Studies in World Christianity 28.2

World Christianity and Reciprocal Exchange

Edited by Afe Adogame, Raimundo Barreto and Richard F. Young

There is sometimes an assumption that Christianity operates, grows and develops in a historical, social, cultural, political and religious silo or context. This is hardly the case. Christianity, past and present, has shaped all geographical, religious and cultural contexts in which it has found itself, but all these various contexts, cultures and religious traditions have in turn also had an impact on Christianity in manifold ways. An exploration of this reciprocal interaction is important for our global age. Christians once viewed the world in split-screen mode: there was Europe, the centre of the faith, and there was the rest of the world with large swaths of non-Christian lands that were ripe for the work of missionaries. However, over the last century an enormous growth in Christianity across the Global South and a drop in the proportion of Europeans and Americans who identify as Christian has upended that perspective. The centre of gravity has shifted from the Global North, serving notice that the future of the faith will look increasingly diverse and dynamic.

The study of World Christianity seeks to understand how Christian communities embody historical and cultural experiences locally and globally; as such, it fosters the study of both local and translocal ways of knowing and doing. Thus, World Christianity hardly exists in a historical and socio-cultural vacuum; it encounters, affects, and is in turn impacted by local, indigenous worldviews, religions and cultures. The complex historical and socio-cultural encounters of worldviews, religions and cultures at the root of Christian communities in a variety of contexts demand further understanding and analysis. The selected, peer-reviewed essays in this issue, originally presented at Princeton’s Third International Conference (2021), explore and reflect on such a diversity of local, indigenous expressions and experiences of Christianity, their encounter with other religious traditions, and the variety of ways they interact with one another critically and constructively across time and space. While based on case studies, they focus on ethnographic practices and new methodological directions. Common themes addressed include conversion, translation, identity, missions, materiality, migration, diaspora, intercultural theology and interreligious dialogue.

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Studies in World Christianity 27.1

COVID-19 and the Socially-Present World Church

By the time this issue of Studies in World Christianity goes to press, in March 2021, it will have been a year since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic. At the time of that declaration, the Director General of WHO stated that there were 118,000 cases reported globally in 114 countries, with more than 90 per cent of the cases in China, South Korea, Italy and Iran. Even at that early stage, the danger of COVID-19 seemed remote to those living in other parts of the world. Yet soon after, regional and national governments began to close borders and implement different lockdown procedures. Certain people would be identified as ‘key workers’ as their jobs were seen as essential support for society. However, these individuals would be more readily exposed to the virus, which revealed inequalities across gendered, racial and socio-economic groupings. Furthermore, frustrations around the public health crisis resulted in forms of racial conflict. Many Western countries would see increasing reports of anti-Asian racism, as those of East Asian extract were scapegoated as causing the so-called ‘China virus’. Following the death of George Floyd in May 2020, major cities throughout the United States and other parts of the world would burst out in protest against police brutality towards blacks. It appears as though humanity has become more and more ‘socially distant’.

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Prof. Stanley Interviewed about Latest Book

Professor Brian Stanley, director of the Centre for the Study of World Christianity, was recently interviewed about his new book, Christianity in the Twentieth Century: A World History, by Professor Crawford Gribbon of Queen’s University Belfast. Click here to listen.

Co-Editor Kenneth R. Ross on the Latest in the Edinburgh Companions to Global Christianity Series

2018 has seen the publication, on schedule, of the second volume in the series of Edinburgh Companions to Global Christianity from Edinburgh University Press. Co-edited by Mariz Tadros, Todd M. Johnson and me, Christianity in North Africa and West Asia offers an account of the Christian presence in every country within these two UN regions.

Building on the success of EUP’s best-selling Atlas of Global Christianity, this series takes the analysis of worldwide Christianity to a deeper level of detail. It offers both reliable demographic information and original interpretative essays by indigenous scholars and practitioners. It maps patterns of growth and decline, assesses major traditions and movements, analyzes key themes and examines current trends.

Besides country-level analysis, the volume on North Africa and West Asia examines each of the major Christian traditions. Continue reading