This article about Christianity in South Africa today first appeared in the Fall 2016 issue of Providence‘s print edition. In addition, the Evangelicals in Africa (AEA) is working with the African church to develop a biblical vision that reflects Agenda 2063 â The Africa We Want â a strategic framework for growth and sustainability. Important Africans who influenced the early development of Christianity include Tertullian, Perpetua, Felicity, Clement of Alexandria Attempts toÂ spread the faith by reaching out to ordinary Africans did not occur forÂ many years. Opposition to the slave trade fueled theÂ great missionary efforts of the 1800s and led to the creation of manyÂ new orders. By the year 2060, it is estimated that more than four-in-ten Christians will reside in sub-Saharan Africa. Europeans considered converting Africans to Christianity to be partÂ of the process of colonization. Christianity in Africa goes back to the earliest days of the church, when it spread along the Mediterranean and Red Sea coastlands of north and northeast Africa and their hinterlands. TheÂ early church historian Eusebius wrote that the apostle Matthew alsoÂ spread the new faith in Ethiopia. Although not formallyÂ authorized as Protestant ministers, some of these former slaves becameÂ enthusiastic leaders of the effort to convert indigenous Africans toÂ Christianity. In the 1960s the Catholic Church officially adopted the position thatÂ local African churches should lead Catholic missionary efforts in Africa.Â Later, in the 1990s, it stated that African churches would not be forcedÂ to accept pre-existing religious structures and ideas but could developÂ their own based on local traditions and needs. Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye. Protestant missionaries, such as Scottish explorer DavidÂ LIVINGSTONE, not only spread Christianity but also played a major role inÂ mapping the land, documenting African social systems, and recordingÂ African languages. African Christianity goes back to very early times, and theÂ Christianity that developed in Africa influenced the religion'sÂ later growth in Europe. These numbers should be taken with a grain of salt, said Muriithi, because some African Christians are prosperity gospel believers who don't truly understand the Gospel. The Protestant evangelists who founded missionary movements inÂ Africa around 1800 adopted a different course from the Catholics whoÂ came before them. These black preachers and their successors transformedÂ the face of African Christianity. For more information about the state of Christianity in Africa, or how you can help spread Godâs message, contact The Last Well today. His first Bible, writtenÂ in the Yoruba language, was followed by versions in other AfricanÂ languages. In 1910 there were 2 million Christians in Africa. Today the continent has more than 300 million Christians. Discusses history, theology, and growth. When the early Christians were persecuted by non-Christians, they did not retaliate. Aside: When determining the population of Christianity in Africa, most resources use the religion as a blanket term, referring to all denominations such as Protestants, Catholics, Independents, and Orthodox. In 1900, nine million Christians lived in Africa compared to the 380 million in 2000. The New Testament of the Bible mentions several events in which Africans were witnesses to the life of Christ and the ministry of the apostles. ). Catholic mission activity was re-energized and reorganized at thisÂ time as well. To read the original in a PDF format, click here.To receive whole copies of future issues, subscribe here. Today, Cairo houses the world’s second-oldest university, Al-Azhar, and the latter two are UNESCO World Heritage sites. As Europeans established outposts on the coast of Africa in the 1400sÂ and 1500s, they brought along missionaries, who settled among indigenous populations. Christianity in Africa Today Why is the Charismatic Movement Thriving in Africa? The long-term success of efforts to convert Africans to ChristianityÂ often depended on local political developments. Beginning in the early 1900s, education became a major focus ofÂ Christian activity in Africa. Many have seen this as a powerful visitation of the Holy Spirit. The spread of the faith in Africa represents perhaps the most dramatic advance in all Christian history, and yet the names and stories of persons chiefly responsible are largely unknown. The recent growth of the religion in Africa is mainly attributed to African Evangelism. The rise of Christianity in Africa is also captured outside the continent. While Christianity was made the official religion of the Roman Empire by Emperor Constantine in 312 AD, many areas of North Africa continued to practice Islam until only the last century. However, there is no refuting the challenges faced by the African church and continent as a whole. One of the tasks Crowther set himself as bishopÂ was to translate the Bible into an African language. Schools set up by both Protestants andÂ Catholics during this period educated many of the people who becameÂ leaders of postcolonial Africa. As religious persecution continues to spread through Africa, missionaries are diligently working to spread the word of God throughout the nation. There are also many other countries in Africa with high Christian populations, such as Uganda, Namibia, Rwanda, Lesotho, Saint Helena, Seychelles, and South Africa. The history of Christianity in Africa probably began during the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ, two thousand years ago. Both men continuedÂ and reinforced a particularly African form of Christianity thatÂ blended indigenous and European religious traditions. Christianity was peacefully established in the Kingdom of Cush (Nubia) in the 6 th Century, and flourished there for 1000 years. To understand what Christianity means in Africa today, we need to look at the spread of this religion in Africa across history. At first, the introduction of Christianity