After this cours, you will be able to:
- formulate and develop relevant and realistic goals and questions in historical research;
- perform adequate bibliographical research necessary for the writing of a Master thesis in the field of Church History;
- formulate a status questionis regarding a topic in the field of Church History, which is necessary for a Master thesis in the field of Church History;
- demonstrate a broad knowledge and various scholarly perspectives regarding key trends in the growth of Christianity as an African religion since the late nineteenth century, which will facilitate your understanding of today’s African Christianity;
- interpret with discernment primary sources and historiography on the history of African Christianity in the 20th century;
- evaluate the popular understanding (or misunderstanding) and imagery of African Christianity among Af.
Until the 1960s most scholars considered the growth of Christianity in Africa explicable in terms of colonial import. The role of mission education in attracting Africans to the white man's religion was undeniable. Since decolonization the rate of expansion of Christianity has accelerated. Christianity nowadays has a vibrant presence in Africa, especially in the form of charismatic and Pentecostal movements which emphasize divine healing and prophecy.
The scope of this course is wide, perhaps too wide. We will examine cross-cultural contact with European Christians, including Roman Catholic and Protestant missionary encounters. We will study the impact of the process of colonization and decolonization on the spread of Christianity and discuss whether missionaries at the end of the century eventually achieved what their colleagues at the turn of the 19th/20th century had in mind. How do Africans read the Bible, how do they celebrate?
Furthermore the dynamics of the interreligious encounter with traditional African religions will be of great interest to us. The analysis of all these issues in the recent past will help us to understand the complex role of religion and belief in the supernatural in post-colonial Africa today. In order to avoid generalizations about Africa, as if it would be one country, in class we will focus on specific countries: Congo, Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria.
Nowadays there are heated debates about diversity (gender, race, sexual orientation) in society and science. African voices for instance demand to be heard about their own roots, a claim which is correct, because Africans have marginalized in the archives and in research. In this course we will therefore preferably focus on the agency of Africans: as church authorities and other members, as partisans of traditional religions, as politicians, philosophers, theologians and literary writers. This is my deliberate methodological choice. Preferably we will read African authors, because this might change (and enrich) our perspective as theologians of a Western European university.