Introducing World Christianity

Article excerpt

Introducing World Christianity.

Edited by Charles E. Farhadian. Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012. Pp. xii, 280. $84.95 / 55 [pounds sterling] / 63.40 [euro]; paperback $39.95 / 19.99 pounds sterling] 23 [euro].

"What difference has Christianity made in the world?" is the driving question of this book. The authors of this interdisciplinary introduction use this question to focus on social, cultural, and political transformations caused by Christianity. As such, the book is a broad comprehensive overview of Christianity around the world, region by region, that rings true in an age of globalization and information technology. The book is focused on the nature of social, cultural, political, and religious realities, not theology or biblical scholarship. It conveys a deep respect for the complexity of indigenous Christianities worldwide, which is reflected in the diversity of authors. Two suppositions do seem to carry the book: (1) Christianity is "inherently missionary," and (2) the movement or flow of Christianity is "unified worldwide not by political, economic, cultural, linguistic, or geographical commonalities, but by communities of faith responsive to God's forgiveness through Jesus Christ" (1).

This introduction to world Christianity situates itself in what it calls the third of three paradigms in the interpretation of Christianity. The editor cites a first paradigm that surfaced by the early twentieth century--that is, a kind of mapping of Christianity worldwide, as was done at the 1910 Edinburgh World Missionary Conference, where the stress was on Western-initiated mission movements and Christian interpretation. A second paradigm emerged in the last decades of the twentieth century that interpreted world Christianity as polycentric in nature. …