The main topic of this book is the tendency among young people in
Chapter 1 gives an overview of the history of the Christian Church, especially in the context of its commitment or otherwise to fighting poverty, and other problems which have contributed to the rise of the Balokole. Ideas on unity, catholicity and holiness are discussed in relation to the Church’s duties, especially the Apostolic tradition of carrying on Christ’s mission.
Chapter 2 turns to young people’s views of the Church and its role. It argues that love, the basis of the Christian message, must imply a practical duty of care; and considers whether the Church’s failure to offer real help is connected with young people’s growing preference for non-traditional religion. It also looks at other problems such as family breakdown and unemployment, which are facing young people.
Chapter 3 explores the Balokole movement and its links (or, mainly, absence of links) to established Churches. Its similarity to American movements such as Word of Faith is considered, and its message of ‘prosperity teaching’ is examined.
As well as criticising Balokole distortion of Biblical messages about wealth and other matters, the chapter praises the way it incorporates traditional African elements, such as dance and music, into its worship. Should the traditional Church consider doing the same?
In Chapter 4, contextual theology is discussed, particularly liberation theology. This Latin American development is considered in the context of contemporary African problems including recent ethnic conflict, widespread corruption and injustice. It is argued that liberation theology – a practical commitment to fighting poverty and injustice – is both a Christian duty and the best way to prevent the further spread of movements like the Bakolole.
Chapter 5 returns to the American origins of the Bakolole movement, and gives an overview of various scholars who have attacked the ‘Word of Faith’ movement. It uses this criticism of the often corrupt, exploitative leaders of such movements as an opportunity to urge all leaders – including Church leaders – to reflect on and improve their own practice.
Chapter 6 looks at the plight of young people in
Chapter 7 identifies the root cause of many of the problems discussed in the previous chapter: corruption. It explores the way bribery; nepotism and tribalism have poisoned East African political life, undermined the rule of law and led to grave injustices such as the treatment of the
In Chapter 8, practical ways of applying liberation theology are discussed. The chapter mentions worldwide organisations committed to fighting poverty, with which the Church could work, and looks at examples from recent history such as the anti-apartheid struggle in
Chapter 9 considers what the Church will need to do in order to eradicate poverty and create a more just society. It argues for careful selection of leaders in both religious and political organisations; and for regular scrutiny of their actions. It reiterates the author’s belief in the Church as the centre of the community, with a responsibility in all areas of social and economic as well as spiritual life. The book ends with a plea for the Church to take action to improve the lives of its members and prevent them from being exploited by unscrupulous forces.
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