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Many historians of religion now recognize that Christianity is a global faith whose most vibrant expression and growth are found today in the non-Western world. But no one explores this reality and its implications for modern life with the depth of learning and personal insight of Lamin Sanneh. This book is unique in the literature of world Christianity, not least for its n Many historians of religion now recognize that Christianity is a global faith whose most vibrant expression and growth are found today in the non-Western world. But no one explores this reality and its implications for modern life with the depth of learning and personal insight of Lamin Sanneh. This book is unique in the literature of world Christianity, not least for its novel structure. Sanneh's engaging narrative takes the form of a self-interview in which he asks questions about the cross-cultural expansion of Christianity and provides insightful answers and meaningful predictions about the future. This technique also allows Sanneh to track developments in world Christianity even while giving attention to the responses and involvement of indigenous peoples around the world. Sanneh's own background and lifelong involvement with non-Western cultures bring a richness of perspective not found in any other book on world Christianity. For example, Sanneh highlights what is distinctive about Christianity as a world religion, and he offers a timely comparison of Christianity with Islam's own missionary tradition. The book also gives pride of place to the recipients of the Christian message rather than to the missionaries themselves. Indeed, Sanneh argues here that the gospel is not owned by the West and that the future of the tradition lies in its "world" character. Literate, relevant, and highly original, Whose Religion Is Christianity? presents a stimulating new outlook on faith and culture that will interest a wide range of readers.


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Many historians of religion now recognize that Christianity is a global faith whose most vibrant expression and growth are found today in the non-Western world. But no one explores this reality and its implications for modern life with the depth of learning and personal insight of Lamin Sanneh. This book is unique in the literature of world Christianity, not least for its n Many historians of religion now recognize that Christianity is a global faith whose most vibrant expression and growth are found today in the non-Western world. But no one explores this reality and its implications for modern life with the depth of learning and personal insight of Lamin Sanneh. This book is unique in the literature of world Christianity, not least for its novel structure. Sanneh's engaging narrative takes the form of a self-interview in which he asks questions about the cross-cultural expansion of Christianity and provides insightful answers and meaningful predictions about the future. This technique also allows Sanneh to track developments in world Christianity even while giving attention to the responses and involvement of indigenous peoples around the world. Sanneh's own background and lifelong involvement with non-Western cultures bring a richness of perspective not found in any other book on world Christianity. For example, Sanneh highlights what is distinctive about Christianity as a world religion, and he offers a timely comparison of Christianity with Islam's own missionary tradition. The book also gives pride of place to the recipients of the Christian message rather than to the missionaries themselves. Indeed, Sanneh argues here that the gospel is not owned by the West and that the future of the tradition lies in its "world" character. Literate, relevant, and highly original, Whose Religion Is Christianity? presents a stimulating new outlook on faith and culture that will interest a wide range of readers.

