Archives For Global Christianity

 

The Infinitely Larger Story of Global Christianity
 
A Review of

From Every Tribe and Nation: A Historian’s Discovery of the Global Christian Story
Mark Noll

Paperback: Baker Academic, 2014
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Andy Johnson

 

Few books describe the journey that a scholar takes to arrive at its conclusions. This is what makes From Every Tribe and Nation unique. It is a memoir of discovery, offering a rare glimpse into how a leading historian’s understanding of global Christianity has developed over time.
 
There is a growing awareness that the center of Christianity is no longer in the West but shifting toward the global South and East. From Every Tribe and Nation is the third in a series of books released by the Baker Publishing Group, entitled, “Turning South: Christian Scholars in an Age of World Christianity.” This series invites scholars who have already turned their attention toward developments in global Christianity to share about how this subject became important to them.
 
Mark Noll spent 27 years teaching at Wheaton and the last 8 years at Notre Dame, focusing primarily on the history of Christianity and Evangelicalism in America. He is a prolific author and regarded as a leader in his field.
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Which Asia?  Which Christianity? A Review of

Christianities in Asia
Edited by Peter C. Phan.
Paperback: Wiley, 2011.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Jeff Romack

Is it “Asian Christianity” or “Asian Christianities?”  This is the question posed at the very outset of this work.  In the opening and introductory chapter the volume’s editor, Peter C. Phan, explains that either term is correct depending on one’s perspective.  Since there are basic beliefs and recognizable practices associated with the Christian faith that are essential and common to virtually all Christian communities in Asia it is possible and, at times, appropriate to speak of “Asian Christianity.”  At the same time, it must also be recognized that a vast array of historical and cultural factors has given rise to a great diversity of expression of those basic beliefs and practices among Christianity’s adherents on the Asian continent.  For this reason it is also proper to speak of “Asian Christianities.”  It is this latter perspective that is held in focus in this book.

Many North America Christians are aware at some level of the cultural diversity found in Asia that gives rise to diverse expressions of the Christian faith but not all are quick to accept the validity of those diverse expressions.  Christianities in Asia; however, was not written to present the case for the validity of contextualized Christianity.  This is simply assumed and then presented as it is found in each nation.  This, it seems to me, is indicative that the book is not really intended for a popular audience.  After all, as I pound out this review on the computer my spell checker reminds me that “Christianities” is a misspelled word or may not be a word at all!  And, the Amazon.com ad for this book shows the cover of the paperback edition with the title, Christianity in Asia.  What were they thinking?  The case for contextualized Christianity is one that still needs to be made for most North American Christians even as they practice their own form of it.

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“Journey Into Wholeness”

A Review of
Pilgrimage of a Soul:
Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life

By Phileena Heuertz

Reviewed by Margaret D. McGee.

[ Read an excerpt of this book here… ]

Pilgrimage of a Soul:
Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life
Phileena Heuertz.
Paperback: InterVarsity Press, 2010
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

Pilgrimage of a Soul - Phileena HeuertzChange that ushers in a new way of life begins deep inside. Conceived when personal longings we’ve hardly noticed are touched by a boundless longing too great to be contained, the new way of life needs a period of gestation to grow and knit its parts together. Unfortunately, the old life with its long-established habits looks askance at this unasked-for pregnancy, tries to block the labor, and kicks the cradle every chance it gets. That’s one reason people go on pilgrimage or take a sabbatical far from home: to give incipient change a chance to take root and grow new habits that will bear fruit on the return to “normal life.”

In Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life, Phileena Heuertz reports back on just such a journey. The daughter of a Bible-centered pastor, Heuertz describes growing up in a community where the roles of women in relationships, church, and professional life are viewed as subordinate to the roles of men. By the age of seventeen she knew she wanted to be a missionary. Her vocation found focus at college, where she met her future husband, Chris Heuertz. Inspired by his missionary experience, particularly his time serving with Mother Theresa  at the Home for the Dying in Kolkata (Calcutta), Phileena joined Chris on the core leadership team of Word Made Flesh, “an international community serving Christ among the most vulnerable of the world’s poor” (www.wordmadeflesh.org). In time she also entered into a practice of contemplative prayer and regular retreats which deepened her spiritual life while awakening her “true self”—a self that longed for mutuality rather than subordination in relationship.

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026620: Encountering Theology of Mission: Biblical Foundations, Historical Developments, and Contemporary Issues

A Review of

Encountering Theology of Mission:
Biblical Foundations, Historical
Developments, and Contemporary Issues

By Craig Ott, Stephen Strauss & Timothy C. Tennent
Paperback: Baker Academi, 2010.

Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

Reviewed by Kevin Book-Satterlee.

