ABSTRACT

The author argues that even though its scholars have a broad range of methods and epistemologies, the interdisciplinary field of world Christianity, on the whole, has a theological orientation. Consequently, world Christianity scholars often consider divine actions in conversion. Yet the author contends that their accounts of human action in conversion are typically underdeveloped. By contrast, methods that anthropologists of Christianity employ lead them not to theologize about divine actions, but to observe human actions, offering context-specific conversion accounts. Theorizing conversion almost exclusively in terms of human agency, their treatments of human actions are rather thorough. If world Christianity scholars are to offer comprehensive conversion accounts, they must pay more attention to roles Christians play in their own conversion, and the anthropology of Christianity can be instructive. While theological and empirical methods could be combined, methodological difficulties may arise—yet using empirical approaches can still offer fuller accounts of human action.

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