Modern Trends in World Religions

By A. Eustace Haydon | Go to book overview

XV
CHRISTIANITY AND INTERCULTURAL CONTACTS

BY WILLIAM ERNEST HOCKING

THE question before us is primarily a question of fact. It assumes that Christianity has changed and that it is continuing to change. It assumes that the intercultural contacts of Christianity are the causes of some of these changes. I believe that these assumptions are correct.

I am not at all sure that it is possible for me to disentangle the changes in Christianity which are due to intercultural contacts from the changes which are due to other causes. But I am very sure of this, that since intercultural contact is a form of conversation, and since conversation never leaves the two conversers just where they were before the conversation began, it is inconceivable that Christianity should not be changed by those contacts which, from the very beginning, it has sought.

Perhaps the first recorded instance of a change due to intercultural contact is the fact that Christianity received its name in an environment of other Asiatic religions; for "the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." It is rather interesting to consider that Jesus never heard the name "Christian," and did not know the religion which he established was to be called "Christianity." It is rather important for us to remember, I think, that Jesus attached no "ism" to his own doctrine, and that he felt that he was talking, not about a particular variety of religion, but about religion, about the way in which men are to deal with God and with their neighbor.

-141-

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