I hold the degree title of Master of Arts of Missional Leadership from George Fox Seminary, a relatively young cohort distance program.  Fox isn’t the only school starting up this MA, but many evangelical seminaries are introducing a missional leadership degree.  Explored in these programs are the typical missional works by Alan Hirsch, Leonard Sweet, perhaps Leslie Newbigin, and others.  Having at least one missional theology course is par for the degree.  Craig Ott and Stephen Strauss with the help of Timothy Tennent have written a definitive text on an Evangelical theology of mission.

Ott and Strauss, both Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) PhD’s, teach respectively at TEDS and Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS).  Both of these schools are bastions in more conservative Evangelical theological education, and I, while an Evangelical, lean more liberal in my theological studies.  That said, however, I was impressed by the TEDS and DTS professors here and their work in Encountering a Theology of Mission.  Published by Baker Academic, their book is a great text for an Evangelical perspective on the theology of mission.

As with any good text, the authors give a primer for the developments of a theology of mission, beginning with the Biblical foundation of mission.   They take a chronological view, beginning with the Old Testament to find God’s missional character.  Contrary to the popular understanding of missional, they explore that God’s missional character with His people as reflected in the OT as centripetal, where God and Israel attract people from the outside to come to the center.  Outsiders must come and worship at Zion.  They, however, emphasize the shift in God’s missional character as centrifugal in the New Testament where Jesus’s disciples were sent outward to the nations (44-45).

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“The Heart of the Global Resurgence of Christianity”

A Review of Global Awakening:
How 20th Century Revivals Triggered

A Christian Revolution.
By Mark Shaw.

Reviewed by Laretta Benjamin.

A Review of Global Awakening:
How 20th Century Revivals Triggered

A Christian Revolution.
Mark Shaw.
Paperback: IVP Academic, 2010.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

Mark Shaw - GLOBAL AWAKENINGFor many of us, the very word “revival” brings images of tents filled with folding chairs on a hot summer night and a preacher wiping his brow in the heat as he makes emotional pleas for us to avoid hell and accept Jesus today so we can go to heaven if we should die tonight.

Revivals?  Aren’t revivals quirky folk rituals associated with rural America and nineteenth-century camp meetings?    Didn’t they pass out of fashion with hula hoops and Edsels?  For many, revivals are little more than relics of a distant past.  They belong more to an age of ploughs and prairies than of postmodernity and globalization.  And like King Arthur’s sword in the stone, the term may be so deeply embedded in American folk culture that any attempt to extract it is doomed to failure.  Yet the sword in the stone is moving.  The news of revivalism’s death has been greatly exaggerated.  Revivals like forces of nature are protean, constantly adjusting their features and ferocity to new times and to new places… They learned to speak Spanish, Portuguese, Yoruba, Korean, Mandarin and Gujarati…and crossed the equator   (12).

It will be difficult for some to think beyond their little box and see revival in a new and different light because of those old preconceived ideas and notions.   What an incredible study the author has done here as he has closely examined the working and moving of God in many places in our world over the last century.  He has truly “done his homework” and given us much to chew on and think about in this writing.

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“A Vibrant, Historic Strand
Of the Christian Faith

A Review of
The Naked Anabaptist:
The Bare Essentials of a Radical Faith
.

by Stuart Murray.

Reviewed by Dustin Hite.


The Naked Anabaptist:
The Bare Essentials of a Radical Faith
.

Stuart Murray.
Paperback: Herald Press, 2010.
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]

THE NAKED ANABAPTIST - Stuart MurrayAs one who might rightly be described as ‘Anabaptist-friendly’, I was quite intrigued when I received notice that this particular work would be released soon.  Having not grown up in a church environment linked to traditional Anabaptism, my fondness for the tradition emerged in my graduate school studies, as I learned of the commitment and dedication of the “radical reformers” (a label that has been applied, by historians, to the early Anabaptists and others) in the face of violent persecution.

Stuart Murray, who himself could rightly be described as someone immersed in Anabaptist tradition, is not so much, in his book entitled The Naked Anabaptist: The Bare Essentials of a Radical Faith, addressing those similar to himself.  Instead, his aim is to address the individuals, much like myself, who may lack any formal connection to an Anabaptist religious tradition, but nonetheless have found much of value in its theology and praxis.

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A Review of

013430: Untamed: Reactivating a Missional Form of Discipleship Untamed:
Reactivating a
Missional Form of Discipleship

By Alan & Debra Hirsch
Paperback:
Baker Books, 2010

Buy Now:
[ ChristianBook.com ]

Reviewed by Jeff Romack.


“We’ve become tamed by tradition, captivated by culture, and controlled by our desire to fit in, not make waves and never offend anyone.  We’ve been domesticated instead of discipled” — From the foreword by Rick Warren.

