Future of Religion
Protestants, Catholics, and Global Christianity: An Interview with Mark Noll
There have been tremendous tensions in places like South America between Catholics and charismatics. Is that a tension that is still rife today, or are there recent developments?
In the bigger picture, you would have to say that the places where interdenominational tensions remain are places that historically have had the Christendom model. So Latin America would be a place where the government supported the church and the church supported the government. To some extent, the Christendom model existed in Africa because of the colonial situation.
Where that does not exist -- Singapore, many places in Canada, some other parts of the world where that past is not there -- it's a very different situation. The history is quite important for understanding the quality and the character of contemporary connections.
Lastly, I want to ask about the encounter of Christianity with other religions. Among evangelicals, even, we have seen some very encouraging signs about building relationships with members of other religious communities, rather than standing at a distance and throwing the gospel from afar. On the other hand, there are considerable tensions, in particular between Christianity and Islam. When you look at America's mission efforts today, are there any best practice models you have seen of ways in which missionaries and mission organizations live among, relate to, interact with other religious organizations and communities?
What I am aware of is many more efforts to persuade, rather than coerce. Many more efforts to learn the local cultures and languages as an integral part of spreading the gospel. Many more efforts to think in long-term categories about aspects of proselytization and evangelization.
Inter-religious contact is just set up for many issues. There are many bad practices that continue to exist, but I think there is, in many Christian groups, a lot more sensitivity, and an encouraging combination of faithfulness to the gospel and respect for other people.
Dr. Timothy Dalrymple is the Associate Director of Content at Patheos, and writes weekly on faith, politics, and culture for Patheos' Evangelical Portal. Follow him at his blog, Philosophical Fragments, on Facebook or on Twitter.