One of the realities that is slowly dawning on me, one that I trust will have a profound and positive impact in my life, is that Christianity is a global religion. By this I do not mean only that Christianity is theoretically for the whole world. This of course is certainly true. But more than that, I mean that Christianity is in actuality increasingly represented, not by Westerners only, but also by those throughout our world. By all measures, over the last century the "center of gravity"for our faith has shifted from the global West and North to the global East and South. And while this shift in many ways signals the decline of Christianity in our own culture (a most lamentable fact), I submit that this new development is overall a positive thing that we ought to rejoice concerning.
That being said, such titanic global shifts carry with them some (if not many) challenges. One such challenge is articulated well by Tite Tiénou, Professor of Theology of Mission, as well as Senior Vice President of Education and Dean of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. In his "Christian Theology in an Era of Global Christianity" (from Globalizing Theology, edited by Craig Ott and Harold A. Netland. Baker Academic, 2006), Tiénou argues essentially that those in the West who undertake the task of theology need to take into consideration the vast numbers of Christians outside of the West, where theology typically has developed. More than that, the West needs to humbly listen to non-Westerners and not resist their taking full part in the theological task in this generation and in the generations to come. In short, Tiénou urges us to realize that theology is a task for the global church.
To all of this, I say Amen! Let us welcome our brothers and sisters throughout the world, as Christ has welcomed us (Romans 15:7).
But let us do so in more than just words. Let us show them that we truly welcome them by reading their works, by even learning their languages that we might do so, and by ceasing to arrogantly see ourselves as the standard of all theology (e.g. labeling ours "systematic theology" while theirs is "African" or "Chinese" systematic theology). To be sure, let us rejoice that for centuries and even now God has used the men and women of the North and West to bring His truth to light. But let us not think that those men and women alone have been or are God's instruments. Or is God the God of the Westerners only?