MATERIALISM IN THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF EAST AFRICA: A CASE OF KIENI WEST PRESBYTERY
NJERU PHINIUS, PRESTON
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The Church teaches its adherents against being so much attached to material possessions than the spiritual welfare. Nevertheless, the tendency of the Church moving towards materialism is apparent. This is evident in Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA), especially in Kieni West Presbytery where materialistic tendencies are slowly gaining roots into the Church. This study investigated Materialism in PCEA Kieni West Presbytery. It sought to investigate the manifestations of materialism; establish the causes of materialism and underscore the effects of materialism in Kieni West Presbytery. Literature was reviewed on the meaning, history, manifestations, causes and effects of materialism. Descriptive survey research design was employed to carry out this study. The target population was 3280 church members in Kieni West Presbytery, from which a sample of 346 respondents was gotten. Data collection was mainly done through questionnaires and observation methods. The analyzed data was presented using tables, piecharts, and descriptions. The findings were that materialism is real in Kieni West Presbytery and it is manifested in various ways such as Monetary gains coming before evangelization; Striving for material satisfaction; Blessings measured in terms of material possessions; emphasis on prosperity gospel; Church leadership given to those with possessions; Material gains superseding spiritual benefits and Happiness interpreted in terms of material possessions. The causes of materialism are: need for self satisfaction; need to improve one’s wellbeing; greed; search for happiness; money activities preceding spiritual activities; struggle for power and influence; too much value attached to material riches; Lack of theological articulation on materialism; Corruption; and Lack of proper teaching on materialism. Materialism has numerous effects in PCEA Kieni West Presbytery including Moral decay; Spiritual decay; Prosperity Gospel; Individualism; Preoccupation to money; Social injustices; Loss of Church’s authority and focus; Corruption; Disharmony and Church leadership wrangles. This study was guided by the theory of McMurtry (1978) that says the acquisitive desires have become associated with the term materialism. The Church has a role to play in curbing Materialism. This can be done through Christians being role models; teaching where the Church should teach against materialism; having theological debates on the challenge of materialism and making use of the African culture when dealing with the problem of materialism. The study recommended that the Church should continue teaching its followers on materialism, the Church should concentrate on preaching about Jesus Christ rather than focusing so much on money and inculturation should be done by the Church in Kieni West Presbytery where the Church should use the African culture as it spreads the gospel of Christ.