At present, my research and writing focuses on two main topics: (1) the intersection of religion and higher education and (2) world Christianity.
Religion and Higher Education: No Longer Invisible: Religion in University Education (Oxford University Press, 2012), co-authored with my wife and fellow scholar Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen, is my most recent publication in this area of study. Drawing on conversations with hundreds of professors, co-curricular educators, administrators, and students from institutions spanning the entire spectrum of American colleges and universities, Rhonda and I illustrate how religion is constructively intertwined with the work of higher education in the twenty-first century. Religion in contemporary American life is incredibly complex, with religious pluralism on the rise and the categories of "religious" and "secular" often blending together in a dizzying array of lifestyles and beliefs. Using the categories of historic religion, public religion, and personal religion, No Longer Invisible offers a new framework for understanding this emerging religious terrain, a framework that can help colleges and universities—and the students who attend them—interact with religion more effectively. No Longer Invisible is part of the Religion in the Academy Project (RITA) that Rhonda and I co-direct (see www.religionintheacademy.org ). Other recent RITA publications include Scholarship and Christian Faith (Oxford University Press, 2004) and The American University in a Postsecular Age (Oxford University Press, 2008).
World Christianity: Christianity is the world’s largest religion—roughly a third of the world’s population is Christian (more than 2 billion people)—and the most widely disseminated. About 13% of the world’s Christians live in North America, 27% live in Europe, 24% in Latin America, 20% in Africa, and 16% in Asia. In terms of faith and theology, Christianity can be divided into four main traditions. Roughly half the Christians in the world are Catholic, about 10% are Eastern Orthodox, 20% are classic Protestant, and 20% are Pentecostal or Charismatic. How all of this theological diversity is layered on top of the global expanse of Christianity in the 21st century is explained in my recent book The World’s Christians: Who they are, Where they are, and How they got there (Wiley/Blackwell, 2011). I am currently beginning a new writing project dealing with world Christianity that is tentatively entitled Following Jesus: The Global Trek of a Middle Eastern Religion.
Other Areas of Interest: In addition to the topics mentioned above, I continue to be interested in the history of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement. See Thinking in the Spirit (Indiana University Press, 2003) and A Reader in Pentecostal Theology (Indiana University Press, 2006). And, as a theologian, I remain committed to explaining Christian beliefs and practices in ways that bend toward the gracious rather than the pugnacious. See Gracious Christianity (Baker Academic, 2006).