Trends and Patterns in African Church Historiography: From Antiquity to Present

Kanayo Nwadialor


An easy assumption that African Church historiography is straight forward without branches and phases is incorrect. The science of Church history in Africa is rather uncertain, fluid and in the process of transition. The pattern and strategies in missionary expansion changes vastly through time, so is the pattern of African responses. Quite often, Church history in Africa tends to be understood in terms of what the missionaries did or continue to do. Sight is often lost of the contributions of native agents in the expansion of the gospel in Africa. Equally neglected is the fate of Christianity in the post-missionary period in Africa when the vestiges of missionary period have nurtured the debates on indigenization, moratorium, Church unity and ecumenism. This task of creating new structures in African Church produced new concerns for the Church and new perspectives in her history. Closely related to this is the emergence of new forms of Christian expression. The Independent Church movement is not actually new. Rather they characterize an important African contribution to Christianity. Their emphasis on the charismata correlates with African spirituality as well as the spirituality of the New Testament. The Independent Churches have splintered, grown very rapidly and permeated mainline Churches, drumming, healing, fasting, reliance on spiritual gifts and so on, are now regular features of worship. The tasks of the African Church historian, therefore, include the study of these new religious trends as forms of the continuing revelation of God in the African context. Church historiography in Africa, therefore, has come a long way. The contribution of this present research, therefore, is the articulation of the trends and patterns in doing Church history in African. The paper has presented a balanced view of African Church historiography, not necessary as the record of past events in the Church, but as an interpretation of the meaning of Christ in their midst.


Trends, Patterns, African, Church, Historiography.

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