Last week I was in Atlanta, Georgia, USA to discuss precisely that question. Invited by Jehu Hanciles and hosted by faculty and students of Emory University, 25 scholars grappled with the slippery entity we call ‘World Christianity’. Is it a field, or a lens or even a discipline? Who studies it and why? How did it emerge? Why is it found mainly in Europe and North America? Has it a Protestant bias? What is the relationship between the study of World Christianity and the Christians across the globe who are studied? How do our studies connect with other academic studies like missiology, area studies, demography and anthropology of Christianity? These questions have been asked many times before but I welcomed the opportunity to ruminate collectively with scholars who had carefully prepared and shared papers beforehand. Individual contributions were influenced by the primary discipline of contributors, the areas of the world with which they were most familiar, and how far their institution, post or programme deployed the term ‘World Christianity.’
The team at Emory will distil our papers and conversation for public consumption. In the meantime, I have attempted to articulate my description of the present state of World Christianity. I think that because we deliberately cross boundaries of other disciplines when we study World Christianity, it is similar to other emerging foci of study—Global History, intercultural theology etc. However, perhaps the combination of all the following elements does give World Christianity some distinctiveness beyond a useful ‘hold all’ term:
The Scottish Church History Society’s autumn conference will be on the theme of ‘Scottish Christianity and the World’ and will take place in the Edinburgh Theological Seminary on Saturday 2 November 2019. We are delighted to have secured keynote papers from two leading scholars in the field. Boston University’s Professor Dana Robert will speak on “Fulfilment Theory and Friendship: Scottish Missionary Engagement with India, c. 1910-”, while the University of Edinburgh’s Professor Brian Stanley’s paper is entitled “From James Legge to Evangeline Edwards: The Role of Scottish and Other Missionaries in the Formation of Sinology in Britain”.
Calida Chu is a PhD student at the Centre for the Study of World Christianity. Her research focuses on public theology in Hong Kong.
This year’s meeting of the Yale-Edinburgh Group (28–30 June 2018) was welcomed to Scotland with unusually warm weather. While we had the rare occasion to grumble that the Scottish weather was too warm for us, the three-day conference continued in a warm and friendly atmosphere. On the first day of the conference, some of our delegates attended the launch of our current director of the Centre for the Study of World Christianity Professor Brian Stanley’s new book, Christianity in the Twentieth Century: A World History, which he dedicated to Andrew F. Walls, the founder of the CSWC. Dr Emma Wild-Wood, who joined the CSWC in January, then delivered the opening lecture on the social meaning of baptism in Uganda between 1890 and 1910. Continue reading →