Anthropologists Taking an Interest in Christianity, and Missionaries in Anthropology: A Constructive Contextual Engagement


  • Jim Harries Alliance for Vulnerable Mission


Missionaries adopting anthropologists’ “radical openness” to people can, in vital ways, improve Western comprehension of, and ongoing participation with, indigenous African Christianity and its theologies. Many anthropologists have recently turned to studying Christianity. Western missionaries’ selective adoption of anthropologists’ rules of engagement, guided by “vulnerable mission” principles, could facilitate a healing of damaging extant intercultural comprehension gaps. Drawing on personal field missionary experience, and especially the work of Vähäkangas, this article seeks to bring hope to greater unity between theological expertise in the West governed by written texts and predominantly oral ecclesial expression in Africa and elsewhere.

Author Biography

Jim Harries, Alliance for Vulnerable Mission

Chair; missionary in East Africa since 1988





Missiological Paradigm