Robert Wuthnow and the Global Christianity Paradigm

For three years I have waited impatiently for a representative of the “global Christianity paradigm” articulated by scholars such as Andrew Walls, Philip Jenkins, Lamin Sanneh, Jehu Hanciles, and others to respond to Robert Wuthnow’s 2009 critique of their paradigm in his Boundless Faith: The Global Outreach of American Churches (University of Calif Press). So I was naturally thrilled to pick up my latest copy of the International Bulletin of Missionary Research (Vol 36, No 4, Oct 2012) and see the sustained response to Wuthnow’s critique by Dr. Mark Shaw, Director of the Centre for World Christianity at Africa International University, Nairobi, Kenya. [For free direct access to this article, go to http://www.internationalbulletin.org/ ]

But as I read Shaw’s critique, it felt to me that the authors were talking past one another, leaving us with a less-than-clear grasp of the issues at stake. So I decided to draft comments intended to stimulate further conversation.  I will include some of my own summary of Wuthnow, but organize my comments around Shaw’s three-fold summary of, and response to, Wuthnow’s critique. I invite others of you, many of whom doubtless have a better understanding of the global Christianity paradigm and its authors than do I, to respond. Given how little response missiologists have provided to Wuthnow’s important book, it seems to me it is high time for a little more sustained conversation about this.

Marginalizing of American Christianity?

Wuthnow claims that his own effort to explore the contemporary role of U.S. churches in global Christianity was handicapped because of the pervasive influence of the “global Christianity paradigm” which he says locates missionary presence in the past and which teaches us to ignore the contemporary vitality and global missionary presence of American churches.

Shaw believes Wuthnow’s claim here is “exaggerated” and that global Christianity authors do focus on “the missionary factor” in world Christianity. But since most of Shaw’s counter-examples concern missionary influence in the past, most of his examples seem to actually support Wuthnow’s point, rather than counting against it.

But Shaw does give one example focused on the present, Donald Miller and Ted Yamamori’s study Global Pentecostalism: The New Face of Christian Social Engagement (2007), which Shaw says uses “new paradigm perspectives to understand the current role of Western mission in world Christianity.”

I personally would not have considered this book a counter-example to Wuthnow’s claim. The few times when Western missionaries are mentioned in Global Pentecostalism, we are told the churches they founded are declining (12), and the book either locates such missionaries in the past or asserts their irrelevance to contemporary global Christianity.

A typical story in the book involves a Venezuelan pentecostal pastor of a tiny church of 12 in a Venezuelan barrio (55-56) whose church grew quickly after this pastor “decided” to embrace a holistic ministry approach involving medical programs, food distribution programs, sports programs, programs to help people get home improvement loans, etc. This story makes no mention of where he learned the new “holistic” approach, or of where the resources came from for all this. Repeatedly throughout the book we learn that “the most successful congregations we studied were not dependent on foreign funding” (199). But if one reads between the lines it is clear that these churches were often directly dependent, at least partially, for their new “holistic” programs on grants from organizations such as World Vision or  Yamamori’s own Food for the Hungry. In the DVD at the end of the Miller and Yamamori book we find an interview with Chris Komagun of Kampala Pentecostal Church, who, after acknowledging that formerly his church had not understood “holistic” ministry, looks at whoever is behind the camera and says: “When you came you shared with us things about holistic ministry. Of how we can really touch the needs of the community in a very tangible way. And we began to share these things . . . and to come up with . . . seed projects and all those kinds of things. And it was amazing the way people bought the vision. You know we had the structure, but really we did not understand holistic ministry fully. But ever since you were last here we understood these things better and we are now launching out, and many people — because now they are seeing the benefits and the blessings— they are coming and that’s why our number has gone up really, our number has gone up to 8,300 average every Sunday.”

So the Yamamori research team is involved in the very propogation of the “holistic” ministry idea, and involved in the financial support of the “seed projects,” which Miller and Yamamori then celebrate as independent attributes of these progressive pentecostal churches. The role of these western and international Christian agencies in contributing to the new “holistic” trends here being celebrated is not part of the formal analysis in this book. And this is precisely the sort of analysis I understand Wuthnow to be calling for.

Shaw has not (yet) demonstrated convincingly to me that Wuthnow’s claim on this point is incorrect. In short, I would like to see other and better evidence that “new paradigm” authors are actually focusing on the contemporary role of American Christianity within global Christianity, before I agree that this aspect of Wuthnow’s argument misses the mark.

