We are now continuing our look at Lamin Sanneh’s book, Whose Religion in Christianity? The Gospel Beyond the West.
We continue in this section where Sanneh writes in a more question and answer format. This second section of questions form around the topic, Christian Origins, Local Feedback, and World Order Values.
Sanneh asks, “What is the significance of the growth of world Christianity for the West?” His answer is intriguing. The interaction of Western culture with the indigenous world Christian movement which did not embrace the Enlightenment offers the Western church the ability to gain insight into the culture that shaped the origins of the New Testament Church. This would give us in the West a greater appreciation for the New Testament background of Christianity.
What are the possible results of movement of world Christianity? Might it not produce violent political upheaval? Sanneh admits that this is possible. He states, “…the post-Christian West should see in the rise of a post-Western world of Christianity the potential for a major global cultural disruption and grave historical setback.” However, he doesn’t see this as a plausible scenario. He finds it hard to see how world Christianity, which has arisen without any kind of colonial political structure propelling it, to be suddenly be thrust forward as a crusading political ideology as occurred with Christendom.
Finally, Sanneh, wonders: You have spoken of the twilight of European religion expression. “Is the decline the only problem of the churches, or do you think the moral nerve has been touched?” He answers:
I think there is something deeper. About the decline, the statistics are unequivocal. But beneath and beyond that has been a strategic retreat into isolation where the spirit seems to be wilting. It has taken the form of a mood swing in which people have been preoccupied with taking stock, with the setting sun and lengthening shadows, with memorial armbands, with shades of gray, with requiem. As Sir Edward Grey declared, brooding on the dark clouds of his time, the lamps have gone out all over Europe. The religious imagination seems to have been hit with a bout of melancholy…It’s as if Europeans have the Nunc Dimittis constantly on their lips, and so regret having to celebrate Christmas or Easter.