Given the global reality of world Christianity today, in addition to traditional theological questions, a long list of issues could be included in an agenda for the globalizing of theology. Particularly, evangelicals must overcome a tendency to focus merely on local concerns and personal piety, on the one hand, and grand theological abstractions, on the other. As M. Daniel Carroll R. and others have reminded us, they must expand their theological horizon to include a global perspective on pressing theological and practical questions. Here are just a few:

Missiologically

  • What are the nature and implications of the missio Dei in our time?24
  • How should a sequel to David Bosch’s Transforming Mission (1991) be written, defining a biblical paradigm mission for the twenty-first century?25
  • What are the implications of the current state of world Christianity for our mandate to fulfill the Great Commission and make disciples of all nations?
  • What can we as a global church learn from one another regarding the encounter of Christianity and non-Christian religions and various worldviews?

Ecclesiologically

  • What are the ecclesiological constants amid the diversity of forms and expressions of the church? How should the reality of a truly global Christianity affect our understanding and experience of the diversity and beauty in the body of Christ?26 Charles Van Engen in his chapter pointed the way forward in this discussion.
  • How might an understanding of the Trinity provide insight into questions of unity and diversity in the church?
  • In what ways should the vision of a new humanity in Christ according to Ephesians 2 and other biblical texts be realized in the local and global church today?
  • How can the experience of the persecuted or suffering church enrich and fill gaps in our ecclesiology?

Historically

  • As Andrew Walls reminded us in these pages, “The study of the past is always a cross-cultural exercise.” What are the implications of this for the writing of church history today given the multiethnic nature of world Christianity?
  • In what ways must our understanding of the spread and growth of Christianity be expanded or corrected?27 Walls noted for us great gaps in the study of Western as well as non-Western Christianity.
  • How must historical theology be rewritten in light of the way culture has affected theology—particularly in the non-Western world? To quote Walls again, “A culture-sensitive reading of the history of Christian doctrine might note how the crossing of cultural frontiers extends and enlarges theology.”

Ethically

  • How must we as a global church respond to the great pressing social issues of our day, such as poverty, injustice, war, racism, the AIDS crisis, bioethical questions, use of technology, materialism, sexual and family ethics, women’s rights, stewardship of the environment, etc.?
  • What can the church do to promote racial and ethnic reconciliation?
  • What are the theological and ethical implications of globalization? Carroll has sounded a call to evangelicals in his chapter to address this topic more seriously with a “hermeneutics of responsibility.”
  • How can theological dialogue in the global church lead us to better understandings of civil religion, nationalism, ethnic identity, and church-state relations? Eloise Hiebert Meneses in these pages indicated the urgency of such dialogue.

The agenda for global theologizing will continue to evolve as new issues arise and discussions proceed. Various international writing projects, consultations, working groups, and forums have already been at work on many of these issues. We can continue to anticipate creative and challenging answers if we have the will to pursue more intentionally such dialogue and to make it happen.

Craig Ott, “Conclusion: Globalizing Theology,” in Globalizing Theology: Belief and Practice in an Era of World Christianity (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 327–329.







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