What Hath Wheaton To Do With Nairobi? Toward Catholic And Evangelical Theology -- By: Stephen Pardue

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 58:4 (Dec 2015)
Article: What Hath Wheaton To Do With Nairobi? Toward Catholic And Evangelical Theology
Author: Stephen Pardue


What Hath Wheaton To Do With Nairobi?
Toward Catholic And Evangelical Theology

Stephen Pardue*

* Stephen Pardue teaches at Asia Graduate School of Theology, 54 Scout Madriñan St., Quezon City 1103, Philippines.

I. Global Ferment

By now, it has become a cliché in most disciplines to refer to the massive shift in Christianity’s center of gravity that has occurred in the past 100 years.1 Moreover, the same forces of globalization that have helped make this demographic shift possible—easier worldwide travel and communication—have also served to connect people across the miles with increasing frequency and ease. The result of these shifts is plainly affecting evangelical institutions; for example, evangelical churches have engaged in new partnerships with Christians around the globe,2 and evangelical schools have recently hired leaders who have promised to increase the connections between their institution and the rest of the church.3

Until recently, however, North American evangelical biblical scholars and theologians have generally not paid great attention to the question of how Christianity’s changing face should affect theology and biblical interpretation.4 They are the anomaly when compared to other groups; the Theological Education Fund (a World Council of Churches entity) popularized “contextualization” as a theological project more than 40 years ago, and this set in motion an ongoing effort to rework theological commitments and literature in light of the changing face of Christianity. Before that, Vatican II encouraged a similar trajectory among Roman Catholics,

with Lumen Gentium commending, among other things, a new openness to learning from a variety of cultural contexts.5

This lacuna in North American evangelical literature is now beginning to be filled, with the appearance in the past few years of books seeking to take the new face of Christianity seriously. These developments are promising, to be sure, but as this essay will document, the question of how World Christianity should impact evangelical theology and exegesis has remained marginal. That is, while there are increasing pockets of interest in this issue, especially among evangelical scholars in cross-cultural contexts, the shift in the world Christian population has largely failed to make a discernible difference in mainstream evangelical textbooks and...

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