Over the last seventy years Bible translation agencies have engaged in translating the New Testament into the hundreds of indigenous languages of Latin America. That immense task is now nearing completion. Yet translation is only part of the task; a potentially larger challenge awaits, namely, encouraging the growing churches in these language groups to accept and use the Scripture translations that have been so painstakingly accomplished. Development of a contextualized Christianity appropriate to the myriad of cultures in Central and South America--essential if vibrant and mature indigenous churches are to grow within those cultures--is crucially tied to acceptance and use of Scripture translations in the people's mother tongues. Despite this fact, the majority-culture Spanish-speaking churches and denominations in the region operate, through the practices and assumptions engrained in their mission work among the minority language groups, in a way that clearly hinders the development of theologically contextualized indigenous churches. (1)
By way of illustration, in one Latin American country where I have worked extensively as a Bible translation consultant, four major Spanish-speaking Protestant denominations that are led by nationals (that is, members of the politically, socially, and economically dominant group of European ancestry, as opposed to indigenes or expatriates) and the Roman Catholic Church work in a minority language group of 250,000 speakers. Together the Spanish-speaking groups oversee more than three hundred indigenous churches. They carry out their mission work entirely in Spanish. Before and during the translation project I spent hundreds of hours meeting with the leadership of these groups to build relationships and to invite their participation in the translation project, seeking to encourage them to promote use of the resultant translation. The translation was completed five years ago, yet only a handful of pastors in these denominations are using it. When the New Testament, with permission from denominational leaders, was distributed to the pastors of one of the denominations, an indigenous pastor excitedly announced to the others that this was just what they needed, for now they would be better able to communicate the Gospel within their churches. He was quickly silenced by the denomination's missionary, who reminded him that they were not free to do whatever they wanted but were under her authority.
By contrast, another denomination in this language group--one led completely by indigenous people--does use the new translation extensively. While the denomination's leaders recognize the importance of Spanish, they are committed to promoting use of their mother tongue in the church. It was their vision that led to undertaking the translation project, and today 60 to 70 percent of the denomination's pastors use the mother-tongue translation in their daily lives and in the life of the church.
Why the difference? The question is worth asking, because the growing hegemony of Spanish-speaking churches over indigenous churches is producing an identity crisis on the part of many indigenous believers in Latin America. Naive assertion of entitlement to dominate culturally and spiritually on the part of national or Latino leaders seriously affects the willingness of indigenous language speakers to accept and use mother-tongue Scriptures, something that is crucial for the development of a contextualized faith. (2) If mission agencies and national churches in Latin America continue to ignore this truth, how will Jesus find a home among the indigenous churches? There is a very real risk that the mother-tongue Scriptures will be set aside for existing Spanish translations. Then, as Daniel Shaw and Charles Van Engen comment, lacking "local logic and reason generated from the receptors' worldview, theology will make no sense to them, and the people will correctly question their need to pay any attention." (3) Just as tragically, the Christianity indigenous peoples do practice will likely be no more than a foreigner's religion instead of being a home-grown, vital, and relationship-based faith.
Present-day interaction between Protestant mission agencies, Latino-led national denominations (most with origins in the United States), and the indigenous churches they nurture and govern has its roots in history. Several factors need to be examined. First, the Spanish invasion and colonization of the Americas led to a pervasive worldview-level belief that the "Indio" is an inferior being. (4) This belief crucially influences relationships between Latinos and indigenous peoples to this day, including those between Spanish churches and indigenous churches. Second, the North American Protestant missionaries who have worked among Spanish speakers and indigenous peoples brought with them their Enlightenment-informed theologies. While these theologies answer, for the most part, questions raised by the majority Latino cultures, they do not address most of the religious and spiritual issues that confront indigenous cultures. Third, a fusion of the first two factors has led to the practice, common among the governing denominations, of engaging the indigenous believers and churches overwhelmingly in Spanish and to the belief that the indigenous churches have little need for a contextualized theology in their own language using mother-tongue Scriptures.
