Ghana’s New Christianity: Book Review

Gifford, Paul. 2004. Ghana’s New Christianity: Pentecostalism in a Globalizing African Economy.  Bloomington: University of Indiana Press.

By: Joel Robbins (Department of Anthropology, University of California, San Diego)

Paul Gifford is one of the most knowledgeable and prolific scholars of Christianity in sub-Saharan Africa.  He has written both surveys on general topics, such as the public role of Christian churches in Africa, and monographs focused on specific countries, such as a previous one on Christianity and politics in Doe’s Liberia and this one on the charismatic scene in Ghana from 2000 to 2002.  One of the great advantages of Gifford’s breadth of knowledge is that he is able to track the kinds of rapid developments in doctrine that are very much a part of global Christianity today, and to pinpoint differences between churches that are often lumped together under homogenizing rubrics such as Pentecostal and charismatic.  In this book, he trains his eye on the contemporary charismatic mega-Churches of Accra and finds them for the most part very much taken up with the faith or prosperity gospel and its prophetic offshoots.  Over the course of the book, he places their doctrines in historical perspective, considers the reasons for their popularity, and evaluates their effects on Ghanaian political and economic life.

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Lindhardt (ed.), “Practicing the Faith”

Lindhardt, Martin (ed.) 2011. Practicing the Faith: The Ritual Life of Pentecostal-Charismatic Christians. New York and Oxford: Berghahn.

Publisher’s Description: Over the past decades, Pentecostal-charismatic Christianity has arguably become the fastest growing religious movement in the world. Distinguishing features of this variant of Christianity include formal ritual activities as well as informal, experiential, and ecstatic forms of worship. This book examines Pentecostal-charismatic ritual practice in different parts of the world, highlighting, among other things, the crucial role of ritual in creating religious communities and identities.

Contributors: Martin Lindhardt, Joel Robbins, Jacqueline Ryle, Kelly Chong, Thomas J. Csordas, Martyn Percy, Paul Gifford, Simon Coleman, Jon Bialecki, Gretchen Pfeil, David Smilde