layers symbolise the following different aspects of a culture: 1) The religious dimension. We may also call it the directional dimension, because religion is the central directedness of all of human life towards the real or presumed ultimate source of meaning and authority. In the case of the Christian religion this directedness is our response to the true God who reveals Himself in creation, in Scripture and in Christ. The response should be according to His will (summarised in the central commandment of love).

26 Two problems

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My diagram does not solve two important problems. (1) In the Reformational tradition our central religious commitment is clearly distinguished from the dimension of faith (usually indicated as the pistic aspect or modality). This is a very important distinction because it prohibits the identification of all-encompassing religion with only one aspect of life (the faith aspect). We have to serve God in all the other aspects of our lives and not only in our faith life. Unfortunately my diagram does not clarify this vital distinction. (2) A second problem is whether we may regard religion (and worldview) as portrayed in my diagram as part of culture. According to Reformational philosophy the whole of our lives is religion, service to God or a substitute god. Religion and worldview, are both influenced by culture, they definitely have a cultural side. But is it correct to subsume them under the one concept of culture and in this way regard them as such as cultural phenomena? 2) The worldviewish dimension provides a perspective on the interrelated character of cosmic reality and our place in it. Stated metaphorically: a worldview provides us with eyes, ears, feet, hands and a mind to serve the real God (or a substitute) in this world. Two remarks In brief I see the distinction between religion and worldview and their interrelatedness as follows: The difference between the two is that religion is our relationship towards God, while worldview describes our relationship towards the world. But because we believe that this world belongs to God, we can never separate the two. The close relationship between the two becomes evident in the fact that our service to God does not happen in a sphere somewhere above, but manifests itself in this world! If religion is the direction towards God (or a god) and worldview indicates our place in creation, then we may say that the remainder of culture indicates our task or calling. Culture is the historical manifestation of our religiously directed response to all Gods mandates for life, as expressed in our understanding of creation and our place in it. 3) The social dimension. Because I could not find a more appropriate term, I put social in quotation marks. It includes inter alia morals, arts, politics, economics, language, styles of thinking, the way our emotions are expressed as well as the different societal relationships, like marriage, family, the state, business and other institutions. 4) The material or technical dimension includes food, clothes, tools, machines, buildings etc. 5) The behavioural dimension includes our habits, customs, and behaviour our lifestyle.

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As already stated, this diagram is not prescriptive, but merely a preliminary aid to try to explain the richness of the concept culture. Let me mention something about its value as well as its limitations. 1.4 The value of the model It is integrated, holistic. I deliberately put light, dotted (not solid) lines between the five different layers to indicate that we may distinguish them from each other, but can never clearly separate them. We should therefore neither judge a culture by isolating one facet nor try to change it by replacing only one aspect. The two-way arrows between the different layers emphasise that they are interrelated and have mutual influence on each other. Visibility and describability. The diagram indicates that not only the more visible aspects of a culture are important, but also its deeper, invisible core facets, like worldview and religion. This is to be kept in mind in spite of the fact that the outer, overt layers (e.g. an artefact or custom) are easier to describe, while the inner, covert (e.g. worldview and religion) are much more difficult to define. Cultural change. The outer, softer layers of a culture usually change more easily. The harder core is more resistant to change. (An example: Africans wearing modern, Western clothes, while still believing in ancestor worship.) The determining role of the core. The heart or soul of a culture, to my mind, is its religion and worldview. It directs the outer, more visible cultural layers. Only in the light of a specific religion and worldview can we properly understand the outer cultural manifestations. I therefore also believe that real, deep change in any culture is stimulated from its core. 1.5 Limitations of the model All these reservations are related to the fact that real life is always much more complicated than our schematic, theoretical models irrespective of how sophisticated they may be. We should therefore never absolutise any model, but rather be willing to relativise it in the light of the complexities of reality. I would like to keep religion and worldview in the centre. As far as layers 3 to 5 are concerned, I have no order of priority in mind in the sense that 3 is built on 2, 4 on 3 and 5 on 4. If you wish, you may move 4 (the material dimension) to position 3 (the social) or the behavioural (5) may be regarded as part of the present 3 (the social). In other words, keep in mind that it is merely a model and feel free to improve on it! My model should not encourage the idea that religion, worldview and other aspects of culture are static entities. Especially those who idealise the past tradition believe in a static culture. All cultures change, some slowly, others


