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Global Christianity - Fall 2010

Global Christianity - Fall 2010

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Published by: akotsko on Oct 14, 2010
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Global Christianity RELG 295-01 Tuesday/Thursday 8:30-10:20 Dewing 205 Instructor: Adam Kotsko Office: Humphrey House 109

Office Hours: Tuesday/Thursday 2:45-4:00 or by appointment E-mail: akotsko@kzoo.edu Course Description Despite its roots in the Ancient Near East, Christianity has historically been identified with Europe and, later, majority-white former British colonies, most notably the U.S. In the postwar era, however, what is sometimes called the “Third World” has emerged as the home of the majority of the world’s Christians—and arguably the site of the greatest dynamism and innovation in Christian thought and practice. This course focuses on the two contemporary manifestations of Christianity that have attained the greatest worldwide reach: Liberation Theology and Pentecostalism. The contrast between the two will guide our path through the various regions of the Third World, discussing both roughly equally in the Latin American context, focusing more on Pentecostalism in Africa, and concentrating primarily on Liberation Theology in Asia (specifically Korea). Course Goals Upon completing this course, students should: • understand and assess representative forms of Third World Christianity in their historical, political, and economic contexts; • be able to identify the central themes and arguments of texts from a variety of perspectives and state them in a clear and sympathetic way in class discussion; • be able to bring those texts into productive dialogue with one another; and • be able to formulate criticisms in a way that is attentive to the original author’s intent and argumentation. Course Texts Required textbooks: • Harvey Cox, Fire from Heaven: The Rise of Pentecostal Spirituality and the Reshaping of Religion in the 21st Century (Da Capo) • Kevin O’Neill, City of God: Christian Citizenship and Power in Postwar Guatemala (Univ. of California) • Gustavo Gutierrez, On Job: God-Talk and the Suffering of the Innocent (Orbis) • Paul Gifford, Ghana’s New Christianity: Pentecostalism in a Globalizing African Economy (Indiana) • Andrew Sung Park, The Wounded Heart of God: The Asian Concept of Han and the Christian Doctrine of Sin (Abingdon) Additional essays and selections will be made available by the most convenient means and are marked in the reading schedule (**). 1

Course Requirements 1. Communication: All students should check their e-mail regularly, at minimum once a day, as that will be the professor’s primary way of communicating outside of class. 2. Course readings: The bulk of the work of this class is the reading. All readings should be completed before the class session for which they are listed. Study questions will be provided to guide students in reading. 3. Class participation: Class periods will incorporate significant lecture elements, but each class period will include an in-class discussion. Students are expected to arrive in class ready to discuss the assigned readings in a way that is attentive and accountable to the texts, providing specific references to back up their points. Bringing all the relevant readings to each class session is absolutely essential. 4. Reading quizzes: On Thursday of each week beginning with week 2, students will be given a quiz in-class that will deal with two randomly selected reading questions from the previous two class sessions, in addition to one question drawn from the lecture materials. Quizzes will be graded; each student’s lowest quiz grade will be dropped when determining the final average of all quizzes. 5. Papers: Students will be expected to complete three papers of 3-5 double-spaced pages over the course of the quarter. These are not research papers; they are based entirely on the class readings. At the same time, they should go beyond “reflection papers” in drawing explicitly and heavily on those class readings rather than simply putting forward your own opinions. a. Paper #1: Compare and contrast Liberation Theology and Pentecostalism, addressing the following questions along with other concerns you feel are particularly relevant: What is the intended audience for each movement? What are their goals? What arguments do they make for continuity with the Christian tradition? b. Paper #2: Based primarily on the O’Neill and Gifford texts, assess the degree to which Third World Pentecostalism can be called an “American” movement and the degree to which it reflects the local culture, being attentive to the differences between the forms of Pentecostalism found in Guatemala and Ghana. c. Paper #3: In light of all our readings, discussions, and class lectures, assess the respective impacts of Liberation Theology and Pentecostalism, using whatever standard you find most relevant or important. Examples might include which seems to be most faithful to the Christian heritage, which does the best job of incorporating local culture and perspectives, or which seems more likely to have a positive impact on its members and their socieities (whether morally, economically, politically, etc.). Students should consult with the professor before finalizing their approach on this assignment. 6. Attendance: Attendance is expected, in light of the fact that this is a discussion-heavy class. While attendance will not be formally tracked, a clear pattern of absenteeism will result in a reduction in your grade. In addition, Thursday quizzes are to be done in class only except under extenuating circumstances (exceptions will be dealt with on a case-bycase basis).


