Perception and Identity
A Study of the Relationship between the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Evangelical Churches in Ethiopia
Ethiopia is an icon of freedom and indigenous Christianity across Africa due to its historic independence, ancient Christian identity and rich religious heritage. However, Ethiopia and its various Christian denominations have their own understandings of this identity and how these communities relate to one another. In this detailed study, Dr Seblewengel Daniel explores the perception and identity of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and evangelical church in Ethiopia and examines the relations between the two.
Beginning with the earliest evangelical missionary engagement with the Orthodox church, Dr Daniel skilfully uses historical and theological frameworks to explain the dynamics at play when approaching the relations over two centuries between these two churches and their respective communities. Daniel ultimately emphasizes that what unites the Orthodox and evangelical church is greater than what divides – namely an ancient faith in the triune God. This important study urges both sides to place the Bible at the centre, using it to understand their differences, and challenges them to take responsibility for past negative perceptions in order to move forward together in greater unity and mutual respect.
This book by Seblewengel Daniel is a well-researched, thoughtful and sympathetic study offering a new approach to an age-old problem in Ethiopia – engaging the uneasy relationship between the diverse Christian traditions that have taken root in Ethiopia over many centuries through the twin lenses of perception and identity.
As an important yardstick for understanding the Ethiopian church predicament, she employs three key themes in the dynamics of Christian history identified by Andrew Walls – the essential continuity of Christianity, the indigenizing principle and the pilgrim principle.
Weaving together in a historical survey the perceptions of each other’s traditions and what constitutes the heart of their identity, she analyzes the root causes of the divergence, and identifies commonalities and pointers to convergence, with a view to fostering a greater mutual understanding within the diverse body of Christ in Ethiopia. This is a timely aim, given the many existential challenges facing the church and country today.
Gillian Mary Bediako, PhD
Akrofi-Christaller Institute of Theology, Mission and Culture,
Perception and Identity: A Study of the Relationship between the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Evangelical Churches in Ethiopia by Seblewengel Daniel, eloquently synthesizes the notion of perception and identity among members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Evangelical churches in Ethiopia. It offers a thoroughly researched analysis of the nature of relationship between the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Evangelical church on multiple fronts: theological, missional, cultural, etc., tapping on secondary and primary sources. It is a distinct contribution to a subject of seminal importance that has been overlooked by scholars.
The book is highly relevant in the context of contemporary Ethiopia where the need for mutual dialogue and unity is vitally felt. This rich and brilliantly presented book deserves a place in serious scholarly instructions and libraries promoting the field of Christianity and mission studies.
Tibebe Eshete, PhD
Visiting Professor of History,
Michigan State University, East Langsing, Michigan, USA,
Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
This is a valuable study, sensitive and well-researched, of culture clash and the interactions of tradition, identity and renewal. It enlarges our understanding of Ethiopia’s modern religious history, gives insights into both ancient and recent Christian developments, and transmits messages both of warning and of hope.
Andrew F. Walls, PhD
Emeritus Professor, History of Missions,
University of Edinburgh, UK
Liverpool Hope University, UK
Table of Contents
- English Abstract
- Kambatisa Abstract
- Amharic Abstract
- Chapter 1: Introduction
- 1.1. Motivation
- 1.2. Intellectual Framework
- 1.3. Methodology
- 1.4. Historical Background to the Study