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  • Cited by 1
  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: March 2008

24 - Christianity in South-East Asia, 1914–2000




In the course of the twentieth century, Christianity in south-east Asia moved out of the passing shadow of Western colonialism to assert itself as a non-Western Asian religion. In cultures that take spirituality for granted and where poverty, social need and religious diversity are daily facts of life, Christians are discovering the antiquity of their history in the region, but are also part of its stories of colonialism, modernisation, nationalism, independence, nation-building and globalisation. Some groups have been persecuted when their faith or ethnic group provided a religious or economic threat. Both colonial rulers and independent nations encouraged Christian mission when it represented education, social skills, development and the pacification of areas where political control was weak. If missionaries and expatriate workers from other cultures often mediated the transmission of Christianity during the colonial era, the long-term development of south-east Asian Christianity fundamentally relates to its ability to connect with personal and community religious needs and social aspirations. A test of its strength in the twenty-first century may also be its ability not only to engage with its own context, but to challenge traditional centres of Christian authority and power around the globe.

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