Earlier in March, prior to the lockdowns and preventative measures to battle the spread of COVID-19, over one hundred theologians came together for the 10th annual conference of the Africa Society of Evangelical Theology (ASET). It was a time to celebrate and mark the milestone of 10 years of the society with representation from across Africa and beyond.
This year's topic? Christology in Africa
With over 30 presentations on the topic, covering areas including art, leadership, contextualisation, biblical studies and mission, the event was the opposite of a stuffy academic gathering that some might associate with a scholarly conference. In fact, over the 2 days attendees came together to worship, present papers, share and debate in a spirit of community that was akin to a family reunion, filled with theological reflection!
During the many break-out sessions attendees were encouraged to critique their presenters, to engage the topic but also to help presenters think through some of the strengths and weaknesses of their paper. Following the conference presenters will have the opportunity to come away with the feedback they have received and work on revising their paper to then resubmit to ASET. Consideration will then be made by the committee and editors for inclusion in the yearly collection of contributions published in the ASET Series.
The break-out sessions fell between two excellent plenaries.The first welcomed Dr Daniel Mwailu who addressed attendees on the African contextualisation of Christology from a Biblical perspective. He emphasised that “A manifestation of African faith must be consistent with historical experiences and faithful to the gospel”. Dr Mwailu lamented how, as a young believer from a non-christian family in Kenya he struggled to articulate the Gospel to his grandmother, not just in a concept she could understand, but also in the mother tongue.
The conference closed with a plenary panel led by Professor David Ngaruiya celebrating the life and contribution of Rev Dr John Mibiti. Professors Esther Mombo, Samuel Ngewa, Jesse Mugambi, and James Nkansah all shared fitting tributes to Mbiti but also actively engaged with his theology. In closing, Professor Jesse Mugambi reminded attendees of the pioneering work Mbiti carried out in publishing the first sole translation of the New Testament from Greek into Kiikamba, titled Utianiyo wa Mwiyai Yesu Kilisto. Not only did this place Mbiti in a notable class of Bible translators but in Mugambi’s opinion it was a milestone for Kenyan scholarship as “One criterion for determining how and when a church has come of age is when one of its own scholars translates the scriptures into their mother tongue”.
Thankfully these intriguing presentations will not be limited to just the attendees of the conference but readers around the world will be able to enjoy the fruit that ripened over these days in Nairobi, Kenya. The upcoming publication, Who Do You Say I Am? Christology in Africa will be available to purchase this time next year.
In the meantime be sure to explore the existing volumes found in the ASET Series.
Are you interested in becoming an ASET Member? Attend next years conference? Or want to submit a paper for consideration for next year’s conference?
Call for 2021 papers is now open and the topic is: Pneumatology in Africa: The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit. Submit a paper.