Narrative, epistemological crisis and reconstruction - my story with special reference to the work of Kwame Bediako

  • Anthony O. Balcomb School of Religion and Theology University of KwaZulu-Natal


Stories create meaning. When the stories we live by no longer make sense in the light of our experience then we undergo an epistemological crisis. This can lead to a mental breakdown if we do not find, or construct, another story or enlarge our existing story so that we can make sense of our lives in the light of our new experience. I underwent such an epistemological crisis when my existing Pentecostal story could not explain my new experience of how the oppressed people were experiencing life in South Africa. A brief time in the reconciliation ministry convinced me that the third way theology that was being done there did not work. Neither could I find satisfaction in liberation theology. Eventually I came across the theology of Kwame Bediako who introduced me to the notion of worldviews and their impact on how we construct the story of our lives. This has opened up for me new dimensions of theology and philosophy that are Afro-centric rather than Eurocentric, meaning that human beings are central but live in a vulnerable relationship with each other and with God in a spiritual universe.