From Historical to Critical Post-Colonial Theology: The Contribution of John S. Mbiti and Jesse N.K. Mugambi

By Robert S. Heaney

An exploration of the writings of African theologians John Mbiti and Jesse Mugambi, and the emergence of a distinctive African voice in post-colonial theology.

ISBN: 9780227175804


What is post-colonial theology? How does it relate to theology that emerged in historically colonial situations? These are two questions that get to the heart of Robert S. Heaney’s work as he considers the extent to which theologians predating the emergence of post-colonial theology might be considered as precursors to this theological movement. Heaney argues that the work of innovative theologians John S. Mbiti and Jesse N.K. Mugambi, important in their own right, must now also be considered in relation to the continued emergence of post-colonial theology. When this is done, fresh perspectives on both the nature of post-colonial theology and contextual theology emerge.

Through a sympathetic and critical reading of Mbiti and Mugambi, Heaney offers a series of constructive moves that counter the ongoing temptation towards acontextualism that continues to haunt theology both in the north and in the south.

Additional information

Dimensions229 × 153 mm


Trade InformationJPOD

About the Author

Robert S. Heaney is Assistant Professor of Christian Mission and Director of the Centre for Anglican Communion Studies at Virginia Theological Seminary.


Foreword by Christopher Rowland


1. Post-Colonialism
2. The Critique of Mission Christianity in the Theological Writings of Mbiti and Mugambi
3. Eschatological Issues and Context: Mbiti and the Akamba
4. The Theological Significance of African Traditional Religions: Engaging the Religio-Cultural Experience of Africa
5. Christ and Symbol in African Community
6. Coloniality and Mugambi’s Theology of Reconstruction
7. Comparing the Writings of Mbiti and Mugambi with Post-Colonial Theology




Endorsements and Reviews

This work breaks new ground in the field of African theology and will be a significant contribution to contemporary research.
Christopher Rowland, Dean Ireland’s Professor of the Exegesis of Holy Scripture, Queen’s College, Oxford

This is a timely and unique guide to help generate biblical, theological, and missiological attention on the richness, breadth, depth, and often underappreciated relevance of African theology for the World Church. For many years to come, this will act as a dynamic resource for theologians and church leaders across the globe who are involved in the business of contextualisation of African theology and its call for transformative and liberative application.
Rev. Canon Alfred uw’Imana Sebahene, Director of Extension Education and African Public Theologian and Christian Ethicist, St. John’s University of Tanzania

Mbiti and Mugambi are towering figures in the study of African religious traditions. However, through a number of constructive moves, Heaney brings their voices squarely into the field of post-colonial thought, enabling their work to help us think deeply about coloniality and power. Their voices bring both judgment and hope for those seeking to subvert hegemonic power and serve a God who is seen, most often, in the margins.
Jonathan S. Barnes, Executive of Mission Education, Global Ministries/DOM

Robert Heaney provides a valuable comparative analysis of the works of two of the most influential religion scholars in Africa.
Tinyiko Maluleke, in Theology, Vol 120, No 3

In an ambitious feat, Robert Heaney’s recent book seeks to situate the works of John S. Mbiti and Jesse N.K. Mugambi as being worthy precursors to the emergence of critical post-colonial theology…. Heaney’s work is an important contribution to the conversation surrounding Mbiti, Mugambi, African theology, and World Christianity.
Clement Yung Wen, in The Expository Times, Vol 129, No 3

The primary strength of Heaney’s book is that it does indeed provide a good case for the continuing relevance of Mbiti and Mugambi’s contributions to African theology and their significance today, especially in relation to post-colonial theologizing. Heaney’s book is certainly worthwhile for scholars of African Theology and post-colonial theology, as well as those exploring issues of method in contextualizing. If used as a textbook, Haney’s book would be useful as supplementary reading after reading primary texts. It is most appropriate for academic readers and libraries of theological institutions.
Stephanie A. Lowery, in African Journal of Evangelical Theology, 2016