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The Changing Face of ChristianityAfrica, the West, and the World$
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Lamin Sanneh and Joel A. Carpenter

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195177282

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0195177282.001.0001

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Contextual Theology:

Contextual Theology:

The Last Frontier

(p.191) 9 Contextual Theology:
The Changing Face of Christianity

Wilbert R. Shenk

Oxford University Press

In this chapter, Shenk shows how the postcolonial climate growing immediately before and after World War II prompted new self-criticism and theological reflection among western missionaries and among the leaders of newer non-western Christian churches. Nowhere was this more true than in China and the post-1949 Chinese diaspora, as Chinese Christian leaders were under pressure to show that Christianity was not merely a western import but could engender profound and original thinking out of a Chinese cultural context. A key figure in the Chinese and pan-Asian attempts to reconceptualize Christian theology was Shoki Coe (before 1966, known as C. H. Hwang), a leader of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan. Coe developed what he called a contextual theology, which was meant, in postcolonial times, to free churches from western cultural baggage and rethink the mission of the local church in own cultural context. This theological quest for authentic local expressions of the Christian faith spread rapidly across the global south and east, and has begun to have an effect in the mission theology of the global north as well, where some Christian thinkers are reasserting a missionary stance for the church in a post-Christian culture.

Keywords:   China, Chinese Christianity, Shoki Coe (C. H. Hwang), contextual theology, mission theology, missionaries, postcolonial, Taiwan

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