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The Evangelical Movement in Ethiopia

Resistance and Resilience

Tibebe Eshete

Publication Year: 2009

In this sweeping history, Tibebe Eshete presents a new view of Ethiopian Christianity. Synthesizing existing scholarship with original interviews and archival research, he demonstrates that the vernacular nature of the Ethiopian church played a critical role in the development of a state church. He also traces the effects of the political on the religious: the growth of other “counter-cultural” movements in 1960s Ethiopia, such as renewal movements, youth discontentment, and the Marxist regime (under which the church still flourished). This strikingly authentic work refutes the thesis that evangelicalism was imported. Instead, Eshete shows, it was a genuine indigenous response to cultural pressures.

Published by: Baylor University Press

Front Matter

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-xi

From the outset, I would like to state that undertaking this work was a challenging exercise, yet it was also a rewarding experience. The book began as a dissertation in 1999, and along the way I have received invaluable help from several people. First and foremost, I must acknowledge the contribution of the late Professor Harold Marcus, my mentor, friend, ...

Abbreviations

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pp. xiii-xiv

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Introduction

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pp. 1-12

Religion has always constituted a vital part of Ethiopian society. Christianity, Islam, and African Traditional Religions have invariably shaped the culture, value systems, and social organizations of diverse communities in Ethiopia. Yet religious studies is a field of investigation that has received limited attention by Ethiopian and expatriate scholars ...

Part I: The Ethiopian Orthodox Church

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1. From the Early Church to Early Modernity

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pp. 15-36

This chapter provides a brief history of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church by tracing its origin from the fourth century A.D. to the modern period. The chapter makes an effort to examine the church’s contributions to laying the foundations of Christianity in Ethiopia and the rich fund of experience upon which the evangelical Christian faith advanced. This ...

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2. The Challenge of Modernity and the Need for Reform

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pp. 37-62

This chapter examines the situation of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church from the Italian period to the 1960s, highlighting the national Church’s encounters with Protestant missionaries and modernity as espoused by Emperor Haile Sellassie. It pays attention to the various reform movements initiated from within or without the Church and describes the ...

Part II: The Evangelical Church in Ethiopia

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3. The First Three Centuries of Reformed Missions

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pp. 65-84

This chapter provides a brief history of the roots of the evangelical movement in Ethiopia by spelling out the works of modern Protestant missionaries who gave rise to it. It underlines the challenges and opportunities of early Protestant missionaries with regard to the larger sociocultural milieus. This chapter seeks to situate the expansion of the evangelical faith ...

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4. The War Years and the Restoration (1936– 1959)

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pp. 85-102

This chapter examines the ramifications of the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, the contexts of the explosion of church growth in southern and southwestern Ethiopia, and initiatives such as ecumenism. Attention is paid to the mission decree of 1944 that acknowledged the missionary factor in Ethiopia and laid the conditions of foreign missionaries as well as ...

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5. Postwar Mission Impulses

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pp. 103-124

This chapter provides the history of the various missionary forces and agencies that began to operate following the restoration of independence in 1941. It seeks to highlight the confluence of several factors that have generated a spark of national importance to the galvanization of the evangelical enterprise in Ethiopia. Though quite a number of missionary ...

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6. Keys to Postwar Growth

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pp. 125-142

This chapter offers a presentation of a significant component of the missionary enterprise in Ethiopia: the role of urban-based parachurch ministries, like the Youth Center and the Christian Youth Hostel established in the vicinity of the main campuses of the national university. The chapter also seeks to highlight the role and far-reaching consequences ...

Part III: The Pentecostal Church

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7. The 1960s Rise of Pentecostalism

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pp. 145-168

This chapter deals with the history of Pentecostalism in Ethiopia, which has been the cutting edge of contemporary evangelical Christianity in that nation. By tracing the origin and development of the Pentecostal movement in Ethiopia, the chapter records the account of the movement leading up to the formation of the Mulu Wengel Church, the first independent ...

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8. Independence and Persecution

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pp. 169-190

This chapter deals with the history and development of the Pentecostal movement in Ethiopia. It provides some historical background to the gathering, routinization, and institutionalization of the scattering stirrings of Pentecostalism there. The section offers the background material and the historical contexts within which to locate the rise and expansion of the ...

Part IV: The Ethiopian Revolution (1974–1990)

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9.The Political Seeds of Revolution

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pp. 193-208

This chapter sets out the background development for state and church encounter during the period of the Ethiopian Revolution (1974–1990). In doing so, it seeks to present a brief account of the general political conditions that precipitated the fall of Haile Sellassie’s government and the ascendance of the Marxist military rulers. By exploring the root causes ...

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10. Early Church-State Relations under Communist Rule

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pp. 209-230

The Ethiopian Revolution had some popular support at its initial phase, particularly from the people of the peripheral regions, in the western and southwestern parts of Ethiopia. The evangelical church had most of its constituencies in these regions. Aside from that, evangelical Christians had tense relations with the government that had collapsed in 1974, ...

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11. Ecumenism and Flexibility

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pp. 231-252

The leadership that emerged during the revolution, at both the local and the ecumenical levels, overwhelmingly came from dedicated lay volunteers due to the vacuum that had been created because of the arrest or the flight of the church’s top leadership from the country. In the first place, the new situation in which the church found itself required a new kind of leadership. On top of that, most evangelical churches lacked trained leadership. ...

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12. Underground “Free” Space and Lay Leadership

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pp. 253-272

This chapter deals with the responses of the Meserete Kristos Church and that of the Mulu Wengel Pentecostal Church to the intensified pressures of the military regime on evangelical Christians. Although one came from the Mennonite background and the other originated as an independent indigenous church, they both share the common denominators of ...

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13. The Commitment Factor and the Role of Resistance in Church Growth

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pp. 273-300

This chapter deals primarily with the issue of the paradoxical growth and expansion of the Evangelical Church during the period of the Ethiopian Revolution. It seeks to probe into the overall social, economic, and political conditions of the country in order to offer contextual explanations for the church’s survival and growth. Building on previous chapters, chapter ...

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14. Evangelical Christianity and the Legacy of the Revolution

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pp. 301-308

This section mainly outlines the legacies of the Ethiopian Revolution. It briefly examines the contexts that contributed to the prominence of a faith, which was little known, having its home base in the rural areas. It also highlights the conditions that gave rise to the emergence of a lay leadership that played a vital role in cushioning the transition of the ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 309-316

Religious studies as a field of study and scholarly inquiry does not seem to have attracted many scholars in Ethiopia, notwithstanding the fact that religion has always been and is still a key factor in the sociocultural and economic life of Ethiopian society. In this book, I have outlined the historical evolution and development of the evangelical Christian movement ...

Appendix A: Literature Review and Commentary on Sources

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pp. 317-330

Appendix B: List of Informants

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pp. 331-338

Appendix C: Profiles of Selected Informants

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pp. 339-364

Notes

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pp. 365-440

Glossary

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pp. 441-448

Bibliography

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pp. 449-470

Index

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pp. 471-480


E-ISBN-13: 9781602582750
E-ISBN-10: 1602582750
Print-ISBN-13: 9781602580022
Print-ISBN-10: 1602580022

Page Count: 525
Publication Year: 2009

Edition: 1

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Subject Headings

  • Christianity and politics -- Ethiopia.
  • Evangelicalism -- Ethiopia -- History -- 20th century.
  • Ethiopia -- Church history -- 20th century.
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