nimism is a form of polytheism (like santeria and greco-roman mythology). Animists believe there is a BIG God but unapproachable, so we must go to Him through intermediary gods, so it is not uncommon to have many gods (including humans) as intermediaries. Animism also require animal (which includes human) sacrifices.
Animism has six views which distinguishes it from other polytheistic worldview:
One God – many spirits
Separates Immediate/Ultimate issues (God is in charge of ultimate issues)
Spirit Realm – personal/impersonal being
Concept of Sin – not too concerned about the Supreme being
Attributes Occurrences to spiritual beings
Believes in Re-incarnation
Before Christianity came to Africa, many of the African kingdoms (Benin, Yoruba, Oyo, etc) had Animism as religion and worldview. We have so many gods (gods of iron, thunder, wood, water, fertility, etc.) and we saw life strictly from a spiritual angle, no room for personal "free" will - incidences of life are explained strictly from one angle.
Animism also believe that humans (who are powerful) could become a god (or angel) and then join the spirit realm to be worshipped, re-incarnation is a core doctrine, suggesting that someone who is dead comes back through a child.
When or as we become Christians, a lot of "animistic" worldview was brought into "christianity", unfortunately some of such hybrid believes and doctrine permeate what we call "Christianity" today and many are accepted as norm.
For instance, our leaders (Bishops, GOs, Pastors, Prophets, etc.) replaced the intermediary gods, that is worshipped. Anointing has replaced "voodoo power", and we worship these men and women, rather than honor them. Some of them demand it, some simply allow it.
In another instance, the African concept of "Christianity" is NOT of Worshipping God, rather to get or have the power to fight the Devil, because emphasis is strictly on evil, not what God can do (we say the right things but our action say different) or has done. Lots of emphasis on OT ceremonial laws (that Christ fulfilled, than Moral laws that transcends both covenant.
African Christians like in the days of animism, have NO problem offending God or breaking His rules (bribery, stealing, adultery, illegal immigration or illegal anything, etc.) but we are so afraid of our GOs or Bishops that we shake in their presence. Yet we violate the presence of God with our crap. The emphasis on man (seen as intermediary), has made the "prosperity gospel" from America, very profitable (without check) in Africa.
The solution to the above is simple, "...and you shall know the Truth, and the truth (you know) will set your Free". Ask yourselves, the following honest questions?
Having grown up in Faith in Africa, how has "Animism" affected my believes?
Do I honor my faith leaders or do I Worship them?
Do I blame the devil for everything in my life, or do I recognize that, with my free will, i've erred sometimes and I take responsibility and repent?
Do I often skip on planning for the future - because only God know the future, or do seek to have the mind of Christ, and plan with the Holy Spirit?
Please note that most culture also brought what they had into their Christianity. This is simply the author's view on how Animism has impacted Christianity in Africa, after hundreds of years of conversion. The author believe that our lack of depth or discipleship in today's "christianity" is a function of animism residue.
I pray that the Holy Spirit would reveal more to you (study the Bible).
William Femi Awodele is the Executive Director of Christian Couples Fellowship International, Inc. and a Vice-Chair of Embrace the Heartland in Prayer (http://www.prayheartland.com)