"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Monday, December 21, 2020

The Multitudes of the Nations

The revanchist and racist politics of too many so-called Christians in this country, especially among evangelicals and Roman Catholics, is a source of revulsion and scandal. But it is not new. 

There is a longstanding expectation among such groups that Christians are always and only white suburban members of the middle and upper classes who drive to churches with massive parking lots in the better parts of town for services only in English, lasting no more than 75 minutes in tastefully and comfortably appointed buildings wanting nothing by way of air conditioning, wifi, etc. The idea that Christians might be poor, of darker colours, and diverse races, attending liturgies in ancient languages in iconographically resplendent churches of antique lineage is unfathomable to such Americans as I have described. After more than a dozen years of trying to introduce Eastern Christianity to Americans, I can report that none of the above is remotely unjustified as a generalization, but is in fact a very closely, if not unanimously, held view among my students at least. 

It is to them, and so many others, that a new book must come as a shock, which I can only welcome: Vince Bantu, A Multitude of All Peoples: Engaging Ancient Christianity's Global Identity (IVP Academic, 2020), 256pp. 

About this book the publisher tells us this:

Christianity is not becoming a global religion. It has always been a global religion. The early Christian movement spread from Jerusalem in every direction, taking on local cultural expression all around the ancient world. So why do so many people see Christianity as a primarily Western, white religion? In A Multitude of All Peoples, Vince Bantu surveys the geographic range of the early church's history, revealing an alternate, more accurate narrative to that of Christianity as a product of the Western world. He begins by investigating the historical roots of the Western cultural captivity of the church, from the conversion of Constantine to the rise of European Christian empires. He then shifts focus to the too-often-forgotten concurrent development of diverse expressions of Christianity across Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. In the process, Bantu removes obstacles to contemporary missiological efforts. Focusing on the necessity for contextualization and indigenous leadership in effective Christian mission, he draws out practical lessons for intercultural communication of the gospel. Healing the wounds of racism, imperialism, and colonialism will be possible only with renewed attention to the marginalized voices of the historic global church. The full story of early Christianity makes clear that, as the apostle Peter said, "God does not show favoritism, but accepts those from every people who fear him and do what is right."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Anonymous comments are never approved. Use your real name and say something intelligent.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...