Leadership & Authority: Bula Matari and Life-Community Ecclesiology in Congo
MetadataShow full item record
This book is the very opposite of armchair theology. It comes out of intimate and painful experience of the repression, corruption, violence and brutality of the recent history of Congo-Zaire. Indeed the other author had twice during the period of his doctoral study in Birmingham to return to his home country to ensure the safety of his family. What he has to say therefore – on power and roles of bishops, priests and laity, and on Christian theology in Africa – gains immeasurably from having been refined in the crucible of living as a Christian leader in one of the most exploited and disturbed regions of Africa. Bishop Titre seeks to discover a post-colonial liberation theology for his church. He naturally deals with the brutality of colonialism in Congo. But (contrary to so much post-colonial posturing) he also fully recognizes the responsibilities of post-colonial political and ecclesiastical leaders for the present situation. He points out that leadership in much of traditional Africa was far more consensual and democratic than is commonly thought. To that extent Africa’s manic dictators like Mobutu (and Mugabe), however much they may claim to uphold traditional values, are cultural aberrations. At the same time Dr. Ande presents a trenchant critique of the role of church leaders in their failure to challenge adequately the excesses of political absolutism. His assessment of the episcopy, for too often preferring privilege and the open exercise of power instead of humble service, has a much wider relevance than simply to the Anglican Church of Congo. The author’s examination of African theology is in every way as sharp as his political and social analysis, especially in his argument that its use of theological concepts and biblical language may mask underlying assumptions as to ideology and power structures. Bishop Ande’s own theological reconstruction for self-understanding and authority within the Anglican Church of Congo is Christological, or rather Trinitarian. The people of God, for him, is a Christ centered life community, inspired by the Spirit of God. Leadership in such a community is a function, not a status, ‘and apostolic succession’ belongs to all the people of God including the laity. Dr. Titre Ande has produced a most valuable work which deserves to be read not by those with an interest in the future of the Christian faith in Africa, but also by anyone concerned with the debate over authority within the church.
- Book Reviews