Christianity Finds Strength in Africa Due to Adaptability

Theologian raises question whether Africa needs American ministries as much as American ministries need Africa.
Speaking at the third and final conference of the Currents in World Christianity project, Sierra Leonean theologian Jehu Hanciles said that, of all religions, the Christian faith was the most adaptable to conditions in Africa.

Far from dying out, he said, it is set to be reinvented and exported to the countries which originally sent their missionaries to Africa during the colonial era.

The five-day meeting (July 3-7) brought together 120 theologians, historians, and sociologists from all over the world to look at the effect of globalization on Christians and the extent to which their religion is now rooted in the southern hemisphere.

In a paper delivered at the conference, Hanciles, who is based at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, said: "The processes of globalization have contributed to an explosion in the number of non-governmental organizations. NGOs—most of which originate in the industrialized countries—grew from 6,000 to 26,000 in the 1990s and provide more aid than the whole United Nations system. In Africa they … often wield more power and influence than emasculated and impoverished governments.''

Hanciles said that more than 100 years ago Christianity became a "non-western religion." To support this claim, he said there are now seven times as many Anglicans in Nigeria as Episcopalians [members of the Episcopalian (Anglican) Church] in the entire United States.

While definitions of globalization vary, he said, it is already clear that the developing world's contribution to the process would be to export Christianity back to the Northern Hemisphere. "The less well noticed fact,"' he said, "'is that the much celebrated shifts in global Christianity have had little impact on the privileged position of ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Tags:
Posted:
April
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
close