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Persecution and Social Resilience: The Case of the Ethiopian Pentecostals

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Persecution has long constituted part of the spiritual repertoire of evangelical Christians in Ethiopia. Ever since its introduction by Western missionaries, the new Christian faith has provided an alternative model to the one that pre-existed it in the form of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC). The new dimension of Christianity that is anchored in the doctrine of personal salvation and sanctification provided a somewhat different template of what it means to be a Christian by choice rather than belonging to a preset culture. This was antithetical to the conventional mode of culturally and historically situated Christianity, which strongly lays emphasis on adherence to certain prescribed rituals like fasting, the observances of saintly days, and devotions to saints. Its introduction by foreigners is often contrasted with an indigenous faith tradition which is considered to have a long history dating back to the apostolic times. The tendency of evangelical Christians to disassociate themselves from the local culture, as emblematic of holiness and separation from the world, viewed from the other optic, lent it the label mete, literally “imported” or “of foreign extraction”. The state support the established church had garnered for a long time, plus its massive influences, also accorded the EOC a privileged position to exercise a dominant role in the social, political, and cultural life of the country.This article explores the theme of persecution of Evangelical Christians in light of the above framework. It crucially examines the persecution of Pentecostals prior to the Ethiopian Revolution of 1974 and afterwards. Two reasons justify my choice. First, it lends the article a clear focus and secondly, Pentecostalism has been one of the potent vehicles for the expansion of evangelical Christianity in Ethiopia. I argue that the pre-revolutionary persecution stems from the fact that the Pentecostals presented some kind of spiritual shock waves to the familiar terrains of Christianity and that the main reason for their persecutions during the revolution was the fact that they countered hegemonic narratives that presented themselves in the form of Marxism, which became the doctrine of the state under the banner of “scientific socialism.”逼迫早已成了在埃塞俄比亚的福音派基督徒的属灵汇辑的一部分。自从西方传教士的介绍,新的基督教信仰提供了一个别样的模式,以代替之前存在的埃塞俄比亚东正教 (EOC) 的形式。基于个人救赎和成圣原则的基督教信仰的新层面,提供了一种与之前有些不同的模式,即以选择而不是属于预设文化而成为真正的基督徒。这与传统的以文化和历史定位的基督教模式相对立,传统的模式强调要坚持遵守某些规定的仪式,如禁食,圣洁的日子和对圣徒的奉献。外国人的介绍往往与本土信仰传统形成鲜明对比,而这种传统具有可追溯到使徒时代的悠久历史。福音派基督徒倾向于与当地文化脱节,作为圣洁和与世隔绝的象征,从另一个视角来看,借鉴了这个标签,实际上是从外进口而已。国家支持长期以来建立的教会,加上其大规模的影响,也给予了 EOC 在该国社会,政治和文化生活中发挥主导作用的特权地位。本文探讨在以上框架下福音派基督徒受逼迫的课题。至关重要地,本文考察了在 1974 年埃塞俄比亚革命之前, 五旬宗信徒遭受的迫害。有两个理由证明了我的选择:首先,这个论文有一个明确的重点,其次,五旬宗派一直是扩大埃塞俄比亚福音派基督教的有力手段之一。我认为,革命前的迫害是因为五旬宗派对于熟悉的基督教提出了一些属灵冲击波,而革命中他们遭受迫害的主要原因,就是他们反抗了霸权主义的叙事,这叙事是以马克思主义的形式出现,在“科学社会主义”的旗帜下成为国家教条的。Desde hace mucho tiempo la persecución ha sido parte de la vida espiritual de los cristianos evangélicos de Etiopía. La nueva fe cristiana, desde que fue introducida por los misioneros occidentales, ha proporcionado un modelo alternativo al de la Iglesia Ortodoxa Etíope (EOC siglas del inglés). La nueva dimensión del cristianismo, afianzada en la doctrina de la salvación personal y de la santificación, proporcionó un modelo en el diferente de lo que es ser un cristiano por elección en lugar de pertenecer a una cultura predeterminada. Esto era antagónico a la modalidad convencional de un cristianismo cultural e históricamente situado que hace hincapié en la adhesión a ciertas prácticas prescritas tales como el ayuno, la celebración en honor a los días de los santos y la devoción a los santos. A menudo se contrasta el hecho de que fue introducida por extranjeros mientras que la fe local tradicional tiene raíces que se remontan a tiempos apostólicos. La tendencia de los cristianos evangélicos a separarse de la cultura local, como un símbolo de santidad y de apartarse del mundo, dio lugar a que fueran catalogados con la palabra mete (literalmente importado o de origen foráneo).El apoyo del estado, obtenido por muchos años obtenido por la Iglesia establecida, y sus influencias masivas, han colocado a la EOC en una posición de privilegio para ejercer un papel dominante en la vida social, política y cultural del país. Este artículo investiga el tema de la persecución de los cristianos evangélicos a la luz del marco descrito anteriormente. De manera especial, examina la persecución de los pentecostales antes y después de la revolución etíope de 1974. Dos razones justifican mi elección. En primer lugar porque confiere un enfoque claro al trabajo y en segundo lugar porque el pentecostalismo ha sido uno de los mejores vehículos para la expansión del cristianismo evangélico en Etiopía. El autor argumenta que la persecución pre-revolucionaria deriva del hecho de que los pentecostales desestabilizaron terrenos reconocidos del cristianismo y una de las principales razones por las que fueron perseguidos durante la revolución fue porque se opusieron a los discursos hegemónicos del marxismo, que pasó a ser la doctrina del estado bajo el estandarte de “socialismo científico”.This article is in English.

