Monday, March 24, 2008

Tipping a Hat to the Global South

From time to time, the leadership literature of the “Global North” (the former “sending” nations) refers to the vibrancy of the Church in the Global South. Alan Roxburgh and Fred Romanuk (The Missional Leader) state: “In sub-Saharan Africa, where AIDS and drought abound, Christian life and witness are vibrant. With few resources, the church is growing and vital; it is addressing the dire needs of its peoples ...” (Roxburgh A J and Romanuk F 2006:39); Andrew Kirk (Global Good News) refers to the “missionary effectiveness” of the Church of the South, and its “ability to inspire people to be agents and embodiments of the life of God’s new creation in Jesus Christ” (Snyder H A ed. 2001:130); while Eddie Gibbs (Leadership Next) considers: “We can learn valuable lessons from the Southern Hemisphere” (Gibbs E 2005:20). Yet curiously, this is as far as it goes. The “vibrant life”, the “missionary effectiveness”, the “valuable lessons” are kept under wraps. There is a perfunctory tipping of the hat to the Church of the South, then a near complete disregard for the views and ethos of the South. QUESTION: What are the reasons for this state of affairs? What is the meaning of such “tipping of the hat”? The photo shows Alan Roxburgh and Fred Romanuk.


Steve Hayes said...

Imperialism and racism for a start.

Church leaders in the Global North have an innate sense of their own superiority, and reject the thought that they have anything to learn from the "lesser breeds without the law".

One Northern blogger exemplified this attitude when he scornfully dismissed the views of a Tanzanian Anglican bishop by saying that he wasn't sure of the difference between Tanzania and Tasmania -- the implication being that the views of anyone coming from either place didn't matter.

Thomas Scarborough said...

You’ve said it for the South, but I wonder whether a Northerner would understand what you’re saying? Having said this, Andrew Kirk (whom I quoted) speaks of “the deeply felt superiority of Western culture and civilization ... We in the West should repent of our blindness, hypocrisy, and unfaithfulness and change our views ...”. (Snyder H A ed. 2001:129,134). However, he then goes on to state characteristic Western views!

Steve Hayes said...

I'm really not sure what to make of Andrew Kirk. In 1979 he spoke at Sacla, and was quite inspiring. But 20 years later he was singing the Western neoliberal song. He sounded to me like a sell-out.