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Nigeria's Christian Revolution

The Civil War Revival and Its Pentecostal Progeny (1967-2006)

Richard Burgess

Regnum Books International (2008), 369pp, ISBN: 978-1-870345-63-7

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Nigeria has become the arena of one of the most remarkable religious movements of recent times, reflecting the shift in the global centre of Christianity from the North to the South. This book tells the story of one sector of this movement from its roots in the Nigerian civil war to the turn of the newmillennium. It describes a revival that occurred among the Igbo people of Eastern Nigeria, and the new Pentecostal churches it generated, and documents the changes that have occurred as the movement has responded to global flows and local demands. As such, it explores the nature of revivalist and Pentecostal experience, but does so against the backdrop of local socio-political and economic developments, such as decolonisation and civil war, as well broader processes, such as modernisation and globalisation.

Richard Burgess has worked in Nigeria since 1990 and until recently was a lecturer at the Theological College of Northern Nigeria, Jos. He is currently a research fellow at the University of Birmingham.

“This study of Revival and Pentecostalism in eastern Nigeria is an important contribution both to the history of Christianity in Nigeria and to the growing study of African Neo-Pentecostalism. The modern Pentecostal or charismatic movement is one of the most significant phenomena in the recent history of Christianity in Africa, transforming the ways in which Christianity as a whole relates to traditional African culture and helping to shape sub-Saharan Africa responses to globalisation and modernity. Richard Burgess presents a detailed and convincing account of the rise and significance of modern Pentecostalism in a particular part of Africa - the movement of renewal within the established Christian churches among the Igbo of eastern Nigeria from the 1960s. He identifies the Scripture Union in Igbo secondary schools as the seed-bed for this revival, given poignancy for many of the participants by the experience of suffering during the Biafran civil war and by the energies released in the subsequent reconstruction of Igbo society as part of a reunited Nigeria. Many of the student leaders of this period have gone on to exercise leadership in the burgeoning new pentecostal churches; others have become bishops and leaders in the older churches, such as the influential Anglican Church of Nigeria.”

Kevin Ward, Senior Lecturer in African Religious Studies, University of Leeds


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