Theologically, the influence of Keswick theology upon the East Africa Revival cannot be overstated. For Joe Church, the team approach to evangelism was performed in little ‘Keswicks’ across East Africa. More has been said about this in my previous post. Still, while there is reason for critique of Early Keswick Theology in Europe or America, there are at least two positive effects of Keswick theology on the East African movement.
First, the emphasis on personal and public confession of sin led to a perceived atmosphere of humility. More than anyone, the missionaries were in need of this. One of the hallmarks of missions in the high imperial period was an air of superiority and paternalism from the missionaries towards “primitive” peoples. Had this attitude remained, the people of East Africa may have spiraled back into paganism. Keswick theology begins with human sin and moves individuals toward introspection, repentance, and daily consecration. The most obvious sins of the missionaries were pride, prejudice and racism. The public confession of these sins to the nationals not only humbled the missionary but elevated the national. A sense of equality emerged. Christianity moved from being perceived as a European religion to an African religion (really, a global religion).
Second, prior to the revival, many of the “Christians” of East Africa were but baptized pagans. Paternalism breeds weak Christians. This has been increasingly documented by missiologists. The Enlightenment driven missiology, that emphasize external conformity rather than worldview change, encouraged this type of syncretism. The implementation of Early Keswick Theology exposed these falsehoods. Personal salvation was emphasized; furthermore, a certain level of Christian fruitfulness was expected. Right or wrong, there a clear dividing line between filled/unfilled, saved/unsaved was being drawn. Legalism aside, baptized paganism was no longer an option.
On the other hand, negatively, Keswick theology led to all sorts of other legalisms, elitisms, and excesses. These have been roundly identified, though not always blamed on the views of Early Keswick Theology. The excesses have been blamed on the Africans’ culture, not on the theology that drove the movement. That is unfortunate.
Festo Kivengere and the Maturing Global Movement
Nonetheless, the Revival movement did not settle for an imported theology. Particularly with Festo Kivengere, the movement matured. John Senyonyi identifies three emphases in Festo’s preaching: (1) the Cross of Jesus; (2) the Love of Jesus; and (3) the Holy Spirit. Festo became an international advocate for the love of Christ, exemplified in the cross. The Cross is where the love of God is exemplified, in that Jesus paid for sin. At the cross, all sinners are seen equally. The love of God was demonstrated in the cross because that is where Jesus died on behalf of sinners. The Holy Spirit testifies to the Jesus through the word. It was Jesus who went to the cross to conquer sinners’ sin. Rather than preaching “Revival” or about the revival, Festo preached Jesus. Senyonyi argues that this is where Festo excelled over the revival, in that he focused so much on the love of God through the cross. The revival message was not that revival had come; rather, the revival message was that Jesus had come, died on the cross for each sinner, and raised from the dead. The revival quickly matured because of this christo-centric focus. This also led Festo and other revival leaders to fight against splinter movements within the revival that tried to add another step in the gospel, such as the “reawakening” movement. That the revival leaders took these steps without outside intervention demonstrated the maturity of the revival. Therefore, the revival may have begun as Keswick, but as its leaders matured, so did its theology.
Another key element of the revival was that it was trans-denominational. The Keswick Ruandan mission found more in common with the various Protestant Alliances than with the Anglican Church. The ‘balokole’ never split from the Church of Uganda, to its credit, but the revival was not solely among Anglicans. Brethren, Seventh Day Adventists, Mennonites, Baptist, Methodists, etc, were all touched by the revival both within and without East Africa. Festo Kivengere, though an Anglican Bishop, ministered largely in the broader evangelical world, through the East African Evangelistic Association, and through the global ministries of Billy Graham. Therefore, the revival had a definite global evangelical flavor.
HT: Richard Bewes
 Church, Quest, 157, etc.
 Naselli, “Early Keswick Movement”, 5–6.
 See the works by Paul Hiebert, particularly, Paul G. Hiebert, Transforming Worldviews: An Anthropological Understanding of How People Change (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008).
 John M. M. Senyonyi, “Bishop Festo Kivengere’s Philosophy of Evangelism”, MA thesis, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, 1992, 126–32.
 Ibid., 133.
 MacMaster and Jacobs, Gentle Wind, 190–1.
 Richard Gehman lists seven positive results of the revival, many of which have already been discussed, as he also notes the Evangelical nature of the revival as a strong point. Richard Gehman, “The East African Revival”, East Africa Journal of Evangelical Theology 5.1 (1986): 46–7.