Christianity in Southeast Asia

Faith without boundaries

John Roxborogh

How do we talk about Christianity in Southeast Asia?

This site links to material on Southeast Asian studies generally and to studies of Christianity in Southeast Asia in particular. It contains information originally prepared for a block course taught at Seminari Theologi Malaysia in 2006.

This course sought to recognise both the historical political cultural and religious identities that make up the region, and the way in which Christianity has flowed across all those boundaries, changing and being changed, and rediscovering its authentic self in the process.

Key ideas can be found in my chapter "Christianity in South-East Asia, 1914-2000." in The Cambridge History of Christianity World Christianities C.1914-C.2000, edited by Hugh McLeod, 436-49. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Is SEA the "missing link" in contemporary global discourse?

It may be! I think we are still looking for a satisfactory global model that does not tend to try to replace a Western theological hegemony with another regional one, be it Latin American (Liberation Theology), or African.

Africanists seem to be providing the dominant voices in non-Western integrative historiography at the moment. Their project is to be valued highly, and it does advance on the cold war model of attempts at universalising either the Western or the Latin American experiences, yet it remains a contribution to the global discussion rather than the global discourse itself. 

Asia has been known for its distinctive application of Christianity to its own history, religion and cultures. It has a huge potential to assert itself given its much longer and deeper Christian history than usually appreciated. The resources are there, but I do not see them being connected to one another or to wider debates in a way that is commensurate with their significance.

Does Southeast Asia provide a window into Asia where alternative models of Christianity in society are developing? Does this discourse not deserve to be better known to be placed alongside African, Latin American and revisionist Western historiography of religion as complementary perspectives on global Christianity?

I think so.

Where now?

I am interested in adding material to this site relating to Christianity in Asia generally as well as Southeast Asia in particular, with special reference to indigenous Christianity and the place of Asian Christianity in the emerging discourse on global Christianity.

I also have a special interest in the documentation of Christianity and will link to sites compiling resources for understanding Asian Christianity in its own terms.

John Roxborogh