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Compare and Contrast Analysis between Ethiopian Pentecostalism and Nigerian Pentecostalism


Assignment topic: Compare and Contrast Analysis between Ethiopian Pentecostalism and Nigerian Pentecostalism

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Compare and Contrast Analysis between Ethiopian Pentecostalism and Nigerian Pentecostalism

Religion is one of the fundamental aspects of people’s lives all over the world, with primary consideration to the diversity of their cultures, beliefs, and their geographic origins. The world so far has many religions with some specific for some geographic regions in the world, while others are showing some similarities in their practice in almost every country or region in which they are practiced. All the same, it is exceptionally essential to note that all these religions have some specific similarities and differences in their practices emanating from their beliefs as religious people. Even though there are some religions like the Pentecostals which have some similar history of origin, their modes of practice vary globally, for instance, the Pentecostals in Ethiopia and the ones in Egypt. The subscribers of the religion have some basic similarities but also considerably have some disparities, which then code the characteristics of their practice in these geographical areas. The varies similarities and differences are traced to the origins and the pioneers of the religions, the way of training, the existing beliefs in the area, and the environmental factors that shaped the rituals with the incorporations of their native traditions and cultures thus coming with unique differences among the Pentecostals in Ethiopia and Nigeria.

Even though both countries had the Pentecostal religions initiated by missionaries since it was a foreign religion that had been started and practiced majorly outside Africa, the Pentecostal movement in Ethiopia is attributed to a Finnish couple, Anna Liisa and Sanfrid Mattson who came to Addis Ababa in the mid-twentieth century (Haustein 109). After their stay in the country, they established an organization and movement that was factored to help them develop and spread the religions in the area. The umbrella organization, Scripture Publishers to Every Creature, was independent for Finnish missionaries mainly to help them teach the religion, open up branches, and further help the spread of the religion in the area. The first of the work center opened up by another female missionary of Finish origin was done in the Mikato area few kilometers from the capital Addis Ababa with the main aim of connecting with the youths of Ethiopian origin, mainly those in High school and the ones in University (Haustein 126). The main objective of the selection of the group of the overall population was the fact the youths had been exposed to education thus civilization that would then make them to easily accept and embrace the religion unlike the older adults most of which had been deeply rooted in their traditions, customs, and cultures thus could have been challenging to change their mind and make them embrace the religion (Haustein 143). Besides, there was a higher probability that the youths now educated could have some significant influence on the entire older population, thus making the spread of the religion across the country easier. The elite teens were also to be a future generation, thus making them accept the religion will potentially improve the chances that the religion would continue to be practiced in the area with the generations that were to come like it is to date.

On the other hand, Pentecostalism started in Nigeria in the early twentieth century, mainly brought about by missionaries too, but most of whom were of American descent. The religious movement primarily came about as a renewal movement that was prominent in many missionary churches in Africa.  The growth of the religion in Nigeria is factored mostly to the need to break from western missionary control and establish Pentecostal movements that were characterized by African cultures, beliefs, and traditions even though the religion was not original from Africa (Pentecostal Republic Enchanted Democracy 10). Many of the Nigerian elites saw the need for establishing churches that would allow the Nigerian people to practice their Christian faith. Still, they modelled with some allowance to the practices of the African traditions and cultures hence the development of African Initiated churches in Nigeria, which mainly focused on prophecy and healing as was the role of religion in the original African setup. It should be noted that in Nigeria’s culture and society had a deep standing in works of witchcraft and demonic practices starting from their political sphere to their usual way of life. Barely anything would go on if there were no evil or demonic forces that were operating behind the scene, especially by a sorcerer or witch in some room somewhere trying to influence the results of either a match or a political statement being released. The second wave of the Pentecostal movement was realized majorly as a result of the Nigerian civil war between the elites in the society, especially the students and the young people (Pentecostal Republic Enchanted Democracy 23). They were members of the mainland churches, the Pentecostal movements, and the Scripture Union. The events led to the growth and the spread of charismatic Pentecostal churches, which have gained popularity in Nigeria with a surging increase in the number of followers across the states. As a result, studies have revealed that the country has a huge number of Pentecostals and is the leading in Africa in terms of the number of churches and the Pentecostal population despite their being people who still subscribe to other religions like Islam and catholic.

An analysis of the spread of the two religions after they had been initiated in both countries also have some similarity aspects. It becomes essential to note that in both countries, the elites were the ones targeted for the spread of the religion. Besides, they are the powers behind the spread of the religion in the states through their actions aimed at making sure the religions penetrate the local communities and to the local people (Bachmann 62). The latter by that time did not have information about the religion. In both countries, the spread was done using initiating small congregations that would regularly meet for their spiritual nourishment by the help and guide by most of the missionaries and some of the Africans who had attained full training about the religion. The missionaries also set missionary schools like, for instance, in Ethiopia, the missionaries constructed the Swedish Philadelphia Church Mission in 1959, which was a vocational school but also a meeting center for the youth who had enrolled in the programs to be taught about the religion (Lissanu 104). Besides, the place acted as a meeting point for the summer bible conference in which the elites met annually to have a more profound revelation and discussion about the bible that they would open their mind more to the religion. Similarly, in Nigeria, the missionary schools acted as essential proliferation centers where religion was taught. They have inscribed the basics of the Pentecostal religion with their notions about the cultures and traditions, especially the vehement instances of witchcraft condemned as antichristian (Pentecostal Republic Enchanted Democracy 44). Due to the competition from other religions like Islam and catholic, the Pentecostal movement in Nigeria gained momentum with its spread through evangelism, which was either done door to door or through crusades with the primary intention of restoring and making up some many souls as possible to Christianity.

