by Gene L. Green, Stephen T. Pardue, K.K. Yeo, eds.
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2014.
—Reviewed by Michael Hakmin Lee, PhD, adjunct professor, Intercultural Studies, Lincoln Christian University.
Jesus without Borders is the inaugural book in the new Majority World Theology series, one that recognizes the unfolding reality of major demographic shifts within the face of Global Christianity and the need for greater inclusion of Majority World perspectives. Such a “collaborative experiment in the renovation of theology” (p. 7), an enterprise long dominated by North American and European scholarship, promises to advance the development of appropriately contextualized theological resources for the regions where Christianity is thriving. Likewise, the maturation of global theology benefits all within the Global Church—to “grasp the gospel more fully” and expose more of the “blind spots of our own locally embodied versions of Christianity” (p. 2).
This first volume takes up Christology, and whereas the stated purpose of this series is to produce a resource that is from, for, and about the Majority World, it does so by exploring not just Majority World contributions but also the interplay of early Western Christian tradition (particularly Chalcedonian Christology), scripture, and contemporary local biblical-theological reflections.
The chapters are essays from eight scholars from different regions of the world (one Western, two African, two Asian, two Latino/a, and one Palestinian) who were asked to speak to what Christology looks like in their region, what they aspire it to be, and how Chalcedonian Christology configures into their contextualized Christological reflections. I appreciated this directed topical structure, which each contributor dutifully followed, as it focused the conversation, facilitated comparison across regional perspectives, and seemingly enhanced the book’s cohesiveness. The first half of the eight chapters contains contributions from theologians while the latter half are from biblical scholars.
I could not help but notice that all the contributors earned or are pursuing their PhDs from schools in the U.S. or the U.K. and most have academic appointments in Western schools. This is certainly not to question the qualifications of the contributors to speak knowledgeably about their designated contexts, as I felt that all the chapters were of high quality and credible contextual representation, but I wonder if a volume, with its stated purpose of being “from them, for them, and about them” (p. 7) could have been better served by including scholars with less attachments with Western institutions of learning.
Despite methodological variances among the contributors as to how the aforementioned triad (scripture, tradition, culture) relate, echoes of common affirmations/concerns are clearly discernible throughout the chapters. Notable is the assertion that the cultural context must serve as a source for theologizing. Christology, if it does not start with local questions, ought to at least address or account for local religious concerns. Given the historical and cultural rootedness of ecumenical creeds, which may not adequately address local concerns and lack conceptual translatability (e.g., Greco-Roman preoccupation with ontology), many accordingly spoke of the need to go “beyond” (though not abandon) Chalcedonian Christology (p. 104). This highly recommended book is a great start to a very promising series.
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EMQ, Vol. 52, No. 1 pp. 106-107. Copyright © 2016 Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMQ editors.