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Tag Archives: Missions

Where to Start with World Christianity

There is a specific book that started me down the path of discovering World Christianity and has led me to engage with global perspectives of theology and contextualization. I bought it for a friend who was also finishing an undergraduate Biblical Studies program. When it arrived from the bookseller, I flipped through the pages and before I knew it, had read the entire first chapter. And the second. And the third.

Theology in the Context of World Christianity , by Timothy Tennent, is the book that I have recommended to several people who have asked me where to start start in bridging their (Western) theological training and emerging non-Western perspectives.

The premise of the book is that (more…)

Misusing Christianity to Change Cultures

In his article, 10 Ways Christians Misuse Christianity, by Stephen Mattson (Author’s Blog@mikta) describes areas that have been inappropriately conflated with a “Christian” identity. To value and celebrate (not simply reluctantly accept) cultural identity is an area that is difficult to succinctly communicate to people who do not already have a frame of reference for diversity appreciation. Readers of this blog are probably already on board with this concept, but it is refreshing to see it expressed in the larger, Christian media and targeted to a rising generation of church leaders and engaged Christians. (Relevant is an online platform that engages 20-30somethings around issues of “faith, culture, and intentional living”.)

10. To Change Cultures

Christianity isn’t meant to erase or change a cultural identity. Christianity is amazingly complex and diverse, and it was never intended to be a uniform religion of ethnocentric beliefs.

Many mistakenly perceive that a “correct” Christianity will exactly mirror all their own traditions, beliefs and lifestyles. Thus, instead of introducing people to Jesus, they attempt to change and conform people to their own cultural preferences. When people inevitably don’t conform, they’re often unfairly accused of being sinners—condemned to hell.

Questions to go deeper:
Historically, we see examples of a cultural imprint tied to Christianity actively erasing culture (colonialism, conversion to European cultural expression), but how does contemporary Christianity change cultures today?
What does it look like to celebrate cultural diversity within a local church?

Group Discussion: Church Without Walls

To help integrate global perspectives into the life of a local church, we have prepared some questions to begin a conversation of looking outside our immediate context. Feel free to use for your small groups or classes and email to let us know how the conversation went!

As a group, watch the following short video and discuss the following questions:

Where do you think “the wall” comes from?

Where do you see yourself in the cartoon?

Which side of the wall do you feel more comfortable on?

Why is that? (This is not a question of which you feel you SHOULD be more comfortable on)

Have there been people in your life who are similar to the one who “goes out…goes a long way out…stays out” as a way of sharing their faith? How have you seen this in their life?

What would it look like to live a faith without walls?

For yourself, your family, and friends?
For this group?
For your church?

Link to video only

The Foundation for Imperial Mission

From the last decade of the 15th century, Europe would welcome the discovery of a new continent, and with it the opportunity for the expansion of empire and Christendom. Those nations most immediately suited to seize this opportunity were the naval empires of the Iberian Peninsula, Spain and Portugal. Both royal houses were firmly aligned with the Roman Catholic Church and assumed an imperial mandate to expand the authority of the church along with political and economic growth. The missionary endeavors which the Roman Catholic Church would embark upon in the formative years of European global exploration would set in place the foundation for overseas evangelization strategy and reverberate in the methods of other European nations and leave an indelible impact on global Christianity. Understanding the social context for this initial push in overseas missions can put into perspective the successive waves of zealous missionaries and their understandings of Christendom, imperial authority, and the sanctified use of military force which would come to mark the interaction of the church with the newly colonized lands.

An examination of this history can shed light onto a region still affected by these actions as well as insight into the colonial political power structure still affecting the life of the global Church.

(more…)

Kwame Bediako Interview

Some interesting thoughts from the late  Dr. Kwame Bediako.

1. Comparison between initial Christian mission to Northern Europe and missionary activity in Africa

2. The utilization of pre-Christian elements that persist into a Christian era

For more information about African Christianity, see our recent post in the Global Theology Countdown.

(Video is extra interview bites from Dr. Kwame Bediako for a documentary film project on African Christianity produced and directed by James Ault in 2009)

African Theology Countdown

A new format we’re trying here on the blog is the Global Theology Countdown, where we will break down a large topic into more easily accessible parts, linking to other sites for those who would want to go deeper.

  • 4 Keys to Understanding
  • 3 People to Know
  • 2 Blogs Worth Reading
  • 1 Book to Read Immediately

This post covers Contemporary African Christianity and we welcome contributors to share on a different context or more information regarding Christianity in Africa. Enjoy! (more…)

Reciprocity of Meaning: How Non-Western Biblical Interpretation Benefits the Western Church

For generations, the stereotypical missionary method has been to train non-Western Christians to “think Western” in order to read, interpret, and apply scripture. This technique has been criticized, however, and there is a growing consensus that the most effective communication of the gospel message is one that is interpreted within the particular context of the local church. If this is the most beneficial practice, then the question must be asked, why should a Western church need to be concerned with culturally different forms of interpretation?

This article will examine briefly the value that these perspectives can have for a local church in a Western cultural context. (more…)

Studying Chinese Christianity: From a Transplanted Foreign Religion to an Indigenous Chinese Religion

     “Numerical expansion in Chinese Christianity in the last couple of decades has occurred at an unprecedented rate. A rate which continues to surprise and alarm some of those observing it. It’s surprising partly because of the ambiguous history of Christianity in China, a history marked both by a high level of cultural and political engagement by the Jesuits in the 17th century, and by a very unashamed alliance with foreign interference and colonial power in the 19th century. In spite of that, China is moving towards having the largest Christian population in the world. A safe guess would be 50-80 million Protestants in China today.”*
     Contemporary China is experiencing a big revival of Christianity, despite strict governmental controls on religions. At its current pace of rapid growth, China could have the world’s largest population of Christians (more…)

Japanese Theology: What Can Be Learned? (Part 1)

Prior to understanding Japanese Christian theology, it is important to know how the Japanese view religion in general. In Japan there are basically two distinctions when it comes to religion: the revealed and the natural religions. Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and some new religions are considered to be revealed religions, because they have specific books and scriptures to live by and upon which religious life is practiced. In contrary to revealed religions, the natural religions are more tradition and folklore-based religions, followed with few or no specific books or scriptures. Even though Shintoism does have texts and scriptures to a degree, it is considered more as a natural religion.

It is important to emphasize that in Japan, when people talk about religion, they generally mean the revealed religions, and in particular Christianity. When Japanese people mention that they are nonreligious, it means they do not commit themselves to a revealed religion or religious organization. Japanese people often see all the religions as one entity, and not separate from one another. It is often said that the Japanese are born Shinto, marry in a Christian (western) style and die Buddhist, as many Japanese are buried in the Buddhist way. Japanese do not have the urge to be committed to any particular organized religion. In Japanese, this mindset is called mushukyo, meaning “non-religion” or even “non-religious.” (more…)

Wild Piglets: Ephesians 2

How do cultural issues within the context of scripture affect the reading of the New Testament by those who are unfamiliar with the broader, cultural context? The Dao from Indonesia offer insight to Ephesians 2 as an example of non-western Biblical interpretation.

The early church faced several cross-cultural issues, primary among them the incorporation of Jewish-background believers and Gentile-backround believers together. As the church spread, these issues would threaten to overrun the community of faith and have continued to be pertinent to the self-identification of the church, even as the cultural definitions have changed. (more…)

Church Without Walls

(To read more, check out AlmostM and Tall Skinny Kiwi. Video download here)