The Influence of History
When the Spaniards disembarked in the Americas, the Gospel and the sword arrived together as instruments of the state, of Christendom. Sanneh's definition of Christendom as "the medieval imperial phase of Christianity when the church became a domain of the state and Christian profession a matter of political enforcement" accurately describes Spanish colonial America. (5) When Aztecan, Mayan, and Incan temples were pulled down, the Spaniards built churches on top of them so as to demonstrate the Christian God's power over the indigenous gods. So as to free the Indians from their lives of pagan idolatry, the Gospel was forced on the original inhabitants of the Americas, an "offer" rarely clothed in Christian charity. For Cortez, "the 'Indians' had to be defeated, controlled and dominated in order to be evangelized." (6)
In 1503, before defeat of the major empires in the Americas was complete, Queen Isabella of Spain established the encomienda system. The stated purpose of the encomienda was to further the spiritual education of the Indians. This religious reeducation required that the indigenous peoples be brought together in concentrated numbers so that they could be evangelized and taught. What developed was a system of slavery and indentured servitude, supported by both church and state, that reduced millions of the inhabitants of the Americas to lives of utter misery, but that brought huge profits to the colonizers. Though several noted Dominican and Franciscan missionaries raised strong voices in dissent against this practice, from the second half of the sixteenth century onward, the Inquisition had "smothered all attempts to soften" (7) dissident views that attempted to better the lives of the local people.
From these roots arose the current mind-set regarding indigenous peoples. Using Paul Hiebert's model, we could say that the Spaniards' worldview was radically challenged by their encounter with the native inhabitants of the Americas. (8) In response to the questions that the very existence of these new peoples and cultures posed, the Spaniards developed theories to explain what they were observing. These theories interacted with their long-held belief systems, and eventually new worldview-level assumptions developed regarding the non-European inhabitants of the Americas. Today these assumptions continue to form the lens through which indigenous peoples are viewed throughout Latin America.
These assumptions find expression in questions such as one that a highly educated man from a country with a high percentage of indigenous citizens recently asked a friend of mine: "Do Indios have souls?" It is common to hear comments among all social classes of Latin Americans that Indians are lazy and ungrateful. Their cognitive abilities and leadership capabilities are frequently doubted. A large percentage of Latin Americans do not believe that indigenous peoples speak fully developed languages; in their view, the indigenes speak only dialectos, a pejorative term implying that their languages have no grammar. As dialectos they lack the prestige of true languages such as Spanish, which, it is proudly maintained, does have a grammar and a dictionary.
As I was writing these words, a newspaper article arrived on my desk that clearly illustrates this prejudicial attitude:
"La Carga de los Indigenas" En Mexico se hablan 364 lenguas o dialectos Indigenas y hay burocratas preocupados porque estan en peligro de extincion. Pues que bueno, que se extingan, porque no nos sirven de nada. Mejor que esos millones de indigenas aprendan el espanol, que es el idioma de Mexico. Es mas preocupante que no hablen espanol. Por eso estan marginados, en la pobreza, en la Incultura y en la enfermedad. Ensenenles espanol y que esas 364 lenguas indigenas se conserven en las bibliotecas y museos. Nada mas. Por eso estamos como estamos, aunque deberiamos de estar peor. (9) "The Indigenous Burden" In Mexico 364 indigenous languages or dialects are spoken, and bureaucrats are worried because they are in danger of becoming extinct. Well, that is great; let them become extinct, because they serve no purpose. It would be better if those millions of indigenous peoples learn Spanish, the language of Mexico. It is more worrisome that they do not speak Spanish. That is why they are marginalized, living in poverty, uncultured, and with poor health standards. Teach them Spanish. Let those 364 indigenous languages be preserved in libraries and museums. Nothing else is needed. That is why we are as we are, even though we should be worse off. (my translation)
Prejudicial beliefs grounded in this worldview pervade all levels of most national-led denominations and churches in Latin America and crucially inform the inclination of their leadership to believe that evangelism, discipleship, and training among the indigenous populations should be done in Spanish and not in the vernacular. These worldview-level beliefs also shape how national-level Latino missionaries approach their ministries and relationships with indigenous churches and indigenous leadership. Similar beliefs profoundly color the opinions of Latino missionaries about the value of the mother-tongue Scripture translations and about whether such translations should be used or promoted among the indigenous churches with which they work.
This heritage from the Spanish colonial era communicates to Latin America's indigenous peoples that they are profoundly inferior to Latinos. The result is cultural and personal identity crises leading indigenous peoples to reject their own cultures and languages. One cannot be rejected without rejecting the other. John Pobee has spoken of the "North Atlantic captivity of the church" in Africa. (10) I believe we are correct in speaking of a Hispanic captivity of the indigenous church in Latin America.
