Is Jesus an Ancestor?

According to Orobator (see introductory post or follow-up post),  “The Africans’ quest for who Jesus is for us cannot be satiated by simply adopting Christological formulas and models developed in foreign cultural contexts. Some people might object: ‘It doesn’t matter. Jesus transcends culture!’ Not quite. Jesus subsumes cultures.” (72).

He continues: “How can we recast the alien and expatriate images of Jesus Christ in the mold of the rich and colorful African religious and cultural worldview in order to discover an authentic and meaningful African identity and personality of Jesus?” (72). His aim is to discover a Jesus Christ “who will be able to respond to questions  posed by Africans themselves.” (72).

Acording to Orobator, we have the following descriptions for the African Christ: “ancestor, diviner, traditional healer, healer, chief, guest, warrior, loved one, brother, elder brother, ideal brother, universal brother, proto-elder, kin, kinsman, chief priest, chief, chief elder, ruler king, king, leader, liberator, black messiah . . .” (73). In addition, he writes, “It is as though the Africans are saying: ‘God we know, ancestors we acknowledge; but who are you for us, Jesus Christ?” (74).

The issue, according to Orobator, is how to deal with the issue of Christology in a way that is “authentically African and speaks immediately to the African consciousness” (75). He concludes that the way to deal with Christology in the African context is to see Christ as Ancestor (75).

What does seeing Christ as Ancestor mean? Is this biblical? What dangers does it pose to the gospel message? Is an African Christology necessary for Africans to come to faith in Christ?

These questions will be answered in the next post.

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