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.
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 →