The Dynamics of Globalization

Wuthnow says that the global Christianity paradigm insists the central locus of energy and influence (i.e. the “center of gravity”) for global Christianity is now in Africa, Latin America, and parts of Asia — with the primary flow of influence to be studied involving “reverse mission.”  Wuthnow argues (and attempts to demonstrate) that churches in the US are far more vital than this paradigm acknowledges, and that flows of influence go in more than one direction. Furthermore, influence is affected also by factors such as material resources. While numerically there may now be more “southern” than “northern” Christians, there is a vast disparity in material wealth between these Christians, with a disproportionate share of Christianity’s material resources being administered by Christians from the global “North.”  Everything from theological education (with its libraries, computer support, leisure for study and research, funds for professional development, faculty sabbaticals for writing) to Christian publishing, international mission travel, church construction, or use of modern media require material supports, and these material supports are disproportionately present in North America.  Rather than declining support for, and involvement in, global mission, American Christians exemplify greater involvement and support for global transcultural ministry than ever before. And this is one legitimate part of what needs to be studied. Wuthnow critiques the failure of global-Christianity-paradigm scholars to recognize the importance of, and encourage research on, the role of American Christianity within global Christianity. His book represents an initial effort to redress this imbalance.

Shaw summarizes Wuthnow’s model as stressing a unidirectional influence and control, with “globalization as a wind from the West against which the local must eventually yield.” He says that Wuthnow’s model “can properly be labeled as American hegemony, dominant but not tyrannical.”

Shaw and I appear to have read two different books.  In my reading, Wuthnow wants to carve out a space for understanding that American Christians are still active in global Christianity, and that often they are active as partners — not as hegemons.  He appeals to the biblical image of the church as a body (61), and encourages us to explore the ways each part of the body interfaces helpfully with the whole.  His book does, admittedly, also call for missiologists to direct their attention to the ways in which material and organizational resources matter to global Christianity (in everything from theological education, service to the poor or sick, to the use of modern media in evangelism) and to focus attention on the actual current involvements of American Christians around the world, as well as focusing on the consequences of such involvements. He does not assert that such involvements are necessarily hegemonic, or that hegemony is the central dynamic of these relationships, but calls for empirical investigation of these connections. This should not involve choosing either to stress the agency of “southern” or “northern” Christians, but the ways the two interface in actual practice.  In my view, attention to such material dimensions of global Christianity is important, although seemingly marginal to most global Christianity discussions. In my reading of all this, it is Shaw who frames Wuthnow’s understanding of North American global presence as hegemonic, not Wuthnow. It would be interesting to know how Wuthnow would reply to this.

The Bias of the Western Academy

In Wuthnow’s view the “global Christianity paradigm” was attractive for Christian scholars because it resolved underlying anxieties fostered in the western academy. Postcolonial recognition that the modern missionary movement served colonial interests raised disturbing questions about the authenticity of resultant Christianities.  But in the new paradigm, the explosion of Christian churches in Africa, Latin America, or China are said to have occurred most dramatically after colonialism, and in Pentecostal or supernaturalist forms markedly divergent from the Christianities of the former missionary-sending lands. Such churches are independent and thus authentic. And fear that the secularization of Europe and North America was threatening the very existence of Christianity was resolved through a metanarrative stressing that Christian decline in older Christian centers, coinciding with its explosive growth elsewhere, is a natural and inevitable process in history. Indeed the future of Christianity lies with Christians in the global south whose faith is more authentic, less contaminated by material power or enlightenment rationalism.  Indeed Christians from Africa, Asia, or Latin America represent the best hope for the re-evangelization of Europe and North America.

In Wuthnow’s view, this metanarrative of “northern” secularization and Christian decline wrongly attributes realities in Western Europe to North America. That is, Wuthnow, arguably America’s leading sociologist of religion, denies that Christianity in North America is in significant decline. He argues for multiple centers of vitality, including in the USA, with a variety of sorts of connectedness that ought to be studied and understood.