30 review for Whose Religion Is Christianity? The Gospel Beyond the West

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Tim Keller on this book: Lamin Sanneh, who teaches at Yale, is an African, Gambian. He has written a book called Whose Religion is Christianity? And he tells something fascinating about the deep cultural diversity of Christianity. He would make an argument that Christianity is more open to cultural difference than any other religion—probably—but certainly more open to cultural difference than secularism, because he would say this, he says, "To be African is to believe that the world is filled with Tim Keller on this book: Lamin Sanneh, who teaches at Yale, is an African, Gambian. He has written a book called Whose Religion is Christianity? And he tells something fascinating about the deep cultural diversity of Christianity. He would make an argument that Christianity is more open to cultural difference than any other religion—probably—but certainly more open to cultural difference than secularism, because he would say this, he says, "To be African is to believe that the world is filled with spirits." He says, "Africans have always believed the world is filled with good spirits and evil spirits. It's a supernatural place." He says, "And yet the problem has been superstition, the problem has been fear, what do we do about the evil spirits. How do we overcome them?” He says, “If I send an African off to Harvard, Yale, or Princeton, or Oxford or Cambridge, they are going to come back European because they are going to be told, 'Oh, everything has a scientific explanation.'" They are also going to be saying, "Oh, we love multi-culturalism. Wear your African dress and eat your African food, but we are going to destroy your Africanness, because we are going to tell you that everything has got a scientific explanation." And Lamin Sanneh says, "But Christianity comes along and says it respects my Africanness, it lets me stay African, because it says, yes, there are evil spirits and good spirits. But Jesus Christ has overcome the evil spirits, and through him you don’t have to be afraid of them." "In the end," he says, "it renews my Africanness. Admittedly, as a Christian, I'm not the same as I was as an anamist, but," he says, "I'm closer to being an African." And he says, "Africans recognize that if I become a secularist, I will really be stepping away from being African. If I become a Christian, I am not." And then he makes the case that basically Christianity has made that move because Christianity does not give you a book of Leviticus or Sharia law. Why? Well, because we believe you are saved by grace, and, therefore, even though there are moral norms, there are actually a limited number of moral norms, and there is enormous cultural freedom. So, whereas, 96 percent of all Muslims are in this band right here, not in the Western, and 88 percent of Buddhists are right here, and 90 percent of Hindus are right here, like 22 percent of Christianity is in South America, 22 percent or something like that is in Africa, almost 20 percent is in Asia, 12 percent North America. So Lamin Sanneh's point is the idea is that now Christianity is really indigenous. It is really Africanized, Chinese-ified, every place. And so now if a person hears the gospel where they are they don't have the Western baggage.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Lamin Sanneh's book is a confusing mess, but with faint, gorgeous stabbings of light shining through the chaos. First of all I have to say that the "freestyle" approach Dr. Sanneh has chosen, structuring his book into an interview with an imaginary skeptic, is neither innovating nor clarifying. Nor is it facilitating to communication in any way. There are reasons why literary traditions exist, and one of them is to keep things like this from happening. My critique of the "freestyle" "interview" Lamin Sanneh's book is a confusing mess, but with faint, gorgeous stabbings of light shining through the chaos. First of all I have to say that the "freestyle" approach Dr. Sanneh has chosen, structuring his book into an interview with an imaginary skeptic, is neither innovating nor clarifying. Nor is it facilitating to communication in any way. There are reasons why literary traditions exist, and one of them is to keep things like this from happening. My critique of the "freestyle" "interview" approach is twofold: that it is a bit pretentious, responding to questions posed by the writer's own self in another persona, as if there were really a spirited debate going on; and then, by far the more serious problem, that the alternate persona itself is extremely annoying. Every time Dr. Sanneh makes a legitimate and intelligent point, the squawking, inconsistent objector has something to say about it. His opinions are sometimes liberal and enlightened, and just as often bigoted, uneducated, and narrow-minded. Don't think that in this Dr. Sanneh is guilty of the straw man fallacy. If anything, it is the very opposite. In his formal cordiality (quite a jarring clash with the "freestyle" form he has adopted), Sanneh's exchange gives his skeptical questioner too much credit, affords him too much intelligence. For instance, the skeptic insists on approaching religion in Africa from an evolutionary/economic/anthropological viewpoint, one that is obviously and disastrously inadequate considering the facts on the ground. He insists, in one place, on opposing the idea that Africans might already have an idea of an uncreated God that is the source and cause of everything, despite the fact that monotheism came before polytheism and often lurks as an assumption behind Paganism. But instead of pointing out these facts, Sanneh gives his skeptical questioner too much credit and respect in questions like these. To my mind, nothing could be farther from the straw man fallacy. Despite this major problem, the book does carry some valuable, beautiful, and immensely helpful truths. Sanneh gives credit where credit is due, pointing out that Christianity's success in Africa is largely due to the works of Africans themselves, and not to the missionary or colonial efforts of Westerners. He discusses how Christianity helps Africans to become fulfilled and renewed Africans, rather than simply African versions of Europeans. Interestingly, he equates the current situation with the original circumstances of Christianity, as it took root in Greek communities, having spreading there from its Jewish sources. In his high points, which are unfortunately few and far between, Sanneh is capable of beautiful prose and keen insight. Secondly, the major flaw of the book is this. While I understand and actually champion with deep pleasure Dr. Sanneh's insistence that Christianity resonates with, and finds ways to express itself through, native ways of viewing the world, I do think he gives away too much when he devalues Christian doctrine as specifically Western or European doctrine. Though Europe has definitely shaped Christianity, it is far more true to say that Christianity has in the majority of cases shaped Europe. It is a mistake to give native cultures so high a privilege that they can override Christianity on the most central doctrinal issues; for then it ceases to be Christianity and becomes Paganism expressed in Christian language. Sanneh says in one place: "conversion is to God; I did not say it was to...other people's theories of God." The sentiment is admirable, but it misses a key truth: the Christian view of God is what makes Christianity unique among all other religions. It is what makes Christianity its self. A similar error is to read mainstream Christian doctrine as the interpretation of the West, or of Europe, or of conservatism. Rather, these things are based within Christianity. Europe may be in twilight, as Sanneh thinks, and so may be the West. But Christianity is not; it is eternally young, as his studies prove. Unfortunately, I would not recommend this book. While its subject is extremely interesting, and while Dr. Sanneh makes several interesting and insightful points, the extremely awkward interview format and the abstruse vocabulary make this book tedious and rather annoying. It's an important subject, but I'd advise interested readers to look elsewhere.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alex Stroshine

