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Religion Library: African Independent Churches

Quick Facts

Formed1870 CE
OriginAfrica
Followers110,000,000
DeityChristian God
Sacred TextsThe Bible
HeadquartersNone

African Independent Churches, also known as African Indigenous Churches, African Initiated Churches, African Instituted Churches, or just AICs, represent well over 10,000 independent Christian denominations in Africa. African Independent Churches are found in every region and country in Africa, but they are more adequately documented in west Africa and southern Africa. Even though the denominational, ritual, and linguistic diversity of these churches makes it difficult to analyze and classify, the common thread uniting all of the Christian churches is that they were all established by African initiative rather than by foreign missionary agendas. Even though many of these churches have traditional denominational names and relationships, they are not defined by these traditions. These churches emphasize that they are established and led by Africans. In addition, all AICs place emphasis on the biblical warrant to include African cultural norms into their modes of worship, theology, and practice, though to varying degrees. Some scholars claim that African Independent Churches are syncretistic in that they combine indigenous African religion with Christian beliefs, but the degree to which this occurs is varying. Regardless, a process of acculturation between Christianity and African culture does occur. AICs are often classified by common characteristics including denominational names or traditions, so there are Anglican, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Pentecostal, and Methodist AIC traditions. Other classifications include Ethiopian, Apostolic, Zionist, or Messianic. AICs have also demonstrated a strong missionary tendency in that most of the spread of Christianity throughout Africa in the 20th century can be attributed to African Independent Churches.

 
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