DVD of Christianity – A History Chapter 4: Dark Continents

Introduced by Kwane Kwei-Armah, this traced the influence of Christianity brought by the European invaders to Central America and Africa. The Spanish conquistadors imposed their brand of Christianity firstly by seeking to eliminate the indigenous Mayan religion and then by forced conversions. However the traditional beliefs were not so easily suppressed and after a couple of generations re-appeared as part of the evolving Christian practice.
500 years ago there were hardly any Christians outside Europe and the Mid East – now the number outside is several times larger than in Europe & Mid East. How did this happen wondered Kwane. His suggestion was that Christianity adapted to local situations, beliefs and circumstances; this is especially evident in the widespread adoption of the Virgin Mary – in Mexico she is dark skinned – not white European or even Jewish.

In Africa many of the local religions are centred around a world inhabited by spirits – Fetishes. 10 – 50M slaves were transported to ‘save’ them. Castle Coast Castle was the main transportation port while at the same time acting as the centre of Missionary endeavour!

In Ethiopia, the indigenous Christianity has features of OT Jewish dietary laws and early Christianity before Roman (Constantine) influence.

Africa is now the powerhouse of Christianity and is challenging the western church having grown from 10 to 360M members in last 100 years. At present growth rates, by 2050 there will be more Christians in Africa and SE Asia than Europe and Nth America combined and therefore the nature of the church will change.

Ian Harris

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