    Lamin Sanneh is one of the most insightful historians of world Christianity. Born in Gambia and raised a Muslim, Sanneh is now a Roman Catholic and professor at Yale University. In this book, Sanneh presents his accumulated study of world Christianity in a casual, Q-and-A style (the questions being inspired by queries Sanneh has encountered from critics of missions). As with much of his work, the book focuses mostly on Africa, on Christianity's impulse to translate, and Islam's RELUCTANCE to tra Lamin Sanneh is one of the most insightful historians of world Christianity. Born in Gambia and raised a Muslim, Sanneh is now a Roman Catholic and professor at Yale University. In this book, Sanneh presents his accumulated study of world Christianity in a casual, Q-and-A style (the questions being inspired by queries Sanneh has encountered from critics of missions). As with much of his work, the book focuses mostly on Africa, on Christianity's impulse to translate, and Islam's RELUCTANCE to translate. Sanneh critiques the Western, rational worldview that has emerged from the Enlightenment; he posits that Christianity, rather than undermining indigenous culture, has actually helped it thrive via the translation of the biblical text which in turn required an affirmation of native languages (missionaries have sought to translate the Bible into such languages as Xhosa, Micmac, and Māori, rather than forcing these indigenous cultures to adopt a Western language like English or Dutch).

  4. 5 out of 5

    Drew

    "We do not threaten one another by coming into God's presence with the variety of tongue and race that marks our humanity. It's when we turn our tongue and race into a god that we arouse the dragon." The Gospel is beautiful. "We do not threaten one another by coming into God's presence with the variety of tongue and race that marks our humanity. It's when we turn our tongue and race into a god that we arouse the dragon." The Gospel is beautiful.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Matt Francisco

    A clear demonstration that Christianity is not a religion that colonialists imposed on the world, but a global religion that is “translated” into each culture it encounters as it renews each culture.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Chris Mclain

    At times Sanneh's question and answer format was helpful, but overall, I think it broke up his argument a bit too much. Simple paragraph form with clear subheadings may be mundane, but it is effective. I read this for an introductory mission class, so I'm certainly not qualified to be too critical, but that said, the content overall was good in my opinion. At times Sanneh's question and answer format was helpful, but overall, I think it broke up his argument a bit too much. Simple paragraph form with clear subheadings may be mundane, but it is effective. I read this for an introductory mission class, so I'm certainly not qualified to be too critical, but that said, the content overall was good in my opinion.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Dave Courtney

