Christianity is the leading and among the oldest religion in the world. The history of Christianity and its practices are associated with the people’s social and cultural lives in the Global North (Karkkainen & Kärkkäinen, 2013). Over the last century, the Christian faith has transitioned, resulting in Christianity’s development in the Global South. Karkkainen and Kärkkäinen (2013) define the Global North as Europe and North America, while the Global South comprises developing continents, such as Asia, Latin America, and Africa. The shift and spread of Christian faith to the Global South change the perception and ideology of looking at Christianity from one perspective. For example, the author states, “…we should think of a woman living in a village in Nigeria or a Brazilian favela, as the centers of the church’s universality are no longer in Geneva…” (Karkkainen & Kärkkäinen, 2013, p.144). Christianity has evolved over the years and spread to other regions of the world. Its adoption in other cultures implies that Christianity cannot be understood or studies from a Western perspective.
The study of Christianity in the Global South provides a critical review of the relationship between traditions and Christianity. Karkkainen and Kärkkäinen (2013) discuss the understanding of Latin Americans about Christ and Christianity. For example, the oppressed in Latin America understood Christianity as a religion that promises a better place and rewards against oppression. Therefore, the oppressed would not fight against evil because of their belief that Jesus suffered and ascended to heaven, so they too will be rewarded. Karkkainen and Kärkkäinen (2013) state, “…instead of resisting the evil and working for liberation, the dreamed of another world,” (Karkkainen & Kärkkäinen, 2013, p.150). However, there is a contrasting view about such perception in Christianity. The Orthodox Christology advocates for liberation and the fight against evil. Latin American culture views Christ as a liberator. Thus, Christianity in Latin America is inclusive and calls on everyone outside the religion to fellowship in unity with other community members.
From the African perspective, Christ is an ancestor. Christianity in Africa has rapidly grown since the last century. Africa was characterized by numerous mission centers, and it was forecasted that Africa has the highest number of Christians in the world than any other continent (Karkkainen & Kärkkäinen, 2013). Historically, Africans were convinced that their religion was inferior to Western Christianity, and the only way of becoming a ‘true’ Christian was to reject African cultural values (Karkkainen & Kärkkäinen, 2013). The African religious culture was influenced by various Christological approaches and trends, such as the Roman Catholic and Protestants. Christ was perceived as a powerful being among the Africans.
The understanding of Christ and Christianity influences the social and cultural beliefs among different ethnic groups in the world. Karkkainen and Kärkkäinen (2013) observe that Christianity is not widespread in Asia, despite the emergence of many religions such a Buddhism in the Asian continent. The connection between the lives of Asians and Christianity provides a clear understanding of the religious and cultural lives of Asians. Karkkainen and Kärkkäinen (2013) suggest that Asian Christians make up a small percent of world Christians because of their reluctance to employ the Western culture.
In conclusion, Christianity has evolved over the years and influenced different cultures and religions. Christians from the Global North are seen as the missionaries of the Gospel, while people in the Global South are receivers of Christian ideologies. However, from the chapter, it is noted that churches in the Global North have influenced the values and authenticity of Christianity. For example, missionaries played a role in initiating a cultural change of the Africans during the pre-colonial period. Therefore, the replacement of African religious practices with Western Christianity influenced their cultural identity.
Karkkainen, V. M., & Kärkkäinen, V. M. (2003). Christology: A global introduction. Baker Academic.