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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 given the emergence of Christianity as a non-Western religion (that is, no longer situated under the authority of Western leaders and missionaries), there are new theological questions that local Christians must wrestle with. Since the collective majority of Christians are in these multi-religious contexts, the answers to these questions will shape the future of Christian theology.

The book follows the basic categories of traditional, Western systematic theologies: Theology (Is the Father of Jesus the God of Muhammad?); Bibliology (Hindu Sacred Texts in Pre-Christian Past); Anthropology (Human Identity in Shame-Based Cultures of the Far East); Christology (Christ as Healer and Ancestor in Africa); Soteriology (Is “Salvation by Grace Through Faith” Unique to Christianity?); Pneumatology (The Holy Spirit in Latin American Pentecostalism); Ecclesiology (Followers of Jesus in Islamic Mosques); and Eschatology (Jonathan Edwards and the Chinese Back to Jerusalem Movement).

Each chapter presents the context and perspectives from within that particular issue. The book is meticulously researched and each chapter has an associated bibliography to continue further in the topic. The theological sections are bookended by chapters taking a look at the history and future of global theological discourse. The research is the quality that one should expect of the author, Timothy Tennent, who is currently the President of Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, USA and Professor of World Christianity.

I had to buy another copy for my friend, as this book has become one that I have returned to multiple times in my continuing research and discipleship.

Published in 2007 by Zondervan. 295 pages including Glossary and Index. Forewards by Tite Tienou and Andrew Walls.
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Michael Shepherd is the editor of GlobalTheology.org and a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary and Hope International University.

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