When Protestant missionaries arrived in Latin America in the 1800s, they brought their theologies from Europe and North America with them. Unlike the theology inherited from medieval Roman Catholicism that came with the Spanish conquistadores, the theologies of the Protestant missionaries were influenced by the Enlightenment. One Enlightenment principle that profoundly influenced not just the theology of the missionaries but, more crucially, their worldview was the separation of the natural world from the realm of the supernatural. The post-Enlightenment European world was no longer suffused with the spiritual. The world of naiads and dryads, witches and curses had been consigned to what Hiebert terms "the excluded middle." (11)
For Hiebert the excluded middle consists of the supernatural realm that permeates the world that indigenous peoples inhabit. Their primal religions and folk beliefs explain almost all natural phenomena, good and bad, in terms of the supernatural: spirits (this-worldly and other-worldly), ancestors, dreams, the evil eye, magic, witchcraft, and the mountain gods, to name but a few. When missionaries labeled these beliefs and their associated practices as superstition and taught that they should be abandoned, the indigenous peoples simply went underground with them. To this day the beliefs and practices remain underground. Indigenous peoples refused to discuss them around missionaries for fear of being ridiculed, criticized, or told that their dreams were simply their sleeping minds' attempt to organize and contend with the events of their lives. Such dismissive explanations did not, and do not, hold water with indigenous peoples, because their folk beliefs provide ancient and proven explanations for the vicissitudes of life that include such forces.
The missionaries also taught their Enlightenment-based theologies to the Spanish-speaking Latin Americans. As Hiebert notes, "Missionaries sought to transmit their theologies unchanged to the national church leaders. The relationship was that of parent to child. National leaders were expected to learn the missionary's theology by rote." (12)
The missionaries' worldview and Enlightenment-based theologies were in fact a fairly good fit for, or at least useful to, the Spanish-speaking, majority-culture Latin American Christians. Since the widely held Hispanic worldview says that indigenous peoples are ignorant and unlearned, the Latino population readily accepted the missionaries' explanation that indigenous folk beliefs were nothing more than superstitions. Such explanations simply confirmed their prior beliefs regarding indigenous peoples.
In many countries throughout Latin America today, Hispanic-governed national denominational churches are increasingly at the forefront of mission work among the indigenous groups. Many indigenous churches, in turn, are members of these denominations. For indigenous church leaders, however, this apparently positive step is complicating the process of contextualizing the Gospel, since the national leadership they work under has inherited the prejudicial beliefs about indigenous peoples that developed during Spanish conquest, and since it has embraced Enlightenment-based theologies. These two factors lead the national leaders to view acceptance and use of vernacular Bibles and contextualization of the Gospel by indigenous church leaders as questionable projects.
Since, according to the Latin American worldview, indigenous languages are simply dialectos, most national-level church leaders ignore them. The vast majority of the national church-led mission work is done in Spanish, which is honored as a full-fledged language. In Latin America, lacking support from their denominational leadership, local missionaries and expatriate missionaries alike rarely learn the local vernacular languages. On the one hand, the Bible translation most often used in evangelism is a very formal Spanish version that is particularly difficult for many indigenous readers to understand. On the other hand, the absence of contextualization and of the development of a form of Christianity appropriate to the indigenous cultures--which most naturally goes hand in hand with the use of vernacular Scriptures--imperils the vitality of the Gospel. The logic is irresistible. As Sanneh observes, "Translation is primarily a matter of language, but it is not only that, for language itself is a living expression of the culture.... Language is not just the 'soul' of a people, as if it belongs to some sort of elite gnostic circle. Language is also the garment that gives shape, decorum and vitality to conscious life, enabling us to appreciate the visible texture of life in its subtle, intricate variety and possibility." (13)
When national Spanish-speaking leadership does not consider the vernacular languages to be valid religious languages and does not promote vernacular Scripture translations as valid for church use, indigenous believers are not inclined to voice their disagreement. Centuries of Hispanic hegemony have taught them that there is little point in doing so.
Many indigenous Christians in Latin America believe that Spanish has the status of a revealed language. Such misapprehensions were fostered when Catholic and Protestant missionaries disdained to take the time and effort to learn indigenous languages, insisting instead on the preeminence of Spanish as the language for religious instruction. Now the national churches are reinforcing this inherited inequity, ignoring the biblical pattern that Christianity is inherently translatable into languages and cultures other than Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek.