    The premise of the book, which submits that 'Christianity is not intrinsicly a religion of cultural uniformity", and that history shows us that the global expansion of the Christian religion demonstrates this through the "tremendous diversity and dynamism of the peoples of the world", suffers slightly from a less than ideal structure. The way the author examines this premise is by splitting up concise summaries of the main ideas and two lengthy sections that function as an interview and conversa The premise of the book, which submits that 'Christianity is not intrinsicly a religion of cultural uniformity", and that history shows us that the global expansion of the Christian religion demonstrates this through the "tremendous diversity and dynamism of the peoples of the world", suffers slightly from a less than ideal structure. The way the author examines this premise is by splitting up concise summaries of the main ideas and two lengthy sections that function as an interview and conversation. The conversation itself is interesting, and probably would work well in audio format, but it also means that much of this meanders as it follows an argumentative style. The one asking the questions is challenging his ideas, and his answers then respond. This has both negative and positive qualities. It does help to see how he fleshes out his premise on a fundamental level, but i couldn't help but feel like much of that conversation would have been better served tightened up and simply presented in a more direct way. But the content makes this one worthwile. Often a book like this will contrast the West with the East, or Western Protestantism with the views of the early Church. Sanneh takes a broader appraoch, suggesting that Christianities expansion througout history presupposes its diversity, and that this becomes important for us looking ahead to the shift from the West back to the South where Christianity has its roots. When we see the West as the culimination of a "true faith", this will present many challenges for those in the West as the dominant expression of the faith begins to emerge from the South. We have been far too dependent on old ideas of conquest and colonialism for too long, and even while we recognize the evils of these ideas, the West (in general) has tended to view Africa as a new mission field that needs to be Christianized by the West. This is not only dangerous, it's simply wrong. And when the West actually looks in on the South and the growing Christian majority, it tends to look confusing and even a bit scary to Western eyes, resulting in stereotypes and marginalization of the culture. And yet this is Christianity's future. And so we would do well to understand that pluaralism in terms of Christianities different expressions is actually a good and positive thing. The author argues that this diversity is not the failure of the religion but the "triumph of its translatability". As he says, "Bible translation enabled Christianity to break the cultural filbuster of its Western domestication to create movements of resurgence and renewal that transformed the religion into a world faith." His final ascertation says that "attitudes (towards the South) must shift to acknowledge this new situation." The most intriguing thread here, which is where the interviewer and interviewee spend most of their time going back and forth on, is that which wonders about how it is that we explain the West in the first place. Do we see the West, and more specifically Protestantism, as the culmination of an evolution of ideas? Evidence of the growth of the faith in a progressive sense? And if so, then do we see the West as necessarily needing to submit a percieved "educated" position back onto those in the South who are functioning on a lesser plain? Or do we see the South as having the freedom to function in the faith as they experience it? This becomes especially important when we consider that the supposed "educated" and evolutionary position is now the minority, and quickly becoming an increasing minority. Is this posing a threat to Christianity, or is this a sign of it's thriving on a global level in its ability to tranlsate into different cultures? Important quesitons, and not entirely easy to answer. Here we find a little bit of help in recognizing that African Christianity is probably much closer to the early Church experessions than Western Protestantism. This is not an easy thing for Westerners to reconcile, as the West's devotion to a kind of "knowledge" is so firmly ingrained in our psyche. For that to be challenged feels likes it is ripping out our foundation of both society and Protestant faith. And yet it does give us an easier way into African Christianity. There is a lot of interesting threads to be found in the less than ideal structure of the book, most of which revolve around how a society interacts with indigenous cultures. There is a section that navigates how Christianity travelled a different path than Muslim expansion with very different results that is very interesting. And very interesting thoughts on the role of language as well. One part talks about how one thing that sets Christianity apart is the idea that it is "the only world religion that is transmitted without the language or originating culture of its founder", a fact that leads into all sorts of unique aspects of the faith in terms of its defining diversity, particularly as we note the immense amount of examples we have in scripture alone of translations carrying forward indigenous names of God and practices. A book I will likely revisit a few times, as there is lots to take away here in terms of the big idea. It's best taken in bits an pieces perhaps, a single conversation at a time.

  8. 5 out of 5

    John Onwuchekwa

    Great ideas! The Q&A format felt a little clunky and made it a tougher read than it had to be. But...the ideas inside were great!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Goins

