One of the most important developments in the world church in the last few decades has been the rise of neo-Pentecostalism, sometimes called the “Born Again” church. These denominations, particularly prevalent in Africa, are marked by their concern with spiritual healing, the preaching of the prosperity gospel, fixation on a world of good and evil forces, and much else.
What is perhaps less remarked upon is the way in which these neo-Pentecostal churches have influenced the historic mission denominations, including the various provinces of the Anglican Communion. This is one of the main things I learned on my travels in the church in Nigeria last summer. (The observations prompted the post, “What is Peter Akinola Afraid Of?”)
The Journal of Anglican Studies has just published my article, “‘Anglocostalism’ in Nigeria: Neo-Pentecostalism and Obstacles to Anglican Unity,” which takes a close look at how what it means to be Anglican is changing in Nigeria.
Here’s the article’s abstract:
In the last several decades, the religious landscape in Nigeria has been transformed by the rise of neo-Pentecostal or ‘new generation’ churches. These churches teach a gospel of prosperity, advance an oppositional view of the world, focus on a supernatural arena of spiritual forces, accord a unique weight to the Bible, and practice a charismatic worship style. One result of the presence of these churches has been to change the face of Anglicanism in Nigeria. Concerned about the possibility of diminished influence and prestige, the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has responded to neo-Pentecostal churches by adopting more of its rivals’ beliefs and practices. This paper argues that this changing environment explains, in part, Nigerian opposition to efforts at global Anglican unity and argues that it is impossible to address the future of the Anglican Communion without first understanding the on-the-ground religious context in Nigeria.
It’s an academic article, which means it’s a bit longer than a regular blog post, but I hope you’ll have a read through. Already, in the few weeks since the article went online, I’ve been pleased with the e-mail conversations this article has generated with people in the Nigerian church. I’d be happy to expand those conversations to folks elsewhere.
As I have travelled in the world church, I’m repeatedly reminded of just how little we know about each other around the world. This article—and others like it, still in the pipeline—are efforts to help increase that sense of mutual understanding.