The sacrifice of Christ in African perspective: a contribution to the atonement debate

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The notion of “sacrifice” is highly controversial in the contemporary Western evangelical discussion. In recent debates about the doctrine of atonement, two American theologians and leading critics of penal substitution – Mark Baker and Joel Green – have argued that the concept of sacrifice is of limited value for explaining the meaning of atonement in Western contexts. Although they recognize that the concept of sacrifice powerfully communicates the saving work of Christ in African contexts, they believe that there are limitations as to what African reflection on sacrifice can contribute to substantive theological issues. In Africa, however, the notion is prevalent across a wide range of theological traditions. The work of three African theologians – John Ekem, Edison Kalengyo, and Mercy Oduyoye – challenges Baker and Green’s understanding of sacrifice in five important ways. First, they challenge their metaphorical approach to sacrifice with their dialogical typological approaches. Second, they challenge their focus on ritual sacrifice with their attention to both ritual sacrifice and self-sacrifice. Third, they challenge their reduction of sacrifice to moral self-giving with their emphasis on multiple themes. Fourth, they challenge their association of sacrifice and death with their strong association of sacrifice and life. Finally, they challenge their focus on understanding and articulation with their deep concern for worship and everyday life.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSalvation in African Christianity
EditorsRodney L. Reed, David K. Ngaruiya
Place of PublicationCarlisle
Publisher Langham Global Library
Number of pages26
ISBN (Print)9781839739187
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2023

Publication series

NameAfrica Society of Evangelical Theology Series


  • African theology
  • atonement
  • Lord’s Supper
  • ritual sacrifice
  • salvation
  • sacrifice
  • sacrifice of Christ
  • self-sacrifice

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