    Great information. Would have been better if the author was less technical. Enough parts of this were so academic that I can say that this book isn’t for the lay person. But the late Lamin Sanneh did do a good job of making the case for World Christianity, as opposed to Global Christianity, the latter he defines basically as a relic of Christendom or Christianity as advanced by the state; the former being Christianity from the bottom up from indigenous people. He goes over Christianity’s surge in Great information. Would have been better if the author was less technical. Enough parts of this were so academic that I can say that this book isn’t for the lay person. But the late Lamin Sanneh did do a good job of making the case for World Christianity, as opposed to Global Christianity, the latter he defines basically as a relic of Christendom or Christianity as advanced by the state; the former being Christianity from the bottom up from indigenous people. He goes over Christianity’s surge in Africa after colonialism, which is counterintuitive to the secularist because to them one of the only ways Christianity advances is through state propagation and mandates. But rather the case in Africa was that Christianity flourished without and after colonialism. There was an antagonist in this Q&A style discussion. I’m not sure who the antagonist really was. His objections were really good at times and Sanneh’s answers were sometimes unsatisfying, but the antagonist’s questions got really ridiculous at the end, but they were ridiculous in the sense that this person is really spiritually blind — not that the questions were stupid. It was very agitating at times. One of the most unsatisfying answers from Sanneh was his response to the question that went to the effect of, what good is Christianity if it doesn’t stop brutal (White and Black) African regimes (p.38)? Sanneh responded by basically saying that isn’t good news but in the wake of those crises and in the “search for healing and wholeness, Christianity remained a potent force in the lives of Africans.” He added: “[A]nd the churches as major social institutions have an effect far out of proportion to the resources that they command.” He cited the Church’s involvement in the AIDS crisis, “mediation efforts in Rwanda and Burundi,” and the Church’s “prominent part” in challenging apartheid. This is not what I found unsatisfying. It’s what he said next. He says that both World War I and World War II were led by Christian Europe. Fair enough. And then he says “Christianity did not prevent the cold war and the nuclear proliferation that came with it.” It looks like Christianity doesn’t have much stopping power—does it?—when it comes to preventing evil. Oh but it does. Reformed Christianity has a great tradition of statesmanship and politics. But the Reformed Tradition has largely been ignored if not intentionally relegated to the place where all dusty books go. Old Testament law — even the “moral law” — as some put it, has not been put to good use when analyzing wars. How world-changing would Christianity be if instead of asking, “Is this Just War?” it asked “If the premises of the war pass the Exodus Test? “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor?” If those kind of standards were in place, the world would be a better place and the positive Christian influence on society and public morality would be obvious. Sanneh does go on to say that he doesn’t know “what conclusion” to draw from Christianity not being able to stop the Cold War or the adjacent nuclear proliferation, “except that the story of Christianity is still unfolding” and that there is “little evidence that Christian Africa will repeat the disasters of Christian Europe.” I believe that. He also says that “African Christianity has not been bitterly fought” like in Europe (“ecclesiastical courts condemning unbelievers...no bloody battles of doctrine and polity...no...public condemnations of doctrinal difference or dissent.” Christianity is much more peaceful there in Africa. It seems to have always been.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Mukoma

    Most definitely one of the best books I've read in my lifetime. I expected Lamin to center his argument on the evidence of Christianity societies pre-Christendom era, but it was not really that. Rather this approach of embracing and accepting the colonial and slavery aspect of Christendom, then within it distinguishing it from world Christianity, I found to be a much better defense and logical explanation. Moreover, it just adds more intensity that this is grounded in empirical and experiential Most definitely one of the best books I've read in my lifetime. I expected Lamin to center his argument on the evidence of Christianity societies pre-Christendom era, but it was not really that. Rather this approach of embracing and accepting the colonial and slavery aspect of Christendom, then within it distinguishing it from world Christianity, I found to be a much better defense and logical explanation. Moreover, it just adds more intensity that this is grounded in empirical and experiential evidence. The dialectical approach of this book reminds me of the last days of Socrates and Lamin is an intellectual hors-pairs. I've always been part of those who strongly believe that the European experience of Christianity and the African one while having a fundamental similarity (being theocentric) they have stringent superficial differences that should not be discounted and Lamin provides both, the evidence and rational argument as to why not only Christianity is not a white men religion (has never been and more then ever currently isn't) but also why African embraced of Christianity is at best only fractionally the result of European imperialism.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cass