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more rapidly. They do so by way of inter alia the following: (1) inheritance; (2) innovation; (3) the free borrowing or adoption from other cultures which implies adaptation (acculturation cannot be separated from inculturation) and (4) forced change from a foreign, imposed culture. My model should also not create the impression of a homogenous or pure culture the axiom of cultural purists. Culture is usually a hybrid or mixture especially in our contemporary, multi-cultural world. We cannot (physically) see a religion or worldview. Therefore we will have to derive their features from their more visible, concrete manifestations in the other aspects of a culture. Not only does religion and worldview influence culture, but as indicated in our diagram by the arrows in both directions between the different cultural layers the remainder of culture influences religion and worldview too. An example is the strong influence of contemporary secularist culture on different religions like traditional African religion, Islam and Christianity in Africa. Such a change caused by the influence of the outer layers of a culture on the centre may result in a complete power shift in the core. Thus, the original religious commitment could be destroyed and replaced. More often at least initially the result is a double (religious and worldviewish) core. Simply because of our sinfulness as Christians we may have a split religious and worldviewish loyalty. (An example is the Christian-national ideology behind apartheid which tended to cause a split between Christian belief and national patriotism.) We may also have a divided soul as a result of our contact with other, foreign cultures. (A common phenomenon in Africa because of the clash between traditional African and modern Western culture.) We should therefore reckon with the fact that while older, closed (primitive) cultures had a single religious core, cultures may have more than one religious centre in the contemporary, open, multicultural world. It seems however, that one of them gradually becomes dominant. It is noticeable in the case of secularism, which marginalises other religions so that they start functioning outside the core. They are not relevant to the entire culture, but their influence is limited to a small part, for example, in the case of Christians their spiritual or ecclesiastical life. 1.6 Cultural diversity Today, more than in any previous time in history, we are confronted with cultural diversity. People in Kinshasha or Nairobi are different from those in London or New York. They make love differently (for instance, some African tribes believe that kissing is only done by monkeys), get married in different ways, buy and sell differently, live, die and are finally buried in different ways. How is this great variety to be explained? How should we evaluate different cultures?

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We have already defined culture as our task of answering to the real God (or a presumed god) according to a specific worldview that describes our place in the world. Our place in creation is determined by four basic relationships: towards God/god, nature, our fellow human beings and ourselves. However, when considering these relationships, different worldviews tend to overemphasise one relationship. Consequently they interpret the other three relationships in the light of the one they absolutised. Africa, for example, emphasises the community and interprets the other relationships in the light of its communalistic worldview. The West stresses the individual and reads the remaining relationships from its individualistic perspective. In previous publications 2 my conclusion had been that every culture contains something good and beautiful, because it emphasises an important relationship. At the same time every culture has its valleys and blind spots, because it does not acknowledge the equality of these four basic relationships. I can therefore not accept ethnocentrism neither Eurocentrism nor Afrocentrism which believes that its own culture is the only true and wholesome culture. Neither can I accept present-day relativism that is of the opinion that, because cultures and their cultural traits or features are equally true or good, they should not be judged, criticised or changed. I dont deny that it is very difficult indeed to decide what is good or bad in a specific culture especially in ones own but I still believe it should be done. 1.7 Cultural interaction Evaluating different cultures (and their cultural features) becomes even more tricky when they interact with each other. Western development is a clear example of this encounter and interaction of cultures. The older theories in this regard could be described as theories about development and culture. In the oldest ones, non-Western cultures were regarded as a stumbling block in the path of development. In more recent ones, traditional, indigenous cultures are viewed as something positive, which may aid Western development projects. Nevertheless, the basic viewpoint was not changed. Culture and development are still viewed as separate entities. In the first theory they have to be separated and in the second you have to stir them together to get effective development. Followers of more recent theories have realised that culture is not a facet of development, but rather that development is a facet of culture. I call this the theory of development as culture. This realisation that development is a part of culture enables us to be much more critical about different development paradigms. It assists us inter alia to view development as an encounter and

2 Van Der Walt, B.J. 1997a. Afrosentries of Eurosentries? Ons roeping in n multikulturele Suid-Afrika. Potchefstroom : Instituut vir Reformatoriese Studie and Van Der Walt, B.J. 1997b (Reprint 1999). Afrocentric or Eurocentric? Our task in a multicultural South Africa. Potchefstroom : Institute for Reformational Studies.


