This book puts John Chrysostom in conversation with deliverance ministries and the prosperity gospel in modern African charismatic Christianity. Samantha Miller argues that Chrysostom had a cosmology not unlike that present in the charismatic Christianity of the global south, where the world is populated by spirits able to affect the material world. Additionally, Chrysostom had plenty to say about suffering, demons, and prosperity. Through this conversation, issues of personal moral responsibility and salvation rise to the surface, and it is through these issues that modern Western and African Christians—theologians, pastors, missionaries, and laity—can perhaps have a conversation that gets past the question of a spirit-inhabited world and talk together about the saving work of Christ for the benefit of all the church.
Samantha L. Miller is visiting assistant professor of theology at Whitworth University.
1. Charismatic Christianity in Africa
2. John Chrysostom’s World and Modern Africa: Intersections
3. A Conversation about Deliverance
4. A Conversation about Prosperity
5. Themes of the Conversations
In this book, Miller undertakes a bold experiment – to deepen the theological conversation between African Pentecostal Christianity and western evangelicals by employing a shared ‘ancestor’ from early Christianity as a neutral dialogue partner. Through the lens of that early understanding of demons, virtue, and suffering, the shared thoughtworlds and theologies of modern deliverance ministry and the prosperity gospel gain clarity. This a book that will be helpful to missionaries, ministers, and lay leaders who encounter these theologies in their ministries. Western Christians concerned about spiritual warfare or engaged in ministry with African migrant communities will find this book enlightening.
How might Christians raised in the demystified, scientific West study Scripture with fellow believers whose world view includes an active demonic realm without being patronizing or inauthentic? Miller’s use of John Chrystostom to mediate between the two cultures should challenge Westerners to see the affinity between the foundation of Western Christianity and the faith of African Christians. Chrysostom may not only mediate these cross-cultural conversations about the demonic but also call Westerners to the humility of fellow learners necessary for us to find true mutuality in conversations with our siblings in the Global South.
In this timely new book, Samantha L. Miller continues the important comparative work between the ancient Christian theology of John Chrysostom and modern African Charismatic Theology. This work pushes the boundaries of placing different theological frameworks in conversation, and will be seminal in bringing emerging African theologies into perspective alongside their ancient counterparts.
Too often disagreements persist because the interlocutors fail to understand what is really in agreement and what is in disagreement. In this excellent book on the views of demonology in relation to salvation and virtue, Samantha L. Miller draws on her expertise of Chrysostom’s understanding of virtue and demonology to provide a conversation with African deliverance and prosperity theologies that opens up the irenic ground on which “everyone is trying to understand human suffering, whether her own, her friend’s, or the world’s.” Her work here models the careful research and thinking needed to understand others and focus on the ways theological claims about God, human agency and responsibility, and soteriology inform Christian virtue and carry the potential for hope in the midst of suffering and hardship.