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African Christianity vs. Western Rationalism


Christianity has spread to all parts of the world since its early days, and the cultural differences of those who adopted this religion shaped their religious beliefs, practices, as well as spirituality. African Christianity is characterized by spiritual and holistic nature, which encompasses the acceptance of the empirical and other worlds. African Christians do not see any ambiguity in combining Christian values and beliefs and such practices as sacrifice and demon execution with practical aspects, such as treating illness. For African Christians, the world is a holistic universe with no boundaries but many shapes and forms. As such, these people are closer to the natural world, which makes them less anxious about different experiences they have to face. They accept the universe with its darkest and brightest manifestations, helping them to reconcile with themselves.

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This comprehensive perspective is what differentiates African Christianity from European Christianity with its rationalism. Andrew Walls states that western tradition was largely influenced by the ideas of the Enlightenment, while African Christianism remained unaffected, being faithful to its spiritual and cultural values (Ault, 2010). Western people have placed themselves in quite clearly cut limits of rationality as they need rather strict rules and proofs before they are ready to believe. Western Christians need evidence of the might of God, which is provided in Holy Scripts. Doubt is one of the central features of western people who evolved under the influence of Enlightenment values. They are also willing to set boundaries and limits that provide a sense of security. No external forces are allowed to affect Western people’s spirituality.

African Christians are less concerned with rationality but are completely prepared to accept different manifestations of spirituality and the universe. If certain elements of Christianity do not explain some phenomena, African Christians look for explanations in other spheres (natural world, other beliefs, science). All these are regarded as indispensable parts of human life, and no controversy emerges. African Christianity is characterized by the collaboration among multiple spheres related to the spiritual and natural worlds. Different groups, having different roots, try to come to terms with each other, and the holistic view of Christianity often serves as the bridge to bring people together.

It is noteworthy that the fact that Africans accept Christianity as easily as they do is not confined to the cultural peculiarities of these people. Christianity has answers to all spiritual questions people of various backgrounds may have. One of the pillars of this religion is the focus on the individual’s inner world. People are encouraged to look for God in their hearts and explore their own spirituality. Instead of searching for responses to basic questions in the outside world, this religion helps people to understand themselves better. By looking deeply into one’s soul, it is possible to find all the necessary spiritual answers.


In conclusion, it is possible to state that Christianity serves as spiritual guidance for people by giving hope and purpose. All Christians welcome God into their hearts and, in that way, find the courage to explore the world. Cultural backgrounds have an impact on the way spirituality is manifested in different parts of the world. For example, African Christians tend to differ in their perspective concerning many aspects. However, irrespective of all specifics and differences, all Christians can find answers to all possible questions by exploring this religion and their own spirituality.


Ault, James. [James Ault]. (2010). Andrew Walls — Effects of the Enlightenment on Christianity [Video]. Web.

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