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Globalizing Theology: Belief and Practice in an Era of World Christianity [Paperback]

By Craig Ott (Editor), Harold A. Netland (Editor) & Wilbert Shenk (Foreword by)
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Item description for Globalizing Theology: Belief and Practice in an Era of World Christianity by Craig Ott, Harold A. Netland & Wilbert Shenk...

Discusses the impact of globalization on theological method and reflection in the twenty-first century, including implications for the development of a genuinely global theology.

Publishers Description
One of the most powerful forces in the twenty-first century is the increasing phenomenon of globalization. In nearly every realm of human activity, traditional boundaries are disappearing and people worldwide are more interconnected than ever. Christianity has also become more aware of global realities and the important role of the church in non-Western countries. Church leaders must grapple with the implications for theology and ministry in an ever-shrinking world.
"Globalizing Theology" is a groundbreaking book that addresses these issues of vital importance to the church. It contains articles from leading scholars, including Tite Tienou, Kevin Vanhoozer, Charles Van Engen, M. Daniel Carroll R., Andrew Walls, Vinoth Ramachandra, and Paul Hiebert. Topics covered include the challenges that globalization brings to theology, how we can incorporate global perspectives into our thinking, and the effect a more global theology has on a variety of important issues.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Globalizing Theology: Belief and Practice in an Era of World Christianity by Craig Ott, Harold A. Netland & Wilbert Shenk has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Library Journal - 09/01/2006 page 153
  • Christianity Today - 04/01/2007 page 88

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Baker Academic
Pages   382
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1.25" Width: 6" Height: 9"
Weight:   1.4 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2006
Publisher   Baker Publishing Group
Edition  Reprinted  
ISBN  0801031125  
ISBN13  9780801031120  

Availability  150 units.
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More About Craig Ott, Harold A. Netland & Wilbert Shenk

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Craig Ott (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is professor of mission and intercultural studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and occupies the Evangelical Free Church International Mission Chair.
Harold A. Netland (PhD, Claremont Graduate University) is professor of philosophy of religion and intercultural studies and the Naomi A. Fausch Chair of Missions at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is the author of Encountering Religious Pluralism and Dissonant Voices.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Evangelism > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Evangelism > Missions & Missionary Work
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Globalizing Theology: Belief and Practice in an Era of World Christianity?

Important, Helpful, and At Times Provocative  Oct 15, 2009
This book edited by Dr's Ott and Netland gives the reader a helpful and insightful look into the thinking of Christian thinkers outside of the 'First World' of Europe and North America. It looks at a variety of issues facing the Church as the locus of Christianity moves increasingly from the North to the South. At times the topics are controversial- at least the writer's take can be - and at times the emphsis is simply logical for the new situation in which one finds oneself with respect to Christianity and its growth in the Southern hemisphere.
This is a must read - it's urgent.  Nov 16, 2007
This book provides a thorough examination of the need to do theology in three features of our context in the twenty-first century. First there is the context of the crisis in confidence in the Enlightenment understanding of science, which has led to the post-modern era. Second there is the context of the shift in the center of gravity of the Church from North to South. Third there is the context of an increasingly globalized world.

Walter Anderson actually gives credit (or blame) to anthropologists for "bringing us into the postmodern era," because "their findings have made it impossible for any literate person to believe that there is only one way of seeing the world." (67) "Postmodernity is largely a reaction to the subject-object distinction and its concomitant assumption that truth can be discovered by induction and deduction." (89)

The definition of good globalization is "a planetary consciousness, a deepened awareness of, and sensitivity to, the reality of increasing interdependence among people of the world." Bad globalization is the homogenized perspective of the global market place. An example is the "notion that the university is a place of generic human learning." (99)

Kwame Bediako speaks not only for Africans when he complains that "Western theology was for so long presented in all its particulars as the theology of the Church, when, in fact, it was geographically localized and culturally limited, European and Western, and not universal." (88) The voices of theologians from the new majority in the global South are now being heard.

"Globalization, and the changes in the nature and distribution of Christianity worldwide in particular, is forcing many to reexamine basic questions about Christian identity and the relation of local Christian communities to other Christian groups and traditions." (15)

* What is the moral of this consideration of theology in a globalized world?
Perhaps the simplest response to this question is in a clear definition of theology. Theology properly understood deals
"with unchanging truths revealed by God, truths that apply to all peoples in all cultures. But theology must be distinguished from God's revelatory Word. While it is rooted in God's authoritative revelation and is to be engaged in through prayerful reliance on the guidance of the Holy Spirit, theology itself is a human activity and discipline, and thus it is subject to and reflects the characteristics of those who do theology. Theology is thus an ongoing conversation by fallible human beings, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who reflect on God's authoritative revelation in light of current realities." (16)
"The moral is one interpretive community can mine all the treasures of the word of God by itself. If biblical interpretation is indeed the soul of theology, then theologians had better attend to the global conversation." It has become increasingly clear that Christian theologians from the global South need not play by the same rules as Western theologians. "At the first meeting of the 1976 Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians in Dar es Salaam, the attendees issued the following statement: `We reject as irrelevant an academic type of theology that is divorced from action." (90) Thanks to developments in the global South we now realize that all theology is essentially missionary theology (both local and global), arising out of the need to translate and incarnate the gospel in and into particular cultural settings." (122) Choan-Seng Song, believes the most important skill for Asian theologians "is the ability to listen theologically to whispers, cries, groanings, and shouts from the depths of Asian suffering humanity." Song interprets John 1:14 - "The Word became flesh" - to mean that `the story of God became the story of Jesus that lives in our stories." (105)

