Global Christianties: Perspectives, Methods, and Challenges Conference: Session 3

Well, good morning. My name is Richard
Rosengarten, and I teach “Religion, Literature
and Visual Culture” here. I send greetings on behalf
of Dean David Nirenberg, who isn’t able to join us
today, but is really pleased by your presence here– and excited by what
we’re going to engage in. Welcome to “Global
Christianities– Perspectives, Methods,
and Challenges”– the second in a series
of five conferences to be held over these
five years at the Divinity School of the
University of Chicago, to think forward about the
phenomenon of Christianity as one of the fastest-growing
religions in the world. And to aim to foster and
promote a thoughtful kind of conversation about
that phenomenon– about its complexity, about
its internationality– and about the ways
it ought to help us to rethink how we consider
the role of Christianity in global society today. Towards that end, we have a
program that includes scholars in theology, history,
classics, history of religions, and the like, to help
us think forward– and to index for us, in
general, the various vortices through which one can think
about this phenomenon. I have two happy tasks. One is to thank [? Tandian ?]
Rostandi who is with us today, and who is the person who is
supporting these meetings– and has become a great
friend and benefactor of the Divinity School. Welcome, Mr. Rostandi,
and thank you. [APPLAUSE] And secondly, to thank cherished
colleagues at the Divinity School, who have
taken a major role in the planning
of these events– and some of whom at least you
will meet throughout the day. Professor Kevin Hector,
Professor Angie Heo, Professor Dwight Hopkins,
and Professor Karin Krause. I also want to say
a word of thanks to Sara Bigger, who
is by the door– and in an appropriate
stance, since I think of her sentry for
all these activities. So without further ado, let
me introduce Professor Kevin Hector, and let the fun begin. And again, welcome. KEVIN HECTOR: Good morning. My name is Kevin Hector. I teach Theology and
Philosophy of Religions here. It is no exaggeration to
say that when the Global Christianities
committee got together to talk about who in the world
we would be most excited to get together, and we
dreamed big dreams, we couldn’t have
imagined that we would be able to put together
a slate of speakers that we have this morning. This will only resonate
with some of you, but it reminded me of if I
invited all of the Avengers to my kid’s birthday
party, and they all came. [LAUGHTER] It’s an honor for me. It’s truly an honor. I’m humbled to get to introduce
the speakers for this morning’s session. I will introduce them in turn. They will each give a talk. And then, we will have
discussion of both talks together. So I would encourage you to
write down your questions. Our first speaker
is Dr. Kwok Pui Lan. Dr. Kwok Pui Lan is the former
William F. Cole Professor of Christian Theology
and Spirituality at Episcopal Divinity School. She has also taught at
the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Auburn Theological
Seminary, Union Theological Seminary, and Yale
Divinity School– and is currently teaching
at Emory University. Professor Kwok’s
research focuses on Asian feminist theology,
and post-colonial theology. She has written or edited 20
books in English and Chinese. IF I went through all of the
things that deserve to be said, there wouldn’t be
time for her paper. But here are some of them. Occupy Religion, Theology
of the Multitude, Post-colonial Imagination
and Feminist Theology, Introducing Asian
Feminist Theology, Discovering the Bible in
the Non-biblical World, and Chinese Women
and Christianity– A History, 1860 to 1927. Professor Kwok has also received
multiple honorary doctorates, is a past president of the
American Academy of Religion, and is co-founder of the Pacific
Asian North American Asian Women in Theology
and Ministry Network. Her paper this
morning is entitled, “The Study of World Christianity
From a Post-colonial Perspective.” Please join me in
welcoming Professor Kwok. [APPLAUSE] KWOK PUI LAN: Good morning. I want to thank you very much
for this kind introduction. I am delighted to
have this opportunity to learn from my
colleagues about this very important topic– global Christianities–
perspectives, methods, as well as challenges. The title of my
paper is “The Study of World Christianity from a
Post-colonial Perspective.” I want to ask the
audience, how many of you have been to a church in China? We have a few. Were they full? Very full, OK. So several years ago,
I had the opportunity of visiting this megachurch,
that is called Chong Yi Church, in Hangzhou, China. The sanctuary can
seat 5,000 people. It was all full, even
before the service began. We were told 1,000
children and young people attended the Sunday school,
and the team of Sundays school teachers was more than 100. Wow. This phenomenal growth of
churches in communist China has caught many by surprise. The official statistics puts the
number of Christians in China to be around 25-to-30 million,
but the official figure ranged somewhere between
80-to-100 million, if we counted those who
belonged to the house churches. So China is poised to be the
country with the highest number of Christians in the world. World Christianity,
as a field, has moved away from a Euro,
or Euro American-centered interpretation of
Christianity, and recognized the global configurations
of Christianity in all its diversity
and complexities. The Christian demographics,
as many of us know, has shifted to the Global South. By 2025 half of the
Christian population will live in Latin
America and Africa. Another 17% will live in Asia. Only one out of five will
be non-Latino whites. So what can be learned from
this changing demographic? And, how can the study
of Chinese Christianity contribute to our understanding
of world Christianity? Here, I wanted to introduce
to you this eminent scholar of Chinese history. In 1984, Professor Paul A. Cohen
published this very important book, Discovering History in
China, in which he discussed different models of the study
of Chinese history in the West. The first model he called
the Western impact, Chinese response model– which treats the Chinese
as passive and reactive in the historical encounter. Using this model to
study world Christianity, the focus will be on the
role of missionaries, while downplaying the agency
of Chinese Christians. The second model, he calls
it the cultural imperialism model– which treats Chinese
Christian vision as an integral part
of Western domination. This has been the dominant
view in the historiography of Chinese mission
in China after 1949. But since the late ’70s,
other interpretations began to emerge. Chinese scholars, such as
[? Wan ?] [? Li ?] [? Sing, ?] have reassessed the legacy
of Christian mission, the contribution of
Christian colleges, and the encounter between
Chinese women and Christianity. Paul Cohen criticizes these two
models, and suggests a third. He calls it the
China-centered model, which begins with Chinese
pogroms set in a Chinese context– and seeks to understand
the internal structure, or direction to Chinese history,
that precedes from the earlier centuries. So instead of beginning
from the West, as in the Western impact or
cultural-imperialism model, this third model
begins with the Chinese as the protagonist
of the unfolding drama of the interaction
between Christianity and Chinese society. Taking the cue
from Cohen, we will look at the development
of Chinese Christianity from the very beginning– and not from the time
when Western missionaries arrived in China. This is the ancient Silk Road– all the way from
Turkey and Syria from the west to Xi’an, the
ancient of capital of China. So along the Silk Road,
you have the interaction, or cultural exchange between
the Christians, the Buddhists, the Muslims, and other
religious traditions, for a very long time. Some of the leading
post-colonial theorists hailed along the Silk Road. This is Jerusalem, where Edward
Said was born, and later grew up in Egypt. This is the present
day Mumbai, called Bombay, where Homi Bhabha,
the author of The Location of Culture, came from. And this is Calcutta, where
[INAUDIBLE],, another leading post-colonial theorist, grew
up and attended high school. So I suggest it
is no coincidence some of the leading
post-colonial theorists will be theorizing from the
multiplicity of culture, and the interplay of different
religious traditions. So today, I propose a
post-colonial, cross-cultural approach to the study
of world Christianity. It has three characteristics. The first one– Christianity was a
hybrid phenomenon from the very
beginning, therefore it requires a cross-cultural
