Bible & Mission

The Future of Theology?

First, let us recall that within the last century there has been a massive southward shift of the centre of gravity of the Christian world, so that the representative Christianlands now appear to be in Latin America,Sub-Saharan Africa, and othe rparts of the southern continents.This means that Third World theology is now likely to be the representative Christian theology. On present trends (and  I recognize that these may not be permanent) the theology of European Christians, while important for them and their continued existence, may become a matter of specialist interest to historians (rather as the theology of the Syriac Edessene Church is specialist matter for early Church historians of today, not a topic for the ordinary student and general reader, whose eyes are turned to the Greco-Roman world when he studies the history of doctrine). The future general reader of Church history is more likely to be concerned with Latin American and African, and perhaps some Asian, theology. It is perhaps significant that in the last few years we have seen for the first time works of theology composed in the Third World (the works of Latin American theologians of liberation, such as Gutierrez, Segundo, and Miguez Bonino) becoming regular reading in the West-not just for missiologists, but for the general theological reader. The fact that particular Third World works of theology appear on the Western market is not, however, a necessary measure of their intrinsic importance. It Simply means that publishers think them sufficiently relevant to the West to sell there. Theology is addressed to the setting in which it is produced.

Andrew Walls; from The Gospel as Prisoner and Liberator of Culture.

I’m going to be exploring this with students on the Bible and Mission MA at Redcliffe College this week – what are your thoughts?

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1 reply on “The Future of Theology?”

I agree with Walls, but I think also in our globalised world the thinking and theology of different places can influence each other a lot more than in the past. I would say that the European and North American church still has a disproportionately large influence on the world church due to its financial wealth and the fact that historically it founded many churches in other continents.

In reality the church in the west often sees its theology and universal and absolute, and seldom seeks the perspectives of others from Africa, Asia or South America. While there are theologies from the these continents, if these churches want to partner with the church in Europe and North America it generally has to be on the terms of the western churches.

I think for the western church to just realise there are theologies from other places, and to start seeking out views from other parts of the world, would be a step in the right direction.

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