"He Descended to the Dead": Towards a Pastoral Strategy for Making Peace with the Living Dead

Fergus King


The fate of ancestors who died before the evangelisation of their peoples may be a concern for some peoples. This appears a real issue in some contemporary African contexts. There have been a number of responses to this issue suggested which include vicarious baptism, the Chinese Rites controversy, and the intellectual rejection of the worldviews which shape such belief. This paper argues the doctrine of the Descent into Hell may offer some answers to these questions that may be given a ritual or liturgical form. The methodology used to shape a Christianised set of initiation rites (jando) in the Anglican Diocese of Masasi (Tanzania) is helpful in developing accompanying rituals and practice that are culturally appropriate.

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