Christianity in Africa contributed greatly to the renewed awareness in the latter half of the twentieth century that Christianity is a ‘non-Western religion’ (Andrew Walls, Kwame Bediako). As such, the study of African Christianity is not only important in Africa itself, but also for the church worldwide. Many academic institutions in other regions now offer courses in African Christianity, which is crucial for understanding Christianity worldwide and its future. Christianity in Africa can of course pride itself with a long history going back to references in the Bible itself and expressions that originate in the time of the early church. In particular, the Ethiopian church has been iconic in the self-understanding of a number of later African Christian movements. Many of the Christian denominations originating with modern western mission movements are strongly represented and an integral part of the African Christian landscape, but have taken on contextual forms. The differences between Roman Catholic, Anglican or Methodist may therefore not carry the same weight and meaning as in the regions where these traditions originated. Africa has also produced its own expressions of Christianity in African Independent Churches and in African Pentecostalisms. These are no longer confined to the region, but have spread elsewhere through the African diaspora and African mission.
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