So people have been asking me many times over e-mail to read this and to comment. I have read it and know the article well. The article is from an atheist who thinks Christianity is very good for Africa because it changes people. He doesn’t believe in God but he sees the affect it has and believes it has transformative effects on people as tribalism reminds him of some of the problems that plague places like the West.
I do agree that there is something to what he says. There is an effect that Christianity has when it is done correctly. There is a transformational effect. But there is also a dead Christianity (more often found in Europe and North America). There is a Christianity that is unconnected to the issues of today. It's just a thing that gives you hope and certainty (oxymoronic?) for the future -- your afterlife. But real Christianity (let's say what Jesus meant) means you bring heaven to earth NOW, God's will be done on earth as it is in heaven NOW right HERE. That spirit is here in Africa among certain people and Africans. That's why I have never been able to see non-evangelical or non-proselytic aid work that I do as non-missional, even though it's not evangelical missions but medical, construction, educational, public health, etc.
But there are some who see a difference and attack those who might support a social gospel. So let’s talk about it. There is something different in the lives and faces and spirits of these Christians. It's something different. Is it all pervasive? No. There are people practicing Christianity that don't have that. You have all types of mixtures and examples of syncretism, but when it's on it (the real meaning of Jesus) works. So yes, I do agree with him, but Africa needs it in its truest Jesus form,
An aid worker in Khayelitscha was saying that with so many unemployed people with nothing to do, boredom is a huge problem. So it’s quite natural for people to get up and engage in sexual activity. There’s nothing else to do! I thought this was quite insightful, but he knows this from seeing it in practice, in experience.
The same worker (from the book “Everything Must Change” by Brian McLaren) said that a lot of the Christian pastors had failed. They preach about the afterlife and getting saved and salvation but they do nothing for the poor, for education, for AIDS prevention (like condoms). They do nothing practical. People walk away with their salvation but still live in their despair and destruction day after day. It’s a strong contradiction.
But there are a few movements going on which I will try to explain. I have a friend named Kate (powerfully growing teacher who heads a geometry program now, coaches, and has a heart to love the world) who questions a lot of stuff about the Christian God and doesn’t see herself connected to that in some way. I have heard of many “stumbling blocks” or issues people have with the Christian God. So though I don’t know hers, I am sure that I may have heard of some of those issues. Some of these movements address those concerns.