Christianity is the largest religion in Ghana. over 58% of the population of the country are Christians. Let me take you through a very brief history of Christianity in Ghana.
In the 15th century European merchants brought a form of Catholicism which inspired Christianity around Elmina and Cape Coast. But it couldn”t survived and mysteriously vanished after about 50 years. This could be attributed to so many factors which we will one day discussed.
However, the fate of Christianity in those days were in the hands of same self-seeking colonized masters. Brandishing the cross in one hand, they held fast to the pistol in the other. It is true that the colonizers were not evangelizers and, in many instances, did not even believe Christianity; yet, their origin and coincidence of their appearance in Ghana identified them as one. They were, therefore, entangled in the supreme contradiction of preaching the freedom of all the children of God, while at the same time they imposed heavy burdens such as the slave trade on us.Then came the second wave of Christianity in the 19thcentury. This time it was a very fragmented and confrontational Christianity that we had to contend with.
What is worse, they preached forms of Christianity that had caught on in their various countries in Europe and which often invariably, at least externally, clashed with one another. Religion and colonial secular interests locked horns with each other, the colonialists bringing along with them the brand of Christianity found in their countries. The catholic Portuguese were ousted by Calvinist Danes who in turn had to give way to Reformed Dutch who vacated their position to Anglican and Methodist British. What was otherwise a military, political or economic colonial situation created an inevitable sectarian conflict among different Christian churches.
Christian denominations were caught up in the struggle for conversions, which made one denomination the enemy or, at least, the rival of another. The different denominations established strongholds in different parts of Ghana. The Methodists were strong in Western and Central Regions, the Presbyterians in the Eastern Region, Anglicans in the urban areas and Catholics spread thinly in the whole land. Greater Accra Region was mainly Presbyterian and Methodist.
The different Christian denominations, by their rivalry ended up dividing Ghanaian, in contradiction to the principle of unity that all nations seek and the cardinal virtue of being one, according to the Lord Jesus Christ’s own words.
The mid-20th century saw the upsurge of new religious movements: Pentecostal, charismatic, healing, spiritual and independent African churches, to mention a few.
These new Christian churches were either introduced from outside Africa, especially the United States, or from other African countries such as Nigeria. They came at different times and settled but many of them too sprang from Ghanaian roots. Some of these are splinter groups from mainline mother Churches while many others are churches that have sprung up on their own merit.
The thrust of their ministry seems to be insistence on evangelism, man’s sinfulness, repentance, healing, provision of answers to problems of practical life, literary interpretation of scriptural texts, lively and participatory liturgies, and the use of African mentality in dealing with the faithful.
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