    I’ll start by saying I’m a lay woman and not a religious academic, like my husband. So perhaps there was much I wasn’t understanding about all this. I really enjoyed reading the first part of the book, even though the interview format seemed a bit odd. Soon, it felt like the “interviewer” was quite abrasive, colonialist and racist...until I remembered that both the questions and answers were written by the author, Lamin Sanneh, a native of Gambia. Ha. So he’s posing these questions as objections I’ll start by saying I’m a lay woman and not a religious academic, like my husband. So perhaps there was much I wasn’t understanding about all this. I really enjoyed reading the first part of the book, even though the interview format seemed a bit odd. Soon, it felt like the “interviewer” was quite abrasive, colonialist and racist...until I remembered that both the questions and answers were written by the author, Lamin Sanneh, a native of Gambia. Ha. So he’s posing these questions as objections that people have to the movement of Christianity happening in Africa...*after* its decolonization and without the “help” of white Christian missionaries. The book was intensely interesting in the beginning and generally devolved as it went on, in my opinion. He begins to focus on bible translation and a defense of it and that wasn’t what I was looking for in this particular title. I had a few great (and big!) takeaways and I’m glad I read it, in the end. Good bibliography to mine for further reading. Cumbersome format, but still plenty to be gained in wading through it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Josefina Zhu

    For the content of this book, I am not and would never be qualified to comment. However, I have much to say about some other issues this book has. The FORMAT of this book is not flattering and not helpful at all. Especially when a question goes back to a previous question, (pretty much ask the same question again) it is hard to follow in structure or logic. The VOCABULARY of this book is not inviting and accessible. I rolled my eyes several times when I read it coz I could think of many ways to m For the content of this book, I am not and would never be qualified to comment. However, I have much to say about some other issues this book has. The FORMAT of this book is not flattering and not helpful at all. Especially when a question goes back to a previous question, (pretty much ask the same question again) it is hard to follow in structure or logic. The VOCABULARY of this book is not inviting and accessible. I rolled my eyes several times when I read it coz I could think of many ways to make the writing way clearer and easier to understand. The AUDIENCE of this book is assumed to be "White" or "Western" and also has to have some historical theological background/understanding. (In an over simplified way, I would say this is a book written by an African with perspective for a white to read. ) Overall the reading experience is not enjoyable at the best. I do NOT recommend this book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ricky Beckett

    Utilising the form of essay and question & answer, Lamin Sanneh's answer to the question presented in the title seems to insinuate that Christianity is the people's. Perhaps it is best to quote him on the final page, "...the theological insight that the God we celebrate in the Christmas and Easter stories is available without hesitation or qualification in a language that is the people's own" (130). I concede that from a purely cultural perspective, Christianity truly belongs to the people rathe Utilising the form of essay and question & answer, Lamin Sanneh's answer to the question presented in the title seems to insinuate that Christianity is the people's. Perhaps it is best to quote him on the final page, "...the theological insight that the God we celebrate in the Christmas and Easter stories is available without hesitation or qualification in a language that is the people's own" (130). I concede that from a purely cultural perspective, Christianity truly belongs to the people rather than to any singular culture or "race" of people. However, Sanneh overlooks one vital fact: Christianity belongs to Christ, as the very etymology of the word inherently suggests.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tyler Brown

    This book is in many ways an argument that Bible translation is a key to empowering people of all cultures. Regardless of whether the missionaries intended this, by translating the Bible into people's mother tongue, they showed that the Christian God valued their culture and sitatution. This book is largely in a Q&A format which I find helpful. Sanneh's writing is lofty so much of it is hard to follow, but there are some beautiful moments where he contrasted Christianity and secularism. This book is in many ways an argument that Bible translation is a key to empowering people of all cultures. Regardless of whether the missionaries intended this, by translating the Bible into people's mother tongue, they showed that the Christian God valued their culture and sitatution. This book is largely in a Q&A format which I find helpful. Sanneh's writing is lofty so much of it is hard to follow, but there are some beautiful moments where he contrasted Christianity and secularism.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Robert McDonald

    "Christianity seems unique in being the only world religion that is transmitted without the language or originating culture of its founder." I picked up this book for two reasons, 1) to seek out voices from more diverse backgrounds and 2) to encounter more opinions and beliefs that differ from my own. I would criticize this book in that I found a significant chunk to be laborious, though the final third (where the above quote is from) held significantly more of my interest. "Christianity seems unique in being the only world religion that is transmitted without the language or originating culture of its founder." I picked up this book for two reasons, 1) to seek out voices from more diverse backgrounds and 2) to encounter more opinions and beliefs that differ from my own. I would criticize this book in that I found a significant chunk to be laborious, though the final third (where the above quote is from) held significantly more of my interest.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Reinders

