What is Happening to Christianity? Insights from Africa


Video from Gresham College


"Christianity’s centre of gravity has shifted to the Global South. Prosperity churches, 'born again' politicians, prophets, healers and exorcists are now typical expressions of Christianity worldwide. What do these changes mean for our understanding of the world’s largest religion, in particular with regard to secularism, politics, and international development? Drawing on examples from Africa, the lecture shows how these movements challenge established notions of Christian doctrine and institutional order, and how contemporary Christianity reflects the wider fragmentations and imbalances of the modern world. A lecture by Dr Jörg Haustein" from video introduction.


"Flamboyant prophets, influential megachurches and Pentecostal politicians - examples like this abound in Sub-Saharan Africa today. In contrast to secular Europe, Christianity remains on the rise here and permeates all spheres of life. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. After independence, Christianity was often cast as the coloniser’s religion, and many expected that Africans would gradually shed this foreign faith and rediscover their own spiritual heritage, at least in a drastically altered form of Christianity. Others foresaw Africa following Europe’s footsteps toward increasing secularity, with Christianity fading into humanitarian values as socialism modernised the continent. Yet, by the early 1990s it had become clear that instead of Afrocentrist revivalism or developmental secularism a Christian renaissance of sorts was underfoot, fuelled by Pentecostal and Charismatic forms of Christianity that emphasise personal salvation, miracle healing, prophecies, exorcism, and financial prosperity as a sign of God’s blessing. By now, socialism had largely failed in its promises while Structural Adjustment Programmes wreaked havoc in countries aligned with the West, all against the background of a.." from the Transcript.


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