Paul Gifford | Pompeu Fabra University (Barcelona) | October 4, 2017

I spoke on ‘What is Religion? Reflections from Africa’ as one of the first lectures of a course on ‘Major Religious Traditions’, a compulsory subject for students of the humanities degree; about 80 students take the course. I explained the ‘enchanted’ religious imagination of most Africans which sees spiritual forces responsible for most events in the world, a religious vision that is not very prominent in the ‘disenchanted’ West where science and technology have largely displaced such perceptions. Even though most Africans would identify themselves as Christians or Muslims, the ‘enchanted’ world-view largely persists, and in my opinion this is the primary reason for the flourishing of Pentecostalism in Africa. Pentecostalism is a form of Christianity marked by participation, exuberance, enthusiasm, ‘signs and wonders’, and it takes seriously this enchanted world-view, in contrast to the mainline or mission churches, which are deeply involved in development. Questions centered largely on current Christian-Muslim tensions.