IS CHRISTIANITY IN AFRICA BIBLICAL OR PAGAN ?

The fact that Africans are a religious people is not refuted .However true Christians should be reviewing what we mean when we say Christianity is growing .The Christianity that is growing in Africa is more worldly than spiritual, far different from Biblical Christianity.

Unfortunately the question of exponential growth of African Christians is wrongly analyzed by those who come up with such conclusions.For one to have an accurate analysis of true Christianity in Africa one must know what true Christianity entails.

Christianity is about faith in Jesus Christ who died for the sins of the world and rose again on the third day.This faith is lived out by the believer walking in the sayings of Jesus and in New Testament Faith and teachings.Thus the name Christian… walking and living like Christ.

Historically, that type of Christianity of walking like Christ and faith in him has been replaced with cultural Christianity which came to Africa at the advent of colonialism.The missionaries rightly condemned certain practices that were devilish and unnecessary for one to have faith in Christ.However, some taught this on the guise of culture and not doctrine.They detested them because of their barbaric nature and not that they were against the teachings of God.
With this rebuke some Africans formed their own churches which accommodated these traditional practices , but majority still stayed away from them.

But as the missionaries were being killed and rejected by communities while the colonialist were on ground,they needed to change strategy…TOLERANCE.

The Catholic church took a pluralistic approach of eating the fish throwing the bones.They invited Africans who kept their traditions and ancestral beliefs as long as they attended their churches.It worked.The Catholic church has the largest number of adherents in the Christian population of Africa.

A SHORT HISTORY OF EVANGELICALISM AND ITS RESPONSE TO AFRICAN CULTURE
The Evangelical movement spread like a wildfire in Africa. Back then it was based on sound doctrine that one had to have faith in Jesus Christ to be saved. It is still a sound yet powerful message and many believed .

What is striking is that the gospel call was for one to deny himself and follow Jesus. Songs like “I have decided to follow Jesus” were anthems in the Evangelical church. Christians rejected the world and that included their African spiritual practices and cultural traditions which are spiritual.

A new lifestyle was born, an African who chose to be a Christian first then an African.Their faith tested their practices and they did not mix their traditional practices with their faith.

APOSTASY ? FALLING ASLEEP ON THE FAITH
However as time went on still a desire to go back traditional practices arose and interestingly it has risen in the event of democracy and globalization movements.Politics manipulated the divisions of people in Africa.Peace loving neighbors now realized their tribes are very important and that things are being divided according to their tribal affiliations.

With divisive politics came a returning to roots movement.With the globalization calls came tolerance and hence the need for diversity.These diversities have made Africans to go back to their cultural roots.

Sadly when divisive politics went into the church, Christians were forced to go back to their cultural roots .This return slowly restored false teachings of totems, covenants, charms which have come back to Evangelical churches through deliverance teachings and prosperity gospel.Witchcraft in African Christendom.

This return to cultural practices is being spearheaded by tolerant mainline denominations who are pluralistic and not concrete on matters of culture like the Evangelical church .

RAMIFICATIONS
What these cultural practices are telling the African Evangelical church is that they either accommodate other spiritual practices or face depopulation in that those who still want those practices will attend churches which do not interfere with their personal life on issues of culture .

This trend is also blamed on the desire for the supernatural worldwide, hence the invasion of Eastern Religious practices into Western Christianity and the importation of Roman Catholic rituals by the Evangelical church.

So we cannot talk of Christianity in Africa if it is being mixed with spiritual practices that are not scriptural.Neither are we calling Africans Christian because they are naming their children with Jewish and English names or that they wear crucifixes and go to physical buildings called churches.

Christianity is about faith in Jesus Christ and living like Jesus Christ by doing good deeds to all.If this is the Christianity that is having exponential growth then let it be.However it is not and this is evident by the worldliness and the tolerance to spiritual practices that defile one’s faith in God.

Arthur Owiti

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