Clifton Clarke’s introduction interacts with Ogbu Kalu’s work on Africa’s Pentecostalism. Kalu is against the view of
African Pentecostalism as imaging the North American brand, which is imported on the wings of globalization. Instead, Kalu asserts that the African Pentecostal movement does not originate from other shores but represents an authentic outworking of Africa’s religious quest for life: “African Pentecostalism did not originate from Azusa Street and is not an extension of the American electronic church… it is one of the ways that Africans responded to the missionary structures and appropriated the message.” Kalu situates African Pentecostalism within the trajectory of Africa’s continuous appropriation of the Christian gospel. [emphasis mine]
Whereas I would ‘throw my hat in the ring’ with those who advocate an intercultural historical approach on the basis of Pentecostal outbreaks in India and Haiti with no apparent relationship with Azusa, I would argue that the main player in this story is neither Azusa (USA) nor Africa (nor India or Haiti, for that matter) but God’s eschatological outpouring in space and time.
On the matter of prosperity theology then Clarke affirms Kalu’s assertion that it
emerges from covenant theology based on the reciprocal relationship between people and the Creator. He rightly adds that prosperity within an African context goes beyond personal wealth and material things but represents harmonious living through peace, satisfaction, contentment and maintenance of social networks.
Lots more to come on this! Over the next few weeks we’ll look at what this collection of essays has to say about African Pentecostal theology about Jesus, the Spirit, the Bible, prosperity, and life and death.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.