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How do missiologists describe the cosmologies of those that Christianity encounters around the world? Our descriptions often end up filtered through our own Western religious categories. Furthermore, indigenous Christians adopt these Western religious categories. This presents the problem of local Christianities, described by Kwame Bediako as those that ""have not known how to relate to their traditional culture in terms other than those of denunciation or of separateness."" Kevin Lines's phenomenological study of local religious specialists in Turkana, Kenya, not only challenges our Western categories by revealing a more authentic complexity of the issues for local Christians and Western missionaries, but also provides a model for continued use of phenomenology as a valued research method in larger missiological studies. Additionally, this study points to the ways that local Christians and traditional religious practitioners interpret Western missionaries through local religious categories. Clearly, missionaries, missiologists, anthropologists, and religious studies scholars need to do a much more careful job of studying and describing the contextually specific phenomena of traditional religious specialists before relying on meta-categories that come out of our Western theology or older overly simplified ethnographies. The research from this current study of Turkana religious specialists begins that process in the Turkana context and offers a model for future studies in contexts where traditional religion and Christianity intersect. ""This is exactly the right question! Lines has avoided picking up what anthropology has already discarded--colonial imaginations such as religion, witch doctors, animism, chiefs and tribe--and instead goes on a true journey of discovery. After a decade of living and conducting research among the Turkana of Kenya, Lines knows that life is never as neat as it seems when parsed with outsider categories. He provides us with a nuanced, complex, and contested account that draws the reader into the world of the Turkana and their Christianity."" --Michael A. Rynkiewich, Professor of Anthropology, Retired, Asbury Theological Seminary ""For Kevin Lines, missiological contextualization of other religious traditions is not just a theoretical idea, but a mission practice he has used with great effectiveness. His approach to understanding non-Christian religious specialists is the way forward to continued mission success in Africa--and around the world."" --Terry Muck, Author of Why Study Religion? Kevin Lines is Professor of Intercultural Studies at Hope International University. He began serving as Executive Director of CMF International in 2017.
Kevin Lines is Professor of Intercultural Studies at Hope International University. He began serving as Executive Director of CMF International in 2017.