Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae publishes articles in the discipline of Church History/History of Christianity with an African/South African perspective. Published by University of South Africa (UNISA), Research Institute for Theology and Religion.


The library contains articles of Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae as of vol. 43(2017) no. 2 to current.

Recent Submissions

  • Liberationist Icon or Conservative Leader? Ismael Mwai Mabiu's Afro-Pentecostalism and Ecclesiastical Leadership in Kenya

    Njogu,Geoffrey Karimi (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
    This article sets out to retrieve the oral histories of a pioneer African Christian at Kagumo Full Gospel Churches of Kenya (FGCK), namely Rev. Ismael Mwai-Mabiu. Mwai-Mabiu offered exceptional leadership as he sought to revive the Mount Kenya region and the entire Kenyan nation, particularly in the mid-1940s-1980s and 2000-2012, through his oral "liberation theological discourses." These efforts were well captured in his preaching as a roving pastor in mass seminars and in evangelism. His Afro-Pentecostal theology, which he propounded in the FGCK (a church he co-founded), provided the forum that he used as a platform to launch and advance his liberationist Afro-Pentecostal approach. Was Mwai-Mabiu a liberationist or a conservative ecclesiastical leader in his theo-social doctrinal matters; or was he seeking to indigenise theological discourses in his Afro-Pentecostal outfit? The concern of this article is to unearth the nature of leadership that Mwai-Mabiu employed and to describe the relevance of his Afro-Pentecostal oral and liberationist theologies. What were his fundamental concerns? Was his "ministry" evangelised in a cultural vacuum, rather than an inclusive environment that relied upon already existing networks of the host area of ecclesiastical operation? The methodology of this article comprises interviews conducted in four phases: 1) with Mwai-Mabiu himself; 2) with his wife; 3) with three focus discussion groups (FDGs) in interviews between 2016 and 2018; and 4) by the researcher with people closely related to him, namely Bishop Joshua Kiongo Kimani, assistant Bishop Rev. Joseph Muriithi Karugendo, elder Joseph Munene, elder Benson Ngiri, and the pioneers of the FGCK. Later, in May to October 2019, the researcher conducted further research to seek clarification on some areas that did not come out clearly during the first interviews. A review of the relevant literature was also conducted.
  • Nigerian Pentecostalism, Alternative State, and the Question of Accountability

    Igboin,Benson Ohihon (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
    The debate on the status of the Nigerian state has been controversial, but it portends more towards a failing state, because it has low to very low levels of state capacity. Most state institutions do not have the capacity to inspire socioeconomic confidence in the citizenry. Coupled with prevailing insecurity and the inability of the state to address it, many people find an alternative source of hope and confidence within Christianity, and particularly an African Pentecostal state-like formation that makes its leadership a multinational and cross-regional political leadership of a sort. While the political leadership of the failing state would be examined as the main cause for thriving Pentecostalism, there remains the question of accountability on both sides of the spectrum; especially as both concern the same citizenship, whom I will argue are cheated both ways, and yet somehow hold ambivalent attitudes towards accountability. Since there is little attention devoted to demand for accountability at both state and alternative state levels, this paper will do a contrastive analysis of both leaderships and show that the issue of accountability remains unresolved at both ends.
  • Fledgling South African Anglicanism and the Roots of Ritualism

    Bethke,Andrew-John (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
    The early years of Anglican ministry in South Africa were primarily among English settlers. Their worship patterns, for the most part, reflected the general trends of English Anglicanism at the time, which itself was influenced theologically and materially by a moderate form of Calvinism. This article examines the ethos of the early generation of Anglicans, and highlights some of the possible reasons why a moderate Calvinistic stance seemed to suit the ordinary settler classes. However, the status quo was challenged by the arrival of Bishop Robert Gray in 1848. Thus, the article continues by exploring some of the reasons why Gray aroused such strong feelings in certain congregations. Among the most important reasons for the opposition against Gray were his Tractarian sympathies. While many historians have agreed that Gray was a high church cleric, most stop short of labelling him a Tractarian. This article critically examines Gray's sympathies and posits that while he started out firmly within the high church party of Anglicanism, he slowly moved closer and closer to Tractarianism. Finally, the article considers aspects of Gray's leadership which encouraged a gradual move from moderate Calvinism towards a more definite Tractarian and ritualist stance as the nineteenth century drew to a close.
  • Emerging Ecumenical Church Polity, 1965-2010: Lessons from Efforts at Church Unity in Zambia

