African Pentecostal/ Charismatic Iconography: A Study Of Their Significance And Relevance

ABSTRACT

African Pentecostals and Charismatics adopt one or more biblical, religious, and cultural symbols or imaginative artistic expressions in their spirituality, worship and witness. These are often displayed on their sign posts, posters, billboards, banners, event paraphernalia and literature. It is in relation to this that this paper seeks to explore the significance and relevance of these artistic symbols and imageries in the official logo(s) of some Ghanaian Pentecostal and Charismatic denominations and ministries. This study falls within the field of Christian arts and Iconography of early Christendom. In that era, Christian images such as drawings and paintings of all kind including that of Christ the saviour, Mary the mother of Christ, Saints, and relics of ancient men and women of faith were used for devotion, instruction, and analogies of faith etc., but not without controversies.Its decline in the West and revival in the non-western world during the West's encounter with non-western cultures was for the purposes of evangelism, contextualization, and promotion of the dialogue between the gospel and culture through music, architecture, literature, arts and patterns of thought and behaviour .In continuity of that Christian heritage, African Pentecostals and Charismatics do not only use the symbols of the dove, eagle, and the globe in their official logos but a wide range of such which include the cross, sword, the royal crown, the Bible (opened or closed), flame of fire, shield, the picture of Christ etc. to express their unique ecclesiastical identity, mission, message, spiritual orientation, practical ethos and theology. This paper also argues that the full potential of such Christian arts are yet to be explored even though their use in African Christianity could be traced back to the era of the African Independent Churches.  It also pointed out that the use of objects such as oil, water, sand, stones, fruits and other materials in sections of Ghanaian Pentecostalism and Charismatic ministries for mediating the supernatural are now raising syncretistic feelings across Ghana's Pentecostal ecumenical fraternity.

AUTHOR
SIMON KOUESSAN DEGBE, President, Maranatha University College, Accra, Ghana