The implications of Missio Dei for transforming the ideal of well-being of the Sangha Baka Pygmies (Republic of Congo)
Van Rooyen, Jacobus Louis Stephanus
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It is a common myth that "natural man" seeks God or lives in harmony with the Creator. Contrasting the "praetercolonial"1 Baka Pygmies'2 conception of wellbeing with the true ideal of wellbeing, depicted in the New Testament (specifically in John 6 and Philippians 4), it becomes evident that they lack an important aspect, shared with the rest of humanity: total reliance on the Creator. The New Testament ideal of wellbeing is closely related to a reliance on the mercy of God, born from the realisation of inadequacy and the need for redemption. The Gospel speaks of a God that not only offers that redemption, but in effect became redemption. This contradicts a common African belief that God abandoned His creation and that humanity is now at the mercy of the spiritual powers confined to a naturalistic world. Applying Brueggemann's three-storied worldview shows that God is actively involved in humanity, thereby contradicting the false notion of a distant Creator. The Baka do not consider themselves sinful and share the rest of humanity's unwillingness to surrender their independence to the mercy of God (Luke 18:9-14). They are consequently vulnerable to manipulation by spirits and powers in their search to interact with "superhuman" forces, in an effort to achieve an idealised state of wellbeing. Missiologically speaking, by transforming this subjective, anthropocentric ideal of wellbeing, the praetercolonial Baka is led to a new ideal based upon the surrender of self- reliance that leads to comprehensive salvation in Jesus Christ, avoiding vestiges of syncretism, relativism and dualism in new converts.
- Theology