Affiliations: 1: Michigan State University


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1. Abbink John 2003 Rethinking Resistance Leiden Brill
2. Bedru Hussien 1985/1993 Ye Ityopia Mule Wengel Amagnoch Bete Krestiyan (manuscript)
3. Engelke Matthew 2010"“Past Pentecostalism”" Africa Vol 80 2 177 199 [Crossref]
4. Engelsviken Tormod 1975 Mulu Wengel: A Documentary Report on the Pentecostal Movement in Ethiopia Oslo The Free Faculty of Theology
5. Eshete Tibebe 2009 The Evangelical Movement in Ethiopia Waco Baylor University
6. Eshete Tibebe 2015"“Marxism and Religion: The Paradox of Church Growth in Ethiopia”" Gravaas Hans Aage, Sauer Christof , Engelsviken Tormod , Jørgensen Knud Freedom of Belief and Christian Mission Regnum Edinburgh Centenary Series 28 Oxford Regnum Books
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10. Hardy Thomas 1997 [1874] Far from the Madding Crowd Ware, UK Wordsworth Editions
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12. Hollenweger W.J. 1972 The Pentecostals Minneapolis Augsburg 1972
13. Mekane Yesus Church 1975 Annual Report of the Mekane Yesus Church 1975 Addis Ababa Mekane Yesus Church
14. Messay Kebede 1999 Survival and Modernization Lawrenceville, N.J Red Sea Press
15. Mulu Wengel Church 1992"“Jubilee for a Church,”" Ye Mulu Wengel Amagnoch Bete Kristiyan Addis Ababa Mulu Wengel Church
16. "“Persecution in Ethiopia”" 1972 TargetVol 25 2
17. "“Persecution in Ethiopia”" 1973 Logos Journal May-June 13 16
18. Pierce Chester 1970"“Offensive Mechanism”" Barbour Floyd B. The Black Seventies Boston Porter Sargent 265 282
19. Rickard Sandra 1967"“The Ethiopian Student and Ethiopia’s Transition into the Twentieth Century”" A paper submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the Student Project for Amity among the Nations (SPAN) Madison, WI University of Wisconsin

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