Monday, February 23, 2009

Book Review- Theology in the Context of World Christianity

I was down this week with back issues and decided to use the time to plow through a book that has been staring at me from my shelf for the past few months. The subtitle of the book is what really grabbed my attention: how the global church is influencing the way we think about and discuss theology- WOW.

Timothy Tennent does not disappoint in the least. Tennet recognizes that modern theology is dominated by western reflection on theology and to find publication outside of a western context is quite a rarity. This is disheartening in the context of a growing world Christianity that has seen what he calls the new "Majority World Christians" as coming from the non-western world. Africa, South America, Korea, India and China are all seeing incredible growth of the church. It is the unique context of the growth of these churches that is forcing the churches in various localities to wrestle with theological questions and issues in a way that the west does not face, the result being a richer and deeper theological reflection in specific areas.

The book raises various topics in theology from the differing world contexts, like the following: Theology- Is the Father of Jesus the God of Muhammad; Anthropology- Human Identity in Shame-based Cultures of the Far East; Christology- Christ as Healer and Ancestor in Africa; and Ecclesiology- Followers of Jesus in Islamic Mosques (just to list a few).

I found his critiques and evaluations of the various topics to be VERY insightful. Tennent writes with a sharp theological understanding and provides good insights into the impact on not just theology, but the life and health of the church in a global context.

Living in Uganda and working with orphans, I have already been forced to think about God in ways that my natural western context did not provide. The Fatherhood of God, the doctrine of adoption, the church and community (among other topics) have been deepened and enriched as a result of living in another cultural context. I long to see the Western church glean from what God is doing in this specific context. Tennent goes a long way in providing the foundation and vision to make this much needed global discourse more of a reality.

I highly recommend the book to any who desire to think outside of their own cultural contexts and desire to be impacted by the global discourse that is arising. Of course, that discourse is coming into the West more than ever before (indeed, it can't be stopped)- let's just hope that we have ears to hear before it's in our face and we've missed out on the discussion.

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