was limitedÂ to Africans in coastal areas. Amongst people subdued by Roman authority in North Africa (Aegyptus, Cyrenaica, Africa, Numidia, and Mauritania) Christianity quickly became a religion of protest—it was a reason for them to ignore the requirement to honor the Roman Emperor through sacrificial ceremonies. Today the continentÂ has more than 300 million Christians. Now, there are countless variations of the religion being practiced throughout the continent, ranging from newer African-Christian denominations which are popular in Nigeria to the more ancient forms of Oriental Orthodox Christianity which is still practiced throughout Ethiopia, Egypt, and Eritrea. These teachings are bringing the people of Africa together as they share the good news of Jesus Christ. Christianity accounts for 86.9 percent of the population in Swaziland and 82.4 percent in Zambia. The African country of Liberia, a country located on the West coast of Africa, has a density of approximately 40 people per square kilometer. Although Christian missionaries had come toÂ Africa to save souls, they were often associated with the greed of theirÂ fellow Europeans. In this way, Christianity arrived inÂ Africa before it reached Europe. Today, the Christian community in Latin America and Africa, alone, account for 1 billion people. Perhaps the most important force inÂ this development was the monastic movement, which began in EgyptÂ and only later made its way to Europe. Similarly, in the 100 years or so, the religion called Christianity has grown exponentially in Asia. Although Christianity in Africa is widespread, the nations situated in the Southern, Southeast, and Central regions of the continent are particularly dominated by Christians. In 1792 more than a thousand former slavesÂ accepted a British offer of free passage to Africa. The Head of the South African bishops shared recently shared his visions with the London Telegraph. The impact ofÂ the grammars, dictionaries, and other works needed for the translationÂ of vernacular Bibles was immense. Nigeria has particularly witnessed rapid growth in Christianity with numerous African-Christian denominations established across the nation. It boggles one’s mind that in Africa today, many Christians are conflict drivers. This link between the Christian message and African cultureÂ was an important factor in the spread of Christianity across the continentÂ in the 1800s and 1900s. Today, membership in Christian churches isÂ growing faster in Africa than anywhere else in the world. Most of them were hadÂ fought on the British side in the American War of Independence andÂ had later been resettled in Nova Scotia, Canada. Supporting Article. Many explanations have been given for the explosion of the Charismatic movement in Africa. The Protestant outcry against the SLAVE TRADE in the lateÂ 1700s and early 1800s marked a turning point for African Christianity.Â Significantly, the first Protestant missionaries to arrive in West AfricaÂ were former slaves who had supported the British in the AmericanÂ Revolutionary War. In preaching to Africans, they saw much common groundÂ between the lessons found in the Bible and traditional African beliefsÂ and values. With a few exceptions, missionaries did notÂ carry Christianity into the interior of the continent until the 1800s. Subsequently displaced by Islam in the 7th and 8th centuries, the ancient Coptic and Orthodox churches nevertheless remain active in Egypt, Ethiopia, and Eritrea today. //]]>. The rapid growth of Christianity is from African evangelism, as well as high birth rates throughout the last few decades. According to data published by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, there are more than 631 million Christians that currently reside in Africa, accounting for 45 percent of the continentâs population. It was a direct statement against Roman rule. Today, Africa has the most Christians of any continent. It is believed to have started in North Africa shortly after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Catholic Church set out to train indigenous clergy toÂ establish an African Catholic Church led by Africans themselves. There in what is nowÂ SIERRA LEONE they founded the city of FREETOWN. The Christian nature ofÂ African kingdoms could prove short-lived if the ruling group was overthrownÂ or challenged by a group opposed to Christianity. Another concern was health. The work of Crowther and others like himÂ ensured that Africans, not Europeans, would now lead the missionaryÂ efforts in Africa. They are today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Organizations, such as The Last Well, have made it their mission to transform countries in Africa like Liberia by not only providing access to safe drinking water, but also by spreading the gospel. (See also Copts; Education;Â Equiano, Olaudah; Ethiopian Orthodox Church; Islam in Africa;Â Kingsley, Mary; Missions and Missionaries; Prophetic Movements;Â Religion and Ritual; Tutu, Desmond Mpilo. Since 1900, the number of Christians in Africa has multiplied by 70 times, Pew Research Center found. Written by Elizabeth Isichei, a leading scholar in this field, A History of Christianity in Africa examines the origins and development of Christianity in Africa from the early story of Egyptian Christianity to the spectacular growth, vitality, and diversity of the churches in Africa today. According to historian Theodor Mommsen what is now Mediterranean Algeria was fully Christian by the fifth century. The future of Christianity is undeniable in Africa as the continent continues to see explosive growth. Today, there are more than a billion Christians (speaking generally) in Latin America and Africa alone. The result of Protestant and Catholic activity over the centuries has been the spread of Christianity throughout Africa. The early 1900s produced a numberÂ of charismatic African religious leaders, including Yohana KitiganaÂ and William Wade Harris. 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