Ignorance within the church regarding vernacular languages is reinforced by the antipathy the Spanish-speaking majority population often expresses against local indigenous languages and cultures, and indigenous believers come under immense pressure to abandon the vernacular so as to raise their social status. In consequence, many indigenous Christians do not view their languages as suitable for use within the Christian religious realm; they do, however, continue to use their languages in most other areas of life, including in the domain of folk beliefs.
Many of the materials that national churches in the region use in teaching and discipleship work among indigenous churches are adapted or even simply translated from English into Spanish. In this way the Enlightenment-based theologies pervasive within the Anglo-American setting become the standard fare both for instruction in seminaries attended by indigenous believers and for teaching in local indigenous churches. In consequence, the folk beliefs of the indigenous primal religions are excluded from meaningful theological discourse in the language familiar to indigenous believers and from discussion within the indigenous churches--that is, from the very venues where discussion of them should be central. Indigenous pastors who attend Hispanic-led seminaries are effectively barred from exploring how the Bible interacts with, confronts, and answers questions raised by their worldview and belief system, by their fears, and by their vision of the good life.
Insistence upon using Spanish in the religious domain also helps to ensure that the majority culture's Spanish-speaking leadership and its missionaries maintain control over indigenous churches. If the vernacular were used, they would not understand what was being said!
Fear of syncretism has often been cited as a reason for rejecting the use of the vernacular. The indigenous cultures and practices have, since the days of the conquistadores, been seen as pagan, idolatrous, and lacking in redemptive value. From the beginning, the early Spanish missionaries and later the Protestant missionaries professed to find little if any evidence of God present in the indigenous cultures. Indigenous Christians were taught, and still are, that they need to reject their cultures. National and expatriate missionaries alike lump many nonreligious practices together by labeling them as sinful. As a result, since (as they are taught) there is no trace of God in their cultures and their languages are deficient and unacceptable for use in church, indigenous Christians are left to wonder who they are and who they should be.
Missionaries in Panama, for example, carefully sought to excise the vernacular word for soul or spirit from an indigenous Christian vocabulary because the same word is used locally to describe spirits the people see. The missionaries apparently forgot that in English and Spanish, the word "spirit" is used for the Holy Spirit, for angels, and for demons. In place of the indigenous word they substituted the word that means "wind." After all, in Greek the word for "spirit" also means "wind." Apparently for the missionaries, Greek usage validated their attempts to redraw the indigenous cognitive category for "wind." It is hard to imagine where such "indigenous" theologizing might lead!
Comparisons with Africa
When the situation of the indigenous churches in Latin America is compared with that of the church in Africa, interesting correspondences emerge. As with Latin America, Africa experienced colonial rule and domination by countries from the North. Though the theologies brought by the earliest missionaries differed, both regions were presented with imported theologies built upon alien conceptual categories. In the case of Latin America the theology brought by the early Spanish missionaries was rooted in the Middle Ages; the theologies that the later Protestant missionaries carried with them to both Africa and Latin America were strongly influenced by the Enlightenment. By the very process of colonization itself, the indigenous inhabitants of both continents were demoted to the bottom of the scale of social and religious esteem. According to Timothy Tennent, "African religion was regarded as no more than a pagan array of witch doctors, fetishism, and superstition. In the nineteenth century, the 'Great Chain of Being' placed the peoples of Africa at the very bottom--ethnically, culturally, and religiously." (14)
The history of Protestant missions in Latin America is much briefer than in Africa, but the approach Protestant missionaries followed toward the indigenous cultures on the two continents was similar. What Tennent writes concerning the African experience with European missions could have been written about indigenous experience in Latin America: "Christ was presented to Africa as a foreign stranger in complete discontinuity with its own past. For an African to become a Christian was to step into a world of spiritual amnesia whereby everything in the African past was to be jettisoned to make way for their newly found faith in Christ, which was firmly hinged to a European worldview. Andrew Walls has described the resulting situation as 'the crisis of African identity,' whereby Africans live in a state of spiritual schizophrenia, not knowing how to be truly Christian and authentically African." (15) This summary aptly describes the current experience of many indigenous Latin Americans.
Although many similarities exist between the missionary movements to Africa and those to Latin America, important differences between the two stand out. Most significantly, preceding the movement from Spanish possession to independence in the early to mid-1800s, the Latin American colonies were heavily populated by Europeans (mainly Spanish) who intermarried with the indigenous populations in large numbers. Following independence these colonialists and their descendents remained in the new countries and continued to be dominant culturally, politically, socially, linguistically, and numerically. During Spanish colonial rule the indigenous population was excluded from significant participation in political, educational, and social life, a pattern that continued following independence.