Shaw summarizes Wuthnow as claiming “that the new paradigm is unduly influenced by postcolonialism.” Shaw replies to his understanding of Wuthnow’s contention by stressing that Lamin Sanneh was combating postcolonialism, and “should not be accused of . . . bowing to postcolonialism.”  Here, it seems to me that Shaw misreads Wuthnow — who is not saying that global Christianity scholars are capitulating to postcolonialism, bowing to postcolonialism, but rather that they became so centrally focused on resisting and fighting postcolonial interpretations of Christianity that they overcompensate and cannot see any on-going acknowledgement of a central role being played by American churches as anything other than a claim about American hegemony.

In his article, Shaw celebrates the contributions of global Christianity scholars.  In my reading of Wuthnow, he would agree with many of the notable contributions of global Christianity scholars that Shaw highlights, as would I. But I nonetheless remain convinced (at least provisionally until I am persuaded otherwise) that Wuthnow’s core claims represent an important and needed corrective. And I personally believe missiology is weaker for not having more energetically engaged Wuthnow’s book, and learned from it. I would love to see some engagement here.

4 Comments

  1. Craig Ott

    Mon 29th Oct 2012 at 5:48 pm

    I have to agree with you Bob on this one. Shaw’s reading of Wuthnow seems somewhat skewed. The “new paradigm” needs more nuancing, and that’s what Wuthnow calls for. I’m especially baffled by Shaw’s the statement, “Wuthnow’s book is a reminder of the ongoing struggle of American Christianity to catch up with the shift” (p. 182). Contrary to Shaw’s contention, evidence seems to show that a very large number of churches are indeed moving beyond their traditional views of mission and revising their practice to adapt to the new realities of global Christianity. Partnership and empowerment are the new dominant themes.

    We rejoice in the growth of the church and the missionary sending in Asia, Africa and Latin America. This calls for fresh ways to cooperate and partner in mission. Yet the euphoria should not lead us to over idealize this development either. At the popular level one often gets the impression that the future of Christianity and Christian mission is entirely theirs alone. But the abundance of Western resources and influence in these churches continues and is probably increasing in new ways through more and more direct congregation to congregation international partnerships and the growth of various organizations that channel Western funding to support non-Western missionaries.

    My impression from the ground level of visits to some forty countries on five continents, working with both expatriates and nationals, is that yes, the non-Western missionary movement is growing and is a very exciting development. But American influence is still strong almost everywhere in both good and bad ways. It is not in the slightest on the wane. Wuthnow’s data is hard to refute and concurs to some extent with Ammerman’s slightly older assessment of religious vitality in the USA in Pillars of Faith.

    As a side note, one often hears that “reverse missions” will be the key to winning Europe. There are however some empirical studies, and much more anecdotal evidence that it’s just not happening. The examples in London and Kiev of megachurches led by Africans appear to be more the exceptions that prove the rule. On the whole, non-Western missionaries and migrants do not appear to be any more effective, and are probably less effective in reaching Europeans than North Americans. I won’t expand on the many reasons for this, but that situation probably won’t change any time soon.

    The real question, however, is not: “does the future of missions belong to the Western or the non-Western church?” Such dichotomies are not helpful. The future belongs to the church of Jesus Christ, which is composed of people from every people, nation, tribe, and tongue. Walls may be correct about the serial nature of Christianity, and the decline of the national churches in Europe is undeniable. But the missionary vision and commitment of North American churches is alive and well, and should not be written off too quickly. And on that point Wuthnow is correct.

    Reply
  2. Steve Offutt

    Tue 30th Oct 2012 at 9:55 am

    Bob,
    The issue in your blog is important to me, as I had the chance to work for Wuthnow during the creation of his book. I also had the opportunity to hear Shaw present on this topic here at Asbury Seminary a short while ago. Overall, I think the dialogue on this is healthy and important. How we conceptualize global Christianity impacts how we organize mission institutions, create mission strategies, and spend mission dollars. So the richer and deeper this dialogue can be, the better it will be for all those involved.

    Allow me to make the following observations.

    First, the ‘New Paradigm’ is a large body of work with many contributors, as Shaw notes. However, in the general public knows it primarily through Jenkins’ work. Shaw acknowledged this in his Asbury presentation. Wuthnow assumes his audience to generally be the same as Jenkins’ audience. Hence, his primary foil is Jenkins. (But he also quotes at length other new paradigm voices such as Bediako, Escobar, Walls, Robert, Sanneh, etc). Jenkins clearly states that the West is dying and that Christianity is blossoming in postcolonial Africa and elsewhere at least in part because the Western powers have rolled back and Western religious influence has thus diminished. Wuthnow takes issue with both of these positions.