    Msiska,Godfrey; Duncan,Graham (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
    This article explores an emerging ecumenical church polity in Zambia from a church historical perspective. While church polity and church unity literature has acknowledged the role of church polity and church unity in Zambia, and its use for ecclesiological purposes, the growing use of church polity and the efforts at church unity in the period 1965-2010 in Zambia, have remained unexamined. This article thus explores qualitatively how church polity and church unity were viewed in church legislation and official church documents of the United Church of Zambia (UCZ), the Anglican Church in Zambia (ACZ) and the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa (UPCSA) in Zambia. The article observes that ecumenical church polity has indeed been developed in Zambia and lessons from efforts at church unity in Zambia can assist in developing ecumenical church polity. This is demonstrated by comparing the church legislation and by studying lessons from efforts at church unity within the ranks of the UCZ, ACZ and UPCSA, among other ways. The article therefore advances the argument that ecumenical church polity can be developed by comparing the church legislation provisions and by studying the lessons from efforts at church unity in Zambia. This article contributes to the field of church history, church polity and ecclesiology.
  • Christianity in the Twentieth Century: A World History, by B. Stanley

    Duncan,Graham A (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
  • A Reconstruction of Matthew Jacha Rusike's Contribution to the Re-humanisation of Dehumanised Children in Zimbabwe 1950-1978

    Mujinga,Martin (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
    The Mathew Rusike Children's Home (MRCH) in Zimbabwe is known for its philanthropic work of caring for orphans and vulnerable children. It is an institution viewed as a Christ-woven nest that re-humanises dehumanised children. This paper was motivated by the fact that, over the years, the MRCH has attracted partners and supporters locally and globally, thereby giving it international status. However, there is a gap in research that connects the founder, Rev. Matthew Jacha Rusike, and the institution. The gap is worrisome, because Rusike has been a pioneer in the history of Methodism in a number of ways. To start with, he was the first African Wesleyan Methodist minister to be appointed as circuit superintendent in a missionary-dominated church. Second, he was awarded the "Member of the Order of the British Empire" for his contribution to the formation of the first African children's home in a country whose cultural values denied the existence of orphanages. Third, he also supervised many schools; and yet there is little research about him. The other motivation for this study was to reconcile the historical Rusike and the institution. The paper concluded that Rusike had challenged the African epistemology that orphans and vulnerable children are the responsibility of relatives-even if those homes are not safe for children. The paper starts by discussing the personal life of Rusike, followed by a description of his ministerial journey; how he founded the children's home, and how the home developed from a family vision to be the church's Christian social responsibility.
  • The Trial of African Solidarity (vol I): Is this the Africa we Fought for? Kuzituka Did'ho J-M

    Duncan,Graham A. (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
  • Ecclesiastical Law, Hill M

    Duncan,Graham A. (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
  • Reading the URCSA Church Order with African Lenses: A Belhar Confession Perspective

    Modise,Leepo (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
    There are individuals within the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa (URCSA) who claim that URCSA is not an African church in the real sense, as it ought to be. These claims have emanated from the narrow reading of URCSA's Church Order from a European perspective. This article aims at exploring how one can read the URCSA Church Order with African lenses. The author will highlight the identity of URCSA, as was accepted by the 2005 General Synod of Pietermaritzburg, which is African and Reformed. In this article, the author will outline the three concepts that are recently underpinning the African philosophy, namely community, Ubuntu, and Ujamaa as the lenses with which to read the URCSA Church Order. The utilisation of these concepts as lenses will enable us to understand and interpret the URCSA Church Order in an African sense.
  • The Possibilities of a Clergy Labour Union within the Covenantal Relationship of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa

    Khuzwayo,Sifiso (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
    The aim of this article is to investigate the basis upon which a labour union for the clergy within the Methodist Church of Southern Africa (MCSA) could be beneficial for both the church and the clergy. Such a union would recognise the clergy as personnel, rather than representatives of the church. The covenantal relationship that exists between the church and clergy is based on the premise that clergy are called by God and are, therefore, not employees of the church. However, the relationship between church and clergy is often clouded by several factors that make the judiciary hesitant to get involved in church affairs. The aim of this article is to explore how best the relationship between the church and clergy can be improved for the benefit of both parties, and so engender an authentic witness of the social justice proclamation that has become synonymous with Methodism. The effect of her social justice proclamation means the church should view the establishment of a clergy labour union as a step towards a higher standard of clergy care.
  • The Escape of the Black Self

    Moshoadiba,Monethi William; Senokoane,Boitumelo Ben (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
    This article explores the question whether blacks can escape their blackness. This is motivated by assertions that blacks have tried to become white and as a result have ultimately adopted self-destructive behaviour against themselves. The Biblical text of Exodus 2:11-25 will be used as a key argument to propagate the view that blackness cannot be escaped and should not be regarded as something to escape. The article argues that blackness is natural and above all, beautiful and good. The current xenophobic attacks and bleaching of black skin will also be exposed and interrogated as fundamental problems and possible motivation for blacks wanting to escape the black Self.
  • Children of God: Exploring URCSA's Catechetical Sexual Ethic

