Saturday 3rd February, 10am – 12:30pm Playfair Library, Old College, University of Edinburgh EH8 9YL
Eric Liddell is best-known for his athletic achievements, particularly his gold medal in the 400 metres at the Paris Olympics in 1924. In association with the Eric Liddell Community’s celebration of the centenary of that victory, this event will focus on the other aspect of his life, which was perhaps even more important to him, namely his life and work as a Christian missionary and teacher in China.
In this half-day programme, three scholars of the University of Edinburgh will focus on Liddell’s life and work in China, his legacy there, and the subsequent history of Chinese Christianity, worldwide and in China itself.
On November 29, 2023, the Centre held a book launch for Andrew Walls’s posthumously authored book, The Missionary Movement from the West, published in 2023 through Eerdmans. Panelists included the editor, Brian Stanley, and three respondents, Ray Burbank, Ken Ross, and Emma Wild-Wood.
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.
The academic field of World Christianity, as we know it today, owes no small debt to the Yale–Edinburgh Group on World Christianity and the History of Mission (formerly known as the Yale–Edinburgh Group in the History of Missions and World Christianity). The term ‘World Christianity’ itself has much earlier vintage. It arose from within the ecumenical movement of the first half of the twentieth century and, as such, reflected the twin imperatives of unity and mission. However, the term fell out of use until the 1990s. It was at the inaugural Yale–Edinburgh Conference in 1992 when the term ‘World Christianity’ was again deployed, this time as the conference theme, ‘From Christendom to World Christianity’. That first meeting was held on the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in America. As Dana Robert recalls, it signified ‘a postcolonial stance of moving beyond European Christendom of the old [Kenneth Scott] Latourette approach to mission history’ that focused on the geographic expansion of Christianity, ‘to that of indigenous initiative and Christianity as a multicultural religion not tied to one hemisphere’. Started by former colleagues Andrew F. Walls and Lamin Sanneh, holding meetings at their respective institutions, the Yale–Edinburgh Group became a seminal discursive space for a postcolonial approach to mission history. It also brought to light the importance of documenting and preserving historical archival collections associated with Christianity as a worldwide phenomenon.
The history of the missions is complex and fraught. Though modern missions began with European colonialism, the outcome was a largely non-Western global Christianity. Highly esteemed scholar Andrew Walls explores every facet of the movement, including its history, theory, and future.
Walls locates the birth of the Protestant missionary movement in the West with the Puritans and Pietists and their efforts to convert the Native Americans they displaced. Tracing the movement into the twentieth century, Walls shows how colonialism and missionary work turned out to be essentially incompatible. Missionaries must live on another culture’s terms, and their goal—the establishment of churches of every nation—depends on accepting new, indigenous Christians as equals. Now that Christianity has become primarily an African, Latin American, and Asian religion rather than a European one, the dynamics of the church’s mission have transformed. Sensitive to this shift, Walls indicates new areas of listening to and learning from this new center of Christianity and speculates on the theological contributions from a truly global church.
Throughout his long and fruitful career, Walls told the story of missions as a dedicated Christian scholar, teacher, and mentor. Prior to his passing in 2021, he entrusted the editing of his lectures to his friends and students. The result of this labor of love, The Missionary Movement from the West is a must-read for scholars of missiology, world Christianity, and church history.