Indigenous Churches

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DMIN 516
CONTOURS OF LEADERSHIP AND EMERGING CULTURE
DR. MARYKATE MORSE, PhD

Samuel D. Stephens
ACADEMIC ESSAY
THE QUEST FOR INDIGENIETY
December 10, 2012

CONTENTS

Introduction3
Indigenous Christian Movements in Africa, 5
Latin America and Asia – an overview
Christianity Becomes Indian7
Indigenized, Indigenous and Indigeniety12
The Third Wave16
Conclusion19
Works Cited21
Bibliography23
Appendix26

INTRODUCTION

Every trait that was a part of the revolutionary movement that penetrated the Greek and Roman cultures of the first century are evident in the rapidly growing Christward movement in India. In relating the origins and the growth of the New Testament Church we find an account of the origins and the growth of the present indigenous church in India This essay is an initial attempt at highlighting a vigorous indigenous church planting movement that is gaining rapid momentum now in India. First hand eye-witnesses to the ‘field’ have repeatedly described their experience as “walking through the pages of the New Testament” and that “the New Testament comes to life in India”. It isn’t just an analogy. In many respects it is literally true. The sick are healed. Demons are cast out. The blind see and the lame walk. The Kingdom of God is flourishing. This is perhaps one of the largest movements in the history of the Indian Church however, one that is less known and needless to mention, less discussed in Christian academia. Therefore, very little documented and published material is available if none at all. For a better understanding of this movement, it is critical to be familiar with the ‘great traditions and little traditions’ that have governed indigenous movements in various parts of the world. A description of the interaction of these traditions with indigenous movements is a vast subject for independent research. “Subaltern” is another important word in the study of Indigeniety especially in the Indian context since its principles underlie streams of emerging indigenous theologies and indigenous movements originating in response to colonialism and other oppressive cultural elements. An overview of a select few of such indigenous movements from socio-cultural environments in Africa, Latin America and Asia similar to India, is included. A comparison highlights factors that could inhibit or increase the momentum. Indigenous movements among several people groups of the ‘greater traditions’ are also currently active in various regions of the country. They are duly recognized. However, references to Church Growth and Indigenous movements in this essay particularly in the last chapter are limited to movements among the subaltern, Dalit and Tribal people of the ‘little traditions’.

INDIGENOUS CHRISTIAN MOVEMENTS IN AFRICA LATIN AMERICA
AND ASIA – AN OVERVIEW

The Church grew significantly in the non-Western world during the twentieth century. It has absorbed many expressions of the local cultures in which it has become rooted. Just in terms of numbers, these indigenous and independent churches have changed the historical perception of Christianity being part of Western culture. Both numerically and theologically the center of Christian influence has significantly shifted toward the South to Africa, Latin America and Asia. Hedlund explains this trend further that it is “found in the non-traditional (non-Catholic, non-Protestant, non-Syrian) Churches of Indigenous-Independent variety, frequently Charismatic, not necessarily Pentecostal, but of substantial evangelical and cultural diversity. Predominantly it is a Church of the Poor.” A methodical description of Indigenous movements begins from the earliest church portrayed in the book of Acts. ‘Indigeneous Christianity is as old as Christianity itself’. Wherever the Christian Faith has taken roots no matter which continent or nation it may be, the...
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