Peter Sedgwick

I shall argue that there are two challenges for Christianity from globalization. First, theology has long engaged with political thought in the West, especially in terms of Luther's "two kingdoms" theory There is also the relationship of Christianity to the great nineteenth-century ideologies of socialism and neo-liberalism. However, the impact of globalization is such that there is little certainty any more about the future of politics (Lloyd 2001a). Once there were political theories of justice, which were rationalist, utilitarian, and dependent on classical theories of the citizen in the nation-state. In their place today comes a much greater reliance on ad hoc theories, which are pragmatic in a fast-changing world. For example, Martha Nussbaum and Amartya Sen speak of "multiple identities" as a basis for a theory of justice which can enable a response to poverty. Even if globalization as a phenomenon has been overinter-preted (Hay and Marsh 2000), such a philosophical shift is of great significance, and has led many political scientists to rethink much of their analysis of political life.

The second challenge is the practice of mission. Local churches in large cities are the future for much of Christianity across the world. As these become less and less Western in their understanding of authority, tradition, and beliefs, the practice of Christianity will become more diffuse and harder to fit within a conventional doctrinal framework. The issue of mission is central to the global future of Christianity. There has been a great deal of writing in contemporary theology on the future of mission, arising from the idea of "the church as counterculture" (Budde and Brimlow 2000). David Bosch, Murray Demster, and others have all highlighted the importance of urban mission, as have Laurie Green and Andrew Davey. Their writing is important because it mediates the praxis of non-Western, yet urban, Christianity into England. The challenge is to contextualize the practice of mission in a way that is sensitive to the local culture.

What is interesting is how the discussion of justice and multiple identities combines with reflection on mission. The theories of justice found in Nussbaum and Sen are important because they generate in communities a vision of what is possible. Such a vision in turn has the power to create social change, and to prevent catastrophic poverty and famine. The agents in developing countries are local - often faith - communities. In the case of the churches, it is clear that the local Christian communities which Sen and Nussbaum see as fundamental are both engaging with theories of justice in a way very different from traditional political theories, and also seeking to practice new forms of mission. The tension is very creative: in the expanding global cities the crucial factor is to hold together both a mission strategy and a justice strategy. The fascinating question is whether the alliance of Christians with secular bodies against poverty is affected by the growth of local forms of Christianity: whether, in fact, the question of justice and identity is related to the issue of mission. In my view, the question of the understanding of mission and justice by local churches across the globe will introduce a new factor into the debate about the future of Christianity.

In other words, I think that the future of non-Western Christianity will be on the one hand a struggle, in alliance with secular bodies and environmental and feminist movements, against poverty and violence. On the other, it will be about the mission of local Christian groups ("churches") in predominantly urban areas. The alliance with secular bodies raises the complex philosophical issue of which theory of justice unites Christian groups with these bodies. The issue of mission and inculturation raises a different question: that of the identity of Christianity in the movement of the Spirit.

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