THE INTERSECTION OF ANIMISM AND CHRISTIANITY - MY CALL FOR A REVIEW OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH IN AFRICA
s humans we are tripartite in nature, we are spirit, soul (mind, will and emotion) and body, these three nature of our being interact and interface with each other. We are also a product of what we believe, and what we believe is what we are taught and what we saved in our brain or mind (hippocampus and amygdala).
What humans believe is called WORLDVIEW, this is our belief system, which affects our character. There are tons of worldview in our world, but five (5) of them account for almost 95% of all humans on earth - Atheism, Deism, Pantheism, Polytheism and Monotheism.
Polytheism are the religions or belief systems that believe that we have multiple access or intermediary gods to the ultimate God - whatever that means. Animism is one of the religions under polytheism - it's primary tenet is that spirit or god-like nature exist beyond human, in animals and inanimate objects.
Animism as a religious belief is practiced mostly in Africa and in Latin America. Animism has attributes that separates it from other poly-theistic religions:
Believe in one God beyond the many spirits
Separates the Ultimate and Immediate issues
The spiritual realm – personal/impersonal spirit beings
Concept of sin – not too concerned about offending the Supreme Being but more concerned about the lesser gods.
Attribute occurrences to spiritual things – contact spirits through divination.
Believes in re-incarnation
Sacrifice or shedding of blood (humans and animal) are part of appeasement to intermediary gods.
As we accepted Christ and became "Christians" we brought, many aspects (convenient ones) of animism into our "Christianity" - doctrines such as those of African Methodist or Anglican churches or White garment churches sprung up - many adopted sacrifices, re-incarnation and polygamy (entrenched doctrines of animism).
While some hybrid animistic believes are obvious and roundly rejected, some are so subtle that they have become part of mainstream Christianity all over Africa - and they are impeding our growth spiritually - we all know it, but are very afraid to say something or anything because of blow back.
Our religious leaders as INTERMEDIARIES - as we transitioned, we made our faith leaders into intermediaries and we gave them the level of "worship" that intermediary gods got - some do it consciously while some is simply ignorant. Many of us have no problem NOT following God, but would NOT mess with our GOs for a second, like with intermediary gods.
We CAN'T REST in Complete Work of Christ - we believe we MUST WORK or LABOR - in animism the concept of forgiveness is foreign, you do must sacrifice to appease the gods when you blow it or even forget to follow a process. So the concept of worshiping or serving is one of "works" or "labor" - hence we are activity (our effort) driven rather than simply obeying.
Every thing is SPIRITUAL - animism teaches that every occurrence has a spiritual meaning, this belief removes the onus of responsibility from us as individuals and places it on others. So when there are problems in our homes or life - rather than look inward we ALWAYS look outward at external influence - personal and impersonal.
Our belief that EVERYTHING has spiritual connotation has made us VERY lackadaisical (especially with setting Future Plan) - we believe the future belong to God and we are only in-charge of NOW. Nations or group of people with animistic beliefs (wholly or partially) rarely plan, life or anything long term (that will be taken God's job).
The above are a few observable ways we have meshed animism and "christianity" to form our unique Faith, I believe the advent of modern pentecostal movements (Faith and Prosperity particularly) has really complicated things. It is no wonder then that most say, our faith is a thousand ft. wide but an inch deep.
I know what I have written is NOT popular, but I know it is TRUTH that would set many FREE, when they can separate what is cultural (or in many cases animistic) from true Biblical Christianity.
I pray that the Holy Spirit will bring more revelation beyond what is written above.
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)