Original Research

Knowing, believing, living in Africa: A practical theology perspective of the past, present and future

Gordon E. Dames
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 69, No 1 | a1260 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v69i1.1260 | © 2013 Gordon E. Dames | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 May 2012 | Published: 12 February 2013

About the author(s)

Gordon E. Dames, Department of Philosophy, Practical and Systematic Theology, University of South Africa, South Africa


The new democratic era in South Africa brought Western cultural influences forcefully into public and private living domains. This dichotomy deformed African cultures in many ways (Bujo & Muya). Local communities were previously ‘public people’ living and worshipping in transformative hermeneutical communities. This scenario has changed and local communities are steadily being driven into private spaces. The task of practical theology is to question what the undergirding epistemology and beliefs for this shift are and to reinterpret it in the light of the gospel. The impact of Western culture on African traditional villages is telling in so far as traditional African values and practices are being lost at the expense of Western ideology, technology, media, et cetera (Bujo & Muya). We argue that the former dominant monodisciplinary approach of practical theology contributed to a growing private individualist worldview. Practical theology has since developed into an interdisciplinary approach. This newfound reciprocity in the social sciences led to constructive change in church and society (Dingemans). Practical theology in Africa has to deal with an individualised, pluralistic world and tendencies of discontinuity, uncertainty, violence and destruction. In South Africa, practical theology is called upon to redress the dichotomies and defaults of Western and African cultures, respectively.


transversal rationality; transformation; transactional cultural change; gospel and culture; public missional hermeneutical community


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