The above quote succinctly summarizes what missiologist Alan Hirsch and co-writer and wife Debra Hirsch view as the current state of discipleship in the Church.  It is this situation that the Hirschs seek to address in their book, Untamed: Reactivating a Missional Form of Discipleship.  The authors define discipleship as the “capacity to lovingly embody and transmit the life of Jesus through the life of his followers . . .”  No Jesus, no life.  No life of Jesus in the Church, no life for the world.  This relational thread from Jesus to Church (Christ’s followers) to the world necessitates the reactivation of a missional form of discipleship for the sake of the world.  Contrary to current practice or lack of it, missional discipleship is normative for followers of Jesus. Such discipleship requires a rediscovery of what it means and a re-envisioning of what it actually looks like to follow Jesus in our culture; the outcome being a life “untamed.”

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Review of Merold Westphal’s
Whose Community? Which lnterpretation?
From Christian Scholars’ Review

http://www.calvin.edu/~jks4/churchandpomodocs/cbensononwestphal.pdf

Whose Community? Which Interpretation? belongs to a series by Baker Academic called “The Church and Postmodern Culture.” The editor, James K. A. Smith, provides the rationale for reading Merold Westphal’s contribution: “For ‘peoples of the Book’ whose way of life is shaped by texts, matters of interpretation are, in a way, matters of life and death” (9). Based on “To Read or Not to Read,” a2007 report from the National Endowment of the Arts, we are living in a post-literate or sub-literate culture where, it is safe to conjecture, the biblical text plays a diminutive role in the formation of Christian identity.  Friedrich Nietzsche’s once controversial claim-“there are no facts, only interpretations”-seems irrelevant in the absence of a text to interpret.

For the remnant of Bible-reading Christians, “matters of interpretation are, in a way, matters of life and death” (italics added). Do not miss the qualifying clause. While we are no longer witnesses to the violence behind sixteenth-century Protestant and Catholic persecution of Anabaptists, such violence is sublimated behind present-day Orthodox anathemas of iconoclasts or Emergent denunciations of Calvinist creeds. In short, interpretative practice
often fosters animus among brothers and sisters in the household of faith.

Read the full review:
http://www.calvin.edu/~jks4/churchandpomodocs/cbensononwestphal.pdf

Whose Community? Which lnterpretation?
Merold Westphal.

Paperback: Baker Books, 2009.
Buy Now: [ ChristianBook.com ]


Andy Crouch Reviews Two Recent Books on
World Christianity and American churches
for BOOKS AND CULTURE.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/bc/2010/janfeb/transmissionroutes.html


Both Robert Wuthnow’s and Mark Noll’s new books puncture a number of commonplaces about global Christianity and America’s place in it, although they do so from notably different angles. Wuthnow is an eminent sociologist of religion who possesses a formidable capacity for memory and analysis combined with an abundance of research assistants. He synthesizes a vast amount of background reading, original research, and reinterpretations of standard datasets to survey the ways American Christians currently relate to the wider world.

One of Wuthnow’s stated aims in Boundless Faith is to refute what he calls the “Global Christianity paradigm,” a narrative of Western Christian decline and Southern ascent that has given rise to many of the hasty conclusions summarized above. (Inevitably, Wuthnow finds the source of this paradigm in Philip Jenkins’ influential book The Next Christendom, though Jenkins does not focus nearly as much on Western decline as readers of Wuthnow might be led to believe.) Wuthnow musters evidence from far and wide to push back strongly against the idea that the United States is a fading force in global Christianity. To the contrary, wherever his sociologist’s gimlet eye turns, whether to sources of funds, centers of theological education, or activities of local church members, he finds continued American activity and influence, and in many ways he finds that American Christians may be more internationally minded than they have ever been.

Read the full review:
http://www.christianitytoday.com/bc/2010/janfeb/transmissionroutes.html

 

This Terrifying and Beautiful World

A Review of
Kingdom Without Borders:
The Untold Story of Global Christianity.

by Miriam Adeney.

Reviewed by Laretta Benjamin.

Kingdom Without Borders:
The Untold Story of Global Christianity.

Miriam Adeney.

Paperback: IVP Books,  2010.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

“I will build my church,” Jesus said, “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18)  Today we have the great privilege of being part of that together, linked as never before.  (40)

Miriam Adeney - KINGDOM WITHOUT BORDERSFor those of us who daily pray the words Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”, this book comes as a joyous account of many of the ways God is working to answer that prayer.  I am extraordinarily grateful to Miriam Adeney for the time, research and thought that went into the writing of this very encouraging and hopeful book.

Ms. Adeney takes us on an incredible journey to meet and share in the lives and experiences of our brothers and sisters from all across this planet…China, Africa, Latin America, the Muslim world, India, the Philippines…just to name a few.  Do you know what we discover on our journey?  God is present everywhere.  He is at work – and has been all along – building his kingdom in very powerful and creative ways in the midst of great challenges and sometimes great opposition.  You won’t find too many of the facts, figures and statistics  that one usually finds in books such as these, mostly you will be drawn into the stories – stories of God’s kingdom coming in the lives, families and communities of people all around the globe – stories that come from Ms. Adeney’s own travels.

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