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To Whom Does Christianity Belong?

To Whom Does Christianity Belong?: Critical Issues in World Christianity

Dyron B. Daughrity
Copyright Date: 2015
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  • Book Info
    To Whom Does Christianity Belong?
    Book Description:

    To Whom Does Christianity Belong? is a question that is asked, at least implicitly, throughout the world today. The issues that surround this question open up a host of others: Is Christianity a primitive religion that has little to say to twenty-first-century people? Is it a Western religion that has been exported through colonialism? Is it a religion poised to increase in size? Should it? Does Christianity lead to economic prosperity? Does it foster violence or peace? Does it liberate or restrict women? Who gets to claim Christianity as their own? In this exciting new volume, an anchor to the Understanding World Christianity series, Dyron B. Daughrity helps readers map out the major changes that have taken place in recent years in the world’s largest religion. By comparing trends, analyzing global Christian movements, and tracing the impact of Pentecostalism, interreligious dialogue, global missions, birth rates, and migratory trends, Daughrity sketches a picture of a changing religion and gives the tools needed to understand it. From discussions of sexuality and afterlife to contemporary Christian music and secularization, this book provides a global perspective on what is happening within Christianity today.

    eISBN: 978-1-4514-9658-1
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Introducing the Fortress Series “Understanding World Christianity”
    (pp. ix-xiv)

    The idea of a major project on world Christianity is timely. According to research from Pew, approximately two-thirds of the world’s nations and territories are Christian majority.¹ Christianity continues to widen its global net, claiming the allegiance of well over two billion people. Of the ten largest national Christian populations—the United States, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Philippines, Nigeria, China, DR Congo, Germany, Ethiopia—only two are from the Western world. Around one-sixth of thehumanpopulation holds membership in the Roman Catholic Church. The modern Pentecostal/Charismatic movement—only a century old—claims roughly 600 million people today. As Pew reports,...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xv-xx)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
    Dyron B. Daughrity
  6. Part I. Introduction

    • 1 To Whom Does Christianity Belong?
      (pp. 3-18)

      In the earliest years of Christianity, there was profound conflict over how to interpret Jesus’ teachings, his life and death, and how his followers should respond. It was unclear whether Jesus was opening the way for gentiles to become part of the Jewish story or not. On several occasions the Gospel writers describe a scene where the apostles are confused and do not understand the meaning of what Jesus is saying.

      One of the most difficult teachings had to do with Jesus’ following. Who gets to be a follower of Jesus? Were his teachings just for Jews? Can gentiles join?...

    • 2 What is Christianity, Anyway?
      (pp. 19-36)

      How do we define Christianity? Is it the Apostles’ Creed, the original Nicene Creed, or the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed? Is it thegospel, a word that simply means “good news”? If so, then what is the news that is considered by Christians to be so good? Theologians say thekerygma, or the “preaching” is the essence of Christianity. But which sermon? Should we focus on Jesus’s teachings, say, in the Sermon on the Mount? Or perhaps Paul’s postresurrection teachings are at the heart of what we mean when we sayChristianity? Should we emphasize James, with his laser focus on behavior,...

  7. Part II. Theological Loci

    • 3 The New Church
      (pp. 39-58)

      What is church? Is it simply “where two or three gather” in the name of Christ?¹ Is it an organized denomination, complete with officers, budgets, and creeds? Is it something that must be recognized by a government in order to be legitimate?

      In the broad sweep of world Christianity, we can see that Christians come to very different conclusions about what church is. In this chapter we look at a few different ways that Christians globally interpret the meaning of church. In the American context, our understanding has always been profoundly impacted by our nation’s most prolific pastors. And in...

    • 4 Jesus
      (pp. 59-78)

      Early Christianity was far from decided about what to make of Jesus of Nazareth. As witnessed in the New Testament documents, one of the most important discussions about Jesus was whether his followers had to be Jewish, or at least observe Jewish laws. As we saw earlier, the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 was devoted to this problem.

      Several Jewish-Christian sects emerged in early Christianity that leaned in the direction of observing Jewish law, such as the Ebionites, Nazareans, and Elkesaites. Several so-called gnostic (Greek for “knowledge”) groups emerged in the early centuries of the faith, emphasizing different ideas...

    • 5 The Holy Ghost
      (pp. 79-104)

      My students were shocked. I was lecturing on the pervasive, enduring belief in miracles among the world’s Christians when I gave an offhanded reference to a resurrection that had occurred a few days earlier in Ohio. The students had no problem understanding miracles in Nigeria, apparitions in Mexico, or healings in India. But when I referred to a resurrection in Ohio in August 2013, they scoffed. “What? Where’s the evidence?” I could only refer them to the story as it broke in the media on ABC News.¹

      What happened was this: a thirty-seven-year-old mechanic named Tony Yahle went into cardiac...

