Ethiopian Christianities: the evolution of conflict and dialogue

07 February 2018, 16:30 - 07 February 2018, 17:30 Lightfoot Rm, Divinity Faculty, West Rd, Cambridge, CB3 9BS

Speaker: Ralph Lee, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, and
SOAS, London

Ethiopia’s history is dominated by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church, which has been a strong influence on the country since the conversion of King Ezana in the second quarter of the fourth century CE. Throughout the stages of the country’s development, Orthodox Christianity has been a strong force in forming the national identity, and has played a strong role in mitigating influences from other religions, and from colonisers. More recently, primarily since the early part of the 20th century, Protestant Christianity has become firmly established, starting in the south where the Orthodox Church was not strong, but since the fall of communism in 1991 Protestant missionaries, nationals and expatriates, have moved into the Orthodox heartlands of the north, supported by the government’s secular religious equality policies. This has led to harsh clashes between the two expressions of Christianity, evinced by strong polemical criticism, and in some cases violence. This seminar looks at some of the deeper reasons for this conflict developing, and highlights the development of dialogue between Orthodox and Protestant expressions that could alter this trend.