Book Write-Up: Global Church, by Graham Hill

Graham Hill.  Global Church: Reshaping Our Conversations, Renewing Our Mission, Revitalizing Our Churches.  Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2016.  See here to buy the book.

Most Christians today live, not in the West, but in the Majority World: Africa, Asia, and Latin and South America.  In Global Church, Graham Hill talks about what Western Christians can learn from Christians in the Majority World and among First Nation peoples (i.e., Native Americans, aborigines).

The book has its advantages.  The author’s heart is in the right place, in that he supports social justice and creation care as a part of Christian mission.  He is sensitive to the plight of the needy and acknowledges the social and economic challenges that face the world today.  He expounds good principles: listening to people’s stories, being hospitable, etc.  His discussion about how African Christians see the Bible as a source of life was profound, and his discussion of what he considered the strengths and weaknesses of liberation theology was judicious.  Hill talks about what Christianity actually looks like among Majority World and First Nation peoples: some African versions, for instance, have a sort of prosperity Gospel, which is not surprising, considering that seeking material prosperity has long been an element of traditional religions.  Hill’s book does well to provide a framework for how Western Christians can learn from Majority World and First Nation Christians.  Hill also refers to sources that an interested person may find helpful, as well as key Christian thinkers in the Majority World and among First Nation peoples; that makes the book a good introduction to this issue, and also a useful source for reference.

The book was very repetitive, however.  It could have used more anecdotes: the book talks about hearing the stories and biblical interpretations of the poor.  Why not share examples of that with us?  The book had some anecdotes, though.  The book could have had a more substantive discussion on how Western Christians can respond to aspects of Majority World and First Nation Christianity that they consider unbiblical.  Overall, the book refers to voices that are liberationist, even with regard to gay issues.  While I have no problem with that, the book should have discussed how many Majority World Christians consider homosexuality a sin, which has posed a challenge to a number of mainline Christian denominations.

This book makes important points, but it is not always very specific, and it could have been deeper.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

 

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About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. I study the History of Biblical Interpretation at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio, as part of its Ph.D. program. I have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting.
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