Africa's Roots in God

Africa's Roots in God: The Knowledge of the Creator Embedded in the Indigenous African Culture

Sednak Yankson has traced astonishing connections between the Old Testament and the indigenous religious practices of West Africa.

Loren Seibold, D.Min., is pastor of the Worthington Seventh-day Adventist Church, Worthington, Ohio, United States.

I have always been fascinated by unexpected relationships between cultures that were temporally and geographically separated, such as when we hear echoes of Bible stories in the fables of pagan peoples long disconnected from Christian influence or biblical concepts preserved in Chinese characters. These cultural echoes exist, we assume, because we all came from the same roots—people moved, and their ideas moved with them. Yet, over time, those truths dimmed.

Sednak Yankson, a Ghanaian Seventh-day Adventist pastor and scholar, has traced astonishing connections between the Old Testament and the indigenous religious practices of West Africa. Yankson shows how Hebrew names, words, concepts, and even entire ceremonies survived in some African cultures, including, interestingly, the Sabbath. The parallels are too clear to be accidental, such as a celebration by the Ga people that is surprisingly similar to the Passover (right down to painting the house doorposts red) or the Akans’ golden “mercy seat,” on which blood was sprinkled for atonement.

That Africa was a dark continent before the arrival of the missionaries is only a partial truth, insists Yankson; the truths of Scripture were wrapped in the ceremonies and the stories of the African people, awaiting only missionaries to restore to them the complete salvation story.

Those cultural anthropologists who would quibble about the soundness of one or another of Yankson’s tethers between indigenous Africa and the Hebrews would be missing the point. These connections are meaningful to us as believers because they prove that God’s truth cannot be snuffed out, no matter how languages, ethnicities, miles, and centuries may have obscured it. It is because of these roots that Africans responded so readily to the Bible’s stories—and why the once Dark Continent continues on its way to having the largest concentration of Christians in the entire world.


Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

comments powered by Disqus
Loren Seibold, D.Min., is pastor of the Worthington Seventh-day Adventist Church, Worthington, Ohio, United States.

November 2009

Download PDF
Ministry Cover

More Articles In This Issue

Measuring ministry effectiveness objectively

How do pastors determine success? How should they?

Experiencing the power of God

David marveled at the vastness of the heavens as he took time to study them (Ps. 8:3, 4).

Welcoming and retaining your visitors

An experienced pastor shares five steps to creating an atmosphere for first-time guests to his church. They'll work in your church too.

The pastor's guide to resource materials on church history

Must-have information for the serious student who wishes to research the historical development of the church.

Appreciative inquiry: Lessons from a business model

Examining the assumptions supporting David L. Cooperrider's business model, we can focus on the good rather than the problems and thereby achieve a creative spirituality orientation.

The pastoral counselor as prophet and priest

While not necessarily acting in a mediatory way, pastoral counselors find themselves in a unique position where they can act in both priestly and prophetic roles with church members.

Creative Celebrations: Involving children in your special services

What would change if we worked out our worship, mission, and service from the perspective of the children in our congregations? Here are some ideas to start you thinking about involving children in the special events of your church. Churches are in different places along the journey of child inclusiveness, and various cultures find some things unacceptable or have different local meanings for actions and symbols. So, a wide range of ideas has been included, not as prescriptions, but as ideas to stimulate thoughtfulness and creativity.

View All Issue Contents

Digital delivery

If you're a print subscriber, we'll complement your print copy of Ministry with an electronic version.

Sign up
Advertisement - Southern Adv Univ 180x150 - Animated

Trending

Recent issues

See All
Advertisement - Healthy and Happy Family - Skyscraper 160x600