Contemporary Protestantism

The aim of the paper is to present a research particularly on Lutheranism in Africa, like the one from the biggest branches of Protestantism. The information given depicts three African regions with different approaches to Lutheran activities. The known fact is the fourth period in the history of the Christianization of Africa appeared right after World War II. It took place in the context of a general crisis of the colonial system that brought independence to many African countries. Therefore, representatives of Western Christianity began to pursue a policy of adaptation to the new conditions. Thus, local African clergy appears, instead of the missionary societies there were self-governing or independent churches and other organizations. That time Lutheran missionaries started their religious work.

People usually imagine a Lutheran church as the German church with decent but scanty lives within the congregation, or partially, as the Church of the Scandinavian peoples. The old Lutheran churches actively lose their parishioners in Europe that make positive progress along the path of secularization, and de facto lost its Christian roots. Even in places where the majority of the population formally remains within the traditional denominations, the level of indifference to the faith and the church grows. The post-war secularization enforced partial extrusion of religion from all spheres of life. Church tries to follow fashion trends. For example, it supported charismatic communities, reborn Lutheran monk; replaced the liturgical music with metal; allowed same-sex marriage (each of these innovations is of different causes, consequences, and nature, however, they have the common reason - the erosion of the traditional way of life of the Lutheran).

Probably, anyone will imagine Lutheran churches in Africa as post-colonial, with relatively little effect and Negro leadership, trying to imitate the way of European Churches. Moreover, it is confusing to learn that the second and third largest Lutheran churches in the world are in Africa. In fact, African Lutheran is quite multifaceted and diverse being actively developing (Grenholm and Gunner 33). In addition to this, some countries have the rapid growth of Lutheranism that is even hard to believe. Thus, The Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria numbered about 7,000 people at Millennium, and in 2010, it crossed the threshold of two million of its followers.

Therefore, the Malagasy Lutheran Church had about 180 thousand members at the time of its formation (fusion of missionary districts in a single independent church with local authorities). Today the number of its followers had grown to three million in comparison to 2002 when the church announced the 50th% growth to 2.25 million of followers (Grenholm and Gunner 34). Such a variation in the figures may be a consequence of inconsistent, periodic collection of church statistics. However, the entire success of the church is not obliged to Augsburg catechism but solid confessional principles. The success of the Church lies, even in the exaggerated three million, in adaptation to local conditions and acceptance of the church, which is a kind of regional awakening.

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Madagascar Lutherans

In 1894, Madagascar began its specific awakening, which started with the conversion to Christianity of the local sorcerer without any membership in a particular church community that was a new type (Grenholm and Gunner 38). The movement began to grow; new prophets and miracle-workers (both men and women) began to appear inside of it. Thus, there new communities – webs – formed, each with the prophet at the head. Madagascar’s awakening originally existed as an independent, autochthonous Madagascar movement. However, soon it started to penetrate within the existing Christian denominations and then in 1950 an independent Malagasy Lutheran Church has established (Grenholm and Gunner 39).

Lutheran sermon in Madagascar began in 1866 when the Norwegian missionaries came to the island (Grenholm and Gunner 36). Twenty-two years after missionaries from the United States joined them. By the time of the formation of an independent church (connecting all the country's Lutheran Mission) in Madagascar, there were 180 thousand Lutherans. Almost from the start of independent church’s activity, Madagascar’s awakening movement representatives took its leadership, and in the end, won all the key positions in the Church. It is clear that the Lutheran Church has largely incorporated the Awakening movement. The preaching, active struggle with idolatry, active social and educational activities, all this only increased the popularity and influence of the church.

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The church has a particular position of the shepherd, not to be confused with the pastor, a man working with patients who often has the gift of healing. Therefore, reasonably, there are 1200 shepherds for the 5000 church parishes mostly run by awakening community representatives, which gives a highly specific local flavor to the Malagasy Lutheran (Grenholm and Gunner 38). Moreover, it is necessary to take into account the demographic factor, the overall population of Madagascar has almost doubled in the past twenty years, so there is huge parishioners’ percent growth over the past year. What is more, the percentage of Lutherans, not just their absolute amount, until the early 90's significantly increased.