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interaction between the competing interests of different cultures; as the cultural intervention of one culture in another; as cultural transfer, change and even the destruction of the receiving culture. It finally brings home the truth that development is a relative concept. It has diverse meanings in different cultures. 1.8 The impact of Western developmental models Examples of how various Western developmental models have different consequences for the receiving culture, are the following: The imperialistic model (e.g. colonialism) forces change. It results in cultural homogeneity, damage or even the extermination of an indigenous culture. In the modernisation model (e.g. megaprojects), change is planned. The results are individualism and materialism. In the charity model (e.g. relief work and humanitarian aid) change is given. Indigenous cultural survival strategies are affected and people become dependent on outside help. 1.9 Four reactions The following are but a few possible reactions to the intervention of an alien culture: If a people have the freedom to do so, they can resist the interference by, for instance, trying to revive their own traditional culture. They can accept domination of the foreign culture; start imitating it (the copy-cat mentality) and finally become dependent on it in a variety of ways, including mentally (colonialisation of the mind). They may accommodate the foreign invader-culture, simultaneously trying to maintain their own. This results in a kind of schizophrenic existence or the phenomenon of a divided soul, referred to previously. Finally, they may interpret the foreign culture in terms of their own. In real life it is not always possible to distinguish these four reactions clearly from each other. When we apply the above to the issue of development in Africa, we have the following options: Many Africans believe that development could only be achieved through the revival of traditional African culture. They dont see anything wrong with their own culture. Some Westerners also regard Africa as an exotic continent and Africans as innocent children of nature, or noble savages. They are therefore of the opinion that Africa should not be developed. At the opposite extreme we have Westerners who regard Africa as uncivilised and Africans as an inferior, subhuman race. Consequently they see

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no future for the continent if it does not accept superior Western culture lock, stock and barrel and is developed accordingly. The third option (a schizophrenic culture) does not have the ability to release the necessary generating power for development. The solution for real, healthy development, in my opinion, lies in the direction of a careful accommodation (acculturation) of beneficial aspects of Western culture (without becoming schizophrenic). It implies an interpretation (inculturation) of Western culture in terms of African culture. In this way the own, African culture will be enriched and new developmental potentials opened. Many researchers today emphasise the need for a clear, cultural identity as a conditio sine qua non for development. (One could also reverse the statement, saying that real development implies cultural identity.) The reason is that cultural identity provides the necessary self-respect, self-esteem, confidence, values as well as a purpose in life. Lack of cultural identity has the opposite effect: poor self-respect and self-esteem, little confidence and few aspirations. It results in a dependent, inert, static culture of silence. 1.10 Easier said than done: the need for a Christian worldviewish perspective Careful examination of any feature of a specific culture, however, reveals its mixed or ambivalent nature; it can be evaluated both positively and negatively. The extended family in Africa is, for example, something beneficial. It takes care of many in need traditional Africa does not believe in orphanages and old age homes! Yet it may also financially ruin those who have to take care of all their relatives when people move away from a rural to an urban and industrialised society. To be able to really discern between what is beneficial and what is detrimental in a specific cultural habit or custum, one will have to delve much deeper than simply a superficial analysis of the culture or a comparison with other cultures. One method to achieve this is to submit culture to a penetrating Christian worldviewish analysis. Let us therefore have a very brief look at the second main concept, viz. worldview. 2. Worldview and Ideology As mentioned already, a worldview is our perspective on created reality. It is an indication of our place in the world in which we have to fulfil our cultural task, the direction of which is provided by the will (laws) of something or Someone regarded as our absolute authority in life. A worldview functions like a map, it provides orientation; like a compass, it gives direction from a deep religious commitment. The danger of a worldview even a Christian one is that it can degenerate into an ideology. And ideology is an absolutised, hardened, closed, dogmatic orientation about the world, our place and cultural calling. In


