African Pentecostalism: An Introduction

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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, which flourishes in many different forms in diverse local contexts. While most people believe that Pentecostalism was brought to Africa and imposed on its people by missionaries, 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, Kalu presents 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 the movement'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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This masterful work traces the remarkable story of Pentecostal forms of Christianity in Africa. No one knows the turf better than Kalu. His sensitive and critical rendering of the complex fabric of African Christianity is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand contemporary World Christianity. Kalu moves deftly among peoples and cultures to sketch the contours of booming sub-Saharan Pentecostalisms, their indigenous roots, and their connections to the West. A stunning achievement." —Edith Blumhofer, Professor of History, Wheaton College

"Kalu's pathbreaking study challenges histories of Pentecostalism that bring Africa into the picture at a late stage." —Christian Century

"A masterpiece of historical and social analysis ...[T]his groundbreaking exploration of African Pentecostalism leaves few stones unturned, and...provides a comprehensive and scrupulous assessment of one of the most important religious movements of the 21st century." —Books & Culture

"This book by eminent African church historian Ogbu Kalu ... will fascinate all observers of world Christianity. ...Kalu displays an impressive grasp of a vast amount of literature and the subject itself. His engrossing style brings a critical yet sympathetic perspective that is uniquely African." —International Bulletin of Missionary Research

"Kalu deftly and seamlessly moves among history, theology, and social theory, and thus examines the subject from multiple angles within an integrated framework. ...While West Africa is Kalu's area of original research, he does a fine job in synthesizing recent studies from other regions of the continent. ...The maturity of Kalu's scholarship is evident in his grasp of an amazingly wide range of material and issues." —Church History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195339994
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 3/31/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 376
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Ogbu Kalu is Henry Winters Luce Professor of World Christianity and Mission, McCormick Theological Seminary. He is from Ohafia, Nigeria.

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Table of Contents

Precedents in Early Charismatic Movements, 1900-1960s
Oriki: Genealogy and Identity in Pentecostal Historiography     3
Bakuzufu: Contested Identities and the Quest for Power in African Christianity     23
Moya: African Charismatic Initiatives and Classical Pentecostal Missionaries     41
Mademoni: African-Instituted Churches in Pentecostal Rhetoric     65
The Modern Pentecostal Movement, 1970s-1990s
Aliliki: Charismatic Resurgence of the 1970s     87
The Big Man of the Big God: Pentecostalism, Media, and Popular Culture in the 1980s     103
Elijah's Mantle: Pentecostal Re-Evangelization of Africa in the 1990s     123
Gendered Charisma: Charisma and Women in African Pentecostalism     147
Pentecostalism in the African Public Space
Sankofa: Pentecostalism in the African Map of the Universe     169
Masters on Horses: The Roots of Pentecostal Public Ethics     187
Tembisa: Pentecostal Political Theology and Practices     207
Child of the Bondwoman: Islam and Sharia in Pentecostal Rhetoric     225
Pentecostal Words and Worlds
Standing on the Word: Pentecostal Theologies     249
Reverse Flow: Pentecostalism and Immigrant African Christianity     271
Notes     293
Selected Bibliography     321
Index     345
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