Annual Cole Lectures feature Lamin Sanneh of Yale; Benson Chapel events on Oct. 19-20 open to public

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Historian and author Lamin Sanneh, a significant voice in inter-religious dialogue, will deliver the 2006 Cole Lectures at Vanderbilt University.

Sanneh, the D. Willis James Professor of Missions and World Christianity and professor of history at Yale University, will speak at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, on “Has Christianity Outlived the Enlightenment? The Post-Western Resurgence and the Post-Christian West.” That will be followed at 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 20, by a talk on “Christianity in the Heart of the Dragon.”

Both lectures will be held in Benton Chapel on the Vanderbilt campus. The lectures are free, and the public is invited. The lectures will be posted on VUCast (, the website of Vanderbilt News Service.

Sanneh, descendant of the nyanchos, an ancient African royal line, was reared as an orthodox Muslim before converting to Christianity. His books include Whose Religion is Christianity: The Gospel Beyond the West, and he is co-editor of The Changing Face of Christianity: Africa, the West, and the World.

“World Christianity is not a free-standing phenomenon but a movement in active interface with the cultures and religions of the world,” Sanneh said. “In more than 20 years of study and writing on the subject, I have become convinced of a major shift in Christianity’s North Atlantic center of gravity. Contrary to many predictions, religion has survived with greater strength in the 21st century, and equally surprising, so has Christianity with ever-greater diversity.”

The Cole Lectures were established in 1892 by Col. E.W. Cole for “the defense and advocacy of the Christian religion.” Speakers in the series have included Paul Tillich, George Buttrick, Don Beisswenger and Jim Wallis.

Media contact: Jim Patterson, (615) 322-NEWS

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