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essence it is not prepared to see the world as it really is. It forces reality into its own preconceived mould and wants to change it accordingly. It cannot see our place and task correctly, because it (partly or totally) rejects the direction provided by God in his central love commandment. It lives according to its own norms. Basically therefore, a worldview and an ideology have the same structure, but different directions. A worldview is something normal and healthy; an ideology can be very dangerous. The important issue of development in two different cultures (the Western and African) should be approached from its worldviewishideological core. This will help us determine whether it is an acceptable or unacceptable kind of development. In order to do so, it is important to distinguish the basic components of the specific worldview or ideology. I have selected six elements. They are our view, perspective or conception of the following: (1) God/god; (2) norms or values; (3) being human; (4) society or community; (5) nature; (6) time and history. The following comparative table summarises the differences between the contemporary Western, traditional African and Biblical worldviews according to these six components: Component God WESTERN
A secular, materialistic, capitalistic god

Distant creator-god, not demanding responsibility, replaced by unpredictable spirit world . Pre-Christian Communal autonomy Subjectivism (the kinship group is the law)

The personal God of the Bible, Creator, Sustainer and highest Authority. Christian Heteronomy: Gods will, revealed in his command-ments (both directional and structural) to be positivised in norms for different areas of life. A balance between love of self and others A multi-dimensional anthropology: all the different aspects of being human to be developed in a balanced way.



Individual autonomy Subjectivism (things are laws)

Self-interest, individual egoism

Group-interest, group egoism A reductionistic anthro-pology in which one aspect (the communal) is absolutised and the individual aspect sub-ordinated, suppressed.


A reductionistic anthro-pology characterised by individualism, materialism, hedonism, etc.

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Atomistic-liberalistic: Individual liberty and rights first.

Organistic-communalist ic: First communal equality and duties.

Destroys communality, finally results in totalitarianism.

Destroy individuality, leads directly to totalitarianism. Viewed holistically: Man a part of nature; it should therefore be revered and not inter-fered with.

Individuality and commu-nality are complementary facets of multi-dimen-sional man; both to be developed to enhance individual and community. Anti-totalitarian


Viewed anthropocentric-ally: Separate from man; to be used and exploited for wealth.

Viewed Biblically: Man distinguished from, but not separated from nature has to use and protect it in a stewardly way. Granted by God both to be used and enjoyed in a responsible way. Past, present and future are equally important.

Time and history

A commodity to be measured and used for ones own benefit. Future-oriented (progress)

Something to be shared and enjoyed with others. Past-oriented (repristination)

3. Religion In the explanation of my diagram of concentric circles, I have already given the following definition of religion: it is the central directedness of all human life towards the real or presumed ultimate source (God/god) of meaning and authority. I will not elaborate further. In this section I want to deal with the relationship between religion and (the remainder of) culture. Our diagram has already indicated that religion is not something disconnected from, but part of culture. We have also indicated that (the rest of) culture is coloured by its religious core. But the obverse is also true: other cultural facets may influence the religious core. Here we do not focus on religion and culture in general, but specifically on Christian religion and culture. The relationship between Christianity and culture is not the same as the relationship between Gospel and culture. The Gospel is the infallible Word of God, while Christianity is our fallible, human response to Gods Word. The following diagram will help to distinguish clearly between the two:


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1. Gods threefold revelation (in creation, Scripture and Christ)

