Adriaan van Klinken, “Western Christianity as Part of Postcolonial World Christianity: The ‘Body of Christ with AIDS’ as an Interstitial Space
“, in Bob Becking, Anne-Marie Korte and Lucien van Liere (eds.), Contesting Religious Identities: Transformations, Disseminations and Mediations (NUMEN Book Series 156), Leiden: Brill, 39-58.
This chapter contributes to a postcolonial theological understanding of contemporary world Christianity, specifically in the context of the HIV epidemic. It focusses on the implications of the statement made by African theologians that nowadays the Body of Christ is HIV positive and is affected by AIDS. As a classic theological metaphor of ecclesiastical unity and identity, African theologians deploy the metaphor of the Body of Christ – in particular the Pauline notion of solidarity among the members of this Body – to remind Western Christianity that it is part of the global Body of Christ and shares in the suffering of this Body caused by HIV and AIDS. The chapter examines the implications of this metaphor in relation to the changing demographics of world Christianity and the related emergence of non-Western contextual theologies representing the concerns of people living at the socio-economic margins of our world. Taking up postcolonial theorist Homi Bhabha’s notion of the interstice, the chapter suggests that the Body of Christ with AIDS can be considered as an intervening space in contemporary world Christianity, as it gives rise to an interstitial intimacy that questions the binary divisions through which social experiences within world Christianity are often spatially opposed.