EDITORIAL "Political empires and economic systems have come and gone, but the world religions have survived. They are the longest lasting of civilization's primary institutions. " This is a quotation from one of the most challenging writings on religious conversion published in the last decade (Robert W. Hefner, Conversion to Christianity (Berkeley; University of California Press, 1993: 34). World religions survive because they are living tradi- tions ; thus they are changing, moving in place and content. It has been since long that we could talk about 'expansion of Christianity', in terms of quantity, as if just more of the same kind would join the existing ranks. Time has passed also when within ecumenical studies some people could dream about a simple 'return to a visible and original unity'. In academic life the study of Christian mission and its ecumenical strategies are now closer to study of inculturation, of intercultural exchange and of a creative modernity that has to surpass the past schisms between denominations and religions. This process has always been closely related to its context. The articles in this issue are also mostly connected with this context and could not have been written some ten or fifteen years ago. This gives this branch of theology a somewhat fleeting character. But it makes it also actual and genuine. Karel Steenbrink opens the issue with a summary of the present state in the debate on 'mission and dialogue', with conclusions related to the more tense relations between 'the West' and the Muslim world after 11 1 September 2002. Sound Christian theology should not cooperate with seeking the new enemy in the Muslim ranks. Andrea Martins and Lucia Padua give a concise but very rich report about the dramatic changes in the religious landscape of Brazil during the last decades. To the surprise of many, religious revival in many places took the form of a spectacular increase of Pentecostalism. The authors do not consider this Pentecost- alism as a rival to Catholicism or Theology of Liberation, but find clear complementarity between the two. Continuing our tradition of contribu- tions on non-Western Christian art (see also the article by Volker Kfster in Exchange vol 30, 359-371) Stefan Belderbos portrays the synthesis between Western and Indian tradition. Christ as a cosmic drummer introduces a new dimension to the image of Christ as Creator. Frans Verstraelen has read the impressive and voluminous recent publications on African Christian history and makes his comparisons, while delineating also the prospects of future studies. For our next issue we hope to publish a special issue on the European reception of EATWOT theology. In this way we attempt to realize some aspects of what has been coined as the missionary ideal of 'Partnership in Obedience' ( Whitby 1947, International Missionary Council).-Karel Steenbrink
Exchange – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2002
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