Esther Acolatse’s new book
Esther E. Acolatse 2014, For Freedom or Bondage?: A Critique of African Pastoral Practices.
Grand Rapids: Wm.B. Eeerdmans, 233 pp., ISBN ISBN: 978-0-8028-6989-0 (pbk), $39
In Ghana today, many people who suffer from a variety of human ills wander from one pastor to another in search of a spiritual cure. Because of the way cultural beliefs about the spiritual world have interwoven with their Christian faith, many Ghanaian Christians live in bondage to their fears of evil spiritual powers, seeing Jesus as a superior power to use against these malevolent spiritual forces. In For Freedom or Bondage? Esther Acolatse argues that Christian pastoral practices in many African churches include too much influence from African traditional religions. She examines Ghana Independent Charismatic churches as a case study, offering theological and psychological analysis of current pastoral care practices through the lenses of Barth and Jung. Facilitating a three-strand conversation between African traditional religion, Barthian theology, and Jungian analytical psychology, Acolatse interrogates problematic cultural narratives and offers a more nuanced approach to pastoral care.
REVIEW by Emmanuel Y. Lartey, Candler School of Theology, Emory University
“In this thoughtful, carefully researched, and much-needed book Esther Acolatse enters into critical engagement with African Christian pastoral practices, especially ‘deliverance’ ministries. . . . Her robust theoretical and practical approach, illustrated with actual contextual cases, avoids the dangers of over-spiritualization, under-psychologizing, and cultural irrelevance, which have marred effective care of souls in contemporary African cultures. For Freedom or Bondage? scratches exactly where African Christians currently itch. It should be required reading for all who have pastoral and educational responsibilities for persons influenced by African cultures.”