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Mbiya Kuzwayo's Christianity: Revival, Reformation and the Surprising Viability of Mainline Churches in South Africa

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image of Journal of Religion in Africa

Much of the credit for the vitality of Christianity in southern Africa has gone to the African Initiated Churches that date their birth to earlier 'Ethiopian' and 'Zionist' movements. Yet far from being compromised, as they are often portrayed, those African Christians remaining in the mission churches often played a critical role in the naturalization of the faith. In the churches of the American Zulu Mission, the largest mission body in colonial Natal, one of the most important moments in this process occurred at the end of the nineteenth century when participants in a revival, led in part by a young Zulu Christian named Mbiya Kuzwayo, employed the theology of Holiness to dramatically alter the nature of their lived Christianity and bring about an internal revolution that gave them effective control of their churches.

Affiliations: 1: Department of History, Fairleigh Dickinson University, 285 Madison Ave., Madison, NJ 07940, USA


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