and inter-religious approach to studying. The missionary movement is
part of global modernity. And then, we need to use
a comparative approach to study Christianity from
the South to the South. My first point–
hybrid Christianity. As many of us know,
Christianity emerged from the Jewish and
Gentile communities, influenced by Hellenistic
culture living in the Roman Empire. From the beginning it
was a cultural hybrid– negotiating with and integrating
various cultural and religious elements. During the missionary
movement that Paul initiated, he went along the
Mediterranean, and then traveled in Asia Minor. Unfortunately, history has been
part from the Mediterranean, and then took a big leap to
Europe, and then to America– and then forgot there
was another branch, that was ancient and important. You know, it is this route– the Church of the East. Before Christianity was
dominant in the north, let us not forget it
traveled to the south– to Africa and the Middle
East, along the Silk Road. Christianity spread
with commerce, with missionary
activities, and also with inter-cultural exchange. Here, you can see the
metropolitan centers of this spread of
Christianity to the East. So then, if we pay
attention to the development of missionary activities
in the Church of the East, we will recognize
Christianity reached India and China very early on. Some even believed that
Saint Thomas himself went to Karera, India,
and died as a martyr there in the first century. We do not know whether
that legend can be proved. But here, I am showing
you this Saint Thomas Cross in Karera, India. The earliest type
of these crosses can be found as way
back as the 8th century. You can see the cross
was on top of the lotus– a very important
symbol for Buddhism. And then, these
shows an arched dome. What is it? Well, according to our
good friend [INAUDIBLE],, this cross appears to be
surrounded by a [INAUDIBLE],, and on a mantle archway– long in Buddhist
and Hindu temples. And then, if we
travel further east, then you will come to Xi’an,
the ancient capital of China. Here, you have the
famous Nestorian Tablet. Syrian missionaries arrived
as early as the 7th century. And this tablet detailed
their activities, which also showed a cross
on top of a lotus flower. Before I show you the cross,
let us remind ourselves of the spread of Buddhism. And here you have the cross. Again, you have the Nestorian
cross on top of a lotus. This art historian [INAUDIBLE]
says, this type of cross is more a sign of the
resurrected and cosmic Christ than of the dead one. The development of Christianity
in India and China. shows that the Christian
messages, and even symbolisms, had to be translated into the
vernacular and local idioms. As the late Professor
[INAUDIBLE] has reminded us, the translation of
Christian message across different
cultures and religions has given rise to a tremendous
plurality and diversity of expression in
world Christianity. This means that Christianity
has always been polycentric, and has to be constituted
and re-imagined in diverse cultures. Here, I want to quote
Professor [INAUDIBLE].. “Polycentric Christianity
is Christian faith with many cultural homes. The fact that
Christianity is at home in a multiplicity of cultures,
without being permanently wedded to any of them,
presents for Christians everywhere a unique
opportunity for examining Christian identity and
Christian theology.” I had the opportunity to read
the Chinese on the Nestorian Tablet. It talks about trinity. It talks about baptism. But it did not talk about the
suffering, or the crucifixion. Why? In 7th century China,
influenced by Buddhism, it would have been
difficult for the Chinese to understand how a dead
men hanging on the cross will be surviving. Can you see that? Even withing theology,
not just artistic symbol, there has been
adaptation from early on. Now it comes to
my second point– global modernity. In the 8th century, Rome turned
its attention to the north, and formed alliances
with the Germanic people. From the 8th century
to the 15th century, Christianity expanded
in the north and west, whereas the Church
of the East shrank. So, many associate Christianity
with Western civilization, and its spread to different
parts of the world through commerce, colonialism,
and Christian missions. Now, Christian
missionary activities were an integral part of the
civilizing mission of the West, while indigenous cultures in
the Americas, Africa, or Asia were denigrated as
backward and inferior. There is this fine
reconstruction in the study of world history. Some societies are, or were
designated as traditional, while other societies
would be seen as modern. It is important to
remember what Edward Said, one of the pioneers in
post-colonial studies, has reminded us– in his book Orientalism,
published in 1978. And I quote. “Orientalism can be
discussed and analyzed as the corporate institution
for dealing with the Orient.” Here, he meant the Middle East. Dealing with it by making
statements about it, authorizing wheels of it– describing it by teaching it,
centering it, ruling over it. In short, Orientalism
is a Western style for dominating,
restructuring, and having authority over the Orient. These orientalist biases are
clearly evident in the works of an earlier generation of
visionaries and scholars, who have studied the Christian
missionary movement in China. Here, you have the
volume published in 1922, with the unfortunate title, “The
Christian Occupation of China,” which detailed
missionary activities– the scope and extent
of their work in China. Later, we have that
almost classic text on the history of Christian
missions in China, written by Kenneth Latourette. So thick– really classic,
both, though not the same, but certainly will think
the Western missionaries had done great service in the
emancipating of China. So now, given that
we are learning from the post-colonial theorist
not to construct tradition and modernity in
a binary way, how can be look at modernity anew. Here, let me cite
three possibilities. This first one treat Latin
America, Africa, the Pacifics, or other non-Western
societies, as occupying the underside of modernity. [INAUDIBLE] used this. So there is modernity
defined by Western advanced industrialization. And then, because
of colonization, there was an underside. The second one, proposed
by Erica [INAUDIBLE] following [INAUDIBLE] there
they constructed modernity as not just one process,
but two processes which are joined together. The formation of the
modernity could not happen without the colonization
of large population of the world. That is why you have a slash
modernity and coloniality I would like to
propose, from colleagues who have studied Chinese
history, a third possibility, that is called global modernity. Here, I want to cite
a Turkish scholar who has devoted his professional
career studying China. Modernity all along
has been global in scope, plural in form
and direction, and hybrid– not only across
cultural boundaries, but also in the relationship of
the modern to the traditional. This is important, to highlight
modernity as global in scope. Extending this study
to world Christianity, Ryan Dunch says, “The local
agents and host environment exert their influences in
the adaptation, negotiation, and adjustment of
missionary efforts– and intercultural
communication.” He continued, “Recognition
of the agency exercised by the recipient society
is a major reason why cultural differentiation is now
seen as part of globalization, along with homogenization– because every
‘claim’ universal is translated into existing
cultural matrices, in which it can pick on different
meanings, or be employed in different ways.” Now let me come back to
cite China as an example. Scholars often
credit visionaries for introducing Western
notions of womanhood, regarded as
enlightened and modern, in contrast to those in
traditional Chinese culture. Such generalization
overlooks that both Chinese and Western
understanding of womanhood changed over time. Women missionaries,
who came to China in the 19th and
early-20th century, were influenced by the
ideals of womanhood, and the evangelical
view of domesticity of the Victorian period. In the United States,
women missionaries were influenced by the
cult of womanhood– which could be
characterized by piety, purity, submissiveness,
and domesticity. They saw the Chinese customs
of foot binding, concubinage, and arranged
marriage incompatible with their ideal of monogamous
marriage and educated womanhood. They were often credited with
bringing more egalitarian wheels of this axis to
the Chinese society. Yet, back home, they were
considered traditional by the more radical feminist. Here, you have a
picture of domesticity. Can you contrast this
with this picture? Which one is more radical? That is why Marjorie King
