Christianity and Traditional Culture: a Study of Their Judging Principles That Generate Conflict in Modern African Societies

Topics: Sociology, Religion, West Africa Pages: 10 (3435 words) Published: March 17, 2011



Ademakinwa, Adebisi (Dr.) Senior lecturer, University of Lagos Otun, Rasheed (Mr.) Assistant Lecturer, University of Lagos

Christianity and Traditional Culture: A Study of their Judging Principles That Generate Conflict in Modern African Societies

While growing up, most children depending on their kind of background and society tend to be taught that religion is different from tradition or culture. People tend to see a few religions as those that have a relationship with God with the belief that traditional culture is for the local people who have not accepted a foreign kind of worship. They therefore believe that tradition is for the traditionalists while religion is for those who have seen the light of a new kind of worship and belief system. This notion is debatable, misleading, and highly subjective amounting to falsehood because the religion of a people could be determined by their tradition, culture, custom, generational or ancestral beliefs, and their way of life. The relationship between religion and tradition goes beyond the people involved, but deals more with their beliefs, personal values, system of doing things, obsessions, and opinions.

Religion can be seen as people’s beliefs and opinions concerning the existence, nature, and worship of a deity or deities, and divine involvement in the universe and human life. It is also an institutionalized or personal system of beliefs and practices relating to the divine. This shows that religion does not necessarily imply the advent of different modes and beliefs of worship to a particular god(s), but it could be a people or a person’s personal belief in a particular deity and not necessarily a foreign one. The African Encyclopedia for Schools and Colleges (424) sees religion as including beliefs from all parts of the world about GODS. It goes further to say that; Some religions, for example Islam and Christianity, teach that there is only one God. There are many traditional religions which existed in Africa before Christianity and Islam were brought there, and these religions often have many Gods. Christians and Muslims often refer to followers of traditional religions as ‘pagans’, although some ‘pagan’ beliefs and customs are similar to those of Christianity,...

The account here further reveals that because Africans had carved images as symbolic representations of the gods they worship and believe in, the Europeans referred to them as being fetish with the assumption that they were not worshipping God but carved objects and images. This assumption has been transferred through generations and has been the foundation for the belief that religion does not include traditional culture of a people, especially in Africa. Religion also provides a set of principles and rules that are expected to ordain the steps that followers should follow in order to be controlled in their ways of life and in the worship of their god(s). Religion, according to the Encyclopedia, also ensures that man carries out his duty to the god(s) and man. His duty to the gods include prayers, worship, offering of sacrifices, observing prohibitions which are sometimes called ‘taboos’ and when any of these are not done, there are punishments or certain misfortune that follow. Man’s duty to man in religion also include keeping of societal morals, respect to elders, authorities, priests etc.

Christianity as a focus of religion in this study is the worship of those who are followers of Jesus Christ. They believe in the fact that He died and rose on the third day for the remission of their sins. It is a common fact among Christians that, anyone who does not surrender himself or herself to the doctrines of Jesus...
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