Migration, Diaspora and Return
Migration has featured as a major topic in contemporary social and political discourse. In Europe and North America, where many have lamented the decline of the church, much of this migration includes the waves of vibrant expressions of Christianity coming from peoples with origins in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Of course, the connection between the development of Christianity and the movement of people is nothing new. The book of Acts, for instance, narrates the early church’s trajectory from Jerusalem as the centre of Judaism to Rome as the centre of the Gentile world – the earliest ‘gravitational shift’ of Christianity. Luke describes the Day of Pentecost as the moment when the Holy Spirit descended upon the believers, who were ‘devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem’ (Acts 2: 5, NRSV). These were Jewish believers from the diaspora who had returned and were then living in Jerusalem.
Much of Christian history is a story of the multidirectional movement of the faithful dispersed into new lands and returning to old lands. Continuing this theme, the four main articles in this issue were originally delivered at the 2017 meeting of the Yale-Edinburgh Group on the history of the missionary movement and world Christianity, held at Yale Divinity School from 29 June to 1 July 2017. The theme of the conference was ‘Migration, Exile, and Pilgrimage in the History of Missions and World Christianity’. These papers narrate a story of Christianity as a worldwide phenomenon developed, negotiated and reconfigured through migration, diaspora and return. Continue reading
Iglesia Gospel Temple, Los Angeles, California, USA. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Matheus Reis is a PhD student at the Centre for the Study of World Christianity, University of Edinburgh. His research focuses on Brazilian Protestantism in the United States. This essay continues our series discussing issues raised in the ‘Currents, Perspectives, and Methodologies in World Christianity’ conference at Princeton Theological Seminary held 18–20 January 2018. Our series began with a reflection on the conference by Jason Bruner on 30 January and continued with posts from Elizabeth Marteijn on 13 February and 19 March.
The recent conversation on this blog has been focused on World Christianity’s methodologies. Both Jason Bruner and Elizabeth Marteijn note that the quest for interdisciplinarity and openness is a mark of much current research. In this post, I look at how Latin American Christianity in the United States presents an opportunity for interdisciplinary study, and I offer some benefits that may arise from such a study. Continue reading
Elizabeth Marteijn is a PhD student at the Centre for the Study of World Christianity, University of Edinburgh. Her research brings together the methods of theology and ethnography in the study of Palestinian Christianity. Her post here continues our series discussing the conference titled ‘Currents, Perspectives, and Methodologies in World Christianity’ at Princeton Theological Seminary held 18–20 January 2018. Our series began with an essay by Jason Bruner on 30 January and continued with a post from Elizabeth on 13 February.
Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
In the field of World Christianity, scholars regularly speak about the ‘global South’ and the ‘global North’. But what about the East? By asking this question, I would like to elaborate on the recent post by Jason Bruner, where he excellently reflected on the thought-provoking World Christianity conference held at Princeton Theological Seminary from 18–20 January. Bruner rightfully highlighted remarks being made about territoriality in the field, that areas like the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and denominations like Orthodoxy and Eastern Christianity have a marginal position. Continue reading
Manoela Carpenedo is associate lecturer in religious studies at the University of Kent and an affiliated researcher at the Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge. The following is a summary of some of her doctoral research at Cambridge, which she presented at the Centre for the Study of World Christianity’s weekly research seminar. We present it here as an example of ethnographic research in our ongoing discussion of methods in world Christianity begun with Jason Bruner’s post on 30 January 2018.
Manoela Carpenedo discusses her research on Judaising Evangelicals in Brazil at the CSWC’s research seminar on 23 January 2018.
Ritual borrowing and appropriation of Jewish religious tenets by Christians is not something new. On the contrary, it constitutes the very basis of Christian tradition itself. Yet, the current appropriation of Jewish narratives, rituals and even political anxieties by Christians is gaining more and more relevance in the religious and socio-political landscape. Continue reading
Stephen G. Brown, editor of The Ecumenical Review, magazine published by the World Council of Churches.