Africa, for the most part, did not experience a comparable influx of European colonists. When independence was granted to the African colonies, the majority of colonists left, and in most countries Africans dominated the social, political, and linguistic scene. During the colonial period missionaries established schools and encouraged Africans to pursue formal, albeit European, education. Africans continued to pursue formal education following independence, and today many African Christians hold master's degrees and doctorates. African Christian scholars are equipped to explore ways the Gospel might be contextualized in their own cultures. A space has been created where African scholars, pastors, and lay believers can openly question the role and influence of European missions in their history. They are positioned to reflect on what was helpful and what was not, and they are actively pursuing biblical and theological studies (e.g., Christology viewed from within the African context).
In contrast, in Latin America few indigenous Christians hold advanced degrees in any field, let alone in theology or biblical studies. When indigenous Christians do achieve advanced degrees, they usually leave their cultures behind, often concealing their indigenous roots and identity so as better to fit into the majority Hispanic culture.
To sum up, my main argument to this point has been that development of culturally appropriate expressions of Christianity among the minority-language groups of Latin America is critically tied to use of the Scriptures in vernacular translations. Such contextualization of the Gospel, as crucial as it is for the life of a robust indigenous Christianity, is jeopardized because of deep-seated prejudice against indigenous peoples, bequeathed by the Spanish, that inclines current national leadership to view indigenous peoples' cultures and languages as having little of redeeming value to offer to God. These beliefs and attitudes, operating in combination with the Enlightenment-based theologies introduced by Northern missionaries and the preferential status accorded to Spanish, serve to eviscerate indigenous peoples' self-esteem and marginalize their accomplishments. The theology taught to indigenous believers is not framed in the cognitive categories familiar to them and makes little reference to their religious world. As a result, the Gospel remains largely foreign; indigenous Christians in Latin America are left searching for their identity, torn between two worlds; and the use of mother-tongue translations of the Scriptures is jeopardized when their languages and cultures are trivialized.
A Way Forward
The current state of affairs is clearly not desirable. When Scripture affirms of God that "from one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live" (Acts 17:26 NIV), Paul is announcing that God has been active in all cultures everywhere. This affirmation, coupled with the principle of the translatability of Christianity, means that the church in Latin America needs to take the indigenous cultures and their languages seriously. The national church needs to take the lead in helping the indigenous churches to develop vernacular Scripture-based theologies that make sense to them and that they can comfortably use in their cultures. Even though the larger national cultures belittle and sideline the indigenous cultures, the church cannot follow suit.
It may be possible to draw guidance from the work of Andrew Walls for how the national-led churches might proceed. Specifically, Walls identifies three stages in the process of conversion of Hellenistic thought by the early church that suggest a way forward. (16) During the first stage the Hellenistic church experienced what he calls the missionary stage, typified and led by Paul as he began to adapt Jewish vocabulary and forms to Hellenistic categories and vocabulary. This step is essential. While a great deal of evangelism and church planting has been done in Latin America among the indigenous peoples, the dominant Spanish-speaking churches must come to grips with the fact that they are presenting the Gospel to the indigenous communities in much the same fashion as North American and European missionaries presented it to them, "unchanged and by rote." (17) Furthermore, the leadership of national denominations, seminaries, and congregations involved in training and outreach in minority-language communities must critically examine their programs, asking whether the theology they present and the teaching from the Scriptures they offer have been transposed into the vocabulary and cognitive categories of the indigenous churches with which they are affiliated.
Walls terms the second stage in the conversion process the convert stage. The salient marker of this stage is that of identity, and Justin Martyr is its representative. Kwame Bediako notes that, in this stage, "Justin ... is convinced that Christ can inhabit that [Hellenistic] world and work to transform it." (18) Indigenous Christians throughout Latin America struggle daily with the question of their identity. The dominant Hispanic culture tells them that it alone is the route to success and that their cultures and languages are dead ends. Unfortunately, the Latin American churches reinforce this cultural oppression by not valuing and promoting the vernacular. Spanish-speaking church workers and expatriate missionaries must become convinced and must labor to convince indigenous Christians that Christ truly seeks to inhabit and transform their culture and worldview. As Walls notes, "Conversion ... means to turn what is already there in a new direction. It is not a matter of substituting something new for something old--that is proselytizing, a method that the early church could have adopted but deliberately chose to jettison. Nor is conversion a matter of adding something new to something old, as a supplement or in synthesis. Rather, Christian conversion involves redirecting what is already there, turning it in the direction of Christ." (19)
This theological stance, and how it is worked out in mission, has been largely absent from the preaching of the Gospel among the indigenous peoples of Latin America from the inception of missionary work there through to the present. Those involved in mission among indigenous peoples in Latin America have been insufficiently attentive to the theological implications of Revelation 7:9. There we see, standing in front of the throne of God and before the Lamb, "a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language" (NIV). The Gospel must be communicated in ways that recognize--and embrace--the fact that conversion to Christianity does not require indigenous peoples to change their cultural identity or language. Rather, Christ seeks a "home" in their culture and language so that Christianity comes to have the flavor of the culture's hearth and familiar speech.
