A century ago, Christianity was predominantly the white man’s religion that expanded as Christendom, i.e. as the geographical area where Christianity was the dominant religion and the governments were Christian-minded. As a result, Christian mission was usually interwoven into the colonial project. In Africa Christianity grew so fast that is was unprecedented in history, from totally insignificant numbers to almost half a billion. In Africa, the result of Christian mission was not the expansion of Christendom and Western Christian cultures. Rather, African Christians interpreted the Bible in their socio-cultural contexts, resulting in new forms of Christianity. Through migration, these forms penetrate the West, too.
African Christianity deserves to be studied for a good number of reasons. Considering both the demographic factors and the African instituted churches’ vigour to expand, one may expect that African Christianity will be a major dimension of religious life even in Europe. Furthermore, the weight of African input in international theological debates has increased, the Africans often representing positions not easily accepted by the majority of the people in the West – like being the most vociferous opponents of the ordination of an American gay bishop in the Anglican communion. Additionally, churches are often among the strongest organizations in many areas of Africa, and any proper understanding of what takes place on that continent cannot ignore their role.