It Took Me a While to Get Her Eschatology!

Discussing we were discussing Mercy Amba Oduyoye’s chapter we quickly got distracted wondering: is she is really speaking for all African Women, or rather perhaps Ghanaian women, or women from the Ivory Coast. Our attention was especially honed in on this considering Yong’s chapter was quite explicit as it reminded readers that Asian Theology is an incredibly broad term with very diverse subcategories under its umbrella: Indian Theology and South East Asian Theology, Mijung Korean theology.

As I reread Oduyoye’s chapter I found myself getting further frustrated. Her discussion on Hope reminded me of a very white American Evangelical understanding of pride and sacrifice. In Memories of God: Theological Reflections on a Life Roberta Bondi tells the story of growing up in a religious community that simply expected women to sacrifice for their family. When a neighbor woman’s husband left her for another woman the distain in the gossip blamed this victim. She wasn’t making enough sacrifice for her husband and family. [1] I first read Oduyoye’s notion of hope for African women as: continue to endure hardship, for one day Christ will come. Furthermore, Oduyoye says that the African idea of “peace and prosperity… does not allow for despair.”[2] I was feeling that Oduyoye was saying that in Africa women inhibited peace and prosperity if they feel the despair of both the West’s rape of their home, as well as their culture’s abandonment of their personhood. As a woman who has dealt with plenty of depression (despair) having not come from a place that has been pillaged or a culture that has denied my personhood I was overwhelmed.

Confused I thumbed through the chapter again. There at the beginning of the chapter was the title: Eschatology. Suddenly Oduyoye’s words were making sense to me. She is not writing about how it is in Africa now, but rather she is writing on how some African women see the end times coming to fruition. It is not that despair is a stumbling block to peace and prosperity, but rather when peace and prosperity come, they will transform despair.

My church often talks of the Kingdom of God as being here and now. So when Oduyoye says “Self-sacrifice is either for all or for no one. It does not work out as God’s method of salvation if victimization is being labeled as self-giving”[3] I am left contemplating the glory this holds for the Kingdom of God here and now. For me this feels like and eschatological invitation to push back on the patriarchy that say it is a woman’s responsibility not a man’s to sacrifice for their family. I feel an invitation to be angry at the clergy that tell young wives they are at fault for their abuse for not being good enough wives. By no means is Oduyoye’s goal to convince readers to start a revolution. Rather her call is to step into and further the Kingdom of God that is here and now.

[1] Bondi, Memories of God: Theological Reflections on a Life (Nashville, Tn: Abigndon Press, 1995).

[2] Oduyoye, Escatology in African Women’s Theology (Cleveland, OH: Pilgrims Press, 2001),113.

[3] Oduyoye, Escatology in African Women’s Theology (Cleveland, OH: Pilgrims Press, 2001),118.