Salvation in Igbo religious experience : its influence on Igbo Christianity
This thesis is a systematic study of ideas of salvation in Igbo Primal Religious experience and their influence on the conversion and present religious outlook of Igbo Christians. Chapter one is a critique of representative works on Igbo religious experience by Igbo scholars; including historians, social anthropologists and Christian theologians - clergy and lay. In Chapter two, we discover through the study of various types of Igbo primal prayers that the people seek to experience salvation in terms of Ezi-Ndu, viable life. Chapter three shows that to live according to Ofo-na-Ogu, moral rectitude, as codified in the traditional decorum, Omenala, is the sine qua non for the enjoyment of Ezi-Ndu. But those who fall foul of these demands may recover the situation through the cultic rites of "cleansing and warding off", which may sometimes include the dedication of an osu (Chapter four); though there appears to be no permanent answer for man's guilt. In Chapter five, Ahamefula, the eschatological dimension of Ezi-Ndu is seen to consist of four aspects which imply continuity. Chapter six discusses the various ways through which the Igbo seek to harness the powers inherent in religious forms for the enhancement of life. The viability of a religious form depends on its ability to produce this power or mana which is thought to come from the gods. Thus in Chapter seven, Igbo conversion to Christianity is viewed as an encounter between two systems of salvation resulting in a movement on the part of the people in the direction of power. The determinant factors in this conversion were inherent theological ideas whereas socio-economic factors are important as catalysts. In Chapter eight, case studies among three different "generations" of Igbo Christians reveal the persistence of Primal Religious concepts though sometimes in new or re-defined form. In conclusion, we suggest that the way to eliminate this harrowing contradiction of "two faiths in one mind" is through theological reflection which is at once grounded in Biblicity, historic Christianity and Igbo thought, in such a way that Igbo Christians through a dexterous integration of the 'old' and the 'new' are able to find in Christ power and fullness of life, that is, Ezi-Ndu.