African Lutheran Theologians Establish Network for Transformative Biblical Interpretation

Theologians attending the regional hermeneutics workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa. Photo: LWF/I. Benesch
Theologians attending the regional hermeneutics workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa. Photo: LWF/I. Benesch

Strengthening Collaboration in Research and Publication

(LWI) - Lutheran theologians from across Africa have formed the “African Lutheran Hermeneutics Network” to enhance theological study on the continent and contribute to the global Lutheran identity, in anticipation of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.

The agreement came at the conclusion of a regional hermeneutics workshop organized by The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Department for Theology and Public Witness (DTPW), 27 November - 1 December, in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Twenty-five theologians from Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Namibia, Nigeria, Tanzania and South Africa worked to identify how the biblical and Lutheran heritages can equip churches to be agents of societal transformation.

“The intent is to establish and strengthen collaboration among African Lutheran theologians in research and publications and strengthen the link between theological education and leadership development,” said Rev. Dr Faustin Mahali of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania.

Three seminars on Luther’s texts, “The Freedom of a Christian” and “Trade and Usury” were conducted by Rev. Dr Hans-Peter Grosshans of the University of Münster, Germany.

“Reading these texts together and relating them to contemporary issues sheds new light on our traditional understanding of the basic marks of the Lutheran tradition,” said Ms Toromare Mananato, Malagasy Lutheran Church.

LWF member churches in the region are preparing for the Reformation anniversary and celebrations in 2015 to mark the 60th anniversary of the 1955 inaugural gathering of Africa’s Lutheran churches in Marangu, Tanzania. The Johannesburg workshop discussed plans for the publication of a journal addressing issues related to the Bible, Lutheran tradition and African contexts.

Rev. Dr Kenneth Mtata, study secretary for Lutheran Theology, Practice and Formation at DTPW, said establishing the regional theological study network will enrich the LWF program on biblical hermeneutics that seeks to create space for reading the Bible together in the Lutheran communion.