African Pentecostalism: An Introduction

African Pentecostalism: An Introduction

African Pentecostalism: An Introduction

African Pentecostalism: An Introduction

Synopsis

Across Africa, Christianity is thriving in all shapes and sizes. But one particular strain of Christianity prospers more than most-Pentecostalism.Pentecostals believe that everyone can personally receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit such as prophecy or the ability to speak in tongues. In Africa, this kind of faith, in which the supernatural is a daily presence, is sweeping the continent. Today, about 107 million Africans are Pentecostals-and the numbers continue to rise. In this book, Ogbu Kalu provides the first ever overview of Pentecostalism in Africa. He shows the amazing diversity of the faith, whichflourishes in many different forms in diverse local contexts. While most peoplebelieve that Pentecostalism was brought to Africa and imposed on its people bymissionaries, Kalu argues emphatically that this is not the case. Throughout the book, he demonstrates that African Pentecostalism is distinctly African in character, not imported from the West. With an even-handed approach, Kalupresents the religion's many functions in African life. Rather than shying away from controversial issues like the role of money and prosperity in the movement, Kalu describes malpractice when he sees it. The only book to offer a comprehensive look at African Pentecostalism, this study touches upon themovement's identity, the role of missionaries, media and popular culture, women ,ethics, Islam, and immigration. The resulting work will prove invaluable to anyone interested in Christianity outside the West.

Excerpt

In the past five years, I have team taught a course on global Pentecostalism with Professor David Daniels III. It has been a wonderful experience teaching on Pentecostal historiography and its manifestations in Africa and Asia while Daniels teaches on Pentecostalism in North America and Latin America, and Pentecostal theology. He continually challenged me to write a textbook for the African component. This work is designed to introduce and guide the reader through the literature on African Pentecostalism, to trace the background under the colonial canopy and the contours of Pentecostal Christianity in the postindependence period. The Pentecostal story must be woven into the broader tapestry of Christian presence and African responses. Contemporary scholarship tends to focus on the present manifestations of the Pentecostal movement, and without a long view misses much of the significance of the movement in the Africans’ encounters with the gospel. With a keen eye on space/ context, time/periodization, significant themes, changing patterns, and underpinning ideology, the historiography brings together many voices, especially the African voices that have not been heard because those who own the printing press dominate the conversation.

I hope to achieve certain goals: to weave the African story into the global and Western historiography and revisit the debate on the genealogy/origins and development of Pentecostalism. The relationship between Western Pentecostal evangelists and Africa differs from the pattern of the old missionary Christianity. One may need a foreign missionary to hear the gospel for the first time, but not necessarily for experiencing the baptism of the Spirit. Yet some . . .

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