Philip Jenkins – The Next Christendom, The Coming of Global Christianity

This is a great book. It is scholarly and objective in tone, but it left me feeling excited and optimistic for the future of Christianity. The Lord Jesus is on the throne! Future global Christianity will be one of the South – of the continents of Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The global outlook Jenkins describes is very different to the Western experience of secularism, and also the Western media reporting of global events.

He has statistics that Christianity in Africa “is growing at 8.4 million new Christians a year of which 1.5 million are net new converts” (p.56). He notes, “Sometime in the 1960s, another historic landmark occurred, when Christians first outnumbered Muslims in Africa.”

In Korea the number of Christians “was only 300,000 or so in 1920, but this has now risen to 10 million or 12 million, about a quarter of the national population.” (p.71).

Christianity is the overlooked and misunderstood religion of the modern world: “… a secularized North could well be forced to deal with religious conflicts that it genuinely does not understand. One augur of this cultural divide is the dismal record of the United States and its allies in dealing with the new Islamic fundamentalism of the late twentieth century. We recall the policy disasters that resulted in Iran, Lebanon, and elsewhere from a basic failure to take seriously the concept of religious motivation. By common consent, Western policy makers have never excellent at understanding Islam, but perhaps the great political unknown of the new century, the most powerful international wild card, will be that mysterious non-Western ideology called Christianity,” p161.

Different theological outlooks compete for a stake in future global Christianity: “Time and again, when European and American Christians look South, they see what they want to see. A generation ago, liberals saw their own views reflected by the rising masses of the Third World, marching toward socialism and liberation. Today, conservatives have the rosier view,” p209.

1 Corinthians 14:25: For Jesus must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.

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