Marthinus L. Daneel
In the post-chimurenga years of independent Zimbabwe, the African Initiated Churches (AICs) heeded the prophetic call to earth-keeping. They joined forces with practitioners of traditional religion—the chiefs, headmen, spirit mediums, and ex-combatants of the country's liberation struggle—and formed their own wing of the green army. Thus, under the auspices of the Zimbabwean Institute of Religious Research and Ecological Conservation, two religiously distinct movements—the Association of Zimbabwean Traditionalist Ecologists and the Association of African Earthkeeping Churches—joined forces to wage a new chimurenga, a struggle for the liberation of creation, particularly the rehabilitation of the degraded environment of Zimbabwe's overcrowded communal lands, under the banner “war of the trees.” In Zimbabwe and much of southern Africa today, the AICs total between 50 percent and 60 percent of African Christianity. This article focuses on Africa's green movement and ecotheology as well as earth-keeping initiatives such as tree planting.
Bettina E. Schmidt
This essay gives an overview of the religious landscape of Brazil as well as studies about religions in Brazil. Starting with the situation of Christian denominations in Brazil the essay discusses vernacular religions such as Spiritism and Afro-Brazilian religions such as Candomblé and Umbanda, religions that have arrived in Brazil by immigrants such as Buddhism, Islam and Judaism, and indigenous religions such as the religion of the Guaraní. The text highlights how social and political changes have impacted on religions in Brazil. Each section refers to selected publications representing the range of studies about these religions undertaken by scholars in Brazil and abroad.
‘God has come Amongst us Slowly and we didn’t Realise it!’ The Transformation of Anglican Missionary Heritage in Sudan
This chapter examines the missionary origins, through the agency of the Church Missionary Society, of the Anglican Church in Sudan (the Episcopal Church of the Sudan) and its transformation during its 100-year history, with special reference to the last fifty years. It is a study of the cultural transformation of missionary heritage in the cauldron of war and devastation. In particular the experience of the Dinka and Azande people is reflected upon. The emergence of a truly vernacular Anglicanism is described, distinctive but also faithful to Anglican principle. The significance of Bible translation, vernacular liturgy, and hymns is assessed, and the role of this new indigenous expression of Christian faith in the emergence of a distinctive South Sudanese identity that would eventually lead to independence and the setting up of a new African state, South Sudan.
Jesuits have commanded scholarly attention in recent years, with Jesuit studies almost becoming an independent academic discipline. However, their involvement in Africa remains largely unstudied, even though they were in parts of the continent for close to two centuries. Moreover, after their restoration in 1814, the Jesuits played a significant role in the evangelization of Africa. This essay is an overview of Jesuit presence in Africa over the centuries. While it gives more prominence to the historical missions of the pre-suppression period in Congo, Angola, Mozambique, and Ethiopia, it also covers more recent presence in Madagascar, southern Africa and Egypt, and concludes with a brief analysis of the state of the Society of Jesus in Africa today. The essay underscores the challenge of locating Jesuit records related to Africa and the importance of understanding early missionary efforts on the African continent for the benefit of similar efforts in our time.
Pilgrim W. K. Lo
Luther’s catechism entered Asian cultures with translations into Asian languages in 1715 (Tamil, south India) and 1843 (Chinese). In the twentieth century a small number of other works appeared in Tamil, Chinese, and Japanese. Study of Luther’s writings took place at seminaries staffed by European and North American missionaries. Slowly, especially under the sponsorship of the Lutheran World Federation, Asian theologians from several cultures have begun to write on Luther’s thought, and further translations of his works have been published. Focus on justification by faith, the theology of the cross, and on social issues has dominated these studies. Issues regarding apt translations of his key concepts remain under discussion.
Rosalind I. J. Hackett
This article describes African millennialism, which is a blend of traces of Christianity, Islam, and indigenous religions. Prolonged suppression and suffering under colonial exploitation provided the subjective background to apocalyptic movements. The Xhosa cattle-killing movement and the practice of mumboism in the colonial period and the Satiru rebellion are described in this article. Post-independence, issues of political reorganization and national consolidation grew in importance, and these compiled the grounds for more movements such as The Holy Spirit movement and the Lord's Resistance Army, although the latter spent more time slaughtering civilians than taking stock. The African continent offers a rich tapestry of millennial and apocalyptic movements that go back at least two centuries and still emerge today and will continue to challenge researchers on a number of counts.
This chapter is a study of an encounter between the church and the socio-political and cultural milieu of West Africa, with particular focus on Ghana. It closely analyses the relationship between contextualization and the mission of the church by addressing several questions. Does the mission of the Church require contextualization in order to be fully effective? If contextualization is necessary, then how can it best serve and enhance Anglicanism in Ghana so that the Gospel of Jesus Christ can take deep and lasting root in the lives of the people, and become both the organizing principle and unifying factor of their everyday living? This chapter is based on research conducted among various people of different walks of life in the church. It seeks to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the different responses and approaches adopted by them with a view to developing an appropriate Ghanaian response to Anglicanism.