Monday, March 08, 2004

New Testament Backgrounds and World Christianity

According to Lamin Sanneh--D. Willis James Professor of Missions and World Christianity and professor of history at Yale Divinity School--World Christianity as opposed to Christendom or Global Christianity may benefit the western Christian mindset by providing a fresh perspective into NT backgrounds. Sanneh writes in Whose Religion Is Christianity: The Gospel Beyond the West,

The West can encounter in the world Christian movement the gospel as it is being embraced by societies that had not been shaped by the Enlightenment, and so gain an insight into the culture that shaped the origins of the NT church. That might bring about a greater appreciation for the NT background of Christianity. It might also shed light on the issues the early church faced as it moved between Jewish and Gentile worlds.

This statement flies in the face of those who would state unequivocally that the New Perspective on Paul and contemporary Jesus studies like that of N.T. Wright are a direct result of a post-Holocaust agenda and sentiment. To not recognize how the world Christian movement may contribute to our own understanding of scripture and practice is to be thoroughly anti-catholic and perpetuate our post-Enlightenment self-delusion.

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