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HTS Theological Studies

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Abstract

BALOYI, M. Elijah. A pastoral examination of the Christian Church's response to fears of and reactions to witchcraft amongst African people in the Limpopo province of South Africa. Herv. teol. stud. [online]. 2014, vol.70, n.2, pp. 01-09. ISSN 2072-8050.

ABSTRACT Amongst other things, African culture (societies) has been characterised by its perception and fear of witchcraft. Even though the belief in witchcraft is an old phenomenon, its growth is revealed and to some extent mitigated by videos, films and accounts and stories of church ministers. Whilst some Christian worship services have been turned into witchcraft-centred campaigns against witchcraft, a second group perceive witchcraft as a way of getting rid of one's enemies and a third group see it as the root of human misfortune. Indeed ministers (including preachers and pastoral caregivers) are almost 'measured' by their ability to successfully ward off demons (believed to have been sent by witches), as a yardstick for determining whether they are good ministers with a good following or congregation. The first group of people attend church to pray for protection against 'the enemy', the second group approach native doctors to protect their households from attacks by witches, and the third group rid themselves of witches by burning them along with their personal belongings. This article investigates the impact and consequences of a fear of witchcraft amongst Christians in African societies, particularly those in the Limpopo province of South Africa. It also offers pastoral guidelines for a theological response to witchcraft and its life-threatening influence on people in the affected communities.

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