3. Christian religion as response

2. From the perspective of a specific culture

We will first deal with the relationship between Gospel and culture (1 and 2) and then with the relationship between Christianity and culture (3 and 2). 3.1 Gospel and culture Because the Gospel (of the Old and New Testament) is given to us in the words and histories of different people through many ages, it is not a culture-free revelation. It is always embedded or embodied in cultural clothes or forms. God met the people of Israel in their own culture. They were not without culture. Apart from their own language, they had their own culturally defined family life, laws, government, ways of commerce and types of worship. God did not provide them with a sacred language or culture! In the Old Testament the Gospel appeared in the clothes of the cultures of the Near East. In the New Testament, especially the Book of Acts, we see the gradual transition from an embodiment of the Gospel in the culture of Judaism to a more Western, Hellenistic form the dominant culture of the Roman Empire. Apart from this relative continuity between Gospel and culture we do, however, see a radical discontinuity between the two. Without a degree of continuity, the Gospel could never be relevant. Without discontinuity, it would not be able to challenge the culture in which it was embodied. It would become syncretised. The Biblical message is clear: The Gospel associated itself with different cultures never to be domesticated nor to become the captive of these cultures, but to liberate and transform them! The Bible abounds with such examples. Many of the Old Testament laws were derived from the environment in which Israel lived. At the same time, however, the Old Testament torah changed the harsh, inhuman laws of, for instance, Eshnunna (an Acadic Law book of 1800 BC) and that of Hammurabi (a Babylonian law book of 1726 BC). New laws on slaves, women, the poor, foreigners and excessive wealth indicates how traditional laws from the surrounding cultures were softened to acknowledge human dignity.

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The same pattern is repeated in the New Testament where the dcor changed to Greek-Roman civilisation: this culture was reformed and not simply accepted. An example is the power of the pater familias. Men had almost absolute power over their wives, children and slaves. In Ephesians 5:21 6:9, Colossians 3:18 4:1 and 1 Peter 2:13 3:7 these inhuman customs are replaced with new guidelines for Christians. 3.2 Christianity and culture The Gospel should determine our Christian religion. Therefore the same principle which we discovered in the relationship between Gospel and culture, should also be applied in the relationship between Christian religion and culture: relative continuity and radical discontinuity . We will first pay attention to relative continuity. We have to serve God in and with our culture. We cannot do it outside our own culture. We should not try to do it in the garb of a foreign culture, because it will not touch us deep in our hearts and minds; it will not be relevant to our situation. There should be a relative continuity between the culture in which we were brought up and our conversion to the Gospel as Christians. A problem arises, however, when the relative is omitted from relative continuity and only continuity remains. The gradual Christianisation of the West resulted in the Westernisation of Christianity (first it was Hellenisation, then Germanisation). This was a normal process. The trouble, however, was that Christianity became too comfortable in its Western clothes. In many respects it was so accommodating that it conformed completely to Western culture. The price paid, was that, in such cases, it became more Western than Christian! The situation turned even more complex when Western missionaries proclaimed the Gospel to non-Western regions like Africa. There are many exceptions, but many made the following three mistakes: (1) they did not always distinguish clearly enough between the Gospel and its Western cultural embodiment; (2) they did not fully realise that Western culture has good and bad aspects; (3) they did not see much good in non-Western cultures. In order to warn against the dangers of syncretism, much attention was therefore paid to traditional African religion and culture. Syncretism (excessive emphasis on the element of continuity) was regarded as something that happens when other cultures (like the African) encounters Christianity and its Gospel. There was little awareness amongst Western Christians, churches and theologians of the fact that their brand of Christianity may have failed to challenge the assumptions of their own Western culture. To what extent may Western Christianity also be called syncretistic?! In the relationship between Christianity and culture we have thus far only discussed one Biblical principle, namely relative continuity. We have also indicated what happens if the relative (in relative continuity) is not honoured. This issue, however, also arises because this first Biblical principle has to be applied jointly with the second principle, viz. radical discontinuity.


b.j. van der walt 3.3 Three possible positions

If applied jointly, the first principle guarantees relevance. The second provides a challenge. If only the first principle is applied, it may result in syncretism or uncritical accommodation. If only the second principle is applied, the result will be the isolation of Christianity from its surrounding culture. Consequently, it cannot really challenge its cultural environment. Only when we apply both principles, will it be possible to be part of a culture as Christians and at the same time to reform it from inside. In summary then, we have the following options: conformity between Christianity and the culture of which it is part, because it stresses the continuity between the two; the isolation of Christianity from culture, thus emphasising discontinuity and reformation or transformation of culture (and Christianity as part thereof), emphasising simultaneously relative continuity and absolute discontinuity.

