Global categories and local realities

Some thoughts on the WWL Country Dossier on China and its use of WCD-categories


  • Meiken Buchholz


Chinese Christianity, World Christian Encyclopedia, World Watch List, independent Christians


To facilitate significant data for the global advocacy of religious freedom, the annual World Watch List (WWL) relies on the method of global comparison. This article examines indicators that help to discern which kinds of global categories facilitate appropriate pictures of local realities and which ones foster misinterpretations. Their categorization of churches in China shows the WWL’s dependence on problematic “one-fits-all” categories of the World Christian Encyclopedia, which rely on a historic Western perspective. The article concludes with suggested criteria for creating alternative categories that better reflect the diversity of Christianity worldwide.

Author Biography

Meiken Buchholz

Meiken Buchholz is associate professor in missiology at Giessen School of Theology (Freie Theologische Hochschule) and Fjellhaug International University College (Oslo), and a visiting professor at China Lutheran Seminary (Taiwan).