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The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity Paperback – March 19, 2007
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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. --This text refers to the Digital edition.
*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 --This text refers to the Digital edition.
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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.