Diversity and Difference
It perhaps goes without saying that World Christianity is diverse. In large part, this diversity comes from the multiplicity of cultural, religious and socio-political concerns of the majority world, which have raised new questions to pre-existing theologies and practices. Such differences exist not only between North and South, East and West, but also within the same locale – across the progress of time and diversity in visions of mission. Furthermore, these differences have often manifested themselves institutionally, through the proliferation of new church movements, often formed independent of established denominational structures.
This diversity has led some scholars to speak of ‘World Christianity’ in the plural, as World Christianities. Peter Phan has made the helpful observation that, of the nine volumes of The Cambridge History of Christianity, the last two volumes bear a subtitle with the words ‘World Christianities’. Phan notes that, whilst the editors and contributors of the two volumes do not explain what is meant by this formula, it supposedly helps to note the catholicity (‘world’) and diversity (‘Christianities’) represented by the last two centuries of the history of Christianity. Undoubtedly, this catholicity and diversity has been true of Christianity ever since the New Testament church added to its number both Jews and Gentiles. Yet the last two centuries have offered new conditions in the majority world, which have opened up even more possibility of difference.
Of the five articles in this issue on the topic, the first three are revisions of papers delivered at the Yale—Edinburgh conference held at Yale Divinity School in June 2019, entitled ‘Diversity and Difference in Custom, Belief, and Practice in the History of Missions and World Christianity’. Together they demonstrate the strength found in the diversity and difference throughout World Christianity.
Yale–Edinburgh 2019 Articles
- Elizabeth S. Marteijn, The Politics of Interpretation: Understanding Biblical History in Palestinian Rural Culture
- Sun Yong Lee, Protestant ‘Indian Mission’ Work in Guatemala from a Woman Missionary’s Perspective: Dora Burgess (1887–1962)
- Yucheng Bai, God’s Model Citizen: The Citizenship Education Movement of the YMCA and Its Political Legacy