Project Documents

Date of Award

1997

Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Bruce L. Bauer

Second Advisor

Nancy J. Vynmeister

Abstract

Problem. Ancestral and other traditional practices continue to trouble the Seventh-day Adventist Church in several parts of the world. It is not uncommon for believers to seek ancestors' mediation whenever they are faced with problems. Most church members deny that ancestral and other traditional practices exist within the church, whereas others do not want to discuss the issue o f traditional practices because of fear of being labeled superstitious. The denial is due to the way the church has handled ancestral practices in the past. Because most members do not know what to do when problems come, they revert to ancestral practices.

Method. This study discussed ancestral practices and how they relate to culture. It also addressed contextualization and explored ways of replacing traditional practices with biblically accepted functional substitutes. The materials used were gathered through personal interviews and from several libraries in North America and in Botswana.

Conclusions. Contrary to past hopes, problems related to ancestral and other traditional practices will not disappear by themselves because these practices satisfy psychological as well as spiritual needs among those who practice them. The church should openly discuss these issues and become aggressive in finding Christian replacements for these practices. Members should become involved in this process. If proper principles of contextualization are followed, it is possible to find meaningful replacements which are biblically acceptable. The process of arriving at appropriate Christian functional substitutes should center around Scripture and dependence upon the Holy Spirit for guidance. It is after appropriate functional substitutes have been found that the church can effectively help people who are affected by ancestral and other traditional practices.

Subject Area

Ethnology--Botswana

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