argues that American women missionaries exported Western
notions of domesticity, and did not contradict the
Chinese notion that women’s place was in the home. The missionaries did
not export any kind of feminism, understood by
their counterparts in the US at that time, to China. They even included
sewing, or embroidery, or domestic work in the
curriculum for girls’ schools. Now, the situation of
China changed very rapidly in the late 19th and
early 20th century. This year, we as
Chinese commemorated the May 4 movement– the centennial of this
important student protest against Western
imperialism in China. So female students
took to the street 100 years ago in May, to protest
with their male counterparts foreign aggression. And as they were protesting,
what did their woman visionary teacher tell them? Did they encourage
them to protest? Give a guess. Not quite. They were not the
radical ones back home. They were not eager to
support the students under their tutelage
for the protesters, or to fight for
Chinese salvation. So today, when we look
at this past history, would we say simply,
Western women missionaries, they brought more than
notions of womanhood to China. The story was much
more complicated. These evangelical
ideals, that wives would be educated,
keep the house tidy and clean, and help
their husbands, reflected Western response
to the Industrial Revolution and other social changes. Chinese notions about womanhood
affected missionary visions, and their strategies
working with women. Some of the women missionaries
changed their views of looking at the
world and themselves after working for a
long time in China. In one particular
place it was the change in women’s leadership
in the church that changed the whole world
Anglican communion. Here is a picture in 1945. In the center of the picture
is the Reverend Florence Li Tim-Oi, who was ordained
to be the first woman priest in the worldwide
communion, in 1944. And then, because of the
controversy surrounding her ordination, the people
in the United Kingdom said, we had to investigate–
learn something about it. And there was also a push
within the United Kingdom to have women being
considered to be priests. So it was not UK
influenced China. It was the other way around. In case you have forgotten,
it was not until 1992 that the Church of England
allowed women to be ordained– decades afterwards. So I move on to my third point– Comparative Study
from South to South. Both the Christian impact,
indigenous response, and the cultural
imperialism models of studying world
Christianity focus on the relations
between the Global North and individual countries or
societies of the Global South. The study of world Christianity
has called our attention to local agencies. In the past decades, we have
produced many important works that study Christianity
from the Global South. 30 years ago, when I
began to do the research on Chinese women
and Christianity, there were very few
comparable studies. I had to borrow the
insights from those who were studying African
American women in the United States, to learn how to do this. Today, I am happy to
report there are many more studies that talk about women’s
interaction with Christianity from the Global South. That is why the time has
come for not just London and Shanghai, or New
York and Fuzhou– that kind of study. We should be learning,
China, India. China, Iran. China and Uganda. How can we do it? Let me just give an example. The Church Missionary Society
is a society organized by the Anglican church. It has been involved
in many parts of the world in mission work. Three important
foci of their work– one, evangelism, two,
education, third, medicine. So here we have a scholar,
Francis [INAUDIBLE],, who has studied religious
feminism in an age of empire– CMS women missionaries in Iran. So if we compare the situation
of women’s work in Iran and China, we will notice two
very important observations. One, the use of female education
to gain access to the populace. Second, [INAUDIBLE]
wants to know in what way
Christianity interacts with the religious traditions
in China, or in Iran. In China most of
the early converts, they came from practicing
Chinese popular religion. In Iran, certainly it
was the Muslim tradition that was dominant. So a cross-cultural study
between these societies would find how women negotiated
multiple religious identities, communal pressure, and family
pressure in becoming Christian. Let me move on to India. In India, as in China,
the only converse came from the lower class. Why? The established
elites would not allow their women or their daughters
to follow a “foreign” religion. So it would be of interest
to study how the lower class women in China became
interested in Christianity, and to compare and contrast
how Dalit women from India were particularly interested
in joining the Church. Why? They had very little
to loose, isn’t it? Because they could
then learn to read. They could become Bible women. And they could even teach the
higher-class women how to read. So for them it might
be a chance to improve their social mobility– to give themselves a
better chance of life. I want to talk about
China and Africa. Because in these
two contexts, we had numerous studies
or discussion on how the CMS missionaries,
or the missionary societies, had tried to deal, or failed
to deal with a very important question– that is, polygamy. In China in the 19th
century, the richer families, the husband had
more than one wife. And in Africa, even
today in some societies, we have polygamous marriages. Now, how did the missionaries
respond to that situation? In China, and also,
for example, in Uganda. the CMS missionaries
had to be very careful. On the one hand, they did not
want to then stir up trouble. The elites– the
men who had power– they would not want missionaries
to change this practice. But on the other hand,
many of the missionaries subscribed to nuclear
monogamist family. So it would be very
useful and interesting to compare and contrast how
women in these two societies negotiate with new religious
identity, new forms of teachings about
marriage and family, and new understandings
of womanhood. So in conclusion,
I want to suggest we need dynamic and interactive
frameworks, that recognize multiple possibilities,
fluid frontiers, and creative adaptations in the
study of world Christianity. We need to emphasize
on the receptors rather than the transmitters,
and on local agencies in the missionary and
indigenous encounters. As Ryan Dunch reminds
us, homogenization and differentiation
are simultaneous and mutually-conditioning
dimensions of globalization. The study of world
Christianity can contribute to our understanding
of the construction of a modern order– that is, an ongoing
global cultural process. Thank you very much. [APPLAUSE] KEVIN HECTOR: Thank you
so much, Professor Kwok, for an eminently
compelling and clear paper. Our next speaker is
Dr. Jacob Olupona. Dr. Olupona is Professor of
African American Religious Traditions at Harvard
Divinity School. His books include
City of 201 Gods– Ile-Ife in Time, Space,
and the Imagination, Orisa Devotion as
World Religion– The Globalization of
Yoruba Religious Culture, and Kingship,
Religion, and Rituals in a Nigerian Community– A Phenomenological Study
of Ondo Yoruba Festivals. Professor Olupona was named one
of the Walter Channing Cabot Fellows in 2012. He’s been awarded the Nigerian
National Order of Merit. He’s been awarded the Martin
Marty Award for the Public Understanding of Religion. He’s received a
Guggenheim Fellowship, earned an honorary doctorate,
and countless other honors. His paper this
morning is entitled, “Global Christianity– Challenges, Concepts,
and Prospects.” Please join me in welcoming
Professor Olupona. [APPLAUSE] JACOB OLUPONA: Good
morning to you all. I guess it’s still morning. I’m sorry I couldn’t
start with you. I had another assignment
to virtually connect with Harvard University. That is responsible for
giving me my daily bread. But it’s unbelievable
that the meeting was about the creation
of a new program, or initiative called
the Global Task Force– to think about where Harvard
[INAUDIBLE] to be moving, and how Harvard
[INAUDIBLE] should respond to some of the issues
that we are talking about. So I seized the
opportunity to tell them what we’re doing here today. And it’s an honor to be invited. I want to thank the donor
for making this possible. And I want to thank my
friends and colleagues at University of Chicago. And for me it’s a
particularly important visit, because since I was
given the Martin Marty Award by the [INAUDIBLE] public
understanding of religion. I wanted to sort of come
to visit Chicago, and visit the institution
where Marty works. So thank you very much. World Christianity,
