Original Research - Special Collection: The Church in Need of Change (Agency)

Towards a decolonial hermeneutic of experience in African Pentecostal Christianity: A South African perspective

Mookgo S. Kgatle, Thabang R. Mofokeng
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 75, No 4 | a5473 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v75i4.5473 | © 2019 Mookgo S. Kgatle, Thabang R. Mofokeng | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 March 2019 | Published: 30 October 2019

About the author(s)

Mookgo S. Kgatle, Department of Christian Spirituality, Church History and Missiology, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
Thabang R. Mofokeng, Christian Ministry and Leadership, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa

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The idea for this article was developed in ecumenical discussion regarding the worrisome developments in some neo-Pentecostal ministries where stories of snake-eating, petrol-drinking, false prophecies and so on were being alleged. A burning question during the discussion was: what is it with the hermeneutic of experience that makes it possible for such stories to arise? Furthermore, how can this situation be remedied? The researchers set to answer this question by conducting a literature study on the subject of hermeneutics of African Indigenous Churches (AICs), neo-Pentecostalism and Mission Pentecostalism. The inclusion of AICs and Mission Pentecostalism follows the scholarly consensus led by Allan Anderson in which all three together constitute African Pentecostalism. This article offers a critical reflection on the corrosive role of fundamentalist-inspired exclusivism, judgementalism and pride, which feed ignorance of the basic oneness of African Pentecostal Christianity. It concludes that abuse abounds in the divisions and maintenance of the above-mentioned fundamentalist attitudes and raises the necessity of creating awareness of belonging to one community. This community’s historical experience of the activity of the Spirit and Scripture may serve as critical input into its hermeneutic, hopefully lessening if not eradicating abuse.


Pentecostal hermeneutic; African Pentecostal Christianity; Holy Spirit; Pentecostal experience; Decolonisation


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