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Shadow Boxing: The Missionary Encounter with Christian Theology in World Religions

[7] I have looked elsewhere (Harries, in press) at how fear of Islam underlies a lot of people’s reluctance to promote Christ through their concern that to do so may be putting themselves into the line of fire. Atheism perhaps avoids some of the venom of Islam, something that its traditions seem not to know how to deal with. I ask whether that is sufficient reason to deny people the truth of Christ?

[8] Here is a definition for ‘folk religion’: “Folk religion is basically made up of certain ethnic or regional religious traditions that practice under the guise of an established religion, but is outside the boundaries of official doctrine and practices. Folk religion’s indigenous or native beliefs are held all over the world, particularly in parts of South America, Africa, China, and Southeast Asia” ( ).




Almond, Philip, C., (1988) The British Discovery of Buddhism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Asad, Talal, (2011) ‘Freedom of Speech and Religious Limitations.’ 282-297, in: Calhoun, Craig and Juergensmeyer, Mark and VanAntwerpen, Jonathan, eds. 2011, Rethinking Secularism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Cavanaugh, William T., (2009) The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Evans, Richard, (2011) ‘The Victorians: religion and science.’ Lecture presented at Museum of London on Monday 14th March 2011.

Gifford, Paul, (2015) Christianity, Development and Modernity in Africa. London: Hurst and Company.

Goodrich, Charles A., (1834) Religious Ceremonies and Customs. Hartford: Hutchinson and Dwier.

Harries, Jim, (in press) The Godless Delusion.

Harries, Jim, (2008) ‘Intercultural Dialogue – an overrated means of acquiring understanding examined in the context of Christian Mission to Africa.’ Exchange: Journal of Missiological and Ecumenical Research. 37/2, (2008) 174-189.

Harries, Jim, (2011) ‘‘The Name of God in Africa’ and related contemporary theological, development and linguistic concerns.’ 1-22 In: Harries, Jim, 2011. Vulnerable Mission: Insights Into Christian Mission to Africa From a Position of Vulnerability. Pasadena: William Carey Library.

Harries, Jim, (2015) Secularism and Africa: In the Light of the Intercultural Christ. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock.

Harries, Jim, (2016) New Foundations for Appreciating Africa: beyond religious and secular deceptions. World of Theology Series 9, World Evangelical Alliance. Bonn: Verlag für Kultur und Wissenschaft.

Lynch, Cecelia, (2011) ‘Religious Humanitarianism and the global politics of secularism.’ 204-224 in: Calhoun, Craig and Juergensmeyer, Mark and VanAntwerpen, Jonathan, eds. 2011, Rethinking Secularism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Masuzawa, Tomoko, (2005) The Invention of World Religions: Or, How European Universalism Was Preserved in the Language of Pluralism. London: University of Chicago Press.

Said, Edward, (2001) ‘Introduction to Orientalism’ 30-52 in: Cain, Peter, J. and Harrison, Mark, (eds) Imperialism: Critical Concepts in Historical Studies, Vol. III., London: Routledge.

Srikantan, Geetanjali, (2015) ‘Secularisation and Theologisation examining the inner dynamics behind the British colonial encounter with “Hindu law”,’ 49-95 in: Journal of Law, Religion and State, 4, (2015).

Stepan, Alfred, (2011) ‘The Multiple Secularisms of Modern Democratic and non-Democratic Regimes’, 114-144 in: Calhoun, Craig and Juergensmeyer, Mark and VanAntwerpen, Jonathan, eds. 2011, Rethinking Secularism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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Category: Fall 2016, In Depth

About the Author: Jim Harries, PhD (University of Birmingham), is professor of religion with Global University and adjunct faculty with William Carey International University. He works closely with a wide variety of churches in western Kenya in informal theological education. These include many African founded churches, Pentecostal churches, and the Coptic Orthodox church. Jim uses indigenous languages, and local resources in his ministry. He chairs the Alliance for Vulnerable Mission and is the author of Vulnerable Mission: Insights into Christian Mission to Africa from a Position of Vulnerability (William Carey Library, 2011), Three Days in the Life of an African Christian Villager (New Generation Publishing, 2011), Theory to Practice in Vulnerable Mission: An Academic Appraisal (Wipf and Stock, 2012), Communication in Mission and Development: Relating to the Church in Africa (Wipf and Stock, 2013), Secularism and Africa: In the Light of the Intercultural Christ (Wipf and Stock, 2015), New Foundations for Appreciating Africa: Beyond Religious and Secular Deceptions (VKW, 2016), The Godless Delusion: Europe and Africa (Wipf & Stock, 2017), and a novel African Heartbeat: And A Vulnerable Fool (2018). Facebook: Vulnerable Mission. Twitter: @A4VM.

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