the African experience. In the old schema of the
history of religions, Christianity has always
been considered one of the major world religions. What is new about
invoking Christianity as a world religion
in the 21st century is the question that
we all need to address. The answer partly has to do with
the major centers, or locales of religion, and how they have
shifted in significant ways in recent times. Christianity in
the Global South, particularly in Africa,
Asia, and Latin America, has become a major player– decisively [INAUDIBLE]
the contours of Christianity in
the world today. What does it mean to theorize
and teach from the Global South perspective? As one scholar puts it, what
are the promises and limitations of the paradigm of
the Global South? The truth of the
matter, of course, is that unlike in
other disciplines such as anthropology,
literature, and cultural studies– which are equally concerned with
issues surrounding the Global South– the religious studies ascent
on no Western Christianity has made significant
shifts in the interrogation of perspectives, approaches,
paradigms, and implications that affect Christian
realities outside of the West. In my opinion, Christian
religious scholarship has not really been
concerned with understanding the social, political,
historical, cultural implications uncovered
by these perspectives. I must thank the last speaker
for talking about polygamy. I just came back from Nigeria. I arrived on Monday. And during my visit I ran
into a childhood friend, who is now a big shot in Nigeria. And he reminded me
of something that happened in 1958,
when my father was a priest in his local church. And we were classmates
in the primary school. He said, Jacob, do you remember
that your father did something to us that wasn’t too good? He prevented my mother
and members of my family from taking the holy
communion, because they were accused of polygamy. So in other words,
as you just said, the CMS forbid them from
taking holy communion, because they belonged to
this polygamous [INAUDIBLE] families. Can you imagine
almost 60 or 50 years after that my friend
reminded me of what happened when we were young? This is why this initiative
is very important to us– particularly historically,
socially, and culturally. Thus, the question from
contemporary scholarship should not be whether
Christianity in the Global North still matters. The Global North may no longer
be the normative center of word Christianity, but
as scholars, we should be more concerned
with the political, social, and religious implications
of the shift– the world Christianity from
the North to the South– and what this means for this
age old faith tradition today. As we all know, the shift
is reflected demographically and geographically. How many Christians are
there in the world today, and where are they located? The statistics are
constantly coming up. And some of us do take
this statistic seriously. The historical transformation
of Christianity as a world religion is important, and calls
for significant re-examination of how Christianity
should be studied. Where is it studied? Who are the key figures and
groups involved in the study? And, what are the problems
that scholarship faces today? For example, what
does it mean for us to see the world’s
[INAUDIBLE] seminaries in Boston and [INAUDIBLE]
to a local seminary? And the Episcopal
Divinity School closed right before
our very eyes– while countries of
the Global South are desperately
looking for spaces to train their emerging
scholars and clergy. Occasionally, I go to some of
these new movement Pentecostal charismatic evangelicals. And as I walk in
there, they will introduce some pastors,
some peoples, [INAUDIBLE] meet our theologians. And of course I know they never
went to [INAUDIBLE] schools. But they are already
using our vocabulary, to call them theologians. What does that mean for us? And what does it mean for the
study of world Christianity? However, as I argued
in the keynote address at a conference
similar to this one– at the Princeton Theological
Seminary in February 2018– we must be careful
not to assume or think that the center of
gravity has completely shifted from the Global
North to the Global South. The resources, personnel,
infrastructures of world Christianity
are still firmly based in the Global North. At this particular
conference I refer to, the three key
professors who organized it are from the
Global South, but they work at Princeton
Theological Seminary. They were responsible for
organizing the conference– Asia, Africa, and Latin America. So the question is, for me,
and I think for some of us, that he who pays
the piper dictates the tune of global Christianity
in which we are all engaged. So what global
Christianity means to me, then, begins from
this positionality, and these conceptual constructs. In other words, I
don’t want us to begin to deceive ourselves about
this shift from the North to the South. We need to understand
the realities that we are faced with. One of the things
I said this morning in talking to my
colleagues at Harvard is that, in terms of
the numbers of students who come to the divinity school,
there are very few from Africa. It’s so expensive to
bring African scholars and African students to come
to these places to study. So what does that then mean? My own position is that we
need to shift the focus of how we train these students. Right now, since 2017, I’ve
been involved in what I call a summer institute in Nigeria,
which is of course an African [INAUDIBLE] whereby we bring
professors from the North– Europe and America, and also
[INAUDIBLE] African countries– to Africa, to help in training
pre-doc and post-doc students and scholars in [INAUDIBLE]
sciences and the humanities. It’s a success story. If you want to know more
about it, I will let you know. The first thing I want to
look at is global Christianity and the global [INAUDIBLE]—-
issues of definition and identity. What does the field
of global Christianity mean in the African context? What will the pursuit of
new areas of scholarship contribute to the understanding
of Christianity in Africa? And how does it differ
from previous approaches to the study of
African Christianity– particularly, what is
normally referred to as missiology and church history. And what are the major
themes in world Christianity that are germane to
African scholarship today? I do not regard the distinction
between world Christianity and global Christianity
as important. I’m referring to
the suggestion made by my senior colleague
and late colleague Professor [INAUDIBLE]. But the distinction for me
appears to be one of semantics. Because both terms refer to
the study of Christianity in contemporary global context
as a form of world religions, similar to the way that Islam,
Buddhism, and Hinduism have been understood. The caveat, however,
is that the term receives a petulant conceptual
issue worth considering. For a long time, world
religions were regarded as those traditions that followed
[INAUDIBLE] and later a [INAUDIBLE] scheme
[INAUDIBLE] age civilization– including Christianity. And those of us who went to
grad school in the ’70s and ’80s will remember how
important it was for us to read these two texts. This [INAUDIBLE]
get it as tradition, that arose at a certain
historical period– defining the legal
tone and identities of the so-called religions. Where Christianity has
always been considered a veritable member
of this club, it was primarily seen, in its
Euro Christian context, as a tradition that subsequently
spread to the Southern Hemisphere through
European missionaries. This tradition produced
the normative framework of Christianity
around the globe. However, all recent
available statistics suggest that the demography of
the Christian tradition that has emerged from these old
mission centers in Africa, Asia, and so on
have now surpassed the percentage of the
Northern Hemisphere, in numbers and influence. This development is leading
towards a necessary re-thinking of the nature, status,
and power dynamics in the Christian-faith
tradition across the world. It is imperative,
therefore, that we begin to attend
to a Christianity in the Global South, in an
innovative and creative manner. We must learn its content
and understand its contours, so as to give the Christian
tradition their voice in the conversation. Things have changed. It is no longer
business as usual, and we must understand that. African Christianity
comes to the Global North. A brief general outline
of Christianity in Africa today may look
something like this. Africa, at the beginning
of Christianity, asserted itself as
a significant actor in the narrative of
the Christian church. The early Church,
medieval Christianity, the Portuguese
Christian mission– that came in the