    Second, Shaw is less interested in defending Jenkins in particular and more interested in drawing on all scholars who are in the ‘New Paradigm’ camp. I think this is one of several reasons that the two authors often talk past each other.

    Third, a few of the critiques Shaw proposes misinterpret Wuthnow’s book. Two examples stand out. In one, Shaw suggests that “Pentecostalism for Wuthnow, however, seems to be an isolated case.” On the contrary, Wuthnow is very aware of the ubiquitous nature of Pentecostalism in Global Christianity. The idea behind this and other comments by Shaw about the book and author imply that Wuthnow is a little bit out of his depth, and has wandered into intellectual territory in which he is not too sure of his footing. This is a disservice to the meticulously researched and argued work that Wuthnow provides.

    In a second example of misinterpretation, Shaw pairs Wuthnow’s work with Exporting the American Gospel: Global Christian Fundamentalism, by Brouwer, Gifford and Rose. This is not a helpful pairing. The Brouwer et al. book reclassified most global evangelicals and Pentecostals as Fundamentalists and argued that as American business and media culture spreads worldwide, American fundamentalism has undergone a universalizing process that is “intertwined with the homogenizing influences of consumerism, mass communication, and production in ways that are compatible with the creation of an international market culture,” (3). In this structuralist/economic schematic, international actors and indigenous churches are active participants in spreading a “dangerous religion” that can “create international conflict” and which is “made in America”.

    Wuthnow’s religious, rather than economic, critique is different. He used what might be called a ‘Global Connectedness’ framework to show that high levels of interaction exist among Christians across the globe. It is, though, true that he does not think of Global Christianity’s multilateral connectedness as an even playing field. Rather, it is mapped onto an international political economy that remains anchored and extensively influenced by North American actors.

    Shaw counters this contention by arguing again for a framework of multicentered globalization, increasing pluralism, and multiple centers of Christianity. Wuthnow does not object to this perception. In fact, he advocates it. He simply insists on acknowledging the empirical reality that Christians in the West continue to wield more power and influence than Christians elsewhere. There are more short term missionaries coming from the West than anywhere else, more full time missionaries, more Western denominations (including Pentecostal ones like the Assemblies of God), more faith based NGOs, more Christian centers of education, etc. But to acknowledge these persisting material and power dynamics that characterize the beginning of the 21st century is not the same as dismissing other centers of Global Christianity. And this, perhaps, is the most important area in which the two authors miss each other.

    Let me reiterate that this dialogue is critically important. I’m glad that both scholars are providing valuable contributions of this nature.

