||To introduce you to our readers, you are Associate Professor of Church History and Mission Studies Kogi State University, Anyigb, a Nigeria , Associate Fellow, Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology, DePaul University, Chicago, Editor, Anyigba Journal of Arts and Humanities, Kogi State University, Anyigba, Nigeria, and Deputy Editor, Nigerian Journal of Christian Studies. As a Church Historian with focus on Africa, Europe and North America, what initially interested you in Christian history in Africa?|
The African continent is a vast one with diversity of tribes and ethnic/tribal groups. My interest in African Church History is largely due to my desire to know more about the history of Christianity in Africa as well as to enlighten many Africans and non – Africans about the rich history of Christianity in Africa. Also, I believe that many erroneous views of the history of Christianity in the African continent such as the fact that Africans had no idea of Christianity before the advent of the missionaries from the Western nations and others need to be corrected. While we appreciate the efforts of foreign missionaries to Africa, the collaboration between the foreign missionaries and African indigenous evangelizers is also worthy of mention. The beautiful legacies of the early North African Christianity from the early times until the invasion and Islamization of the sub-region was a great attraction to me as an African scholar.
|Gordon:||Who brought Christianity to Nigeria?|
The first attempt at bringing Christianity to the geographical entity now called Nigeria was the initiative of the Portuguese during the period of exploration. This was as far back as the fifteenth century when the Portuguese King was interested in converting to Christianity the people of West Africa assigned to him through the Papal Bull of Demarcation
|Gordon:||What African nation has the highest percentage of Catholics?|
|Felix:||Democratic Republic of the Congo has the highest percentage of Roman Catholics in Africa with Roman Catholic population of 29,210,050 which is 36.8 % out of the country’s total population of 79, 375,136. Share of global Catholics is 2.33%|
|Gordon:||What are some of the primary challenges in evangelizing new Catholics in Nigeria?|
||The major challenges in
evangelizing new Catholics in Nigeria are namely:
1. The proliferation of non – Catholic Churches scattered all over Nigeria which seem to be more aggressive in evangelism than the
Catholic Church. Many Roman Catholics feel that those who wish to become Catholics must come to the church rather than the church going out to search for lost souls.
2. Many of the Roman Catholics patronize several of the new Churches in search for miracles and others.
Many Catholics find it difficult to evangelize because they are sometimes made to believe that other Churches are better than the Catholic Church, thereby lacking the motivation to reach out to others to become part of the Catholic family.
|Gordon:||You also have a strong interest in Charismatic Renewal in the Roman Catholic Church Please provide an overview of Charismatic Renewal and why there are sometimes criticism of the Charismatic Renewal?|
||In 1960, in Van Nuys,
California, the modern Charismatic movement began in an
Episcopalian Church (St. Mark’s with Dennis Bennett as
Rector). There was an outburst of tongues speaking in this
This event was so significant that both Time and Newsweek covered the story. After that, the movement spread like wildfire in the Episcopalian Church and then among Lutherans and the Presbyterians as well. The movement soon entered the universities. This started in New England. In October, 1962, the glossolalia phenomenon broke out at Yale University, among members of the Evangelical Inter-VarsityChristian Fellowship. Included in this new Pentecostal revival were Episcopalians, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, and even one Roman Catholic. (They were soon called “GLOSSO YALIES”. Thereafter, the movement spread to Dartmouth College, Stanford University, and Princeton Theological Seminary.
significant than the above events is what happened in 1967.
All roads led to Rome. At the time of spring vacation in
1967, there were in the Notre Dame area about 30 zealous
Catholics who had received the “baptism of the Holy Spirit”.
In 1968, about 100 to 150 met for a Catholic Pentecostal
Conference. In 1969, there were about 450 Catholic
Charismatics who met including 25 or 30 priests. In 1970,the
increase was more spectacular. Almost 1,300 attended the
conference, including Catholics from Canada. In 1973, 22,000
Catholic Charismatics met together at Notre Dame, including
Catholic participants from at least 10 foreign countries.
The history of the emergence of the Catholic Charismatic
Renewal is such an intriguing one.
|Gordon:||Thank you for a great interview and your leadership.|