15th, 16th centuries. European Christian missionaries,
independent African churches, the charismatic
Pentecostal churches– in that chronological
order, we all know. All of these may
represent different epochs in the long line of
Christian history on the continent of Africa. In writing the modern
history of Christianity, African agency must be
central to this new narrative that I’m talking about. But this means
that quite a number of the received
interpretations of Christianity need to be revised, so that
the important roles of Africans in the early history
of the Christian church can come to light. Having taught a course called
“African Christianity and Civil Society” for many, many
years, one major observation has been that African
sources for understanding these kind of exegesis are often
found in very remote places. One must then look beyond
libraries, archives, and even to books
that originally would have been seen as
marginal to mainstream Christian historiography. In order to be able to
do that, we must then uncover the authentic histories
of the Africans, and the roles they played in the formation
of the Christian Church on the continent. For example, I remember, one
of the blessings of my life was that I was able to go to
many places with my parents. They were missionaries. I used to tease my father I
was a missionary– you know, local missionary in Nigeria. And everywhere we
went the natives would create
language, vocabulary in the Christian
tradition, to describe their experience as Africans. We can finally find [INAUDIBLE]
in any book, in any library. How do we then
understand what we get as the African
Christian experience if we don’t think very seriously
this particular phenomenon. The second
concentration to examine is the history of the
African Christian encounter with the Global North and South. In 1990 I coined the
term, reverse mission. If you’ve seen that
term, that first came up in 1990, when I
had a project to address. The term describes the phenomena
of Christian missionaries entering spaces in the
Northern Hemisphere– particularly, the
United States, Europe, and to some extent, Asia. Christian missionaries
from the continent used this term
themselves, to describe their understanding of the
nature of their mission, and evangelical activities
in America and Europe. The term, of course,
plays upon the idea of the 18th, 19th century
European missionaries, who were sent by their churches
to evangelize Africans. As product of this
evangelization, Africans now feel empowered to
return to the old mission post, and embark in reverse on the
same kind of missionary work that their great grandfathers
witnessed in Africa. There is a sense now
that it is the West which requires evangelization. And so Africans have
taken up the Church and entered in the Global North. In reality, we can
count the presence of African missionaries
in our midst through the lens of these
African missionaries themselves. All we have to do is to look
at what happens in Kiev– in all of Eastern Europe– when a missionary
called Pastor Adelaja began his
evangelization mission. And very soon, eventually,
he took over the whole place. Russia played paid
attention to him. He influenced the election of
the local mayor of the city. And he became pretty
important until, of course, they scandalized him, to find
a way of driving him out. Similarly, another thing
happened in England, when a Nigerian missionary
started his own church based on this same notion
of reverse mission– by name of [INAUDIBLE]. He [INAUDIBLE] very well. He had thousands of
members that converted, or that came with him, or
that also joined his church. And all of a
sudden, when Britain noticed that it was trying
to get out of order, they decided to cut him
to size by making sure that he would not– he wanted to build his church
at the center of London. The [INAUDIBLE] here [INAUDIBLE]
you know there’s some in there. So the [INAUDIBLE] said
to him, you know what? You should pack your clothes
and go back to your country. You don’t belong here. So the tensions between the
South and the North are clear. The numbers are amazing. And Europe is taking notice,
and Europe is scared of them. So all over Europe
and the United States, for instance, one finds
African Catholic priests working in different dioces– just as the European
and American priests did in Africa years ago. So the idea of reverse
mission, however, should also be considered
in view distinct encounters between the Global North
and the Global South– particularly, in the
interaction of new immigrants and their host congregations. Several years ago, I was in
Miami as a visiting professor. And one of my students
said, Professor, we’d like you to come
to our church on Sunday. In good faith I took that. It was a time when you
have to have a cell phone. You have to be able to speak
Spanish to enjoy life in Miami, and I didn’t have any. So I went to this church. What did I see? The homily was given by
an Igbo Nigerian priest. Flawless Spanish. So we got up and I
said, come, my brother. You’re a Nigerian. How did you get here? I found out that this guy
speaks French, Italian, Igob, Spanish– and, of course, English. He was fully in charge
of this church in Miami. Let me quickly move
to the next one– African Christianity–
Indigenous Knowledge and Contextualization. Reflection on
global Christianity and the role of Africans
requires that we take seriously African culture and tradition. A key instance of this
pertains to the rise of the Pentecostal charismatic
movement in Africa. Some African culture
experience, this will make us [INAUDIBLE]
cultural traditions, or what I would call a
de-culturalization process. In other words,
the new Pentecostal charismatic encounter
that we’re having is taking a totally
different take on what we often called
culturalization in the ’60s, and so on. The opposite of
this inculturation, which encourages Africans
to explore Christianity within the parameters of
African culture and tradition, was a topic of fruitful
discussion and debate in the Second Vatican Council– the result of which was the
process of African [INAUDIBLE],, or contextualizing certain
European Christian traditions on the continent at that time. This period witnessed
the flowering of Christianity in
Africa, as a result of the Christian encounter
with African indigenous institutions. It was the era when
African Christianity was given the platform it deserves. One of the reasons why the
independent African churches flowered after the era of
the mission in churches was because they had the
space to Africanize European Christianity. In the more
contemporary period– the period I refer
to as the Pentecostal charismatic period– the de-culturalization process
of Pentecostal charismatic spirituality– a movement that has
provided significant mileage to Christianity
on the continent– I believe ultimately deprived
Africans of the Africanness– their African identity,
including their language, liturgy, dresses, the old notion
of extended family structures, and so on. I don’t have the time here
to talk about the [INAUDIBLE] of this particular process. But one of the things that
is very disturbing to us is that the kinds of
African institutions are rituals that we were
created through this process of the independent
African church movement are now being torn
on their heads by Pentecostal charismatic
institutions, and so on. Just as [INAUDIBLE] work
translating the message, the missionary impact on culture
emphasized the importance of the translation of the
Bible into native languages. I remember President [INAUDIBLE]
telling me years ago, when I was trained to
do a book in his honor, that whenever the
Bible is translated in an African language
people go, why? They are able to
read the word of God in their own native
tongues, he said. So what does it then mean
today for an African bishop to say to members
of his diocese, do not use your Yoruba
or Igbo in liturgy? You have to use
English language. We have suddenly [INAUDIBLE]
that Bishop Crowder, who took the time to translate
the Bible into Yoruba language, and part
of Igbo language, would really be
unhappy in his grave, listening to what the
African bishops are doing. So this critique,
and many others, should also form part of the
conversation in the study of global Christianity. I should quickly add
that the popularity of the Pentecostal charismatic
movement, both in is local, and trans-national,
and global forms, have further eroded the
extended family values system, vernacular languages,
and imbibed a new form of ethic that supported the
autonomous individualism global capitalism, at the
expense of communal life and family ethos. Next– reimagining Christianity
in Africa as a world religion– methodological consideration. I would like to now turn to
