Does our Eurocentrism harm the way we live in the church? Some say that our Eurocentric or Western perspectives hinder our reading of religions. Therefore, we cannot talk about the inferiority of other religions as this would be Eurocentric.


I am guessing that you have read an article which claims that Eurocentrism is a sin which has done great harm to the Christian Church and to humanity as a whole.  I believe that this can be overstated, and people ought to be cautious about what they say, but that there is quite a bit of truth in this perspective.  Eurocentrism is also white-centrism.  It is also science-centrism, individual-centrism and reason-centrism.  Eurocentrism tied Christian growth with European colonialism and white supremacy.  It tied Christian growth with capitalism and, to some extent, with the greed which comes with such capitalism.  Eurocentrism tends to minimize the role of the Holy Spirit in Christianity, making Christianity more a religion of rationalism than of the Spirit.  Eurocentrism has made Christianity focus far too much on individualism, and thus minimizing the corporate nature of Christianity and the Church.  Eurocentrism has caused many Christians to disrespect Islam and the Eastern religions, rather than understand and develop rational worldview arguments to respond to Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and other religions.

It is possible to overstate the issues raised by Eurocentrism.  Eurocentrism is not sinful, per se (although it does represent a kind of pride, which is sinful!), and there is no Christian culture.  There are weaknesses in Asian, in African and in other cultures as they relate to the falues of the kingdom of God.  Not everything about Eurocentrism is bad.  The Manifest Destiny of nineteenth century Eurocentrism gave impetus to one of the greatest expansions of Christianity across the world, even if it was too strongly associated with paternalism and colonialism.  As Christians, it is our job to understand the impact on ourselves individually, on our cultures and on our churches of Eurocentrism, and to push back against the paternalism, individualism and white supremacy that have been produced by a Eurocentrist perspective.  But, our enemy is not Eurocentrism. Our enemy is Satan.  Our enemy is the flesh.  We should educate ourselves as much as we can about the history, the negative and even the positive effects of Eurocentrism and be prepared to help turn our churches in a more godly, biblical, Jesus-centered direction.  Let us not make Eurocentrism the straw man we use to explain every ill in the church.

A last comment. The criticism about Eurocentrism’s evaluation of other religions is largely valid.  However, the fact that Eurocentric people have criticized Eastern religions and Islam does not mean that their arguments are invalid.  This argument that Eurocentrism has been highly biased in its treatment of non-Christian religions is not a valid reason that we cannot discuss the various worldviews and their pros and cons in a fair and balanced way. This argument sounds like a smoke screen to me.

John Oakes

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