DOES CONTEXTUAL THEOLOGY VINDICATE THE IDEAS OF GERALD WEST IN HIS BOOK ‘’THE ACADEMY OF THE POOR?
This work is an attempt to bring the ideas of Gerald O West as expressed in his book, ‘’The Academy of the Poor: Towards a Dialogical Reading of the Bible,’’1 in line with Contextual theology. In doing this, I will make a critical observation to see if Contextual Theology vindicates Gerald West’s ideas as expressed in the book.
Stephen B Bevans in his book, ‘’Models of Contextual Theology’’2 tries to draw a blur line between today’s theology and that of the old. And he claims further that today’s theology adds something new to the two classical sources of doing theology (loci theologici). This new source of doing theology refers to what he terms as present human experience. And it is this third source of doing theology that makes theology contextual. In his own words, ‘’ what makes contextual theology precisely contextual is the recognition of validity of another locus theologicus: present human experience. Theology that is contextual realizes that culture, history, contemporary thought forms, and so forth are to be considered, along with scripture and tradition, as valid sources for theological expression.’’ We see then that contextual theology is logically theology in context, and this therefore 'relativize' theology or make theology subjective as the contents of the ‘’present human experience’’ are in themselves subjective or relative. Stephen B Bevans even go further to say that there is no such thing as theology but only contextual theology.
Gerald O West is a New Testament scholar who embraces this concept of contextual theology without any reservation. And this is luridly expressed in many of his books dating back to 1991, especially in the works entitled ‘’The Bible in Africa: Transactions, Trajectories, and trends; Contextual Bible Study; On the Eve of an African Biblical Studies: Trajectories and Trends. It is therefore not surprising when he...