Christianity Politics and Public Life in Kenya

Overview


Since independence in 1963, Kenya has been a classic personalised patronage state, run by a corrupt elite for its own benefit, as became tragically evident in December 2007's stolen election and its aftermath. Kenya is also said to be 80 percent Christian. Under the bland label 'Kenyan Christianity', several different overlapping realities can be distinguished, and it is these which Gifford investigates in this book, relating them to the country's politics and public life. The politically engaged form that ...
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Overview


Since independence in 1963, Kenya has been a classic personalised patronage state, run by a corrupt elite for its own benefit, as became tragically evident in December 2007's stolen election and its aftermath. Kenya is also said to be 80 percent Christian. Under the bland label 'Kenyan Christianity', several different overlapping realities can be distinguished, and it is these which Gifford investigates in this book, relating them to the country's politics and public life. The politically engaged form that challenged the dysfunctional one-party state in the early 1990s is given due prominence, but Gifford contends that today the mainline churches, both Catholic and Protestant, are marked less by such political engagement than by their involvement in development, in which foreign missionaries and global networks play a huge role.The theology of Kenya's mainline churches is consciously focused on African culture, as a non-negotiable foundation, and the Catholic church has an additional agenda A--to Africanise its religious congregations. Kenya is also noted for its rich variety of African indigenous Churches, all originating in a defence of Kenyan cultures, while in recent decades countless Pentecostal churches have also sprung up. They range from affluent middle class churches to refuges for the poor, but nearly all are characterised by a stress on power, success, achievement and prosperity that prioritises modernity rather than traditional culture.Gifford discusses their deployment of the media, crusades, organisation, theology and use of the Bible, and above all the economics that has made this phenomenon possible. Yet another distinct form is an enchanted Christianity in which demons or spiritual forces are deemed responsible for almost everything. All these Christianities relate to Kenya's situation, so all are thoroughly contextualised, but equally almost all are thoroughly domesticated into Kenya's socio-political structures, thus reinforcing rather than challenging the country's dysfunctional political system.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A longtime observer of Christianity in Africa, Gifford has written a keen survey of the ideas and actions of Christian organisations and their leaders in Kenya. Gifford writes convincingly about the nature of Kenyan theology and various doctrinal issues, but the more notable contribution of this first-rate study derives from his focus on churches as social and political actors."--Foreign Affairs

"An impressive book, full of detail to surprise the scholar....As in his earlier work on Ghana, Gifford goes through the sermons he's heard in Nairobi's churches with a finetoothed comb, highlighting the rhetorical strategies that preachers use and the theology that underpins them. This is a very valuable book. For Europeans and Americans, it usefully illuminates the great variety of Christian practice in Kenya today. And for Kenyans and their friends, it raises important questions about the role the church ought to play in the corrupted political world."--Dr D.R. Peterson, University of Cambridge

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199326327
  • Publisher: An Oxford University Press Publication
  • Publication date: 8/1/2009
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 5.70 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Gifford teaches in the Department for the Study of Religions at SOAS, University of London. He is the author of several works on African Christianity: African Christianity: its Public Role and Ghana's New Christianity: Pentecostalism in a Globalising African Economy, both of which were published by Hurst.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
Chapters
1. The Context
Goldenberg
Ethnic clashes
Land grabbing
The Kibaki regime
Anglo-Leasing
The political elite
Elite impunity
Security
Failed state?
2. Mission Christianity, Mainly Protestant
Political involvement
Service providers
Conclusion
3. Mission Christianity, Mainly Catholic
Public role
A missionary Church
Formal theology
Conclusion
4. A frican Independent (or Instituted) Churches, AICs
African and/or Christian
African Independent Churches
AICs in the twenty-first century
Conclusion 1
5. Pentecostalism, Some Churches
Middle class Pentecostalism
The pervasive essentials
Pervasive Pentecostalism
The assimilation of older churches
Africa
Conclusion
6. Pentecostalism, Some Issues
Recent North American developments
Crusades and revivals
Media
Self-actualisation literature
Business Management Christianity
The economics of recent Christianity
The NGO parallel
Pyramid schemes
The move into politics
Relations with Muslims
Conclusion
7. A Biblical Christianity
Major biblical narratives
Prophetic texts
New Testament narratives
Less obvious texts
Biblical composites
Reading sermons
The status of pastor
Other rituals, too
Biblical fundraising
Conclusion
8. A Spirit Christianity
Moi's Satanism report
The PCEA
Conclusion
9. A Domesticated Christianity
The Moi era
The Kibaki era
National Prayer Day
Why so little Prophetic Christianity?
Christianity-induced impunity
Conclusion
10. Conclusion

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