The Church as Salt and Light: Path to an African Ecclesiology of Abundant Life

By Stan Chu Ilo, Joseph Ogbonnaya and Alex Ojacor (editors)

A thought-provoking series of essays by African scholars examining the theological and pastoral necessity of a distinctively African Christianity.

ISBN: 9780227680087


At once prophetic, pastoral, and personal, this book applies the symbols of ‘salt’ and ‘light’ as ecclesiological images for reimaging the African Church for today and tomorrow.

Reconsidering the path towards abundant life for God’s people in the challenging context of the African continent, and through the agency of African Christianity, the contributors stress the necessity of de-Westernising African theology and ask these fundamental questions: What is the face of Jesus in African Christianity? What is the face and identity of the Church in Africa? What positive imprint is Christianity leaving on the lives and societies of African Christians? Does the Christian message have the potential of positively affecting African civilization as it once did in Europe? What is the relevance and place of African Christianity as a significant voice in shaping both the future of Africa and that of world Christianity?

The Church as Salt and Light brings to the fore new voices in African theology, and will be of great interest to all those concerned with the future of a diverse and responsive global Church.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 192

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Stan Chu Ilo is Assistant Professor of Religion and Education, University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto.

Alex Ojacor is a professor of Religion and Associate Dean of Studies at St. Mary’s National Major Seminary Ggaba in Kampala.

Joseph Ogbonnaya is a scholar at the Lonergan Research Institute, Regis College, Toronto, and chaplain of the Igbo Catholic Community of Toronto.


Foreword by Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator, SJ

1. Beginning Afresh with Christ in the Search for Abundant Life in Africa / Stan Chu Ilo
2. The Church in Africa and the Search for Integral and Sustainable Development of Africa:
     Toward a Socio-Economic and Politically Responsive Church / Emeka Xris Obiezu
3. The Church in Africa: Salt of the Earth? / Joseph Ogbonnaya
4. The Church in Africa and the Search for Abundant Life: Signposts for Renewal
     and Transformation of God’s People in Africa / Alex Ojacor
5. Globalization and the African Woman: A Socio-Cultural Analysis of the Effect of
     the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) on Women / Bosco Ebere Amakwe
6. New Evangelization in Africa: Learning from the Culture of Love in the Early Church / Bekeh Ukelina Utietiang



Endorsements and Reviews

To put it simply, here is a book that clearly transcends the all-too-common approaches in African theology that, to quote an apt phrase from the Introduction, still cling to ‘Western theologies as canons for doing theology in Africa’. Hopefully, the original and insightful approach of this work will inspire definitive change in theological methodologies in seminaries and institutions of higher learning throughout the continent. The Church as Salt and Light overcomes the theologically sterile divisions between, for example, Ecclesiology and Christology, religion and social development, and faith and life to which we are accustomed. Instead, it situates the church’s vocation directly in its true setting as ‘salt’ and ‘light’ in concrete human locations. The young African scholars whose ideas make up this book reorient us in clear and powerful ways to the necessity of putting at centre-stage of theological thought the meaning of church as practical application of the liberation and solidarity that form the revelation contained in Holy Scripture. Indeed, as Pliny the Elder said two thousand years ago: ‘Ex Africa semper aliquid novi’, Africa will always bring forth something new.
Laurenti Magesa, Professor of Moral Theology, Maryknoll Institute for African Studies, Nairobi, Kenya

Rooted in the conditions and vibrant imagination of African Christians, this collection explores a new ecclesiology for bringing abundant life among the suffering African people. … this rich tapestry weaves sub-Saharan African struggles, wisdom, and tradition as strong and integral threads into the tradition of the universal (Catholic) church. This book of highly relevant theology, courage, and vision also invites ecumenical solidarity for compassionate justice and peace.
Marilyn J. Legge, Associate Professor of Christian Ethics, Emmanuel College of Victoria University, Toronto, Canada

Given that the church is an interpretative source of theology the authors aptly anchor their thoughts on the necessity of de-Westernizing African Christianity in a manner that will bring about the realization of ‘God’s dream for Africa’. In the now vociferous call for paradigm shift in both contemporary ecclesiology and Christology this collection is both topical and seriously thought provoking.
Felix Nwatu, Professor of Systematic Theology and Dean of Theology, Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu, Nigeria

This volume offers many unique insights into the way that Christianity can be performed in such a way that it counters and overcomes the oppressive paradigms.
Nathan Crawford, in Reviews in Religion and Theology, Vol 20, No 3

This is a fine cutting-edge book by energetic, young black African Roman Catholic theologians. They tilt against the legacy of colonialism and current centralising tendencies in Rome. They long for freedom to increase inculturation, lay involvement, and the part played by women in the life and administration of the RC Church.
Graham Kings, in Church Times, 18 October 2013

The Church as Salt and Light discusses how Christians in Africa can develop distinct, thriving communities that contextualize the gospel and abundant life of Jesus. … The passionate essays suggest steps of evangelization beginning with the ‘demand for a richer and more intimate contact with Christ’. … The essays are grounded in christocentric biblical theology and are designed to be ‘prophetic and personal’.
Craig Stephans, in Theological Book Review, Vol 25, No 1

The Church as Salt and Light may contribute towards an understanding of how African ecclesiology should be viewed.
Peter Nagel, in Religion & Theology, Vol 21, Issue 1-2

The contributors write with accuracy and with the motive of addressing Christians and Christian Churches in Africa in particular (and the world in general), to position the African Church … where it is biblically placed by the Lord of the Church – i.e. representing Christ … as Salt and Light, rather than maintaining the status quo, the culture, and the history of Africa into which the Christian religion and faith was born.
Lawrence Oladimeji, in The Expository Times, Vol 125.12