The third and final stage in the conversion process Walls calls the refiguration stage, typified by Origen. This stage can be achieved only by a later generation, following after the convert stage, that "had grown up in the Christian faith and yet was reconciled to its pre-Christian inheritance and was not afraid of either." (20)
The burning question for many Christians who speak a minority language in the Americas is whether the Jesus preached to them by Western missionaries can ever be "at home" in their native culture. Will they have to surrender their identity and culture to follow a Hispanic or Latino Jesus? In other words, does the conversion demanded by the Gospel include changing their cultural identity? Must they live in a "split-level" Christianity? Or will vernacular translations of the Scriptures open the door for Jesus to enter fully into their cultures? My hope is the latter. From the standpoint of indigenous Christianity, the alternative to translation is bleak. As Walls perceptively notes, "Christian faith must go on being translated, must continuously enter into vernacular culture and interact with it, or it withers and fades." (21)
(1.) I would like to thank Charles Mortensen for reviewing this article and for his very helpful suggestions.
(2.) See Lamin Sanneh, Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1989); Diane B. Stinton, Jesus of Africa: Voices of Contemporary African Christology (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2004), pp. 244-46; Andrew E Walls, The Missionary Movement in Christian History: Studies in Transmission of Faith (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1996), pp. 26-42; Charles H. Kraft, ed., Appropriate Christianity (Pasadena, Calif.: William Carey Library, 2005), pp. 15-168.
(3.) R. Daniel Shaw and Charles E. Van Engen, Communicating God's Word in a Complex World (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003), p. 165.
(4.) For "worldview," see Paul G. Hiebert, Anthropological Reflections on Missiological Issues (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994), p. 36.
(5.) Lamin Sanneh, Whose Religion Is Christianity? The Gospel Beyond the West (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), p. 23.
(6.) Jose Miguez Bonino, "Latin America," in An Introduction to Third World Theologies, ed. John Parratt (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2004), p. 19.
(7.) Ibid., p. 20.
(8.) Hiebert, Anthropological Reflections, pp. 35-38.
(9.) Antonio de Mendieta, "Miselanea: La carga de los indigenas," El Porvenir, January 28, 2008, www.elporvenir.com.mx/notas .asp?nota_id=189733.
(10.) Timothy C. Tennent, Theology in the Context of World Christianity (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007), p. 112.
(11.) Paul G. Hiebert, R. Daniel Shaw, and Tite Tienou, Understanding Folk Religion: A Christian Response to Popular Beliefs and Practices (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999), p. 89.
(12.) Hiebert, Anthropological Reflections, p. 46.
(13.) Lamin Sanneh, Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1989), p. 200.
(14.) Tennent, Theology in the Context of World Christianity, p. 115.
(16.) Andrew F. Walls, "Old Athens and New Jerusalem: Some Signposts for Christian Scholarship in the Early History of Mission Studies," International Bulletin of Missionary Research 21 (October 1997): 146-53.
(17.) Hiebert, Anthropological Reflections, p. 45.
(18.) Kwame Bediako, Jesus and the Gospel in Africa: History and Experience (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2004), p. 80.
(19.) Walls, "Old Athens and New Jerusalem," p. 148.
(20.) Ibid., p. 149.
(21.) Andrew F. Walls, The Cross-Cultural Process in Christian History: Studies in the Transmission and Appropriation of Faith (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2002), p. 29.
William E. Bivin has worked with SIL International in Panama for twenty-six years, where he was the translation adviser for the Ngabere New Testament and for numerous other books in the Ngabere language related to church ministry. He is currently the Americas Area Translation Coordinator for SIL. --firstname.lastname@example.org…