Lutherans of Ethiopia

Even more impressive is the history of Lutheranism in Ethiopia, where the missionaries also appeared in the mid-19th century. However, when the Ethiopian Evangelical, uniting three foreign missions, became independent in 1959, the number if its members were only 20 thousand followers, and that is the standard case for the Lutheran mission in Africa (Grenholm and Gunner 35). In 1972, the program’s aim was to serve the whole person, according to which the Church must take care of not only the spiritual but also physical and intellectual needs of a human. Furthermore, the deployment of many social assistance programs as well as the establishment of Bible schools and distribution of Christian literature, began. The social ministry nowadays also has a set of directions providing food gnaw, the creation of hospitals and clinics, working with street children, marginalized groups, people with AIDS. At the same time, the church has long been in straitened circumstances - until 1974, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church was the state church, then the people's democratic government complained religious propaganda, and fifteen years lasting civil war was not conducive to sustainable Lutheran development. Only in 1991, when the situation stabilized, the church had the opportunity to develop freely (Grenholm and Gunner 41). Due to the effects of war, the church had much attention, and all sorts of peace initiatives since after a great Civil war, Ethiopia has not stopped the fight, later small and a relatively large war shook it a few times bringing the separation of Eritrea and some tribal wars. However, despite such initiatives, even within the Church there were ethnic conflicts. From 1996 to 2010, in the central regions of Ethiopia was a significant split, overcome only recently. At the end of the 80s, the church had about 800 thousand people, over 40 years it has grown by 40 times. Moreover, in 1991, the church consisted of a million followers, 4 million in 2002, and currently almost 5.3 million people (Grenholm and Gunner 46). For 50 years, the church has grown 265 times; demographics cannot explain this explosive growth. Apart from this, the Ethiopian Lutheran Church is more active in the regions where the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is not a dominant though the latter does not avoid the rest of the territories. In the west of the country, in some places the Lutheran church even becomes the dominant religion. Despite the fact that the Evangelical Church is aware of itself as Lutheran and adheres to the Lutheran Augsburg Confession, it is more similar to the Protestant average church, like the United German one. Indeed, a few painless Ethiopian Presbyterians joined its composition in 1973. Visually and by method steps Ethiopian Lutherans are much closer to other, non-liturgical African Protestants.

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Lutherans of Tanzania

The largest Lutheran church in Africa is the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania. In the 2000s, it also surpassed the rapidly growing Ethiopian Church. Founded originally in 1938 as a federation of seven churches and based in different groups of missionaries, Ethiopian Church in 1963, finally merged with a single national Lutheran church. At the time of the formation, there were 400 thousand followers. In 2007, there were 4.6 million people in the church, in 2009 already 5.3 million. Though it is the least significant growth during the period, it is quantitatively impressive since now the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania is the second largest Lutheran church in the world after to the Church of Sweden (Grenholm and Gunner 33). However, this trend continues, by 2018 it aims to be the largest Lutheran church in the world. Tanzanian Lutherans successfully incorporated the local context, giving it a Lutheran sense. The church’s Presiding Bishop often called Mkuu - the traditional name of the head; some traditional Mkuu elements are in service such as Khawaja traditional music, which began to dominate in the church since the late 60s, dressing wreaths of flowers. However, Tanzanian Lutheran Church is liturgical, its bishops rarely pose without liturgical vestments, and the Liturgy itself occupies in the life of the church a central place. In addition to traditional African Protestant areas of service, medicine, education, food, there are quite specific industries - finance and administration. The Church has its fund, which allocates loans to business people; the Church is engaged in investment, staff training, and grants performance (Grenholm and Gunner 42). In addition, the church itself has been active in the mission, with the help of Tanzanian missionaries it has established the current independent Evangelical Lutheran Church in Congo and Kenya Evangelical Lutheran Church, the missionaries of which are serving in four other African countries.


It is obvious that active preaching and social action distinguished African churches from European, where social assistance is necessary only in relatively small part. However, it is unlikely they have caused the Lutheran boom in African countries. The little interest in the church can be the reasons for the successful growth of African Lutheran since Tanzanian church is precisely one of the most efficient growing. The transfer of church leadership to residents is no guarantee of an effective mission, despite the fact it required its condition; many Lutheran churches missionary were small communities on the periphery of the country's religious life. The main reasons for success are two factors. One is the incorporation of the local context in Lutheran dogma. Another important factor is luck. In all countries, the missionaries are trying to adjust to the local population, start talking about it in the local language. However, it seems to be not always effective because there are no general techniques in this work, it is impossible to manipulate on the templates. All three of the above vivid examples show that the path to the missionary success in each case is their own, special, uncommon; a church must find the unique spirit of the people, their mental specifics before preaching Christ. The understanding of this factor is often the reason for success of charismatic churches and low popularity of native African churches to which it is not easy to change and adapt to the situation.

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