Christianity in the West and Africa: A Brief Comparison

  • Paul Gifford Dept. for the Study of Religions, School of Oriental and African Studies; University of London
Keywords: Cognitive shift, Enchantment, Modernity, Pentecostalism, Secularisation


A cognitive shift has occurred in recent centuries, a shift from understanding and experiencing reality in terms of spiritual forces to a rationality of functional instrumentality. In the West, this shift has largely peripheralised consciousness of spiritual forces. In Africa, by contrast, this is much less the case. Yet this shift seems an essential element of modernity. If Africa is to take its rightful place in the modern world and play its part in addressing the huge problems of modernity, Africa too will have to embrace this shift.