Global Missiology English, Vol 3, No 10 (2013)

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Understanding and Responding to the Prosperity Gospel in Africa

Jim Harries

Abstract


Much of African appropriation of the prosperity gospel, it is here suggested, arises from Western missionaries’ wealth-based approach to their task. Research in western Kenya finds African religion to be pragmatic. Meanwhile ‘religion’ in the West has been ‘distorted’ by the challenge of secularism. The notion of ‘the global village’ is considered in a new light. Material dependency, aggravated by peculiar African understandings of causation, is found to underlie much of the relationship between Africa and the West. The desire for wealth from Africa combined with the West’s determination to share can make any critique of the prosperity gospel in Africa to appear nonsense. Critics of the status quo are often handicapped through having a limited understanding on one or the other side of the intercultural gulf. Vulnerable Mission; ministry engaged in by Westerners using the languages and resources of African people, is suggested as a contribution from the West to the solution of the prosperity gospel dilemma.

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