Pragmatic Faith and the Tanzanian Lutheran Church: Bishop Erasto N. Kweka’s Life and Work examines the operations and organization of the Tanzanian Lutheran church through the life and times of its longest serving diocesan bishop, Erasto N. Kweka. Amy Stambach and Aikande Kwayu develop the concept of pragmatic faith, belief-in-practice, to analyze the integration of religious experience, institutionalism, and doctrine or orthodoxy. Pragmatic faith breaks down the lingering binary found in anthropological studies of Christianity between transcendental experience and pragmatic struggle, and between religious revival as rupture or continuity. Stambach and Kwayu analyze the instrumental use of religion in practice, as well as its socially mobilized potential for revelation and transformation. A key analytic agenda of this book is to illuminate how a church that retains the organizational and ritual forms of a European mission church "became" culturally localized over time and yet, paradoxically, also existed pre-colonially. Accordingly, this book offers detailed and ethnographically-grounded perspective on how leaders and laypeople affiliated with the Tanzanian Lutheran church connect the church with other significant institutions, not only the state and the government, but also descent groups, extended families, self-help groups, and existing civic organizations, in order to live meaningfully.
Aikande Clement Kwayu is senior development research consultant at BUMACO Ltd. And honorary research fellow in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin Madison.
Amy Stambach is Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of anthropology and faculty affiliate of the African studies program at the University of Wisconsin Madison.
List of Images
Chapter 1: Mainline Christianity: The Practical Work of the Lutheran Church
Chapter 2: Vocational Calling: Education, Colonialism, and Christianity
Chapter 3: Political Philosophy: Connecting the Church and the State
Chapter 4: Church Challenges: Ethnicity and Nationalism
Chapter 5: Evangelical Prophecy: Procedure, Power, and Diplomacy
Chapter 6: Bishop of Projects: Stewarding Church Resources
Epilogue: Kweka’s Legacy of Pragmatic Faith: Socially Engaged Christianity
Appendix: List of Interviews
About the Authors
This is an illuminating and intricately woven study that draws from the life of a significant Tanzanian Evangelical Lutheran churchman, Bishop Erasto Kweka, to tell the complex story of a mainline church and advance a theory of churchly social action as political and economic action that does not displace the state or fill a void left by a failed state. It demonstrates a central African and Christian impulse that religion should have salutary, practical consequences. It goes beyond the view of church and state as somehow entangled in a competitive struggle for power, seeing them instead as having different but sometimes complementary visions of power. Students of African Christianity will gain new and significant insights from this text.
This timely book addresses head-on the contentious question regarding the separation of the church and the state. While aptly stressing the need for the church to maintain independence and integrity, it showcases how this is not incongruent with its mission to hold the state accountable in matters of injustice and inequality. Its authors do so through a biographical sketch of the life and work of arguably the most illustrious leader of the Lutheran church in Tanzania, Bishop Erasto N. Kweka. As we grapple with figuring out the role of religion in these tumultuous times, this book offers a refreshing reappraisal of how “pragmatic faith” can be exercised to empower the people, especially in contexts of increasing state authoritarianism. A must read for scholars of politics and religion.