This is a recording of our seminar of October 5, 2021, which commemorated the life and legacy of the Centre’s founder, Professor Andrew F. Walls (1928–2021). Panelists included Margaret Acton, Dr Barbara Bompani, Professor James L. Cox, and Professor Jehu J. Hanciles, who reflected on Professor Walls’s many contributions in African Studies, Religious Studies, and, of course, World Christianity and Mission Studies.
If you are unable to access the video above from YouTube, you can also try watching it from the University of Edinburgh’s Media Hopper service.
A new academic term is under way and, with it, a new seminar series. Due to guidances from the Scottish government and the University of Edinburgh, we will have this semester’s seminars hybrid (in the Rainy Hall and on Zoom) until otherwise advised. Please direct queries (including for Zoom login details) to Alexander.Chow@ed.ac.uk.
Andrew Finlay Walls, OBE (1928–2021), Honorary Professor of World Christianity, was a pioneering historian of Christian missions and their reception, and in many ways the architect of the field of study now known as world Christianity. Trained as a patristic scholar at the University of Oxford, he went to Sierra Leone in 1957 to teach at Fourah Bay College. There and at the new University of Nsukka in Nigeria (1962–66) he studied the growing churches of Africa and their history.
At the University of Aberdeen where he taught between 1966 and 1986, he became a scholar of international renown, establishing the Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World (now known as the Centre for the Study of World Christianity), and supervising many research students who became leaders in both church and academy. The Centre was established as a library and archival resource, documenting the history of missions and the growth of non-western Christianity: the students followed, attracted by the sources.
Religious and Political Contestation in Chinese Contexts
Whilst religion and politics are not meant for polite dinner conversations, they have frequently been present at the table amongst scholars of world Christianity, and especially for those who research Chinese contexts. To a great extent, religion and politics have been intertwined throughout Chinese history. We see this in the three major religions or teachings of China – Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism – all of which have vied for space amongst the masses and in the political arena. This has been complicated even further with the rise of the Communist Party of China, which has since the 1980s held a position of tolerance for religion as being a ‘private matter’ with little to no public significance. Adding Christianity into the mix only complicates the picture, given its own multifaceted relationships with religion and politics. Christianity’s historical emphasis on evangelism inevitably invokes reaction in this pluralistic society. Furthermore, despite any restrictions imposed by the ruling party, strands of Chinese Christianity have always had a significant proclivity to exist as a public religion. The four articles in this issue of Studies in World Christianity offer snapshots into various aspects of Christianity’s religious and political contestation in Chinese contexts.