Original Research - Special Collection: Public Theology

Propagating Afro-pessimism? The power of neo-Pentecostal prophetic objects on human agency and transcendence in Africa

Collium Banda
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 56, No 1 | a2845 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v56i1.2845 | © 2022 Collium Banda | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 February 2022 | Published: 17 August 2022

About the author(s)

Collium Banda, Unit for Reformational Theology and the Development of the South African Society, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


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Abstract

This article is a public systematic theological analysis of the power of the anointed objects of African neo-Pentecostal prophets (NPPs) on human agency and transcendence in the African context of enduring poverty and human brokenness. It analysed the public role played by anointed objects from a systematic theological perspective. The article argued that many African Christians rely on anointed objects without critically considering the negative implications on their human agency (power to act) and transcendence (power to overcome) as Africans. It highlighted the irony of teaching Africans to rely on anointed objects to overcome their poverty, while other races, especially white people in Western countries, continue to build prosperous economies even after rejecting religion and Christianity. This led to the question: What does the African reliance on anointed objects of the NPPs say about the state of African human agency and transcendence? The central argument was that anointed objects are fraught with Afro-pessimism, the negative connotations about African human agency and transcendence. A secondary question that emerged was: What is a biblical view of humanity that can be used to revive African human agency and transcendence, and lead to a meaningful response to poverty? As a public systematic theological critique, the question was answered by evaluating if the NPPs’ use of anointed objects to overcome poverty resonates with what the Bible teaches about human potential in Genesis 1:26–28 and the extent to which it promotes Afro-optimism that enhances human agency and transcendence in Africa.

Contribution: This article calls African NPPs and their adherents to think critically and broadly about their public role in the context of poverty in Africa. It uses biblical doctrines and images to challenge NPPs to respond to poverty in ways that promote Afro-optimism by enhancing the human agency and transcendency of African people instead of the Afro-pessimism promoted by the relying on anointed objects.


Keywords

anointed objects; African neo-Pentecostal prophets; agency; transcendence; cultural mandate; image of God; poverty; new religious movements

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