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The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South [Hardcover]

By Philip Jenkins (Author)
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Pages   272
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.48" Width: 6.34" Height: 0.94"
Weight:   1.16 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Sep 1, 2006
Publisher   Oxford University Press
ISBN  0195300653  
EAN  9780195300659  

Availability  0 units.

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Hardcover $ 74.00 $ 62.90 55816
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Item Description...
In his much-acclaimed Next Christendom, Jenkins called attention to the explosive growth of Christianity in parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Now he more carefully examines what these "southerners" believe and practice---from a strong dependence on the Bible to socially liberating movements.

Publishers Description
Named one of the top religion books of 2002 by USA Today, Philip Jenkins's phenomenally successful The Next Christendom permanently changed the way people think about the future of Christianity. In that volume, Jenkins called the world's attention to the little noticed fact that Christianity's center of gravity was moving inexorably southward, to the point that Africa may soon be home to the world's largest Christian populations. Now, in this brilliant sequel, Jenkins takes a much closer look at Christianity in the global South, revealing what it is like, and what it means for the future.
The faith of the South, Jenkins finds, is first and foremost a biblical faith. Indeed, in the global South, many Christians identify powerfully with the world portrayed in the New Testament--an agricultural world very much like their own, marked by famine and plague, poverty and exile, until very recently a society of peasants, farmers, and small craftsmen. In the global South, as in the biblical world, belief in spirits and witchcraft are commonplace, and in many places--such as Nigeria, Indonesia, and Sudan--Christians are persecuted just as early Christians were. Thus the Bible speaks to the global South with a vividness and authenticity simply unavailable to most believers in the industrialized North.
More important, Jenkins shows that throughout the global South, believers are reading the Bible with fresh eyes, and coming away with new and sometimes startling interpretations. Some of their conclusions are distinctly fundamentalist, but Jenkins finds an intriguing paradox, for they are also finding ideas in the Bible that are socially liberating, especially with respect to women's rights. Across Africa, Asia, and Latin America, such Christians are social activists in the forefront of a wide range of liberation movements.
It's hard to overstate how interesting, how eye-opening, how frequently surprising (and sometimes disturbing) Jenkins' findings are. Anyone interested in the implications of these trends for the major denominations, for Muslim-Christian conflict, and for global politics will find The New Facesof Christianity provocative and incisive--and indispensable.

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More About Philip Jenkins

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Philip Jenkins is the distinguished professor of history at Baylor University and codirector for Baylor s program on Historical Studies of Religion in the Institute for Studies of Religion. He is the author of The Jesus Wars, The Lost History of Christianity, and The Next Christendom. He is a contributing editor for the American Conservative, writes a monthly column for the Christian Century, and has written articles for the Atlantic, Christianity Today, and First Things. He lives in Waco, Texas."

Philip Jenkins currently resides in the state of Pennsylvania. Philip Jenkins was born in 1952 and has an academic affiliation as follows - Pennsylvania State University.

Philip Jenkins has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Cults and New Religions in American History
  2. Future of Christianity Trilogy

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General   [31520  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > History   [4688  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Another helpful book by Jenkins  Mar 19, 2007
Philip Jenkins' previous book "The Next Christendom" has been widely celebrated and cited in academic research since it came out. This follow-up book expands on the theological, cultural, political, economic, and social implications as Christianity continues to spread throughout the global south. It raises important questions about the West's continuing colonial mentality when it comes to missionary activity and theological training (both in the West and in the global south). As a resource that draws out some of the meanings of the previous book's statistical work, this may not be as widely influential, but it is a high quality analysis that is level-headed, fair, and insightful.
Imporant and interesting survey of how the global south is reading the Bible  Feb 4, 2007
Philip Jenkins, Distinguished Professor of History and Religious Studies at Pennsylvania State University, is a prolific author and a clear, engaging writer who has addressed a host of different topics in his many books. Recently, however, he has captured the attention of many evangelicals because of two of his recent works. In 2001 he published Hidden Gospels, a blistering attack on revisionist interpretations of Jesus. He convincingly argues that headline-making scholars of the Jesus Seminar sort traded far more heavily on novelty and sensationalism than on critical and judicious scholarship. In 2002 he made even more waves with the publication of The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity, which brought acclaim from many sources, evangelical and otherwise. The thesis of that book--that Christianity is exploding in unprecedented and often heterodox ways outside of Europe and North America (that is, in "the global south")--is further elaborated in this fascinating and important book on how these new expressions of Christianity are appropriating the Bible for themselves, often apart from Western influences. Jenkins is a Roman Catholic whose own theological perspective is fairly muted throughout the book. He writes more as a chronicler than as a theologian or philosopher, although his own take on the global south's engagement with Scripture does come to surface in several places, as I will note below.

Jenkins begins by noting that African Anglicans are far more conservative than the bulk of their American counterparts. While American Anglicans (Episcopalians) may tolerate or endorse homosexual behavior, abortion, and other liberal shibboleths, African Anglicans take the Bible in a more straightforward way. Bishop Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya says, "Our understanding of the Bible is far different from them. We are two different churches." Generally speaking, those in the global south--African or otherwise--approach the Bible without the secular influences that have pressed down on Western forms of Christianity. These Christians are thus far more open to the supernatural reports of Scripture--given the spiritual worldview of their native cultures--and take the Bible to have a supernatural power of its own not often considered by Western Christians, even of a more conservative bent.

