Celestial Church of Christ: The Politics of Cultural Identity in a West African Prophetic-Charismatic Movement

Article excerpt

By Afeosemime U. Adogame. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1999. Pp. ix, 251. Paperback DM79/ $49.95.

Africa's transformation from a "mission field" into a vigorous heartland of global Christianity is due in large measure to the explosive impact of indigenous prophet-- healing and charismatic movements. Vibrant, immensely popular, and rooted in the rich texture of the traditional culture, such movements and the myriad churches they have spawned have dominated the African Christian landscape for most of the twentieth century. By the closing decades many had begun to lose momentum and membership, having fallen out of step with rapidly evolving sociopolitical contexts. They are increasingly overshadowed by modernistic and more global-conscious Pentecostal/charismatic movements.

The Celestial Church of Christ, an Aladura-type church founded in 1947, straddles past and present by incorporating modernizing and globalizing elements without sacrificing its central prophet-healing dimension. The Nigerian-born Afeosemime Adogame provides a comprehensive and perceptive treatment of the movement's emergence, structure, and impact. The book, originally a 1998 doctoral dissertation, reflects substantial research. The author focuses for the most part on two key areas: (1) the routinization of charisma and other complex developments following the demise of the movements founder in 1985, and (2) the complex synthesis between the ritual patterns and belief system of the Celestial Church of Christ and the Yoruba worldview. …