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The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity First Edition Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 85 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195146165
ISBN-10: 0195146166
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Jenkins (history and religious studies, Pennsylvania State Univ.) believes that we are on the verge of a transformational religious shift. As he explains it, Christianity, the religion of the West, is rapidly expanding south into Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and he predicts that by the year 2050, only about one-fifth of the world's three billion Christians will be non-Hispanic Caucasian. By numbers alone, they will be able to overwhelm the present political secular nation- and city-states and replace them with theocracies, similar to the Islamic Arab nations. He ends with a warning: with the rise of Islam and Christianity in the heavily populated areas of the Southern Hemisphere, we could see a wave of religious struggles, a new age of Christian crusades and Muslim jihads. These dire prognostications could be seen as just another rant from a xenophobic pseudo-prophet; however, the author is a noted historian, and his statements are well formed, well supported by empirical evidence, and compellingly argued. The only criticism is the brevity of the book. One hopes that The Next Christendom is only an introduction to a deeper analysis of a fascinating topic. Recommended for all libraries. Glenn Masuchika, Rockwell Collins Information Ctr., Cedar Rapids, IA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Fear of Islam is peaking, fueled by reports that the religion is burgeoning in numbers as well as militancy. Jenkins grants that Islam is indeed booming but marshals the evidence that today's largest religion, Christianity, will grow exponentially, too, and will remain the faith of the largest proportion of humanity. But the Christianity of 2050 will be very different from that molded by the 1,300 years during which Christianity was the faith of a rapidly developing Europe. The new Christianity will be liturgically anarchistic compared with the staid services of white, upper-middle-class people today. It will be overwhelmingly the faith of poor nonwhites living south of Europe, the U.S., and present-day Russia, and it won't reflect the values of the wealthy global north. It will revive Christianity's root emphases on healing and prophecy because its adherents will resemble the poor and oppressed who first embraced the redemption, the healing, and the blessing that Jesus promised. As he makes his case, Jenkins dispels some fashionable myths about historic Christianity; about historic Christian-Islamic relations; and about the nature of presumably pacific Hinduism when it is politicized. He also speculates trenchantly on how the problems of the Islamic and Christian global south will affect the global north, requiring genuine charity of the rich and genuine discernment of their leaders. A book everyone concerned about humanity's immediate future ought to read. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; First Edition edition (March 31, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195146166
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195146165
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 0.9 x 6.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,291,487 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David A. Baer VINE VOICE on September 15, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In a memorable passage from the movie APOLLO THIRTEEN, a military man in the tense Houston control room shares with a political figure his premonition that the tragedy unfolding before them will be *the* catastrophic moment for the space program. Mission control flight chief Gene Kranz overhears their conversation and addresses it: 'With all due respect, gentleman, I believe this will be our finest hour.' The scene could stand in for the hand-wringing that often accompanies the apparent demise of the Western church when it comes to prognosticating on its fate over against the perceived adversaries of secularism and post-modernism. Philip Jenkins reminds us that, when viewed through a wide-screen lens, the immediacy of threat often yields to a broad panorama of opportunity.

Over against the fear of resurgent religion that shows its face among our cultural elites, Philip Jenkins sketches the rise of 'global Christianity' in predominantly positive terms. The Penn State University scholar of religion has noticed long before most of us that the face of Christendom is already brown, southern, and confident. He helps us to work through the implications of this even as he persuades us that the hegemony of Euro-American Christianity is a thing of the past and that-unless we pay attention-we who are part of it are likely to be, as the old song says, the last to know.

In the first of ten compact chapters ('The Christian Revolution', pp. 1-14), Jenkins starts out with a bang. Professional analysts of global trends have missed out on perhaps the biggest one, a fact that the title of Jenkins' opening chapter provocatively suggests. Religious revolutions are not, as Western intellectuals too often suppose, mere matters of the heart.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jenkins's *The New Christendom* is an incredibly thought-provoking estimate of the new faces Christianity will wear in the next half century. Given that population and religious enthusiasm is waning in the northern hemisphere, and just the opposite is going on in the southern one, Jenkins predicts that Christianity's center of gravity will migrate to Africa and Central and South America in the immediate decades ahead. This will result in the emergence of new symbols, new styles of worship, new metaphors, and new ethical sensibilities, all of which mean that Christianity will no longer be dominated by an Eurocentric history and ethos.
Because southern Christianity will become increasingly pentecostal, evengelical, and politically and morally conservative, northern sensibilities, which already tend to take the Christian message with an urbane grain of salt, are likely to dismiss Christianity even more. It will be dismissed as "jungle religion," (p. 169) contrary to both enlightened and postmodern ways of viewing the world. Thus the north will find pseudo-legitimation for its steady move toward secularism in religious revival of the south.
In defending this thesis, Jenkins indirectly raises serious concerns about the spiritual health of North American and European Christianity. If his predictions are in any way true--and they certainly have the ring of plausibility--then it follows that mainstream institutional Christianity, Catholic and Protestant alike, needs to reflect seriously on both its style and convictions. If it's become so indifferent to its own message that it finds enthusiastic support of that message distasteful, things have reached a sorry state.
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If you are interested in the future of religion in general and Christianity in particular, the one must read book this year has been written by Phil Jenkins.
A respected professor at Penn State University who has been known for "going against the flow," Jenkins argues that the rapid growth of primitive/Pentecostal Christianity around the world (both within and alongside existing traditions) will literally reshape the world, with possible religious conflict affecting everything from historic European denominations (already happening in Anglicanism) to geopolitics.
In a post-modern world, religion returns to center stage, and Jenkins has already turned on the spotlight. This is a must-read for all futurists--including the armchair variety such as myself. After reading Jenkins' seemingly airtight (even understated) analysis, it is difficult to give credence to any author suggesting the passing of Christianity. For every empty cathedral in Europe, there is a burgeoning congregation in Africa or Latin America. In fact, the western, modern version of Christianity may be be all but swept away in the next 50-100 years, but the primitive variety is reemerging at an incredible pace.
Not many works from Oxford University Press read like thrillers. This is an exception.
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This is a response to the reviewers who gave the book between 1 and three stars. My primary observation is that there is no way that a book aimed at a popular audience can touch all bases, personalities, issues, and prognostications. Let us be thankful that Jenkins has made known to us something about "Christianity South" and "Christianity East."

I was quite surprised, for example, at the relative growth of Christianity versus Islam in sub-Saharan Africa (by the way, that is everything in Africa south of the Sahara, down to the Cape of Good Hope.) But like some of the complaints from the one and two star reviewers, there is not much said about the explanation for this fact, except to suggest that African Christianity has found its own source of inspiration, and grows on that. It is no longer driven by European and American missionaries. But there is no citation for "Liberation Theology" in the index, which I found odd. This is a sign that the author's primary interest is demographic and social, not theological.

If you order a used copy, you want to be sure you are getting the third edition. I compared the table of contents for the first and third editions, and there is much added, especially on "The Rise of the New Christianity". On a contemporary topic, you will be missing something if you don't have the latest edition.

If you are interested in world Christianity, you can hardly find anything as illuminating as this 3rd Edition popular book.
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