Eddie and Sue Arthur

Cherry Picking in Africa

There were a number of  ‘elephants in the room’ at the Lausanne Congress in Cape Town. The inequality between the church in the West and the Church in the developing world was mentioned, but never really unpacked, which was a shame. Onesimus highlights one area of growing concern to many; the cherry picking of majority world academics by western institutions.

Maybe these schools think it’s ok to cherrypick the brightest African (or other developing world) theologians for their own private collections. Maybe they think that they are giving these individuals a broader platform from which to speak. Maybe they think they are offering a genuine opportunity to these individuals to get out of a difficult set of circumstances. Having a rising star African scholar on one’s faculty (or even better, one’s glossy promotional materials) certainly gives the impression of being with it, in terms of globalization. But this is the same old story of globalization dominated by an American (or, yes, even a Canadian) perspective. The real story is the continued impoverishment of the African church, in this case, for the sake of the short-term benefit of self-centered Western theological institutions.

Sadly, this is not a new story. We need a forum where the world church can address these difficult issues frankly and openly, but all too often world forums are dominated by the same people who are causing the problem in the first place. I don’t know how we will fix it – but we have to.

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