The process of inculturation of christianity in Kenya: a case study of Kaaga Methodist Synod, Meru
Inculturation is of paramount importance in the transmission of Christianity in a cross-cultural setting. This is necessarily the case because inculturation produces a wholesome Christianity, which adequately meets the spiritual needs of the communities being evangelized. Lack of inculturation, however, renders Christianity ineffective in the lives of the recipient communities. The main focus of this study was, therefore, to investigate the process of incultulation of Christianity in Kenya, with particular reference to the Kaaga Methodist Synod in Meru, where primary data were collected, mainly through oral interviews. Secondary sources were also examined which shed light on the issues being investigated. The overall data were then synthesized, analyzed, and interpreted. In view of the data collected, it was found out that the Ameru community enjoyed a healthy and vibrant moral virtues which were steeped into their ethnographic background and world-view. However, the English Methodist Missionaries, in their evangelization condemned the entire Ameru religion-cultural heritage, labelling it "primitive", "pagan" and "devilish"; and therefore unfit for inculturation. Instead of engaging in the process of inculturation, they transplanted their home developed Christianity and planted it wholesale among the Ameru community. This approach precipitated a far reaching effect upon the Ameru community, such as the misconduct of the youth, boring worship services, and burdensome foreign religious organizational structure. The impact on the resilient cultural elements such as a curse or indigenous healing engender a devastating effect upon the converts because they reverse to the same cultural elements to obtain the spiritual ingredients lacking in the Mission Christianity. This scenario precipitates dualism. In order to resolve dualism and offer the Ameru community wholistic living, the study has proposed a process of inculturation of Christianity. The process consists of a theological integration procedure in which the indigenous cultural elements, which are compatible with the Gospel are incorporated into Christianity and those which are incompatible, are replaced. The integration and the replacement help in enriching the Mission Christianity, and therefore as a consequence, overcomes dualism. This leads to wholistic living. In our quest for the inculturation of Christianity, we have employed two theoretical models; namely Nieburhr's Christ and culture model, and Shorter's theoretical set model. Christ and culture model has been instrumental in evaluating and identifying the indigenous cultural elements which merit inclusion in the process of inculturation. The theoretical set model has also been vital in gauging the levels of cultural change for the purpose of inculturation. The two theoretical models adopted as the frame of reference for this study, were not only relevant, but also adequate and justified. The thrust of this work was to produce an inculturated Christianity in order to provide the Ameru community with wholistic living. To this end, various recommendations, based on the findings of the investigations, have been given on how this can be achieved. Admittedly, this study is limited in many ways, necessiting identification of further study.