A few years ago, Andrew Walls told me that he had once hoped to become a missionary to China. However, with the rise of the Chinese communist revolution, those plans were dashed, and he eventually made his way to Sierra Leone in 1957, followed by Nigeria in 1962. One wonders how the study of World Christianity would have been different if the doyen of the academic field spent his formative missionary years in China instead of Africa. Would he have had the same epiphany in Beijing or Shanghai or Wenzhou that he was ‘actually living in a second-century church’? When considering Confucianism or Daoism, would he likewise speak of the place of ‘primal religions’ in shaping the consciousness of another faith, be it Christianity or Buddhism? Both are undoubtedly possibilities. But perhaps, in this parallel universe, the area less likely to have developed would have been his recognition of the importance of oral cultures – a pervasive characteristic in his beloved Africa, but scantly recognised in China.
Studies in World Christianity has been a pioneer in the academic field for over a quarter of a century. Undoubtedly, the journal reflects the idiosyncrasies of its various editors and its associated Centre for the Study of World Christianity. But more importantly, it has become a historical record of some of the major concerns in this important field. To make this easier to explore, we have recently produced a digital index of the journal.
Scripture, prayer and worship are three key elements of the internal life of Christians across the world. Corporately or individually, Christians hear, read, enact and inhabit the bible. They pray alone, in twos and threes, and in large gatherings. They pray aloud or in silence. They pray spontaneously or following a common form of words. Christians sing songs and make music. They perform and recite liturgies. Such is the ubiquity of these elements that it seems surprising that it was not until 2018 that the Yale-Edinburgh Conference chose ‘Scripture, Prayer and Worship in the History of Missions and World Christianity’ as its theme. This special issue of Studies in World Christianity brings together six of the excellent papers that were presented at the conference. Together they offer a time frame of about two hundred years and an impressive global range – New Zealand, Argentina, India, USA and China. Although they only focus upon Protestant practice, the articles demonstrate how rich that practice has become.
Scripture, Prayer, and Worship
in the History of Missions and World Christianity
Annual Meeting of Yale-Edinburgh Group
on the History of the Missionary Movement and World Christianity
New College, University of Edinburgh, June 28–30, 2018
Deadline: March 12 March 28, 2018
Scripture, prayer, and worship have been basic activities in almost all missions and manifestations of World Christianity, which should ensure a plentiful fund of material for reflection, comparison and discussion and give hope of illumination and deeper understanding of our field. Continue reading →