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Global Renewal Christianity: Africa

But when does liquidity become dilution?

Asonzeh Ukah presents a view of African Pentecostalism as “liquid spirituality,” a term that emphasizes the ability inherent in this movement to adapt, absorb, and rework itself in response to social context. This commentary affirms what has already been seen of Pentecostalism’s agility as a spirituality that contextualizes without difficulty in environments resonating the same biblical world of angels and demons. But Ukah observes an overarching tendency toward deregulation in matters of the Spirit where the individual concerns are raised up over those of family or community. Other features of “liquidity” are exemplified in the absorption of consumerism, the propagation of the hope of attaining the “good life,” and the perpetuation of an entrepreneurial “empire-building” spirit driving the mega-church phenomenon. As “a strong religion with a public and powerful ideology,” Ukah observes that Pentecostalism “promises customized salvation goods to both the rich and the poor, politicians and traders alike” (p. 379). This vantage point from which African Pentecostalism’s negotiations with socio-economic trends are seen should evoke concern. It seems appropriate to ask, when does liquidity become dilution? Perhaps this is where the need for a systematic Pentecostal theology becomes most apparent. This author sees Ukah’s contribution to this volume as a call to the Pentecostal movement in Africa, and worldwide for that matter, to diligent self-evaluation and even critique from within its own ranks. As is noted in other parts of the text, these critiques are already being voiced and will continue to be if the theological academy can continue to stay connected to the relevant issues and resistant to the propensity to detached scholarship already noted by Masenya.

As a closing observation, scholarship that can enlighten in regard to the contemporary Pentecostal movement in areas of North Africa besides Egypt seems to be the apparent need. It is obvious that sub-Sahara Africa is more accessible to many researchers. At the same time, the reports of activity in so many African nations give cause for optimism. In light of the vigor and fluidity of the Pentecostal movement, it is not unlikely that the stories being lived out in the northern regions today will find their way to the printed page in due time.

Reviewed by A. M. Droll



Further Reading:

Global Renewal Christianity: Asia and Oceania (Volume 1 in the series), reviewed by David Bradnick

Global Renewal Christianity: Latin America (Volume 2 in the series), reviewed by Oscar Merlo

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Category: Fall 2017, Ministry

About the Author: Anna M. Droll, M. Div. (Fuller Theological Seminary), is ordained with the Assemblies of God and is a district-appointed missionary, having founded Kairos Global Missions in 2012 with her husband Raymond. Her ministry is focused in Africa where she also served as Communications Coordinator for Global Teen Challenge Africa. She is adjunct professor of Evangelism and Missions at Southeastern University and adjunct professor of Old Testament at Northwest University. She is finishing her PhD work with advisor, Amos Yong, exploring dreams and visions in African Pentecostal spirituality. A forthcoming publication will be articles to be presented in the Encyclopedia of Christianity in the Global South on Christianity in the West African countries of Togo and Benin. Facebook

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