Sola Scriptura in Africa: Missions and the Reformation Literacy Tradition

In: Evangelical Quarterly: An International Review of Bible and Theology
Steven van Dyck
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This theoretical reflection addresses issues arising in the history of world Christianity, in particular regarding mission churches in Africa since the nineteenth century. The article first evaluates the development of oral, manuscript and print communication cultures in western culture, and their influence since the first century in the Church. Modernity could only develop in a print culture, creating the cultural environment for the Reformation. Sola Scriptura theology, as in Calvin and Luther, considered the written Word of God essential for the Church’s life. The role of literacy throughout Church history is reviewed, in particular in the modern mission movement in Africa and the growing African church, to show the importance of literacy in developing a strong church. In conclusion, spiritual growth of churches in the Reformation tradition requires recognition of the primacy of print culture over orality, and the importance of a culture of reading and study.

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