The Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz hosted an international conference on “The Many Faces of Jesus Christ: Contextual Christology in a New World Come of Age.” Meeting from July 4-6 on the university campus, the conference brought together 20 scholars from Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America to listen to and debate new developments in Christology from around the world. Anglican, Baptist, Catholic, Pentecostal and Reformed theologians made presentations on Christology, as reflected in theological writings, poetry, art, music and murals, and lived experience.
The point of departure for the conference was “The Many Faces of Jesus Christ: Intercultural Christology by Volker Küster, first published in German 20 years ago. “My book is in need of revision,” said Küster. “Christology is in need of revision. This conference will not only help to revisit and supplement my book, but more importantly imagine new directions in Christology for the contexts in which we live.”
Among the questions debated at the conference: What are the cultural, political and gender presuppositions inherent in any Christology? How does religious art reflect the encounter between Christianity and Hinduism in India? Can the Easter 2019 bombings in Sri Lanka provide an opportunity to rethink Christology and enhance Muslim-Christian relations? How can a reformulation of traditional Christology in Europe or North America proceed in light of the challenges coming from Christianity in other parts of the world, and the general decline of Christianity in the West?
Rev. Dr Benjamin Simon, Professor of Ecumenical Missiology and faculty member of the Bossey Ecumenical Institute hold a lecture on the situation of Christologies in Africa.
The conference also discussed and approved plans for the creation of a “ContactZone Foundation for Intercultural Understanding and World Peace.” The new foundation will seek innovative ways to think about peace and justice in situations of intercultural tension, racism and religious conflict. It will be led by religious and community leaders as well as theologians from Asia, Africa, Europe and North America, and will begin its work in late 2020.