7. Late papers and missed quizzes: Extensions and make-up quizzes are possible if agreed upon in advance; please contact the professor by e-mail if you believe you will need either. 8. Academic integrity: All students are expected to fully abide by the Honor Code of Kalamazoo College. Collaborative study is encouraged, but all submitted work must be the student’s own. Grade summary: • Class participation: 10% • Reading quizzes: 30% • Papers: 20% each Outline of Course and Reading Week 1: What is “global Christianity”? Tuesday: Course intro Thursday: Jenkins, “The Christian Revolution” from The Next Christendom (**); Cox, Fire from Heaven, preface, intro; Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, ch. 1 (**) Week 2: The origins of Liberation Theology Tuesday: Gutiérrez, On Job, intro, parts 1 and 2 Thursday: Gutiérrez, On Job, part 3 Week 3: The origins of Pentecostalism Tuesday: Cox, Fire from Heaven, chs. 1-3 Thursday: Cox, Fire from Heaven, chs. 4-8 Week 4: Neo-Pentecostalism in the Americas Tuesday: Cox, Fire from Heaven, chs. 9, 13, and 14; Paper #1 due in class Thursday: O’Neill, City of God, preface, intro, ch. 1; Dominquez, “The Great Commission” (**) Week 5: Christian citizenship in Guatemala Tuesday: O’Neill, City of God, chs. 2 and 3; Huntington, “God’s Saving Plan” (**) Thursday: O’Neill, City of God, chs. 4 and 5; Brusco, “The Reformation of Machismo” (**) Week 6: Wrap-up on Latin America; Intro to Africa’s “New Christianity” Tuesday: O’Neill, City of God, ch. 6, conclusion; Sobrino, “Extra Pauperes Nulla Salus” from No Salvation Outside the Poor (**) Thursday: Gifford, Ghana’s New Christianity, chs. 1 and 2; Cox, Fire from Heaven, ch. 12


Week 7: The “prophets” of African Christianity Tuesday: Gifford, Ghana’s New Christianity, chs. 3 and 4; Ela, “Critical Awareness and Religion in Black Africa,” from African Cry (**) Thursday: Gifford, Ghana’s New Christianity, ch. 5; selection from African Women, Religion, and Health (**) Week 8: Wrap-up on Africa; Intro to Asian Christianities Tuesday: Gifford, Ghana’s New Christianity, chs. 6-7; selection from Oduyoye, Hearing and Knowing (**) Thursday: Cox, Fire from Heaven, ch. 11; Choo Chai-Yong, “A Brief Sketch of a Korean Christian History from the Minjung Perspective” from Minjung Theology (**); Boo-Woong Yoo, selection from Korean Pentecostalism (**); Paper #2 due in class Week 9: “Syncretism” and Transformation: An Example from Korean Liberation Theology Tuesday: Park, Wounded Heart of God, intro, chs. 1 through 4 Thursday: Park, Wounded Heart of God, chs. 6 through 9 Week 10: Concluding Reflections on Liberation Theology and Pentecostalism Tuesday: Sobrino, “Depth and Urgency of the Option for the Poor” from No Salvation Outside the Poor (**); Cox, Fire from Heaven, ch. 15 Thursday: Thanksgiving Day Paper #3 due by noon, Wednesday of finals week


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