Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Global South Christianity Slams Into the Muslim World

Tectonic plates are not enemies but instead can exist side-by-side each other in relative peace for years. It is only when the one side gives and a conflict erupts that the violent calamity known as an earthquake occurs.

Much the same situation exists in the Third World where the borders of Islam meet the non-Islamic world. Places like Nigeria, India, and Malaysia have long had mixed communities where Christians and Muslims have lived in relative peace despite some horrible exceptions. The last twenty-five years have seen a rise in violence; however, as, usually but not always, Muslims have targeted the Christians.

One variable in this violence equation, Islamist Extremism, has been explored ad nauseum. Another factor exists though: the rise of an active and confident Christianity that is not based in London or Rome but instead is primarily a local affair even if it is Anglican or Catholic. Religious expert Philip Jenkins explains that this Global South Christianity believes in its teachings, relates to the stories of the persecuted poor, and has a joyful energy in spreading that I feel has not been seen since the Jesuits converted North and South America.

Already Global South Christianity has deeply impacted the United Methodist Church and the Anglican Communion. Protestant Global Southers are becoming more active in missionary activity in Africa and even the First World. Catholic Global Southers in Africa are getting the Church more active in social issues while remaining conservative in theology, thus avoiding the trap of Marxism that Latin American Liberation Theology Catholics fell into it.

Global South Christianity will continue to grow in power in both the Third and First Worlds. I except that in a few decades theologians from Africa and Asia will been to weld great sway in Global Christianity.


The Geography Lady said...

Even though it appears that the conflict is religious in nature, the root cause is a conflict between different lifestyles - pastoralists and farmers. These conflicts are increasing as the population increases. Good land is in short supply, and both groups need it. this competition for the land between people with different lifestyles, different tribes, and different cultures inevitavbly results in conflict.
It's easy for outsiders to see it as a religious war, but its roots are in scarcity of resources. The religious part is just 'icing on the cake.'

Ali said...

I have to agree with Geography Lady. These clashes of pastoralists and farmers along the Sahel predate the introduction of Christianity (and one can assume Islam) and are reproduced in almost identical fashion in areas where both groups are Muslim (Darfur) or both groups are Christian (Oromo and Amhar in Ethiopia or historically (farming) Hutu and (pastoralist) Tutsi in Rwanda).

Ali said...

And the obvious example of nomadic Turkmen and Kurds against sedentary Turks and Armenians in Eastern Anatolia.