Religious Pluralism in a Global Age
5. The Protestant Strain (from 1945 on) 98
A growing interest in exploring the content of other religions, their histories, and the cultures of which they were a part was a feature of Protestant thought in the sec- ond half of the twentieth century. Nevertheless, a stark dualism prevailed, many Protestant missionaries encouraged local peoples’ to accept a Western export ver- sion of unalloyed Christianity that included the categorical rejection of indigenous beliefs and practices, art and music. Once I encountered an elderly French mission- ary who had spent many years in the rainforests of Cameroon, and proudly showed me a room where converts turned in their traditional African marks and ritual objects, which he burned as “fetishes.” Meanwhile, museum curators were period- ically traversing the rain forest, trying to find such objects for their collections. The preeminent Protestant theologian of midcentury, Paul Tillich, was deeply moved by his late in life encounter with Buddhism in Japan, said he wished he could start all over on his theological writing, and sketched out a “Religion of the concrete spirit” which he left undeveloped. Lesslie Newbegin, a leading writer on Western missionary thought, was both an astute observer of India, where he lived and wrote for many years, and unyielding in his conviction that its religions were deficient. Newbegin was not an academic theologian, but wrestled throughout his life with questions raised in cross-cultural religious contact. Still, a greater under- standing of and tolerance toward other world religions was a feature of most of 5 The Protestant Strain (from 1945...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.