Matthews A. Ojo


Since about 1986, i.e. in the past 46 years and within our own generation, we have witnessed certain fundamental changes in the way Christianity is perceived and practiced in Nigeria, and in other parts ofWest Africa. The most substantial change is associated with a kind of spirituality brought into existence by the rise of Pentecostal and Charismatic movements. This new religious effervescence is part of what is generally referred to as the Charismatic Renewal, a revivalist movement within the Christian church with global dimension. From its old form as a sectarian religion in Africa in the early twentieth century, by the 1990s Pentecostalism has moved into the public domain to become a global religion, and has thus attracted the attention of the media, the generality of Christians and non-Christians and scholars of religion. This new Christianity was at first identified with young men and women who labelled themselves as pastors and evangelists despite lacking any pastoral or theological training. Nevertheless, they actively engaged other Christians and non-Christians, exhorting them to repentance from all sins, to receive Jesus Christ as their saviour and thus become "born again." This old evangelical message received a new impetus as the young puritan preachers, as van Dijk, a Dutch scholar called them, went about in public places, preaching and praying to deliver people from every kind of malevolent spiritual forces. 1