Ancestral Worship and the Church in Africa
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Even after one hundred and fifty years of Christian missions in Africa, the ancestral cult is still a reality. This is not only the case among the un-churched but among Christians as well. A good number of African Christians pledge allegiance to both the ancestors and Christ. Some sympathetic critics hold that there is no such thing as ancestral cult, but ancestral veneration-proper respect given to one’s elders. This position cannot stand the evidence taken from various African communities particularly those South of the Sahara. The ancestors occupy a place of prominence among the deities of Africa, and in some cases, there are the only ones that are invoked. The practice is against the Christian scriptures, tradition, reason and experience. The African Christian must say no to the cult of the ancestors or anything that competes for the allegiance that rightly belongs to Christ. This paper looks at who are the ancestors, their place among the African people, whether or not they are worshipped, the Christian perspective on the subject of ancestor veneration, and offer some recommendations for the African church. Particular attention will be given to the cult of the ancestors.
Africa Journal of Wesleyan Theology