    Thyssen,Ashwin (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
    Human sexuality has been on the agenda of the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa (URCSA's) General Synod since at least 2005. Since then, at each respective General Synod, the discussion has been set forth to theologise about the lives of members who are LGBTIQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer and other sexual minorities). Yet, throughout this time no attention has been afforded to the denomination's catechesis, specifically its sexual ethic. This essay, then, attempts to contribute to the present dialogue on human sexuality with a focus on catechesis, or faith formation. It does so by following a queer theological hermeneutic, informed by the cultural criticism tradition in the form of queer theory. In order to investigate the sexual ethic at work in URCSA, the primary text engaged is its catechetical literature, Children of God. The essay, as such, attempts to note how URCSA has constructed its sexual ethic as heteronormative; and therefore, against all other sexual orientations. In order to do this, the essay probes three questions. First, it questions the existence and identity of URCSA. Second, it questions how a queering of catechesis may be done and what value it may contribute to the denomination. Third, it asks the question: quo vadis, where to URCSA? By asking this question, an attempt is made to qualify what it is that URCSA may need in queering its catechesis. Still, it is important to note that this reflection is much informed by the author's experience of the denomination as a gay man.
  • Retrieving and Articulating Liberative Aspects of the Sabbath Doctrine in Context of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in South Africa

    Magagula,Zondi Paul (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
    The crisis in Adventism in South Africa is that eschatology has been an escape wagon from liberative mission, or at best, an optional, even disposable aspect of the gospel. This attitude or understanding of seeing everything in the future with no connection to the present has caused Adventists to shun social, political and cultural responsibilities. This article explicates and advocates the position that Adventists must explore the broader message and liberative meaning, purpose and function of the Sabbath. As a re-interpretation of the traditional, legalistic understanding of the doctrine of the Sabbath, the model proposed locates the Sabbath at the centre of a radically liberative mission to the poor. It argues that rest, as a mark of wholeness, must be realised in those aspects of human life that the Sabbath addresses; and that theology is not averse to liberative mission. Any theology which claims to be a biblical theology must link its understanding of the gospel to social concern. Therefore, this article aims to retrieve and biblically articulate aspects of the Sabbath doctrine. Adventists cannot be persuaded to operate meaningfully in responding to the millennial hopes of the poor outside of formal recognition of the potency of the Sabbath as a time of deliverance or liberation of people from social, emotional, political and material consequences of sin. Thus, in the following sub-themes the broader liberative message and meaningful aspects of the Sabbath will be explored. The universality of the Sabbath will touch on the following: the Sabbath as a time for release from labour, from oppressive life, indeed a time to embrace even justice and mercy. The Sabbath entails an inclusive mission, God's dominion-free order in a world impacted by violent engagement with oppressive powers; Sabbath as missionary in its nature will also be explicated.
  • Salvation in Matthew 5:17-20 and its Implications in the Church in Antioch and St James Kajire Anglican Parish, Kenya

    M'bwangi,Fednand Manjewa (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
    This article was prompted by my fervour to find out how modern and ancient cultures influence Christian conception and the practice of salvation. To address this issue, I decided to do a comparative study of salvation in modern time, with first century practice of the same. On the one hand, I focused on exploring salvation as reflected in the Gospel of Matthew 5.17-20, because most scholars believe that this Gospel addresses a multi-cultural community composed of Gentiles and Judeans. On the other hand, to observe modern practices of salvation, I interviewed a focus group through a questionnaire and telephone calls in 2011 and 2019, respectively, to briefly explore the case of St James Anglican Parish at Kajire Village in Taita-Taveta County, Kenya. The overall goal of the article is to explore how, in pursuit of practising their salvation, the community of Matthew in Antioch had to contest the Roman Empire, accommodate Diaspora Judaism, and identify with the emerging Jesus Movement. Consequently, employing literary analysis and what I call "social identity political theory" (SIPT), I have argued that a culturally conditioned practice of salvation is prone to the promotion of group dominance. To address this problem, Matthew advances an inclusive view of salvation that entails the construction of a superordinate Christian identity, which has the potential to support a Christocentric perspective of salvation.
  • Killings and Violence in Northern Mozambique within a Context of Religion: Muslim and Christian (2017-2018)

