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The subject of the spirit world is awfully overlooked in Christian theology. What contributed to this theological omission was largely due to the Enlightenment presuppositions which essentially denied the existence of the spirit world. This caused early missionaries to simply fail to see a natural consequence of the primal worldview which allows for the interrelationship between the natural world and that of spirits and gods or simply between the material and the spiritual worlds. This secular or non super-naturalistic worldview tends to exclude such a relationship, so it questions the whole concept or phenomenon of spirit possession. Witchcraft and sorcery are explained and analysed in psychological, medical and non-religious terms.

Pentecostals in Africa

A story is told that a young man in Nigeria went to a white missionary and related to him his experiences. He told the missionary that he was tormented by spirits at night. The missionary told the young man that after attending a few Bible classes and a little bit of education, he was going to be right. The young man came for the second and third time. The response of the missionary was the same. During the process, the young man was beginning to read the gospels. After some time the young man came back to the missionary and said to him that he supposed that they were serving two different Gods: A God that was afraid of the spirits and the God who was not afraid of the spirits, who actually engaged the spirits, referring to the encounter between Jesus and the devil in Matthew chapter 4.

Unfortunately, most African theologians are western-trained and they respond to African problems in an un-African way. It is this reason why most African Christians go to church on Sunday and during the week, when they experience existential problems, they go to the shaman, traditional healer or isangoma because of the perception that the Christian God they serve on Sundays knows nothing of the problems of the spirit world.

It is therefore my contention that it is the responsibility of Christian theology generally and Pentecostal theology specifically to address the issues of the spirit world. I say this because, firstly, Pentecostals preach about the immanence of God – a God who is involved with human beings on a daily basis and secondly, because Pentecostals are geared to the things of the Spirit, thus the spirit world. Instead of avoiding the issues of the spirit world, Pentecostals should seek the opportunity of ministry in such situations. It is this understanding that propels us because as Pentecostals we acknowledge the Lordship of Christ over principalities, powers and all demonic forces.

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Read a related post on ancestral worship →

Read a related post on The African spirit world →

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