The spirituality of Bantu Stephen Biko: a theology from below
Jentile, Thembelani Elvis Jentile
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This thesis employs the lived religion theoretical paradigm in its attempts to interpret Bantu Stephen Biko’s spirituality. Lived religion’s strength lies in that it emphasises religion as a lifestyle and focuses on the lived experiences of people. Therefore, of interest is how Biko, a “young layman”, challenged the boundaries that delineate the sacred and the profane. The study critically engages selected writings of Biko with the intention of understanding and explaining his spirituality. Three themes were identified on his views and criticism of the church, namely “leadership of the church”, “content of theology”, and the “form of religion”. His spirituality can be defined as a secular spirituality; that is, spirituality lived outside the boundaries of religion. Biko united issues of religion and politics, and by so doing he redefined political activism as belonging to the realm of the sacred. In Biko, activism is seen as imbued with religious meaning and inhabited by forms of religious practice, because in organising black people to see their worth and by confronting injustice, Biko engaged in practices that were at the same time as religious as they were political. He lived his religion, and it became meaningful to him as religious ideas and beliefs were experienced through actions and emotions. He did all this by challenging the boundaries that delineate the sacred and the profane.