Studies in World Christianity, Issue 24.1

Migration, Diaspora and Return

Studies in World Christianity

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

Latin American Christianity in the US: A Window Into the Study of Migrant Christianity and its Theological Benefits

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

Studies in World Christianity, Issue 23.2

Chinese Identity, Christian Identity

Studies in World Christianity

Readers of Studies in World Christianity will be well acquainted with the parable of the Professor of Comparative Inter-Planetary Religions.1 As narrated by Andrew Walls, this long-living, scholarly space visitor travels to Earth on a number of occasions to conduct field research related to the religion known as ‘Christianity’, from the Council of Jerusalem to the Council of Nicaea, from the seventh century in Ireland to the 1840s in London and the 1980s in Lagos, Nigeria. What would differ if our space visitor were to narrow the scope of his research to a particular subgrouping of the human species, such as to those with some affiliation with the descriptor ‘Chinese’? Would Walls’ ‘indigenising’ principle have to be envisioned differently if we were to speak of a more unified understanding of ‘culture’? Or, perhaps, would ‘Chinese culture’ need to be re-evaluated as embodying manifold meanings, especially when ‘Chinese’ is not limited to a given time or locale? Does Walls’ ‘pilgrim’ principle, which speaks of the universalising factor of Christianity, add to or take away from Chinese culture? Continue reading