    Reply
  3. Mark Shaw

    Sat 03rd Nov 2012 at 7:02 pm

    o Thank you again Bob for drawing my attention to Professor Wuthnow’s book and to the kind invitation to do a paper on it for your terrific “Missiology Matters” conference in April. I had a blast. I have not had the privilege of meeting Craig but I am grateful as well for his constructive criticisms regarding my Wuthnow piece. There is much to learn from what he has written. I agree with Steve, who it was fun to meet at Asbury, that Prof. Wuthnow probably had Philip Jenkins in his sights when he was taking aim at the new paradigm. It would be interesting to get his read on Jenkins recently revised edition of The Next Christendom, which came out after Boundless Faith was published but may have addressed some of the deficiencies that were there in his first edition.
    o I am in agreement with much that you have said. How can one argue against the fact of and need for global connectedness and mutual interaction when trying to understand Christianity around the world? This point must be affirmed and Professor Wuthnow, through his deep and painstaking research, has shown the American contribution to that interconnection. We are all in his debt on this point. Prof. Wuthnow provides an essential perspective, and I expressed my gratitude to him, however briefly, in my article.
    o But alongside this positive and major thread in Boundless Faith is another thread that I found less helpful, less accurate and less able to agree with. I refer to the way he represents the new paradigm. And it was this second thread that I dealt with almost exclusively in my article. I am sure I missed the depth and nuance of much of what Professor Wuthnow presented in his study, and this may have strengthened the perception that we were talking past each other. But for whatever items I missed or distorted, I felt that I was not talking past him on this point. I listened carefully to what he was saying in his book about the new paradigm and in subsequent interviews. What he said that there he repeated in print, sometimes making clear where he was coming from. Consider this quotation from a later interview about his book: “Where the global Christianity paradigm totally missed the boat was by saying, ‘Well, this was happening out there and it was indigenous and it was one of those interesting phoenix stories, where the missionary effort died out and then somehow the Spirit was still there and took root and started growing.’” That is just completely wrong.” (Faithandleadership.com June 8, 2010)
    He says the same thing in Boundless Faith in his “once upon a time story” on pages 36-37 where he gives his summary of the new paradigm. I can understand his annoyance at any view that would teach such a counterintuitive thing. I would be annoyed. But here is the rub. There is no one I know that teaches this. There is no one that I have read that teaches this. Neither Walls, Brian Stanley, Ogbu Kalu, Lamin Sanneh, Dana Robert or even Philip Jenkins have ever taught anything remotely like Professor Wuthnow’s characterization. Missionary transmission and indigenous response are both essential factors in understanding world Christianity today. Every writer I know believes this, even when they focus on the indigenous response. They don’t deny the missionary factor even though they choose to focus on the largely untold story of indigenous response. This is what I felt Miller and Yamamori did in their Global Pentecostalism. I agree with Bob that they didn’t tell a missionary story. But Ted as a missions exec and Don Miller as a social scientist saw the continuity, not the discontinuity, between the two critical parts of the story, even though they chose to tell the indigenous response side of the tale. I would be very surprised if any of you actually believed that the new paradigm of World Christianity taught what Professor Wuthnow says it teaches. I am forced to conclude then that this is indeed a straw man of Professor Wuthnow’s imagination. This is what Philip Jenkins picks up on in his 2010 review of Robert Wuthnow’s book in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion . It is this straw man, this fundamental caricature of the new paradigm that I sought, very inadequately I confess, to address in my review article. I believe this fundamental misrepresentation of the new paradigm distorts the rest of his critique. That does not mean he is without excellent points and legitimate criticisms but it does mean there is a fundamental misunderstanding of what the new paradigm actually teaches that needs correction.
    Thanks again Bob, Craig and Steve, for this helpful interaction and for bringing greater balance and nuance to the issues than I have been able to do. I am learning much. Thanks for including me in this valuable conversation.

    Reply
  4. Maggie Gitau, World Christianity Student, AIU-NEGST

    Thu 15th Nov 2012 at 4:31 am

    Dr. Priest

    I have not read Wuthnow sufficiently to critique his treatment of the new paradigm (someone please advise his publisher to put that book on Kindle). However as I follow the discussion here, allow me to respond to your own query of “the issues at stake” concerning the new paradigm. My response retraces steps to a more basic point, particularly for those who would come to this blog unfamiliar with the discipline of World Christianity.

    I read an article by Hiebert and Tienou concerning research traditions. Each research tradition is determined by 1) the critical questions it seeks to answer, 2) the body of data it examines, 3)the methods it accepts as valid means of discovering answers.

    I believe the critical question of World Christianity paradigm is this: whose story is the story of Christianity in the global south? To take discipline of Missiology as a departure point, Missiology is an outgrowth of the missionary movement, emerging to respond to the challenges of contact between missionary cultures and the recipients’ culture. Simplified, missions meant evangelism in a foreign culture (plus accoutrements such as church planting, development etc). Missiological studies have sought to examine and speak into the cultural contexts in which Christianity is taken by outsiders. Sample for instance, Charles Kraft Anthropology for Christian Witness, handling topics such as culture, cross-cultural perspectives, forms and meanings, social control, worldview change and so on. You could substitute Kraft for Hiebert or Lingenfelter or Tippet. These texts presume that the reader has been schooled and socialized on a western worldview. Kraft does clearly make that point in his book. The goal is making mission encounters —in all their various expressions—relevant to the local context.

    World Christianity as a discipline takes the spotlight away from the mission agent and his church (westerner) and focuses it on the local people for their reception, response, reaction and creativity towards Christianity. This bottom-up approach recognizes that people everywhere have adopted, adapted and localized the Christian story depending on their socio-cultural/ political/ economic contexts. Thus the story does not belong with the official church structures, not with revered tradition missionary activity, not with elite academic prescriptions, not easy formulae of spiritual laws. It is an anti-structural scrutiny past geographical, cultural and disciplinary boundaries that have so far dichotomized Christian activity. To be sure, it is not World Christianity over-against Missiology–we will continue to need Missiological studies as long as there are cross-cultural encounters. Rather, I think WC is recognizing that the missionary movement has effectively accomplished what it was intended to.