When we study the history of Christianity we encounter these three positions over and over again. We find these positions, for example, in the Christianity of the first centuries when Christians had to work out their relationship towards Greek and Roman cultures. Today the same basic positions are adopted in the relationship between Christianity and traditional African culture. The isolationist position is very difficult to uphold. It is in fact impossible to maintain. The Christian religion is always part of a culture; we can never operate as Christians outside a specific culture. Therefore the representatives of the isolationist position are few compared to those propagating the accommodation strategy. This very popular attitude in Africa believes that traditional African culture is a stepping-stone, a preparation for Christianity and the Gospel. The Gospel and Christianity accordingly merely complete, perfect, fulfil what was already present in traditional African culture and religion! The third (and correct viewpoint) is neither to accommodate, nor to flee, but to reform culture. It is surely no easy option. That is perhaps why we find so few historical examples to guide us. I was privileged to get to know the Reformational tradition in philosophy, started by Abraham Kuyper in the 19th century and continued by scholars like H. Dooyeweerd and D.H.Th. Vollenhoven and their many successors during the previous century. The Reformational position is a Biblically based viewpoint. It provides us with a really liberating perspective on the relationship between Christianity and culture.

culture, worldview and religion Selected Bibliography


Aay, H., Griffioen, S. 1998. Geography and worldview; a Christian reconnaissance. Lanham : University Press of America. Ariarajah, S.W. 1994. Gospel and culture; an ongoing discussion within the ecumenical movement. Geneva : WCC. Bediako, K. 1992. Theology and identity; the impact of culture upon Christian thought in the second century and in modern Africa. Oxford : Regnum. Borgan, P. 1996. Early Christianity and Hellenistic Judaism. Edinburgh : Clark. Brown, P. 1995. Authority and the sacred; aspects of the Christianisation of the Roman world. Cambridge : Cambridge Univ. Press. Burnett, D. 1990. Clash of worlds. Eastbourne, East Sussex : Marc. Chaplin, A., Chaplin, J., Peck, J., Shaw, S., Storkey, A. 1986. Introduction to a Christian worldview. Open Christian College. Clouse, R.G., Pierard, R.V., Yamauchi, E.M. 1993. Two Kingdoms; the church and culture through the ages. Chicago : Moody. Colson, C., Pearcey, N. 1999. How now shall we live? Wheaton, Illinois : Tyndale House. Donovan, V.J. 1982. Christianity rediscovered; an epistle from the Masai. London : SCM. Doran, R. 1995. Birth of a worldview; early Christianity in its Jewish and Pagan context. Boulder : Westview. Fletcher, R. 1997. The Barabarian conversion; from paganism to Christianity . New York : Henry Holt. Fowler, S. 1995. The oppression and liberation of modern Africa; examining the powers shaping todays Africa. Potchefstroom : IRS. (Series F2, no.63.) Fox, R.L. 1986. Pagans and Christians in the Mediterranean world from the second century AD to the conversion of Constantine. London : Penguin. Frey, B., Ingram, W., Mcwhertor, T.E., Romanowski, W.D. 1983. All of life redeemed; Biblical insight in daily obedience. Jordan Station, Ontario : Paideia. Garber, S. 1998. The fabric of faithfulness; weaving together belief and behaviour during the university years. Downers Grove, Illinois : Intervarsity. Gort, J.D., Vroom, H.M., Fernhout, R., Wessels, A. 1989. Dialogue on syncretism; an interdisciplinary approach. Grand Rapids, Michigan : Eerdmans. Goudzwaard, B. 1984. Idols of our time. Downers Grove, Illinois : Intervarsity. Guinness, O. 1995. Fit bodies, fat minds; why Evangelicals dont think and what to do about it. London : Hodder & Stoughton. Helleman, W. 1990. ed. Christianity and the classics; the acceptance of a heritage. Lanham : Univ. Press of America. Helleman, W. 1994 ed. Hellenization revisited; shaping a Christian response within the Greco-Roman world. Lanham : University Press of America. Holmes, A.F. 1983. Contours of a worldview. Grand Rapids, Michigan : Eerdmans. Kearney, M. 1984. Worldview. Navato, California : Chandler & Sharp. Klapwijk, J. 1986. Antithesis, synthesis and the idea of transformational philosophy. Philosophia Reformata, 51:138-154.


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