ISSN: 1522-5658

Volume 23 (2021)

From the
Desk of
the Editor

Looking Forward to the Next Twenty Years

Zachary B. Smith, General Editor
[ Editorial ]


Authentic Contextualization and Church Growth: The Case of Catholicism in Malawi 1889-2000

Chrispin Dambula, Fuller Graduate School of Intercultural Studies
[ Abstract ] [ Article PDF ]

Ideology in Biology: Theism Meets Atheism in the Case of Abiogenesis

Marc Ruffinengo and Anthony Walsh, Boise State University
[ Abstract ] [ Article PDF ]

Individual Religiosity and Social Trust in the U.S., 2004

Craig Wiernik, Wilkes-Barre, PA
[ Abstract ] [ Article PDF ]

Exoticizing Terrorism: Religious Bias and the Unchecked Threat of Evangelical Christian Extremism in Brazil

Danielle N. Boaz, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
[ Abstract ] [ Article PDF ]

Performance in Boko Haram’s Religious Fanaticism

Soji Cole, Brock University
[ Abstract ] [ Article PDF ]

Addressing the Unaddressed: Changemakers’ Hopes for the Future around Issues of Sexuality in Catholic Higher Education—Theological Insights

Mark A. Levand, Villanova University
[ Abstract ] [ Article PDF ]

& Opinions

On the Profit of Protestant Wives

Dennis Barone, University of Saint Joseph
[ Essay PDF ]

The Incompatibility of Christianity with Racism and Capitalism

Matt Kappadakunnel, El Segundo, California
[ Essay PDF ]

The American Church and the Americans with Disabilities Act

Johnny Payne, Orange Grove Center
[ Opinion PDF ]

Malawian culture was denunciated and demonized as irrational and unbiblical by the early Catholic missionaries from the West. However, this negative attitude toward Malawian culture largely succeeded in hindering Catholic expansion during its nascency in the country. In this paper, I argue that contextualization of the gospel can provide a fertile ground for proliferation of Christianity in any cross-cultural setting and that effective contextualization is expediated by local leaders. To buttress my argument, I mull over the history of Catholicism in Malawi from 1889 to 2000. Catholicism faced fierce resistance in Malawi during its inception but later surged exponentially to become the dominant force in terms of demographics in the country. I argue that the Roman Catholic Church surged in Malawi because the converts could appropriate Catholicism in a meaningful way to their culture. That is authentic contextualization. My main contribution in this paper is that Christian witness in a new setting is more effective when indigenous people are agents of contextualization.
Abiogenesis is the proposed process through which inanimate matter eventually led to life on earth. As a research area, the issue is certainly loaded with fodder for debate and philosophical and ideological disagreement about what life is and how it came to be. Dealing with the origin of life (OoL) obviously has the potential to tread into spiritual and religious grounds for both scientists interested in this area but also for the public at large when any debate about “where did we come from?” arises. However, it is not just the general public that struggles with balancing religious and spiritual explanations for how people came into being with scientific evidence. As we will show, there is a lively debate among OoL researchers about a similar set of scientific facts pointing to the intervention of a transcendent designer or such an idea being incompatible with science generally. Furthermore, we note that much of this debate is centered around the concepts of ontological and methodological materialism. While we make no claims about resolving or contributing meaningfully to the debate it is worth pointing out, especially to outside observers, that such a debate is in fact alive and well among OoL researchers. Thus, it is certainly possible for OoL researchers to view abiogenesis as an atheistic endeavor and many do. However, atheism is not a requirement to believe that abiogenesis played a role in the OoL as many scientists view such discoveries as a “mark of the Creator” as opposed to merely an idea that life must have come from inanimate matter.
This study examines the association between an individual’s religiosity and social trust. Using The Baylor Religion Survey I examine two general models of an individual’s religiosity and how religiosity influences social trust. As social trust is both moral and experiential, religion provides a moral foundation on which trust is built, and that trust is reinforced through behaviors and activities, both religious and secular. Religiosity should then impact trust through both the beliefs which create that moral foundations of trust, and the actions taken to maintain it. Ultimately, I find that one’s religiosity is best modeled as a single construct to predict social trust, and that the more religious one is, the higher their levels of social trust. Contrary to existing research, when examined as separate from religious participation, religious beliefs are not associated with social trust, but religious commitment is.
Since the start of the 21st century, Brazil has been experiencing a rapidly escalating problem with Evangelical Christian extremism. Persons referring to themselves as “armies of Jesus” have been assaulting devotees of Afro-Brazilian religions—stealing and destroying their sacred artifacts, as well as burning and bombing their places of worship. Although Brazil recently passed some of the most expansive anti-terrorism legislation in the world, it has failed to hold Evangelical extremists accountable under these laws. This article explores how Brazil’s non-recognition of Evangelical extremism is part of a global trend to “exoticize” terrorists as a foreign, unfamiliar threat.
The activities of Boko Haram in Nigeria evolved within a very short time from a religious sect professing hatred for western values, into a violent dissident group. The group has become a threat to the social and political stability of Nigeria and neighboring countries, and they are believed to have links with ISIS and Al-Qaeda. The group’s media-attention strategy includes recording vicious moments of slaughtering captives, displaying victims’ mangled corpses, and sending threatening media messages. Though seen as a propaganda strategy by the group, this paper contextualizes the group’s activities as an extreme and sadistic form of public performances—an otherwise descriptive strategy for complex fanaticism. This article explores a historiographic and analytic description of performance and fanaticism, and underlies the relationship between the two terms as tangible sociological constructs that serve the terror group as mechanism of representation and communication. By applying the frameworks of historical and performance theories, the article describes how the concept of fanaticism shapes and constructs the identity and public actions of Boko Haram.
Issues of sexuality in Catholic higher education often go unaddressed, under examined, or handled with inadequate care. In a larger study of the experience of 31 changemakers at 17 different Catholic colleges and universities, participants discussed how they effected change around an issue of sexuality at their university. At the end of the interviews, participants were asked about what hopes they had for the future of sexuality in Catholic higher education. This article is an exploration of the emergent themes in their answers to future hopes, as well as insights and support from the Catholic theological tradition.