    da Silva,Fernando Caldeira (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
    The killings and beheadings of people in northern Mozambique continue to pose a serious challenge to Christians, Muslims and the economy in the region. From October 2017, over 200 people have been killed by an Islamic terrorist group, which many know as "Mozambican Al Shabaab"; possibly linked to the original terrorist organisation. The growing violent actions result from various conditions both in Tanzania and in northern Mozambique. By addressing these conditions, this article highlights the role played by religion related to the violence in northern Mozambique. It deals with the historical background of the growing violence and explores who is behind the Mozambican Islamic extremists. Additionally, the article also studies the violence as directly affecting Christian populations, as well as Muslims who do not support the Mozambican Al Shabaab activities. The main questions are: What are the characteristics of the people of northern Mozambique? Who is behind the killings? Why are they doing it? And, what is the impact of this violence on Christianity in the region?
  • Integrated Pentecostal Ministry of Richard Ngidi in the Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa, 1921-1985

    Kgatle,Mookgo Solomon (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
    Previous studies on the life and ministry of Richard Ngidi only present historical data on his achievements and to some extent his failures. This paper is a socio-historical analysis that not only reveals historical data but also aims to problematise the data in relation to social problems like racial segregation. A socio-historical analysis is a method that finds synergy between historical and social factors. The socio-historical analysis in this paper juxtaposes the history of Ngidi with racial segregation. The analysis of the ministry of Ngidi in the Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) of South Africa demonstrates that his ministry was an integrated one amid a segregated society. Integrated ministry refers to a ministry that is able to bring unity in the midst of various divisions in society. The AFM of South Africa, like many other denominations, was a segregated society because of the influence of South African politics on ecclesiastical politics during apartheid. Similarly, many pastors adhered to the racial policies of that time or broke away to start their own ministries. Ngidi was an exception because his ministry was multi-racial, non-political, gender-inclusive, interdenominational and international. Therefore, this paper contends that Ngidi serves as a model for social cohesion and unity in diversity.
  • Addicts of Gender-Based Violence: Patriarchy as the Seed-bed of Gendered Witchcraft Accusations

    Kgatla,Selaelo Thias (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
    The concept of patriarchy has occupied the minds of humanity from time immemorial. Over the past centuries, the construct has suppressed the lives of women, while according unlimited power and privileges to men in ruling communities. In this paper, the researcher presents an analysis of how patriarchy and its surrogates (sexism, misogyny, machismo, marianismo, masculinity, and male menopause) are used in witchcraft discourse within communities to perpetuate exclusive male power and dominance of women.
  • Controversial Contradictions in Testimonies about Manche Masemola: The Challenge of Variability in Oral History

    Mokgoatšana,S (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
    This paper argues that although efforts have been made to construct Manche Masemola's martyrdom to enforce and consolidate the church's religious gains in Sekhukhuneland, her story represents a complex relation of voices that (un)wittingly contradict each other. The voices range from primary to secondary sources that continue to tell Manche Masemola's story, especially on the internet. The narrative of her martyrdom is riddled with contradictions and conflicting oral evidence. This paper explores these variations, which are a feature of oral tradition, and explains how such contradictions complicate the establishment of factual evidence based on oral history. Oral and secondary data were used, as well as available documentary materials published on various websites, to explain how these contradictions have been employed to create a religious martyr in the person of Manche Masemola. The available narratives were subjected to textual analysis, borrowing from folklore and poststructuralist literary theoretical approaches to understand the controversies embedded therein.
  • Narrative Pertaining Truth and Reconciliation

    Klaasen,John Stephanus (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
    The use of the oral historical form of communication was tantamount to the failures and successes of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). In this article, narrative or storytelling is the theoretical framework to assess the successes and failures of the work of the South African TRC. A correlation between the Commission's work and what followed after it had completed its mandate, points to the successes of the Commission in contemporary South Africa. Current limitations to form unity and build a reconciled society can be placed within the structure and function of the truth as relayed through stories and narratives of individuals and groups at hearings of the Commission. There exists a corpus of literature regarding the post-TRC period. This contribution provides a perspective of the work of the TRC from a narrative approach.
  • Woza Albert! Performing Christ in Apartheid South Africa

    Havenga,Marthinus Johannes (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
    This article investigates the important South African anti-apartheid protest play, Woza Albert!, written and performed in 1981 by Percy Mtwa and Mbogeni Ngema, which retells the story of Jesus Christ so that it takes place in apartheid South Africa. The article begins with a historical overview of how the play came into being, followed by an exposition of the play's script, specifically focusing on the way it reimagines the gospels' account of Christ's life, death and resurrection. The article finally engages theologically with the play (with the help of Hans Urs von Balthasar's theological dramatic theory), in an attempt to see why Woza Albert! has proved to be such an effective literary tool in speaking out and protesting against the injustices of the apartheid state.

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