The research is a practical theological exploration which analysed prophetic preaching in neo-Pentecostal Christianity during the socio-economic and socio-political crisis. At the centre of Pentecostalism is the notion of preaching and prophecy. In an attempt to understand prophetic preaching in these neo-Pentecostal churches the study examines the trends and behaviour of the neo-Pentecostal prophets and the critical aspect of how these ministries communicate the gospel to its adherents. The critical focus of the research is the question of whether the meaning of prophetic preaching refers to sermons that in some way predict the future or to preaching that addresses significant social issues and concerns. It also questions whether the adherents of these new ministries are inspired by the gospel of faith or are they driven by the socio-economic and socio-political crisis which may eventually not be accurate understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The research addresses the terrors and doubts of many people who are trapped between Christian belief and terror and reaction to the declaration of the prophetic gospel of prosperity by the neo-Pentecostal prophets particularly in Zimbabwe.
The theoretical statement of this research is that there appears to be an understated renewal element in the theology of neo-Pentecostal Christianity in Zimbabwe as is evidently expressed through the movement of Christians from the traditional churches to these neo-Pentecostal churches in tendencies which reflect the fluctuating religious topography and the expression of African Christianity in general and Zimbabwean Christianity in particular. The research explores the landscape, influence and importance of neo-Pentecostal Christianity in Zimbabwean community in general. The identity and nature of neo-Pentecostal Christianity in its practical theological exploration discussed the origins of the neo-Pentecostal prophets, their churches and the sermons they preach and the dynamics that promote the growth of these ministries in the context of God’s plans for evangelism and the community in particular. Fundamental to this kind of Christianity are the similes of power and prosperity which are believed to be symbols of faith. The effect and impact of this type of faith expression in the socio-economic and socio-political scene has been fully reconnoitred.
The primary methodology in this research is the qualitative method complemented by quantitative methods. A practical theological framework was used in the research especially with Osmer’s core tasks of practical theological interpretation, as it was used to interpret the unfolding trends of the phenomenon under exploration. The research discloses how people’s socio-economic and socio-political fears and hopes in the hub of life’s challenges lure them toward new ministries which promise to absolutely encourage a magnificent life with real results being received in the ‘here and now’. This study has reviewed how religion and politics interacted specifically in the Zimbabwean context and how they affect each other. It has also reviewed how religion especially neo-Pentecostal Christianity, has been seen as a platform of a lavish life in the environment of people’s desires and challenges. There is longing in neo-Pentecostal Christianity, for wealth and health as expressions of salvation and a faithful Christian life. Strangely, there is diminutive references to moral and ethical issues from the neo-Pentecostal prophetic preaching, it was noted that their preaching is centred on declarations, prosperity, prophecy, deliverance, health, and miracles. These themes are the pillars of prophetic preaching in neo-Pentecostal Christianity in Zimbabwe and they are considered as signs of being saved and to have received blessings from God. When one lacks these things and economic success one is regarded as demons possessed and it causes poor health hence one needs to be delivered from the bondage of Satan. Such teachings have accustomed the potential converts to seek after material things and values as acute features of the significance of salvation and the mission of Christ.
The fundamentals of the research compared the Old Testament prophets’ prophetic preaching with that of neo-Pentecostal prophets and finds that neo-Pentecostalism preaching has failed to be prophetic in the sense of eighth century prophets like Elijah, Isaiah, Amos, and Elisha who rebuked the kings, merchants, and priests for their immoral practices. Prophecy as seen from the Old Testament prophets is described as a medium of communication between God and his chosen nation Israel; prophecy was meant to rebuke, challenge and change Israel’s attitude and follow the statutes and commandments of God which were the basis for their everyday living. Hence the research has noted that the neo-Pentecostal prophets failed to meet this standard set by the ancient prophets.
The research went on to expose that neo-Pentecostal Christianity encourages in an indirect way of making disciples instead of the traditional way of faith response to the gospel proclamation. But does this neo-Pentecostal gospel alleviate poverty or does it have any relevance to edify one’s life to have a better relationship with God? The eight chapters of this research has embarked on these questions, pointing the way to the four elements of preaching as a new theory for praxis. These four elements ended up looking at the gospel of contentment as a response to a dependable Christian evangelisation that is alive and related to the meaning of salvation and bring this nation out of this socio-economic and socio- political crisis. The research concludes that the four elements of preaching and especially gospel of contentment is the panacea providing meaning and solutions to the varied human fears, corruption, economic and political meltdown of the country that portrays the provisional nature of human existence. This can be achieved when the church practices prophetic preaching as the men of the eighth century did.