    What data and what methods does the new paradigm legitimate? An African proverb says that “until the lions start telling their story, the hunters will always be the heroes”. A key challenge for the new Paradigm is that Jenkins imaged his narration of it against western medieval Christendom. That title was a major flaw for the more crucial point of his book. The data bodies that WC examines and tells are stories of Christianities in contexts. It has been important for narrators of the new paradigm to question some of the core assumptions of the old paradigm. According to Walls, the old paradigm assumed that European church history, “clan history” was equivalent to mission history. Nearly all long-serving missionaries talk of having an epiphany-like experience in the mission field, that moment when it hits them something is different from the perspectives they have been trained in. For Hiebert it was discovery of the ‘excluded middle”, the world of spirits, gods, ancestors, magic and so on. He was forced to examine his own dualistic worldview that trained him to think of reality in two realms—God and transcendent heavens, and physical mechanistic world of western rationality. Walls was teaching church history in West Africa when it occurred to him he was actually living in a 2nd century Christianity, from which moment he began to pay closer attention to what was happening to the Church in Africa. Does that delegitimize the activity of the old missionary base? I don’t think so, but, as Ammerman notes, to listen to different stories require that we recognize the way in which our core story has been framed. May I also suggest that those of you who have sought to help the Short Term Mission Movement from the west to become more effective, that the best way to help the movement is to introduce them to World Christianity. Much of the writing in on Short term missions has focused on addressing issues at the behavioral level (the cross-cultural encounter). This may be controversial and I don’t want to digress from the discussion at hand, but as a global Christian who has been involved in hosting many groups of STEMs, I think there is a significant conceptual breakdown when STEMers think of themselves as ‘missionaries’, that is, they have the old Missiological orientation, rather than view themselves as Christians from one local context meeting Christians in another local context, that is, a World Christianity perspective. They still tend to see and treat the local Christians through the lens of that anthropological concept, the “Other”. For a western Christian, “The New Face of World Christianity”, Mark Knoll’s book is a basic and easy introductory text on World Christianity. That’s what you should have every STEMer read.

    As far as methodology is concerned, World Christianity not fore-grounded by colonialism, secularization or even globalization. Colonialism is simply a Janus-faced circumstance in the larger matrix of the encounter between colonial peoples and Christianity, particularly in Africa. As for secularization, I think the debates have swung the full pendulum from declaring God dead to proclaiming religion alive to reducing it into a relativized sphere among other relativized spheres. As a theory it does not have sufficient energies to expend on Christianity in the global south. On its part globalization is still much too much wedded to western hegemony like the old colonial paradigm, fore-grounding “export from the west to the rest” as its core narrative. The issue with globalization is not export of lack of it. It is local reception, local agency and local creativity even if that means using global trappings. I think this has been called glocalization. Ogbu Kalu’s writings on Pentecostal Christianity in Africa makes this point abundantly clear. While he acknowledges historic and contemporary cross-currents of influence his writings detail how the three interrelated publics of modern Africa—the village public (indigenous worldviews), the urban publics and the globalizing public—have become comfortable bedfellows in Pentecostal Christianity in Africa. Kalu firmly rebuts the claims that externality and extraversion as the animating elements of African Pentecostalism.

    These three then—colonialism, secularization and globalization—are significant factors in World Christianity, but they are not the animating elements. The bodies of data to examine are the expressions of Christianity in new localities—and not as monolithic units as Jenkins did. We appreciate the diversity as a significant feature. We examine the data using methodologies borrowed from social sciences as well as the old disciplines of theology, Missiology and church history. This localised, multidisciplinary approach helps us to understand how new vitalities are bringing us closer understanding of the Missio Dei in the world.

    Finally, as a global south Christian what is at stake for me? During and after the colonial experience, scathing criticism against Christianity in Africa spewed forth from pens of literary writers in the new nations, themselves Africans. Their biting satire caricatured Christianity as a white man’s religion. We have since moved many paces forward at the ecclesiastical and academic levels, but there is much that needs doing. As Africa opts into the modern world, it is vitally crucial that the current and future generation of African Christians embraces and owns the Christian story. Among all the disciplines that study the domain “Christian”, only the discipline of World Christianity can help world Christians own their story and all that ownership implies. In other words, the New Paradigm, gentlemen, is largely for the benefit of Christians in those lands that it covers.

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