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Christianity in Africa

January 6, 2019

Bete Giyorgis (Church of St. George), Lalibela, Ethiopia, Author Bernard Gagnon (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Christianity did not come to Africa as the result of European colonialism.  Its presence on the continent dates to the time of the Apostles.

Christianity is thought to have been brought to Alexandria, Egypt by Mark around 60 AD [1].  Christian communities existed there by the year 100 AD, if not earlier [2].  The Septuagint (the earliest Greek translation of the Old Testament) was begun there.   The Church Fathers Clement, Origen, and Athanasius all resided there [3].

The so called Desert Fathers – early monks, hermits, and ascetics – are known to have lived in the Egyptian desert from the 3rd Century onward [4].  Monasticism was, in fact, developed in Africa under St. Anthony.

The Kingdom of Axum in Ethiopia underwent conversion in the 4th Century under King Ezana [5].  The first coins bearing the symbol of the cross were minted here.  In the 12th and 13th Centuries, eleven Christian churches in Lalibela were carved from the living rock under the direction of a revered king by that name [6].  They are today a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Christianity was peacefully established in the Kingdom of Cush (Nubia) in the 6th Century, and flourished there for 1000 years.

Tragically, the history of Christianity in Africa, as elsewhere, was later tarnished by personal ambition, power politics, and commercial interests, most especially the slave trade.  But those unfamiliar with its origins overlook real treasures.

[1]  BBC, “The Story of Africa – Christianity”, http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/africa/features/storyofafrica/index_section8.shtml.

[2]  Wikipedia, “Early centers of Christianity”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_centers_of_Christianity#Alexandria.

[3]  Wikipedia, “Church Fathers”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_Fathers.

[4]  Wikipedia, “Desert Fathers”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desert_Fathers.

[5]  World Historia, “King Ezana of Axum (Ethiopia)”, 3/15/07, http://archive.worldhistoria.com/king-ezana-of-axum-ethiopia_topic18570.html.

[6]  Wikipedia, “Lalibela”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lalibela.

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From → Christian, Faith, Religion

26 Comments
  1. Aaahhh…
    As well as The Story of King Solomon and His Guest, Queen of Sheba.
    So Yes Indeed Christianity has Been in Africa for A Very Very Long Time.
    GOD Bless every Nation and Country who Loves Our Brother Jesus and Worships Our Father…. Our Lord God Almighty.

    • Solomon was a Christian?

      • The second Person in the Trinity, Christ is both God and man. The Bible speaks of Christ as both the root and offspring of David (Rev. 22: 16). As God, therefore, He pre-existed Solomon — outside time. But Solomon was born before Him, in time.

        Confusion over this existed even in Christ’s Day. The Bible tells us:

        While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, ‘What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?’ They said to Him, ‘The Son of David.’ He said to them, ‘How then does David in the Spirit call Him “Lord,” saying [in Psalm 110]: “The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool’? If David then calls Him “Lord,” how is He his Son?’ ” And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore” (Matt. 22: 41-46).

  2. You mentioned evidence of Christianity in Ethiopia in the 4th century. The gospel reached that country even earlier than that. Acts 8 describes how an Ethiopian official was converted in response to Philip’s teaching. He must have told others what happened to him when he got home.

    • Thank you for pointing that out, Clyde.

    • As long as we have apostate Bible correctors, we will always have the history of Christianity attacked.
      Origen,and all those he spoke of are against and are NOT saved and they are false teachers.

      • I am by no means an expert on early Church Fathers. However, you make an extremely broad statement. Origen is widely viewed as one of the most important Christian theologians of all time. It is true that he was condemned as a heretic by the Emperor Justinian.

      • He’s a heretic, nothing he teaches will get you closer to God, as matter of fact, all of those bible correctors are false.
        Don’t follow the world, follow God.
        The doctrines are herises of origen.
        His doctrine is founded on philosophical rhetoric.
        His views are toilet paper, the Bible already gave that answer in regards to the Start of the Church in Africa.
        I don’t want to come off hard but, maybe you should believe the Bible since ALL of the answers are there period dot.

      • Thank you for your concern. Rest assured that I do believe the Bible. I would have hoped that was clear from this blog.

  3. Great historical post!
    A pastor wrote a book named Great Black Men In The Bible.
    He believes that African Americans are the Cushites, and shares the men of the Bible who were very courageous, yet not identified.

  4. Reblogged this on Anchor Thy Soul and commented:
    Christianity In Africa: By Anna Waldherr

  5. Thanks for this interesting post. Blessings to you in this new year.

  6. amazing, teaching. Thank you, Anna. I hope your holidays were peaceful-filled.

    Your brother,

    David

    • Thank you, David. They were. I hope you had a good Christmas, as well. May God grant us all a peaceful New Year.

  7. Praise the Lord His good news had reached His children! ❤

  8. Wow this is great stuff. I want to learn about Africa, the real story not the one I was taught, I hope you have more post that reveal Africa’s secrets? This one was really good.

  9. Silvia Lia Leigh, MD permalink

    Thank you about your words. I am born in Romania, now a missionary in Nigeria, Africa. One thing is sure: God loves the people of African! I am a witness! Each time we gather for our church services, the Holy Spirit comes like rain in the desert and encourages us all. Dear Sister Anna, be encouraged in your heart today!

  10. Yes it’s interesting how Christian monasticism developed with St. Anthony and others. Many men went into the desert to isolate themselves from the temptations of the world. I remember someone telling me this helped to preserve the Christian faith from the corruption of the world. I’m not sure where I stand on that because we are supposed to be “in the world but not of the world.” I do believe monasticism has provided us with much value though.

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  1. Christentum in Afrika - www.afrikalovers.com
  2. This Week in Around the Blogosphere (02/16/19) – The Narrow Path

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