Love and Justice: The Foundations of Gudina Tumsa’s Social Engagement and Leadership
Different groups have laid claim to the legacy of Gudina Tumsa, a prominent Ethiopian evangelical theologian and church leader. Some consider him a prophet, others a theologian, still others a martyr, and many more a political activist. Gudina stands out among Ethiopian evangelical leaders of recent decades. As such he defies neat categorization into existing labels. Unable to reconcile his religious conviction and social engagement, many evangelicals describe him as controversial. Scholars have tried to explain his politically engaged leadership by referring to the influence of his formative years or his experiences in the United States of the civil rights era. In this paper, I argue that Gudina’s unique leadership was informed and shaped by his deeply erudite understanding of the theology of Christian realism that dominated theological and ecumenical debates earlier in his career in the 1960s. Understanding his intellectual foundation not only shows seamless consistency between his faith and his social engagement but also explains the roots of the holistic theology he championed and the adaptive leadership he provided in uncertain times for his church.
Keywords: Adaptive leadership, Christian realism, holistic ministry, social engagement
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