The subject of the spirit world is awfully overlooked in Christian theology. What contributed to this theological omission was largely due to the Enlightenment presuppositions which essentially denied the existence of the spirit world. This caused early missionaries to simply fail to see a natural consequence of the primal worldview which allows for the interrelationship between the natural world and that of spirits and gods or simply between the material and the spiritual worlds. This secular or non super-naturalistic worldview tends to exclude such a relationship, so it questions the whole concept or phenomenon of spirit possession. Witchcraft and sorcery are explained and analysed in psychological, medical and non-religious terms.
The African spirit world is one area that has been, for a long time, neglected or overlooked by the traditional (western) Christian theology with disastrous effects (Pomerville 1985:77). Even though the African worldview is akin to that world of New Testament times (see Malina et al 1996:14; Mugambi 1989:56g).
The Holy Spirit – A subdued Person
Equally overlooked in western (traditional) theology is the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the individual and the community of faith. Menzies (1979:69) shows that until Reformation the doctrine of pneumatology developed only in terms of the essential being of the third person of the trinity.
Even in contemporary mission theology, the absence of the Holy Spirit is conspicuous. Melvin Hodges, a classical Pentecostal missiologist, describes the silence on the Holy Spirit as a neglect of an indispensable qualification for missions – the endowment of Pentecostal power (Hodges 1977:149). He links the relative success of Pentecostal missions directly with the place that Pentecostal give to the Holy Spirit – a place similar to that which New Testament believers gave to the Holy Spirit.