    • 6 Afterlife
      (pp. 105-128)

      John Lennon’s megahit “Imagine” is truly one of the most iconic songs today. The Beatles superstar’s 1971 utopian ballad topped charts all over the Western world and continues to impact new generations today. For several years running, “Imagine” has been played—almost like a religious ritual—when the New Year’s Eve ball drops on Times Square in the Big Apple, further cementing its status as one of America’s most important hymns. As the previous year ends and as a new one begins, we are softly and eloquently reminded to imagine a world without religion, without heaven, without hell. The song’s...

  8. Part III. The Church and the World

    • 7 Rome
      (pp. 131-150)

      The Roman Catholic Church plays a huge role in the world today. It is the largest organized religious body on earth with well over a billion baptized members. Catholics are widely distributed across the nations of the world and organized into more than two thousand dioceses.¹ According to the respectedInternational Bulletin of Missionary Research, there are fifteen countries in the world that have a Catholic population of over 20 million:²

      Brazil: 165 million

      Mexico: 100 million

      Philippines: 79 million

      United States: 71 million

      Italy: 58 million

      France: 48 million

      Spain: 43 million

      Colombia: 43 million

      DR Congo: 39 million...

    • 8 Protesters
      (pp. 151-170)

      In the early sixteenth century, a German monk named Martin Luther launched a scathing critique of his church, especially its questionable fundraising methods to build Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the greatest Roman Catholic Church building in history. Construction began in 1506 and the church needed a steady flow of capital. Luther’s main qualm was not necessarily with the construction of a beautiful church to surpass all others. Rather, his complaints were of a theological nature. He was disturbed by the selling of indulgences, a fundraising mechanism by which Rome offered afterlife benefits for those willing to contribute. Johann Tetzel...

    • 9 Secularization
      (pp. 171-190)

      Although we were a bit late, we were excited to attend the advertised piano concert at a beautiful, historic church building in downtown Stockholm in the summer of 2013. My wife and I quietly opened the huge wooden doors only to see a handful of people, maybe six or seven, sitting and listening to beautiful music being played by the expert hands of a middle-aged woman. We walked up the aisle and sat near the front so we could see her dexterity in full display. A disheveled woman clandestinely tried to sell flowers to a perplexed tourist, but was promptly...

    • 10 Missions and Migration
      (pp. 191-214)

      Migration narratives are not new to the Christian faith. Abraham was called to migrate, as was Moses, Nehemiah, Jesus, the apostles, and so many people of faith since. The Gospel of Matthew explains that Mary and Joseph, with their baby, migrated to Egypt in order to escape a crisis that threatened the life of Jesus.

      I cannot help but to think of the refugees who flood into the United States of America, from Latin America, to escape innumerable crises there: poverty, drug wars, hopelessness, and unemployment. They work hard in our strawberry fields and send their money back home to...

  9. Part IV. Contemporary Themes

    • 11 Marriage and Sexuality
      (pp. 217-236)

      I was once lecturing on marriage in different cultural contexts when somehowFifty Shades of Greycame up. When I asked the students about the book several urged me not to read it, in spite of the fact that 90 million people already had. One student warned, “Don’t read it professor; we don’t want you to become corrupted.” I reminded them I have children of my own. I then asked this student if she had read the book. She said yes, all three of them in fact (there is aFifty Shadestrilogy), and she planned to see the movie....

    • 12 Women
      (pp. 237-256)

      During the last few decades, discussions of women and Christianity in the Western world have revolved around the notions of feminism, subordination, liberation, and equivalency with men.¹ This discourse is still very much alive in the West, but its fervor is not what it once was. There are reasons for this. First of all, major gains have been made. For example, since the 1980s, far more women are enrolled in colleges than men, causing what some have called the “gender gap” in higher education. In 2010 theChronicle of Higher Educationreported, “Women now account for a disproportionate share of...

    • 13 Music
      (pp. 257-276)

      In 2010 I had the privilege of visiting the holy rock-hewn, cruciform churches of Lalibela, Ethiopia. I witnessed worship services drastically different from my own, drastically different from anything else I had ever seen. Everything about it was ancient, transporting me back to the fourth century. I was in a Christian church, but it was so unfamiliar to me. A priest solemnly rubbed a large, gold cross on a woman as she shrieked and convulsed. I was told she was being exorcised of a demon. Worshipers were covered from head to toe in white cloths, looking like they were wrapped...

    • 14 Conclusion
      (pp. 277-284)

      If one were to put a date to the decline of Christianity’s dominance in the Western world, the likeliest choice would be July 28, 1914—the beginning of the Great War, or World War I. Lamin Sanneh argues that this war ushered Europe into a period of “debilitating introspection,” and was in many ways “the first sign of the transition of the modern West to a post-Christian phase.”¹

      Some claim it is far too early to write off Christianity in Europe. Nevertheless, there is an unmistakable passing of the baton. Before the nineteenth century, Christianity was closely tied to Europe....

  10. For Further Reading
    (pp. 285-294)
  11. Index
    (pp. 295-302)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 303-303)