Original Research

Lowalangi: From the name of an ethnic religious figure to the name of God

Sonny E. Zaluchu
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 77, No 4 | a6390 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i4.6390 | © 2021 Sonny E. Zaluchu | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 November 2020 | Published: 20 April 2021

About the author(s)

Sonny E. Zaluchu, Department of Theology, Indonesia Baptist Theological Seminary, Semarang, Indonesia


This article shows the success of local cultural adaptation strategies in communicating the gospel to people of the Nias ethnicity in North Sumatra, Indonesia. This adaptation is the name Lowalangi, the name of the god of the pre-Christian era, to become the name of God, the creator and saviour of the world incarnated in the person of Jesus Christ. As a result, the use of this name was not limited to a translation process. Still, the whole concept of divinity for the Nias people was transferred and transformed into a Christian understanding. They know him as Lowalangi, have faith in him and pray to him in that name. The author uses a comparative analysis with other places in Indonesia. The author tries to establish parallelism with methods used elsewhere, assuming that the methods used tend to be the same.

Contribution: Churches and Christians in Nias are strengthened in their beliefs by praying and mentioning Lowalangi’s name, which imparts the same faith quality as the biblical use of God’s personal name. This adaptation can be a strategy for introducing the gospel in missiology and church planting in response to local culture as a wealth that cannot be negated. This research also has implications for the sociology of religion regarding the relationship between tradition and religious practice.


adaptation; Nias ethnicity; God’s name; reinterpretation; religion in culture.


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