The Arts as Witness in Multifaith Contexts, Edited by Roberta R. King and William A. Dyrness
The Arts as Witness in Multifaith Contexts
  • Length: 256 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: November 05, 2019
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 5106
  • ISBN: 9780830851065

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In search of holistic Christian witness, missionaries have increasingly sought to take into account all the dimensions of people's cultural and religious lives—including their songs, dances, dramatic performances, storytelling, and visual arts. Missiologists, educators, and practitioners are cultivating new approaches for integrating the arts into mission praxis and celebrating creativity within local communities. And in an increasingly globalized and divided world, peacemaking must incorporate the use of artistic expressions to create understanding among peoples of diverse faiths. As Christians in all nations encounter members of other religions, how do they witness among these neighbors while respecting their distinct traditions?

Building on sessions at the 2018 Missiology Lectures at Fuller Seminary, this book explores the crucial role of the arts in helping people from different cultures and faiths get caught up in the gospel story. Scholars and practitioners from throughout the world present historical and contemporary case studies and analyses. Their subjects include the use of Christian songs during the Liberian civil war and Ebola crisis, social critiques in contemporary Chinese art, interreligious dialogue through choir music in Germany, aesthetic practices of the Zapatista movement in Chiapas, Mexico, and how hip-hop music empowers urban young people in globalizing Mozambique.

These essays foster a conversation about the work that missiologists, art critics, ethnodoxologists, and theologians can do together to help guide church leaders in promoting interfaith and intercultural relationships. While honestly identifying weaknesses in the church's practice, the contributors call all Christians to understand the power of art for expressing cultural and religious identity, opening spaces for transformative encounters, bridging divides, and resisting injustice.

Missiological Engagements charts interdisciplinary and innovative trajectories in the history, theology, and practice of Christian mission, featuring contributions by leading thinkers from both the Euro-American West and the majority world whose missiological scholarship bridges church, academy, and society.

"William Dyrness and Roberta King have assembled an amazing collection of essays that speak of the power of art in making peace, contextualizing theology, and aiding in the evangelization of peoples. Ordinarily we speak of the dialogue of life, common witness, theology, and spirituality. This collection introduces another way of thinking about dialogue: the dialogue of beauty. The beauty of music, dance, poetry, and the visual is one that can transcend faiths and lead to a new way of experiencing how God's grace incarnates itself in human experience. This is a pioneer volume. I hope it begins to point to a new way of thinking about theology and mission."

Stephen Bevans, SVD, Catholic Theological Union, Chicago

"Professors King and Dyrness have gathered a bouquet of perspectives on the arts and multifaith contexts from specialists in theology, missiology, ethnomusicology, ethnodoxology, arts education, artistic creation, performance, and more. This volume highlights the powerful ways that engagement with the arts can help us better understand and engage with the complex belief systems of our globalized world. Be prepared to have your vision expanded and your perspective challenged!"

Robin Harris, director of the Center for Excellence in World Arts at Dallas International University, president of the International Council of Ethnodoxologists

"The Arts as Witness in Multifaith Contexts is a breath of fresh air for those seeking to engage the arts in mission today. The various authors provide a multitude of examples to demonstrate this creative engagement from contexts around the world. Instead of a 'cookbook' approach, the authors demonstrate both the complexities and opportunities for contextualization facing mission practitioners. This timely book provides helpful insight for missiology in today's pluralistic world."

W. Jay Moon, professor of intercultural studies and director of the Office of Faith, Work, and Economics, Asbury Theological Seminary


List of Figures and Tables
Introduction (Roberta R. King and William Dyrness)

Part I: Setting the Stage
1. Arts and Mission: A Complex Story of Cultural Encounter (James R. Krabill)
2. Performing Witness: Loving Our Religious Neighbors Through Musicking (Roberta R. King)

Part II: Christians Reaching Out to Their Neighbors
3. God Moves in a Mysterious Way: Christian Church Music in Multifaith Liberia, West Africa, in the Face of Crisis and Challenge (Ruth M. Stone)
4. Sounds, Languages, and Rhythms: Hybridized Popular Music and Christian-National Identity Formation in Malaysia, Thailand, and Cambodia (Sooi Ling Tan)
5. Art as Dialogue: Exploring Sonically Aware Spaces for Interreligious Encounters (Ruth Illman)
6. "Simba Nguruma": The Labor of Christian Song in Polycultural, Multifaith Kenya (Jean Ngoya Kidula)

Part III: Christians Creating New Interfaith Expressions
7. Crate-Digging Through Culture: Hip-Hop and Mission in Pluralistic Southern Africa (Megan Meyers)
8. "Let the Sacred Be Redefined by the People": An Aesthetics of Challenge Across Religious Lines (Michelle Voss Roberts and Demi Day McCoy)
9. "Wild, Wild China": Contemporary Art and Neocolonialism (Joyce Yu-Jean Lee)
10. The Poetic Formation of Interfaith Identities: The Zapatista Case (William Dyrness)

List of Contributors
Image Credits
Name and Subject Index
Scripture Index


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Roberta R. King (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is a professor of communication and ethnomusicology in Fuller Seminary's School of Intercultural Studies. She specializes in global Christian worship and witness as an ethnomusicologist in mission. King is the author of Pathways in Christian Music Communication, Music in the Life of the African Church, and A Time to Sing: A Manual for the African Church. She is also a global specialist with WorldVenture and an executive board member for Global Consultation on Music and Mission. She lives in Sierra Madre, California.

William A. Dyrness

William A. Dyrness (DTheol, University of Strasbourg; Doctorandus, Free University) is professor of theology and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary. He is the author of many books, including Modern Art and the Life of a Culture (with Jonathan Anderson), Senses of the Soul: Art and the Visual in Christian Worship, Reformed Theology and Visual Culture, Changing the Mind of Missions (with James Engel), Theology Without Borders (with Oscar Garcia-Johnson), and was a general editor of the Global Dictionary of Theology.