Original Research

The role of the theology of retribution in the growth of Pentecostal-Charismatic churches in Africa

Jonathan Kangwa
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 37, No 1 | a1542 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v37i1.1542 | © 2016 Jonathan Kangwa | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 October 2015 | Published: 30 August 2016

About the author(s)

Jonathan Kangwa, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, United Church of Zambia University, Zambia


This article considers the contribution of the theology of retribution to the growth of Pentecostal-charismatic churches in Africa. It argues that the beliefs and practices of African Pentecostal-charismatic churches uphold the theology of retribution. The success of prophecy and healing in these churches is based on their extensive engagement with the theology of retribution. To show this, the article begins with a brief review of the principle of retribution, describing it as resulting from the conception of a perfect and just universe in which every human deed brings with it consequences. Good deeds are followed by good consequences, evil deeds have bad consequences. Based on this understanding of retribution, the article discusses beliefs and practices of Pentecostal-charismatic churches which support the principle of retribution and whose involvement in healing and prophecy is attractive to Africans. The article concludes that the current discourse on Pentecostal-charismatic churches in Africa focuses strongly on the aspects of healing and prophecy while neglecting the contribution made by the theology of retribution to the popularity of these churches.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: Located within African theologies and African church history, this article maintains that the current discourse on Pentecostal and charismatic churches in Africa, as it concentrates on healing and prophecy, overlooks the role played by the theology of retribution in the growth of these churches.


Theology of retribution; healing; prophecy; miracles; African Pentecostal-charismatic churches


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