a few methodological issues. Into this academic field, and
in the intellectual pursuit of knowledge, the
signs of progress are often seen through
theoretical innovations, that encourage scholars
and researchers to deploy imagination– to rethink the
theory and methods that have been in currency
over a period of time. That is why in all our schools,
particularly in the seminaries, we keep creating what are
called method and theory courses, for what are
there, [INAUDIBLE] or MTAs? And we’ll try for
two, three years. We say, no, there’s
something wrong with this. We now begin to change that. And at times we are so confused
about what we mean by that, we reminded ourselves
this morning, when we were discussing
this same problem. Now, in what way world
Christianity has inspired us into developing
conceptual analysis, and on ethnic, historical,
political, social, and methodological issues
that are germane to study, I believe that we are
very much in a deficit of innovative theoretical
insights that could move this conversation forward. This is a matter we need
to attend to urgently. Several recent developments in
World Christianity discourse call for creative exercises,
such as the old one that we used to witness. I refer here to the
very important article by Robin Horton on conversion,
which is still cited today. If you’re working on conversion
anywhere in the world, you have to cite
the Horton example– which was based on a review
of a book by JJ [INAUDIBLE] on Aladura Christianity
in Nigeria. What I’m trying to call for
here is that kind of creativity, that kind of innovation, that
will move the field forward– and so that we begin, of course,
to see our roles as scholars and interpreters in new light. [INAUDIBLE] I lay out
a few illustrations that would lead to a deeper
reflection on possibilities in [INAUDIBLE] innovation. At every age and
time, we often talk about religious fashion–
what is in fashion in societies and cultures. This will refer to
religious traits that are spearheaded by one form
of Christian belongingness [INAUDIBLE] that
are then replicated by the entire society, but not
necessarily only by members of our religious tribe. For example, why do the mainline
mission churches, and a Aladura independent African
churches today, tailor their religiosity towards
more evangelical Pentecostal practices and habits,
that are often associated with specific a
time of Christianity that is valuable in Pentecostal
charismatic movements? What I’m trying to say here is,
that as we look at the African field, we can say with
certainty that all Pentecostal charismatic are evangelicals,
but we cannot say that all evangelicals are Pentecostals
and charismatics. So we must ask
ourselves the question– why is it that the Anglicans,
and the mainline churches, and independent
churches, why are they trying to behave as
Pentecostal charismatics? These are issues that I think
are a very important thing that we need to answer. So are the mission churches
and the Aladura churches also Pentecostal? If the answer is
no, then we require a new nomenclature
and rubric, that will embrace both the
apples and oranges of Christian expressions
in contemporary Africa. Can we talk about evangelism
as a unifying descriptor for all who feel [INAUDIBLE]
form of Christianity? If the answer is
no, we must then be able, at the very
least, to explain why the Methodists, the
Anglicans, and the other groups want to be like Pentecostals. Why is it that Pentecostal
Christianity displays and maintains its
form of religiosity with significant success, at
least from my own reckoning, with little or no
theological education? Why is it that Pentecostal
charismatic churches in African societies
and nation states have become more visible
in the public sphere than the old
denominational churches– even to the extent of being
regarded as state religions? I remember, again from
my own experience in 1970 or so, when the
entire church was called to the governor’s office
for a normal annual prayer meeting. And they all put on their robes. And the Aladura
independent African church had this [INAUDIBLE] in there. And my father, who
was like the head of the church at that time– because of his training
in Western theology school education– he had a church in
England for two years– told the man that he should
go and stand in the front. He’s not supposed to be standing
behind him in the procession. And of course, in
the African context, that procession
is very important. The big chief will stand at
the back of the procession. Now, if we fast forward,
that kind of thing would not happen again. So the state
church, if you like, is no longer the Anglican,
or the Methodist. They’re the Pentecostal
charismatic churches. What does that then mean
for our study, and the kinds of scholarship we are pursuing? As an interdisciplinary
in the world, scholars should
also borrow tools from the humanities
and social sciences, to engage in
interdisciplinary work– hagiography, historical,
textual studies, and other scholarly
approaches– that is amenable to research
in world Christianity. The effect of such
radical scholarship, if we may well call
it that way, is that it will lead to a
reinterpretation of what world Christianity is in
both time and place. It reflects on the
already-existing published materials that came
out of the scholarship of the previous era–
scholarship that contains significant biases
and partnership, and that has proved
that the very agency of the subject that
the [INAUDIBLE] itself was focused on. There is a need for us to
understand it upside down. The new approach
I’m calling for may be revolutionary in
context, because it is going to query all
the received knowledge of the Christian traditions,
and the interpretations among native Africans. I’m going to fast
forward pretty quickly and talk about Christianity’s
public presence on the continent. Christianity and
the public sphere is another important
category, that requires significant attention. And I will just by extension
talk about public policy, as it relates to the role
of the Christian tradition. The public sphere has
become a major theater, for not only the
practice and expressions of Christian
tradition in Africa, but also as a zone where major
contestations of identity and power relations take place– particularly between
church and the state. It has also become a stake
for a question of justice, human rights relations,
between Christians with people from other faith traditions–
particularly Islam. That is where the issues of
Christian Muslim relations in Africa is very central,
and we need to focus on that. In the 1990s,
African Christianity acted both locally and
globally, through its role in civil society, following the
decline and demise of the USSR, communism, and Eastern Europe. I’m here referring to the role
of the Church– particularly, the Church in the
re-democratization process. Most of them were
involved in the drafting of the constitution
for the state. They were involved
in the election. They were actively
involved in making sure that a new order takes effect. And I think we also need to
look at it in this context. It’s also well known
that religion is often able to articulate tensions and
contradictions about identity, citizenship, and belongingness
in any given society. What then is the role of
the scholar in examining these questions in the face of
social realities of Christians on the continent–
particularly, in those places where Christians may
be in a minority, or even where Christians are
not necessarily a minority, but because of what
kinds of conflicts that are arising from their
encounter with, say, Islam? And Nigeria is a
classic example, based on your knowledge of
Boko Haram, and other things. Let me now conclude. I’ve tried, at least
in some of this, to discuss what I
consider to be some of the scholarly and
heuristic importance of the Global South– as part of this entry
to this conversation on global Christianity. But I’ve also tried,
as much as possible, to look at what is
shaping the conversation– particularly, in relation to the
intersection between the Global South and Global North. And with particular
reference to African context, which is my own different areas. But by implication, some of
the things we are talking about do have impact on
the larger spheres of global Christianity– be
it in Asia or Latin America. Let me also quickly add– and this is not
quite in my notes– I’ve been having some
conversations with Christians from the Middle East– those who are driven
by the wars in Syria and [INAUDIBLE] places, who have
found themselves in America. And they keep asking, any
time I introduce myself as a professor of religion– and
then, oh, are you a Christian? And I say, yes, I’m a Christian. You know fully well, but in