* What action does this book and the current situation call for from us?
Perhaps this can best be answered by what R. H. Codrington, one of the early great missionaries and ethnographers wrote: "When a European has been living for two or three years among strangers, he is sure to be fully convinced that he knows all about them; when he has been ten years or so amongst them, if he is an observant man, he finds that he knows very little about them, and so begins to learn." (290)

To break out of the "North Atlantic Captivity of the Church," as Ghanian theologian, John Pobee identifies, theologians from the West must pay greater attention to non-Western theologians in their "dynamic search for self-identity, an identity which takes seriously the traditions and cultures in which it is located." (91) "Third world theologians share a conviction that Western theology was largely unaware of and uninterested in context." (95) This situation calls for a global hermeneutical community, with methods to evaluate culture in light of the gospel in order to avoid uncritical contextualization and an erosion of the core of Christian claims. A "dialogical contextualization," a conversation in hermeneutical community especially where "the gospel is still new may slash through the jungles of established theological habits and renew readings of Scripture in cultures where the gospel is long-established." (120) "The present moment calls for a diasporadic systematics for a way of doing theology that acknowledges a "diasporized" Christian identity as well as the `dispersal' of interpretive authority among the nations." (126)

Paul Hiebert's work, especially his theoretical framework of critical realism, which has been cited more than any other in recent dissertations, has introduced "Christian" as a centered set rather than a bounded set. This framework has liberated many and enabled dynamic thinking as opposed to static. (59)

Hiebert calls for a new transcultural person to navigate our context. This person is effective at interpersonal communication, while adjusting to various cultures. The transcultural person has developed many relationships in many groups and cultures, and therefore understands and has the capacity to deal with diverse societal systems. This person has learned to manage psychological stress arising from intercultural experiences. Hiebert suggests that the knowledge workers and global mediators of the twenty-first century are missionaries. "Missionaries as global mediators begin to understand that this world is indeed not their home-that home for Christians is heaven and that in this world they are resident aliens." Missionaries need other missionaries, transcultural people, "who understand the outside-inside nature of their identity. They belong to a global fellowship with friends around the world. They become models for other Christians." (305)

* How do we do theology after the West?
The challenge and opportunity for the West for contextualizing theology in a globalizing world is "charting a course through postmodernism with epistemological humility and confidence in the gospel, recognizing the social construction of our own worldviews in a world filled with enormous cultural diversity." (67) Western theologians "appropriated Aristotle's categories and fashioned them into a golden methodological calf, a metaphysical interpretive framework for discerning the meaning and truth of Scripture (e.g. God = uncaused cause)." (93) Theology became a science, albeit an inductive science with the help of twentieth-century theologian Charles Hodge. According to this view, "the Bible is one's storehouse of facts, and doctrine is what results from one's examination of the data." This "fatally abstract" theological method ignores "cultural contexts," because "one-size-fits-all." The set of rules and principles for proper interpretation created by theologians of the West assume the "subject-object distinction (e.g., interpreter and text)." "Instead of profitable pastoral instruction, theologians begat system after system, exchanging their ecclesial birthright for a mess of propositional pottage." (93)

Doing theology after the West calls for a more holistic theology that includes "an awareness of God in natural history and natural order," including the "excluded middle" between the sacred and the secular. This new conversation will be both local and global, where communities will be "self-theologizing," though not ignoring all others. The first step toward a trans-cultural theology that transcends cultural differences will be a conversation across time and space, including errors of the past to deter new communities from historical tendencies to racism and oppression. Without the past, we lose our identities. Did the West, which created a presumptive transcendent and universal theology, lose its identity? Could that have some relation to the decline of Christianity in Europe?
Kwame Bediako's words, "Without memory we have no past, and if we have no past, we lose our identity" is in response to the perceived notion that an African must completely abandon their culture and adopt someone else's pattern of life and thought. Theological method should center on the notion of cultural identity, producing theology that is both "African and Christian." In speaking of converstion, Andrew Walls puts it this way: it is "the turning towards Christ of everything that is there already, so that Christ comes into places, thoughts, relationships and worldviews in which He has never lived before." (98)

Perhaps P.S. Adler's description of the "multicultural man" will help us find our way in our twenty-first century context:
"Multicultural man is the person who is intellectually and emotionally committed to the fundamental unity of all human beings while at the same time he recognizes, legitimatizes, accepts, and appreciates the fundamental differences that lie between people of different cultures. This new kind of man cannot be defined by the languages he speaks, the countries he has visited, or the number of international contacts he has made. Nor is he defined by his profession, his place of residence, or his cognitive sophistication. Instead, multicultural man is recognized by the configuration of his outlooks and worldview, by the way he incorporates the universe as a dynamically moving process, by the way he reflects on the interconnectedness of life in his thoughts and his actions, and by the way he remains open to the imminence of experience." (301)

"Revelations 7:9 provides an image of how the grand metanarrative that creates unity out of diversity will one day come to fruition. If this is the picture of what it will someday be, why should we not begin now, while still on earth, to work to find a way of using our diverse cultures to bring a richness to our understanding of the gospel?" "...Theology must become contextualized in every cultural context while remaining biblically faithful and in conversation with the global hermeneutical community." (68)


Ott, Craig, and Harold A. Netland.
2006. Globalizing theology : belief and practice in an era of world Christianity. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic.


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