Title

Facing Christianity : evangelism or imperialism?

Publication Date

1-1-2006

Degree Name

MA in Conflict Transformation

First Advisor

Ken Williams

Abstract

This study examines the difficult challenge Christian converts face in differentiating between an evangelist's culture and the Gospel message itself with its corresponding Bible-based traditions during cross-cultural evangelism and discipleship. The study focuses on the Basoga tribe of Southeast Uganda and their experiences with Western missionaries. The main research question asks: How can Basoga Christian converts distinguish between European culture and Biblical traditions in the Church? The research methods employed in this study include observations and semi-structured interviews. The data presented here demonstrates that both Christians and Western missionaries view true Christian conversion as an internal matter of faith, not an external matter of cultural change. Yet in cross cultural evangelism, European cultural expressions and the Gospel message are presented as a seamless whole thus giving the erroneous impression that these cultural preferences are equal in authority to the Gospel and Biblical traditions. The practice of mistaking cultural conversion for spiritual transformation is perpetuated by ethnocentric mission models, which confuse the object of Christian faith, taint the image of Christianity, spreads the syncretism of European Christianity, and unnecessarily erode traditional Soga culture. A major conclusion presented in this study is that sound knowledge and understanding of Biblical truth coupled with cultural awareness and appropriateness are crucial to distinguishing between arbitrary preferences and the essential elements of Christian faith in evangelism. Practical applications of the conclusions in this study include: 1) improved cross-cultural evangelism in Busoga, and 2) empowerment of Basoga Christians in governing the Christianization process themselves for an optimal incarnation of the Gospel in Busoga.

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