    While I personally found the book a bit hard to follow, I think the point is critical. What I took away from this important work is that Christianity is not a "white-man's religion" spread by the imperialist West, but belongs to all people because the Jesus translates Himself to all people in the language of their own hearts and souls. Christianity belongs to no one culture. While I personally found the book a bit hard to follow, I think the point is critical. What I took away from this important work is that Christianity is not a "white-man's religion" spread by the imperialist West, but belongs to all people because the Jesus translates Himself to all people in the language of their own hearts and souls. Christianity belongs to no one culture.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Anthony Rodriguez

    Look, the format of this book is... not great. Mostly because it’s hard to get over the fact that the reader knows the questioner is also the respondent. However. Dr. Sanneh’s clear and powerful defense of Christianity as something other than a carrier of Western culture is impressive and important. I really enjoyed this strange little book. I’ll look for more from him.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nathaniel Spencer

    That one came out of the blue. I bought this on a whim when I saw the Kindle version marked down, and now that I’ve read it I think I’ll buy a hard copy too. I need to think more and quite a passage or two from the book before writing a full review.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Michael Nichols

    This book rekindled my love and hope for the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church that spans contents and centuries. I need to read more about the church in the Global South.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lilly Pittman

    Excellent. Must read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rob Markley

    Didn't really make his case. This is an intellectual & philosophical essay rather than a meaningful book with argument and evidence Didn't really make his case. This is an intellectual & philosophical essay rather than a meaningful book with argument and evidence

