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Baptism in the Zionist Churches of Africa:Traditional African Elements and Christian Sources in a Dialectic Complementarity?

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African Initiatives in Christianity (AICs) are the fastest-growing expression of Christianity on the African continent today. In this article, A. F. Walls’ famous “indigenising” and “pilgrim” principles are applied to the practice of baptism in Zionist churches. Its research question asks if the indigenising principle has taken over completely to the loss of the pilgrim principle, or if the two stand in a complementary and dialectical relationship. After presenting G. Oosthuizen’s descriptions of these churches’ rituals of baptism, the author then investigates to what extent baptisms in these churches both take into account the members’ African cultural conditioning and, on the other hand, also work to critique and transform elements in their cultures. How should one evaluate the attempt of the Zionists to contextualise their Christianity with regards to baptism? The article concludes by saying that many elements of their baptisms stand in a complementary and dialectic relationship, embodying both the indigenizing and pilgrim principles.

Affiliations: 1: School of Mission and Theology Stavanger Norway, Email:


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