For churches in Africa, the Old Testament has historically occupied a prominent place in theological thinking. “Our
theology is constructed with the image of God in the Old Testament,” reflects Charles Klagba, theological consultant for the Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiative in Africa (EHAIA).
“It is for that reason the reaction of many churches on this continent to the epidemic is very much influenced by the belief that illness is a punishment for individual sins,” he says. “This theology is very vivid in the Old Testament. This interpretation has reinforced the stigma and hindered the ministry of the church to be competent.”
Deconstructing this theology and giving birth to an alternative approach that can give hope to people have been at the centre of Klagba's encounters with theologians, pastors and church leaders.
“I engage churches and theological institutions in a serious re-reading of the Bible in order to reshape for themselves their discourses that are rooted in the daily concerns of the people.” His journey, he said, could be termed a “theology of deconstruction.”
His ultimate objective is fostering new readings of the Bible that make the whole church an HIV-competent and healing community. With a focus on re-reading the Bible in the HIV era, workshop topics include ethics, mission, African religions, sexuality, gender and Christian education.
“Participants, somehow, come out transformed. Many clearly commit themselves to engage in some kinds of action as a result of this transformation,” he says.