terms of their own identity, their names are usually
very, very Middle Eastern. It’s like Islamic names. When in Nigeria you hear
of a Cardinal Mohammed, Father [INAUDIBLE], Abrahim– these are all Muslim names,
but they’re Christians. And the major question
they ask me is that, is America a Christian nation? Well, I say, I don’t know. Why is it that they
have abandoned us? What is our role as
scholars, particularly in the context of
persecutions that Christians face all over the world? Are we in a position to
enter the conversation? Are we in a position
to enter the dialogue? Do we, based on the kinds
of training that we have had in the secular context– even if it’s called the
Chicago Divinity School, or it’s called Harvard
Divinity School, there are certain value
systems that are promoted. Are we allowed to
intervene in this? And when we are asked
this question as scholars, what answers do we give? Are we qualified to give
the kinds of answers that [INAUDIBLE]? A number of them are
seeking for help. A number of them are
seeking for answers to some of these deeply-rooted
questions [INAUDIBLE].. Thank you very much. [APPLAUSE] KEVIN HECTOR:
Thank you very much for yet another
compelling paper. I would actually
invite our speakers to come on up here,
if you don’t mind taking a seat at the table. And we have a fair amount
of time for questions. I will do my very best to keep
a list of who has their hand up. And I will keep
scanning the room. And so if you have your hand
up and I sort of nod at you, you can take that
to mean that I’ve written down some description
of you on my list– so I can call on you. So yes, we can start with you. AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] you. And I’m very concerned today
with the people [INAUDIBLE] society where Christianity
is the problem. And three pretty major things,
that I’ll just say briefly, and would like your guys’
thoughts and inputs, or any rebuttal on it. But the major thing
to me is Jesus is being taught as meaning
almighty God, which is not something He proclaimed to be. He proclaimed to
be the Son of God. [INAUDIBLE] born or created
of the Father [INAUDIBLE] The Father is
unbegotten, uncreated. He always was, as
He will always be. And the worship of God is
what Jesus taught us to do. And as a matter of fact,
Satan tempted Jesus, to get him to bow to him. He said, don’t weep for me,
for God alone [INAUDIBLE] He didn’t say himself and God– KEVIN HECTOR: Excuse
me for one second. If you could actually
be just a shade more succinct in asking questions. There are three things. If you take this much
time with all three, we’re not going to get
any other questions. AUDIENCE: I’ll try to be brief. So I guess the
first major concern I have with where
Christianity is [INAUDIBLE] is amalgamating Jesus
with being almighty God. That’s the first problem. The second is the thinking
that once you’re saved, you’re always saved
removes the fear of God. And the fear of God is
what we need to overcome sin and lust in our life. I don’t know if you guys know,
but a lot of [INAUDIBLE] going on– recently, all the churches,
and mosques, and synagogues. And the forces are always going
to be equal in this world. But a lot of this stems from bad
teaching, where people were not being taught that there is
a judgement day coming– where God will execute judgment
on everyone for how they lived. And that’s not being taught. KEVIN HECTOR: So you need
to get to your third point. AUDIENCE: Third point– it is
[INAUDIBLE] the commandment not to kill was to include
the animals, which I can show in proof through scripture. One of the reasons Jesus
was born in a manger next to animals was
to signify that He was coming for [INAUDIBLE]
for men and animal. When we kill animals to eat
their dead flesh– chicken, steak, pork, beef, fish– [INAUDIBLE] body of that and
bring that into our own bodies. The leading cause of
heart attacks and cancer. And these things are
being covered up. There are ancient
documents out there, that show Jesus was a vegetarian. He [INAUDIBLE] So these
are the three things. I’d like your guys’ feedback
on these major [INAUDIBLE] KWOK PUI LAN: Thank
you very much. Yes, I am ready to answer
[INAUDIBLE] questions. I think that it’s really
the definitive question. That is, who are the
[INAUDIBLE] that [INAUDIBLE] is talking about? Isn’t that the
definitive question? Why? The definitive question
can be answered in so many different ways. Someone sitting in a
church in Shanghai today will be answering the
question very different from the Pentecostal in
Nigeria, or in Singapore, or in the Pacific. That is why there is no
definitive way of responding. That is why Jesus’s question,
who do you say that I am, is perennially valid– that each of us who
confess as Christians needs to answer anew. I answered it when I was five. But today, at
60-something, I needed to answer their question anew. That is why I am into
post-colonial the study of Christianity. Christianity cannot not be
just an oppressive force– an oppressive world religion. There must be something in
that Christian gospel that can be emancipative. All men, or men, and for women. And for the animals, too. I fully agree we
need to pay attention to the ecological disaster– not just for human beings,
for any [INAUDIBLE] for those of us who. KEVIN HECTOR: Professor Olupona? JACOB OLUPONA: What
I may want to add is [INAUDIBLE] religious
literacy is important. The problems and the issues
that we are faced with today will relate to
religious illiteracy, irrespective of the
tradition– whether it’s Christianity, or Islam, or
indigenous African religion. And secondly, like
you said, there is no single way of
interpreting the scripture, or even interpreting
the traditions. That’s why we have
different ruminations. In fact, when we talked about
Christianity in general, or the state in general,
it is a problem. And my own [INAUDIBLE]
tradition will see things in a way that is very different
from [INAUDIBLE] tradition. So the context is
quite important. But I’d like the answer
to your last question, because I think
[INAUDIBLE] issue. [INAUDIBLE] issues that
have made [INAUDIBLE] ecology or environment– quite
concerned with those issues. So I [INAUDIBLE]. KEVIN HECTOR: Thank
you both [INAUDIBLE].. Yes? AUDIENCE: My question is
derived from something that Professor Kwok said– speakers. In your presentation
of the [INAUDIBLE] East showed how the
Church of the East represents something globally. [INAUDIBLE] But
then by the end, you were talking about
global modernity. And I guess my question– this
will be apparent [INAUDIBLE]—- but one of the
questions I have is, what are the stakes [INAUDIBLE]
Christianity [INAUDIBLE],, and at certain
times [INAUDIBLE]?? But in particular, is it
possible that by global Christianity– when we say this,
we’re actually talking about– I don’t want to say modern
[INAUDIBLE] confusing. But we’re talking about
Christianity in America. Is that what global means here? And is that global
as well as for us? KWOK PUI LAN: Yes. Thank you very much. [INAUDIBLE] conversation. I have written an
essay [INAUDIBLE] teaching global theologies,
in which I [INAUDIBLE] talk about different
conceptualizations of global– four different
conceptualizations. But here, in my presentation,
I was challenging the way of conceptualizing the world. That is, Christianity was
from the Mediterranean, and then it went
strictly to the north. [INAUDIBLE] at the east. And that was skewed, for
me, picture of the world in that particular time– especially when Christians,
along with Singapore [INAUDIBLE]– and especially in
the pursuant empire. And then later, it
was in that place that we can talk about
the impact [INAUDIBLE] between Muslims and Christians. So then we [INAUDIBLE],,
we would not be able to see
[INAUDIBLE] Christianity in this ancient
and modern history. So I want to emphasize that. Then, when you talk to them
about world Christianity, or global Christianity,
are we talking about the modern period? Well, when is the modern period? So we even construe that it’s
this modern period [INAUDIBLE] saying that why should
[INAUDIBLE] be then always marked vis-a-vis the West. But then when you
study Chinese history, do you need to
introduce modernity? Why, and why not? Would that be an interesting
discussion, even? If we talk about, yes,
this is a valid concept, when is modernity in China? Would we say 19th century,
or after the 1970s? Can you see that? It’s all debatable. But I [INAUDIBLE] the
concept of global modernity, to contest the
evidence [INAUDIBLE].. It’s always [INAUDIBLE]. Can you see that? There is a [INAUDIBLE]. Or even if you have modernity
in common [INAUDIBLE] it [INAUDIBLE]. Modernity is just
Western values. And the Chinese scholars,
yesterday and today, are saying socialism [INAUDIBLE]
