Decolonising Oikoumene by Gladson Jathanna is the ninth book of the “Re-imagining Church as Event: Perspectives from the Margins” series.
The anxiety and ambiguity of ecumenical winter calls us for a radical shift in our perspectives towards revisiting the histories of the modern ecumenical movement. When seen from a shifted perspective that is informed by the postcolonial experiences of the Global South, the histories of ecumenism appear to be the chronicles of decolonisation, where the churches in colonial contexts subvert the imperial notion of oikoumene and transform it as a revolutionary instrument in challenging the empires. This book juxtaposes the narratives of ecumenism of oneness advanced under the shadow of colonialism and imperialism with the stories of ecumenism of many-ness celebrated in the margins by the multitude daringly embracing the beauty of multiplicity and mutuality. It calls for a radical engagement with the disturbing and diversified realities of life in the contemporary oikoumene that suffers the colonisation of new empires, including the ecclesial and theological empires. The book, thus, challenges and invites the contemporary ecumenical movement to dare to be true to its legacy of decolonisation and relive the ecumenical spirit of dissent and nonconformity to the empires of our times.
Here is what reviewers have to say:
Decolonising Oikoumene comes out as an academic work proposing to capture indigenous articulations of ecumenical expressions everywhere and particularly outside the confines of an ecumenism defined and practised in Western, European and World Christianity. This book has taken upon itself the task of that exegesis of the past, which in most contexts are similar due to a seemingly common heritage of imperial context both political and economic, providing the reader with the liberty to plunge deep into their own spaces to look for, document, research and develop indigenous and unique forms of ecumenical expressions and engagements.
– Asir Ebenezer
General Secretary, National Council of Churches in India
This book is a bitter but a good prescription to the modern ecumenical movement. The prescription suggests a number of treatments for future ecumenism: from shifting the centre of ecumenism from the Eurocentric view to world Christianity to discovering ecumenism from the margins. These topics should be continuously researched so that an authentic ecumenism which is relevant to the contemporary world may emerge from the Christian mission and movement in the Global South.
– Jooseop Keum
Distinguished Professor of World Christianity,
Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary, Seoul, South Korea