In Ethiopia, the continuous growth of the movement and the Pentecostals within the region led to the further development of prayer groups within the country that further grew to have revival meetings and bible studies, thus developing to churches that also attracted the masses. As a result, the Pentecostal practices and experiences spread all over the country with most of the groups choosing leaders of Ethiopian descent and further requesting the Swedish missionaries to ordain them as elders of the churches with the main aim of attaining their independence and also obtaining authoritative ordination through established Pentecostal protocols to enhance their legitimacy. The acts led to the development of the independent Ethiopian Pentecostal movements that were led by brilliant, young, and energetic youth elites with the passion for continuing with spreading the religion (Haustein 110). It should be noted that after most of them gained their independence with ordained African leaders; they were also disputes that came up which then influence the separation from among some churches due to leadership differences thus forming other churches, therefore, the current day church politics that is still evident in the Pentecostal churches in Ethiopia today. On the other hand in Nigeria, the growth of the Pentecostal religion is also attributed to the young elites who the religion matched their level of civilization and preference with regards to their educational experience, conferences, student campaigns, and for educational purposes thus making it easier for them to spread the religion (Bachmann 59). Besides, the youth majorly those educated had independent minds from the old mindsets regarding their cultures and the then prominent sorcery and witchcraft that had embedded their ideas (Haustein 133). The movement mainly aimed at teaching and making the people believe otherwise from their superstitions which they had granted their Gods, an aspect of omnipotence that the Pentecostal movement attributed to God alone. The evangelists focused on making people believe that God can spare them from all evils. Thus, they do not need witches and sorcerers if they believed and followed his commands, thus winning more desperate souls to the religion with the hope that they will be freed from any evil and demonic powers.

However, despite the success of the spread and the establishment of the Pentecostal religion in these two countries, there have been notable challenges that have undermined the spread of the gospel within the two countries. In Nigeria, for example, the main problem was the countries deep roots traced to superstitions, witches, and sorcery. It is believed that all the institutions with the state by that time, including the presidency, the schools, churches, and mosques, were marred by the devil and its minions. Many of the people in leadership were exposed to a form of sacrifice that was unholy and in line with witchcraft practices like bathing using blood, among other unholy acts. The whole society, majorly the older people in the community, were the ones more rooted in the tradition; thus, the difficulty in totally changing their lives to Christianity (Chapter 4: 2010-15: Pentecostalism Re-Ascendant 156). The above led to the hypocrisy in the practice of the Pentecostal religion since some of the people could hardly abandon their practices for those from the modern west, which they have been brought by the missionaries. However, the elite group, majorly the educated youths, played a significant role in propelling the religion and in establishing it in the local communities, thus its eventual spread to the whole country. The continued evangelism through conferences, among other majorly aiming at students, have played a significant role in the success of the Pentecostal movement. The student’s pride in movement, thus, the dedication in evangelism that led to the establishment of the religion in even the interior parts of Nigeria thus making it one of the countries with the highest number of Pentecostals in Africa with African initiated churches with several branches across the country and in Africa. The main challenge in Ethiopia came by during the ordination of the elders in the groups since some of the groups wanted to seek the ordination from the missionaries. At the same time, some refuted the process and wanted to be acknowledged as the leaders without the necessary ordination (Chapter 4: 2010-15: Pentecostalism Re-Ascendant 110). As a result, there developed a leadership dispute which led to the division of the early churches and has affected the growth of the churches to date. The conflict slowed down the rate at which the church grew in the region, thus affecting the Pentecostal movement. There have been instances of churches splitting at the very moment when they started and needed unity, thus affecting their ability to massively spread the religion across the country to the local communities. Besides, the fact that there were other missionaries with competing interests who were setting up their varied religions like Catholicism affected the rate at which the Pentecostal movement developed. Further, the traditional cultures practiced by majorly the older adults also affected the rate at which the religions grew in the region.

In conclusion, the origin, establishment, and growth of the Pentecostal movement in Nigeria and Egypt have some significant differences and similarities, all of which contribute to the diversity of the religions in the two countries. Some of the considerable similarities start from the fact that the Pentecostal religion was brought to the nations by external missionaries in Nigeria at the start of the twentieth century while in Ethiopia in the mid-twentieth century. Besides, the missionaries credited to establishing the religion in the latter were of Finland and Swedish descent while the ones in the former being the Americans. However, both missionaries targeted the elite youths majorly, the students who were used in the spreading of the religion, thus the eventual success of their establishment since the evangelical actions went in line with their interests. The missionaries also established learning institutions that were initially used as meeting points for the members for spiritual nourishment through activities like conferences, bible studies, and bible studies aimed at strengthening their faith. Continuously, as more elites were converted to the region, they took the responsibility of spreading the movement to their local regions, thus the growth and development of local churches. Besides, the movement was faced with various challenges that included competition from other religions, the existing cultures and traditions, and differences among the leaders after they took over the leadership.


Works Cited

Bachmann, Judith. “Pentecostal Or Born Again? The Relevance Of Demarcation Practices For The Study Of Nigerian Christianity”. Pentecostudies: An Interdisciplinary Journal For Research On The Pentecostal And Charismatic Movements, vol 18, no. 1, 2019, pp. 58-78. Equinox Publishing, doi:10.1558/pent.37224.

Chapter 4: 2010-15: Pentecostalism Re-Ascendant. pp. 99-140.

Haustein, Jörg. “Pentecostal And Charismatic Christianity In Ethiopia: A Historical Introduction To A Largely Unexplored Movement”. Researchgate, 2014, Accessed 8 May 2020.

Lissanu, Desta. “Sojourners In A Strange Land: Intergenerational Narratives Of The Ethiopian Evangelical Church In The American Diaspora”. 2011, Accessed 8 May 2020.

Pentecostal Republic Enchanted Democracy. pp. 9-72.

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