In marking its 70th anniversary this year, the World Council of Churches invites contributions to its quarterly journal, the Ecumenical Review. Submissions from students and early-career researchers and theologians are especially encouraged.
According to the WCC’s general secretary, the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tviets, ‘this is an opportunity to mark the achievements of the past 70 years in working for Christian unity and common action, and to look to the challenges ahead as a fellowship of churches responding to God’s call for unity, mission, justice and peace.’
The deadline for submissions is 31 May 2018. Continue reading
Marvel’s Black Panther movie portrays the interesting idea of an African society largely untouched by European colonialism. Introduced to comic-book readers in the 1960s amidst European decolonisation and the US civil rights movement, the fictional Kingdom of Wakanda’s success in resisting forces that would exploit its people and resources was compelling. Movie goers today, when popular depictions portray a war-torn and poverty-stricken continent, find the portrayal of a free African society at the forefront of technological advancement no less compelling. As a scholar of African Christianity and colonialism, the idea of Christianity in this African culture unaffected by colonial influences intrigues me. What would such a Christianity look like? Continue reading
Billy Graham in 1966. (Photo by Warren K. Leffler, U.S. News & World Report Magazine Collection, Library of Congress)
Most of the notices and obituaries of Billy Graham, who died on 21 February 2018, have focused on his significance for Christianity in the United States. Dubbed ‘America’s pastor’ by President George H. W. Bush in 2007, Graham seemed to be the quintessential American preacher – handsome, dapper, eloquent, uncompromising in his presentation of the gospel, and apparently quite untroubled by modern questions about the reliability of the Bible. He was on first-name terms with a string of American presidents from Eisenhower to Obama. He was also a typical product of the Bible belt in the American south. At first he accepted racial segregation, even in Christian meetings, as a fact of life and his relationship with the civil rights movement – notably with Martin Luther King – was at times a fractious one. Continue reading
A preliminary programme is now available and registration is open for the memorial conference in honour of John McCracken and Jack Thompson.
Click here to register.
Click here for a pdf version of the programme.
On March 6, 2018, we will be launching Alexander Chow’s new book, Chinese Public Theology (Oxford University Press, 2018).
The event is co-sponsored with the Centre for Theology and Public Issues and will be held in the Martin Hall, New College. It will include a discussion with Edmond Tang (University of Birmingham) and James Eglinton (University of Edinburgh).
The event will be followed by a reception and is open to the public. For more details, please see the advertisement flier.
Elizabeth Marteijn is a PhD student at the Centre for the Study of World Christianity, University of Edinburgh. Her research brings together the methods of theology and ethnography in the study of Palestinian Christianity. She attended the conference on World Christianity at Princeton Theological Seminary from 18–20 January 2018 and offers the following in conversation with Jason Bruner’s recent essay on this blog.
Cornelis de Man, A Scholar in His Study
The goal of the recent World Christianity conference, held at Princeton Theological Seminary from 18–20 January, was to inquire into the state of the field considering the currents, perspectives and methodologies. One of the conclusions was the fruitfulness of the intersection between theology and social sciences, in particular ethnography and the anthropology of Christianity, within the field of World Christianity, as was highlighted earlier on this blog by Jason Bruner.
In this post, I will explore some of the reasons why the intersection between theology and social sciences is proving so popular. One part of the answer is that World Christianity has developed as an interdisciplinary academic enterprise, with historical, missiological, theological and social-scientific interests. In addition, there have been trends in World Christianity in which different approaches blended together. Firstly, after the publication of the seminal works of Robert Schreiter and Stephen Bevans in the 1980s and 1990s, a proliferation of contextual theological works appeared. With this attention to the context, theology becomes to a greater extent a matter of reflection on human life in view of the Christian tradition and opens up to social-scientific study. Secondly, there are trends to study theological reflection and engagement of ordinary people by interviewing them. Diane Stinton and Jason Carter have produced two such works. I consider these trends as preliminary to the recent interest in the intersection between anthropology, theology and World Christianity. Continue reading