“Deliverance is possible, but it needs to be in line with the Bible”, so began Pentecostal pastor Apostle Dr. Opoku Onyinah. Onyinah is the Chairman of Church of Pentecost, which, with over a million members, is the largest Pentecostal church in Ghana. Here, as in many other places, are the themes of demon belief and exorcism or deliverance of daily relevance. And similar phenomenon can be observed in other continents.
To examine this question, the conference Magic, Witchcraft, Demons and Deliverance. A Global Conversation on an Intercultural Challenge, which took place between 24.-26. October 2014 at the International Protestant Conference Center in Wuppertal, brought together sixty participants from more than 15 countries.
Presenters included scientists of religion, missiologists, theologians, ethnologists and anthropologists along with practioners such as Ephorus Dr. Jaharianson Saragih from Indonesia.
Apostle Dr. Opoku Onyinah, Ghana
Prof. Dr. Katrien Pype, Belgien, und Prof. Dr. Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu, Ghana
Dr. Jaharianson Saragih, Indonesien
Such geographical diversity was apparent also among the attendees, which included students from the Kirchlichen Hochschule Wuppertal/Bethel, doctoral students from different universities, and representatives of the theological colleges of the United Evangelical Mission member churches.
Dr. Henning Wrogemann, Professor für Missions- und Religionswissenschaft and director of the Instituts für Interkulturelle Theologie und Interreligiöse Studien (IITIS) of the Kirchlichen Hochschule Wuppertal/Bethel und Dr. Claudia Währisch-Oblau, director for evangelization of the United Evangelical Mission (VEM) initiated the discussion.
Dr. Claudia Währisch-Oblau, VEM
Father Dr. John O´Brien,CSSp, Pakistan
For Dr. Claudia Währisch-Oblau, “Witchcraft accusations, possession, and deliverance play in a great role in some member churches of the VEM. That applies to churches in Indonesia or Tanzania, also well as to those in the Congo, Cameron or South Africa. Churches are seeking answers to how they might respond to these phenomena. This international conference was conceived as a platform for an exchange of thinking over cultural borders.”
Prof. Wrogemann continued that “this conference is a good example of intensive cooperation between the VEM and the Kirchlichen Hochschule Wuppertal/Bethel. It is a matter of the interaction between science and church praxis, and of the fertilization of both.“
Tjopehi Mbuende, Botswana
Alongside the main lectures, there was the opportunity for exchange through group discussion, during which participants could express the specific challenges found in their contexts.
M.A. Felix Riedel, Marburg
Prof. Dr. Scott Moreau, Wheaton, USA
Prof. Dr. Andreas Heuser, Basel, Schweiz
Alongside evaluations and reflections on contexts such as Ghana and West Africa (O. Onyinah; K. Asamoah-Gyadu), Indonesia (J. Saragih), the USA (S. Moreau) or Pakistan (J. O´Brien), anthropological lectures explored the representation of witches and the possessed in film (F. Riedel) and other media (K. Pype), and missiological contributions lent insight into the internationally available literature concerning spiritual warfare (A. Heuser).
Prof. Dr. H. Wrogemann, Wuppertal
Rev. Kambale Kahongya (links im Bild), Goma, DR Kongo
The challenges faced also by the classic “mission churches” in parts of Africa and Asia were developed (C. Währisch-Oblau), and for the area of theological education the increasing significance of the discipline of intercultural theology/missiology and the science of religion was discussed (H. Wrogemann). In this regard, it is not simply a question of intercultural and interreligious understanding, but rather imparting knowledge of the life conditions and contexts of Christian churches and movements in other contents. In culturally and religiously plural societies, such knowledge is indispensable for any constructive contribution to peaceful coexistence and mutual appreciation.
The contributions will appear as an edited work in English in early 2015. In conclusion, the organizers thank not only those who assisted the conference, but the sponsors: The ecumenical department of the Evangelischen Kirche von Westfalen (EKvW) and the Evangelischen Kirche im Rheinland (EKiR), the Förderverein der Kirchlichen Hochschule Wuppertal/Bethel, the Deutschen Gesellschaft für Missionswissenschaft (DGMW) and the Vereinten Evangelischen Mission (VEM).