10 Historical Myths About World Christianity

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In the first meeting of the postgraduate World Christianity course ‘Selected Themes in the Study of World Christianity’ held on 15 September 2014, Professor Brian Stanley presented what he perceives as the top ten historical myths about World Christianity.

1. Christianity is a western religion.It neither began in western Europe, nor has it ever been entirely confined to western Europe. The period in which it appeared to be indissolubly linked to western European identity was a relatively short one, lasting from the early sixteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. The Church in China, India, Ethiopia, and Iraq is older than the Church in much of northern Europe.

2. Christian missions operated hand-in-glove with the colonial powers.Sometimes they did, but frequently they didn’t. Missions were usually critical of the way in which empires operated, mainly because they conceived of empire as a divinely-bestowed trust. True, they didn’t oppose colonial rule on principle, but then who did before the late 20th century?

3. Christianity was imposed by force on non-western people.If this were true, it would reduce non-western Christians – even today – to the status of passive
recipients of western ideological domination. In fact western missions never possessed the power necessary to achieve such capitulation, even if they wanted it, which they did not.

4. Protestant missions began with William Carey in 1792.John Eliot’s mission work among the Native Americans of New England began as early as 1646. The first Lutheran missionaries arrived at Tranquebar in South India in 1706. In his famous Enquiry (1792) Carey was insistent that he had many predecessors.

read more at http://www.cswc.div.ed.ac.uk/2014/09/10-historical-myths-about-world-christianity/


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