  22. 4 out of 5

    Joe Beery

    Great perspective on modern cultural climate.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    Christianity in Africa has grown from 9.7 million people, mostly Copts and Ethiopian Orthodox, in 1900, to 60 million in 1962 towards the end of colonial rule (when there were 142 million Muslims), to over 300 million in recent days and a status as the majority religion in Africa. You would think a book that dealt with that internal growth and change would be fascinating, but overall I found it disappointing. The questions and answer format in which it is written often made it clear a conversati Christianity in Africa has grown from 9.7 million people, mostly Copts and Ethiopian Orthodox, in 1900, to 60 million in 1962 towards the end of colonial rule (when there were 142 million Muslims), to over 300 million in recent days and a status as the majority religion in Africa. You would think a book that dealt with that internal growth and change would be fascinating, but overall I found it disappointing. The questions and answer format in which it is written often made it clear a conversation was going on that I did not entirely understand and/or that did not interest me. That is Sanneh's fault as he wrote both the questions and the answers. There are useful details and thoughtful asides throughout the book, but the arguments are diffuse, the facts elusive and his opinions too thick on the page. Yes, I understand Christianity expanded beyond the West, but this book is mostly about Africa, only lightly touching on other parts of the world. It talks about indigenization, but never gives us an example to see and touch. At times I appreciated his snottiness about the West and the history of Christendom and even missionary history, but it got old after awhile. It was good to hear him talk about the Crusades - they happened and a right Western guilt has built around them, unlike Islamic wars. "The fact that Western Christians continue to harbor fresh remorse for the Crusades a thousand years after the events shows the Crusades to be a continuing embarrassment and a standing reproach to the church. No similar moral scandal attaches to Islamic conquests then or at any other times, for which credit is normally reserved for the sword of God." Other positive things - his distinction between Global (replication of European forms) and World (new forms created in non-bureaucratic cultures) Christianity extracts the growing faith from connections with globalization. He notes the value of Bible translation and maintaining indigenous names for God because each encourages an inculturation of Christianity, the creation of an indigenous faith that is not a globalized product. But Sanneh is far too interested in defending the new World Christianity against Western elites who find it either oppressive or oppressed. That argument could be engaging, but instead is part of the vague center of the book that I found unrooted in any historical or physical reality. It is the final problem of a book that should have been a thrilling discovery. Instead we are told a lot of things and shown very little. I would have appreciated more of World Christianity and less of Lamin Sanneh.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    Summary: discussion on "world Christianity" by a professor at Yale Divinity. Sanneh writes about "world Christianity" from a few perspectives: the location (aka probably where you'd describe "world music") and surrounding cultures, the interplay of Christianity spreading in Africa during the same recent period as continuing western colonialism, differences in how Christianity is absorbed by said cultures from "Christendom" (aka Christianity as insistent western evangelicals might describe it), an Summary: discussion on "world Christianity" by a professor at Yale Divinity. Sanneh writes about "world Christianity" from a few perspectives: the location (aka probably where you'd describe "world music") and surrounding cultures, the interplay of Christianity spreading in Africa during the same recent period as continuing western colonialism, differences in how Christianity is absorbed by said cultures from "Christendom" (aka Christianity as insistent western evangelicals might describe it), and how translation and local adaptation are hallmarks of Christianity's adoption across Africa. The content is great. Sanneh describes colonialism blocking the spread of Christianity by communicating it too authoritatively and insistently. He writes about Christianity's troubled history as a translated religion, highlighting a rich tradition of protesting new translations for other cultures or more common tongues. He spends even more time discussing how Christianity is at its best when accessible to a culture, whether that's via an accessible language or by being adapted to local customs. It's a bit repetitive at times, but he gets his points across and you come away having genuinely learned something. The form, however. Wow. Sanneh writes this book as a "dialogue", which means it reads much like a transcribed interview---questions and corresponding answers. Early in the book, he claims it makes the content easier to understand and the content he wanted to convey easier to structure (okay) and then invites the reader to jump in and participate in the dialogue at any point. (huh?) On the surface level, the form is most awkward when complimenting himself---phrases like "what a great question!" and "I hadn't thought about it like that" sprinkle the writing (yup). The easy complaint to pinpoint, highlighted by the self-congratulatory writing is that the questions play into what he wants to convey, and the dialogue isn't as meaningful as a real critical interview. The more subversive issue is that the arguments feel more persuasive by reading a discussion between "two people" come to agree on his ideas.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    3.5 stars. The thoughts in this book are excellent—it's divided into two major ideas. 1) the idea that the rise of Christianity outside of the West is something that needs to be recognized for what it is: an adoption of the gospel—not European culture—within the local cultural context. 2) the idea that the translation of the Bible into native languages is necessary for the preservation of culture upon receipt of the gospel. His book has a high and non-discriminatory view of culture, and I think t 3.5 stars. The thoughts in this book are excellent—it's divided into two major ideas. 1) the idea that the rise of Christianity outside of the West is something that needs to be recognized for what it is: an adoption of the gospel—not European culture—within the local cultural context. 2) the idea that the translation of the Bible into native languages is necessary for the preservation of culture upon receipt of the gospel. His book has a high and non-discriminatory view of culture, and I think that's his most contribution of this work. However, the book is structured in a question-and-answer format which does not ultimately enhance the nature of his discussion. It leads to a second problem: his argument and train of thought is sometimes a bit difficult to understand and hard to follow.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jerry

    This book has some interesting statistics (see below) made more famous by Philip Jenkins. The Q & A format is annoying, and I didn't find his discussion of translation very helpful. "In 1970 there were 120 million Christians, estimated; in 1998 the figure jumped to just under 330 million; and in 2000 to 340 million. The projections call for over 600 million Christians in twenty-five years. If those projections are right--and I will not go to the scaffold for them--apart from South America, Africa This book has some interesting statistics (see below) made more famous by Philip Jenkins. The Q & A format is annoying, and I didn't find his discussion of translation very helpful. "In 1970 there were 120 million Christians, estimated; in 1998 the figure jumped to just under 330 million; and in 2000 to 340 million. The projections call for over 600 million Christians in twenty-five years. If those projections are right--and I will not go to the scaffold for them--apart from South America, Africa will have more Christians than any other continent, and that for the first time."

  27. 4 out of 5

    Hakan Gülerce

    the introduction is very good. especially the room for differences

  28. 4 out of 5

    Helen

  29. 5 out of 5

    Daryn Henry

  30. 4 out of 5

    Louise

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