Chinese characteristic. What was said? There are other ways of
conceptualizing socialism. If there are other ways of
conceptualizing socialism, there might be other ways
of contesting modernity, or contesting world
“Christianity.” KEVIN HECTOR: Professor Olupona? JACOB OLUPONA:
[INAUDIBLE] a number of these terms that we’re
using moving globally. The terms are not new. I mean, the terms are new,
but the ideas and the concepts are not new at all. [INAUDIBLE] for me of
interpreting the Pentecostal experience, at the beginning
of their very critical state, was the call for
[INAUDIBLE] conversion, and the [INAUDIBLE]. In other words, in addition to
[INAUDIBLE] global tradition, you need to take from
[INAUDIBLE] where the disciples mixed, and
Peter preached his sermon to the other parts of the world. In other words, you need
to move the Christian faith based on these understandings of
different languages and terms– to their different parts of
the expansion of Christianity. That is global. It’s almost [INAUDIBLE]
to a global tradition. So [INAUDIBLE] globalization
in the contemporary period should not make us
forget the importance of that experience– as a
global experience, so to say. KEVIN HECTOR: Thank you. The woman in the back, yes? AUDIENCE: Thank you for two
really amazing presentations. [INAUDIBLE] conversation
started here. And I have a question that
comes from my own area of study right now, and [INAUDIBLE]
about you mentioned the collapse of Anglican
theological schools in [INAUDIBLE] Nigeria. But other places, and the ways
in which they might [INAUDIBLE] denominations [INAUDIBLE] that
that was a [INAUDIBLE] question for [INAUDIBLE] Christian. And I wondered if you have
some additional thoughts about why that is. Why are they
Pentecostal [INAUDIBLE]?? JACOB OLUPONA: Well,
[INAUDIBLE] issue. And I think the
[INAUDIBLE] I was born [INAUDIBLE] in the [INAUDIBLE]. I was born in the
families of priests. My father and my
brothers and I were [INAUDIBLE] physically part
of that church personage experience. And I published a
book [INAUDIBLE] my father’s [INAUDIBLE]—- the
story of an Anglican family in Nigeria. We’re talking about
this [INAUDIBLE] in different reasons, and so on. So I want to come back to
the experience of growing up in the Anglican
Church in Nigeria. And the idea that in those
days it was [INAUDIBLE] for the Anglican pastors– particularly [INAUDIBLE]—- to
have the English experience. All my uncles, my father,
they all went to England. But I never had the choice. [INAUDIBLE] for two years. And the Church of England
also sent people to Nigeria. Usually, it has to be the
Christians that would leave. So they were responsible for
designing the cathedrals– based on the [INAUDIBLE]
had knowledge [INAUDIBLE] architectural, and
so on and so forth. So that was the ’60s
and ’70s and ’80s. If you fast forward now to the
’90s and the identity crisis of the London
Conference [INAUDIBLE] The issue of modernity,
we address [INAUDIBLE].. There was initially, in
London in the ’60s and ’70s– when the Church then decided,
leave the Africans [INAUDIBLE].. They will sort it out
amongst themselves. We must not take this to
[INAUDIBLE] and [INAUDIBLE] from it. Because if we do
that [INAUDIBLE] like that [INAUDIBLE]
African [INAUDIBLE].. [INAUDIBLE] from Nigeria. And it was [INAUDIBLE]. We will never forget that. And [INAUDIBLE] together. Didn’t you know that? So [INAUDIBLE] there was a race. Because when faced with
the traditions [INAUDIBLE] in terms of a tradition. [INAUDIBLE] global [INAUDIBLE],,
global Methodist, global Anglican, global Presbyterian. Now, [INAUDIBLE] first the ’70s. And the new forms
of Christianity [INAUDIBLE] the Pentecostal
charismatic came on board. [INAUDIBLE] Part of it would
be a kind of revolution, that was similar to the
revolution of the independent African churches– who were responding to new
ways of [INAUDIBLE] context. And so, unfortunately, because
they are given a [INAUDIBLE] the state church. [INAUDIBLE] was talking
about [INAUDIBLE] for the sake of Nigerians
[INAUDIBLE] in Lagos. And the president and the GEO
the GO of the [INAUDIBLE] state church [INAUDIBLE] in
Africa because [INAUDIBLE] similar religion. [INAUDIBLE] than reasons
of the president. In fact, the political parties
would have to [INAUDIBLE] whereas the [INAUDIBLE]
of Pentecostal Charismatic Church [INAUDIBLE] would not
need to brag to [INAUDIBLE] to listen to him. So we are seeing a kind of
[INAUDIBLE] that you have to be careful in explaining. Not necessarily purely in
political or economic terms. [INAUDIBLE] writers that
say that [INAUDIBLE] is because Africans are
poor, there’s poverty. And so it is more than that. They’re both combinations
of local and global factors. KWOK PUI LAN: There is a book
that talks about Pentecostalism among the Chinese– both in mainland
China and also in Chinese American communities. It is called, I think, Global
Chinese Pentecostalism. I think that could
be very helpful. But recently, I heard Professor
[INAUDIBLE],, from Princeton Theological Seminary,
talk about the origin of [INAUDIBLE] Pentecostal kind
of movements in [INAUDIBLE].. And then comment about
the role of [INAUDIBLE].. And then they apprentice, and
they are cultural expressions. And I was fascinated,
because then to emphasize the
evident American roots, or tracing back
the African roots, to that kind of
worship and experience. And that is why I think that
it is embodied language. It is not [INAUDIBLE]. It is the [INAUDIBLE]. It is, I would say, an
embodied cultural expression from the South. That is why now it is we and you
and race, or people [INAUDIBLE] that kind of expression. And I think those kind of
[INAUDIBLE] cultural languages need to be parsed and studied. And I am so grateful for
[INAUDIBLE] of women in India, and looking forward to
your forthcoming research. KEVIN HECTOR: Thank
you, [INAUDIBLE].. We have time for one
more brief question. If nothing else, it will help
move the conversation forward [INAUDIBLE] do it justice. Aaron? AUDIENCE: Thank you very much. Thank you both for your
persuasive papers– blind spots in the study
of global Christianity, and your own ways forward– and scholarship. And I’m wondering how
these developments that you speak about
translate into your teaching. In what ways do your students
respond to, or struggle with these paradoxes you’ve
presented– global modernity, or public sector Christian
theology on one hand– the range of [INAUDIBLE]
developments on the other. And what might you
recommend to those of us who would attune our
own teaching more closely to the state of things
that they are [INAUDIBLE]?? JACOB OLUPONA: OK. I will also add to
your question, what have I learned as a teacher? When I first came by
[INAUDIBLE] America, and then designed a course to
teach, [INAUDIBLE] professor. Well, you need to have a
whole topic on sexuality. So we went back to the drawing
board, and I designed it. [INAUDIBLE] are pretty smart. They’re very, very smart. And my approach is to
use multiple mentors. And notably the
traditional way of teaching as an African
professor, which focused on interacting sections,
but also making them to [INAUDIBLE] possible, or
to some of those choices. And I was leery, when I was
in California [INAUDIBLE],, to observe [INAUDIBLE] approach
[INAUDIBLE] was to kind of a hagiographic [INAUDIBLE]
qualities [INAUDIBLE]—- to go there and observe. And they would come back to
have [INAUDIBLE] conversation. The other part of it
is, I do not run away from difficult questions. Sexuality, as most of you
will know, is a bigger issue. But we can’t
eliminate [INAUDIBLE].. We came here, and
the African center. I’m telling you this– the Anglican
reverends and bishops are still willing to listen to
him, to have a conversation. Because of why? Because my father
was a missionary. Thank you. KWOK PUI LAN: There
is responsibility. I think what we need is the
de-colonization of the mind. I was born in the former
British colony of Hong Kong. And it’s [INAUDIBLE]
rigourous colonial education. It took me a
lifetime [INAUDIBLE] we learned to renegotiate. All the educational processes
I’ve experience [INAUDIBLE] Hong Kong, and also
in the United States. It is just so dissapointing. My Korean students,
they have never learned Korean theology,
and [INAUDIBLE].. Or the Chinese student never
learned something about [INAUDIBLE]. So this is not a [INAUDIBLE]. And then [INAUDIBLE]
the Asian Pacific is going to define the future
of human time for our century. We as scholars, we
as teachers need to turn to that area
in our own study, and in our own imagination. Thank you. KEVIN HECTOR: That was a really
excellent question for us to end on. Thank you for that. Please join me in
thanking our speakers. [APPLAUSE]

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *