This article investigates how North American Protestants conceptualized and studied “world Christianity” from the turn of the twentieth century onward. It examines references to world Christianity in historic newspapers and scholarly books and surveys how North American Protestant conceptualizations of world Christianity translated into curriculum and professorship changes at three flagship Protestant seminaries: Union Theological Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Boston University’s School of Theology. It argues that world Christianity developed in the American Protestant pastorate and seminary classroom in relationship to three phenomena: world evangelization, worldwide ecumenism, and indigenization. During these three stages, American Protestants utilized “world Christianity” to describe their changing relationship to foreign mission and non-Western Christianity, particularly in light of shifting theological commitments at home and historical developments abroad. With each development, world Christianity transitioned from being a concept with America at its center to one reflecting a multipolar, global Christian faith.

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