After considering the more conservative theological approach of Christian movements in the global south in the chapter, "Shall the Fundamentalists Win?" Jenkins presents chapters on the basic view of those in the global south on the efficacy of Scripture, the understanding of the Old Testament in light of the New, the understanding of poverty and wealth, the engagement of good and evil, their theology of persecution and vindication, the struggle between good and evil, and the relationship of women and men. He concludes with reflections on the global south's understanding of Scripture can challenge American Christians.

Each chapter is richly illustrated with stories and ideas from Christians in Africa, South America, Korea, and elsewhere. Jenkins realizes that he must simplify and generalize considerably to speak of the global south's take on the Bible, since these many Christians do not all speak with one voice. However, he does discern common themes and finds areas in which Western Christians can learn from these other believers. Jenkins is not romantic in his exposition, however. While his editorial voice is generally soft, he does highlight areas of concern for those in the West. For example, a pressing ethical question for Christians in much of Africa is polygamy. Besides the occasional headline in the United States about Mormon-influenced polygamists, this seldom gets our attention, and practically stimulates a protracted debate. When I participated in an apologetics question-answer session with a small group at Denver Seminary in 2004, the first question was asked by a student from Ghana. What should be done with a man who converts to Christianity who already has several wives? In my many years of teaching ethics, I had never spoken on that topic and had never been asked about it. The answer I gave, however, was far different from that given by many native Africans who read the stories of the polygamous patriarchs and find justification for polygamy as an ongoing institution. (Jesus speaks against this in Matthew 19:4-6 where he recognizes the monogamy as the original and blessed order of creation.)

While Jenkins seems skeptical of the realities of the demonic and the need for direct spiritual engagement with these realities, many in the global south see the situation very differently. In this sense, they are far closer to a biblical worldview than most American Christians who somehow read over or relativize the many biblical passages that speak to the realities of the struggle between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of darkness and which declare the cosmic victory of Jesus Christ (see Acts 13:1-12; Ephesians 6:10-18; Colossians 2:13-15, and so on). As Jenkins writes, "...precious little is left of the New Testament after we purge all mention of angels, demons, and spirits. Shorn of healing and miraculous cures, the four gospels would be a slim pamphlet indeed" (99). Jenkins reports that one Western Christian leader was surprised to find that upon his arrival in Africa he was expected to cast out demons, something with which he had no familiarity. While Jenkins' handling of this material on the engagement of the supernatural is uneven (he does not fathom very clearly the dynamics of the occult world), a reader more deeply rooted in the inspiration, authority, and inerrancy of Scripture should come away with a more profound respect for the workings of the spiritual world.

This important book deserves much more discussion, since Jenkins covers so much ground so provocatively. Jenkins is not, however, without his faults. For example, he makes several summary statements about Islam in relation to Christianity that reveal both his lack of awareness of Islam's utter incompatibility with Christianity and Islam's intrinsically militant nature. (For a better informed and insider perspective in Christianity and Islam see Mark Gabriel, Islam and Terrorism [Lake Mary, FL: Frontline, 2005].) Nevertheless, the book provides a needful cartography of the new, sprawling, global, Christian landscape. Given the expansion of Christian faith in the global south and its waning influence in the West, the global south's perspective on Scripture should be of central concern to Christians who take the Bible seriously as the epistemological foundation for their faith. What can these sisters and brothers teach us? How might we help correct and instruct them? Where has their interpretation of Scripture fallen prey to syncretism? Where has ours fallen prey to secularism and its anti-supernatural prejudices?

Jenkins does not straightforwardly consider the objective authority and meaning of Scripture, although he mercifully does not adopt a postmodernist approach that dissolves every text into endless social contingencies. It is not clear whether he thinks that the Bible has a determinate meaning that is ascertainable through proper study (exegesis). However, if this is not the case, the danger is that Scripture becomes a wax nose that can be twisted into many different shapes. Scripture itself warns against this (Jeremiah 8:8; Matthew 15:1-4; 2 Peter 3:16). Therefore, in learning how nonwestern Christians approach the Bible, Western Christians should consider whether their interpretations and appropriations truly fit the objective meaning of the text. (On the philosophy of hermeneutics, see William Klein, Craig Blomberg, and Robert Hubbard, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation: Revised and Expanded. [Nashville: Nelson Reference, 2004].) This engagement should be neither a call to unthinking conservatism ("We've got all the truth already, thank you.") nor to unanchored liberalism ("It's all up for grabs, since orthodoxy is what you make it."). Rather, as a Puritan of old put it, "There may yet be more truth to break forth from God's word." Notice the emphasis on "truth" in that statement. The inspired truth has always been there; however, it may have gone unrecognized because of our cultural blinders. However, we will also find errors, ignorance, and turpitude in the global south, since they, too, "see only a reflection as in a mirror" (1 Corinthians 13:12). But By considering how those in the global south are reading, believing, and applying the Bible, we may be able to find more truth in Scripture than we might have otherwise. (Consulting the new Africa Bible Commentary, Tokunboh Adeyemo ed. [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006], which is edited and written by Africans with a uniformly high view of the Bible, can assist us to this end as well.)
Is Christianity about to whither and die?  Jan 30, 2007
Europeans are sure Christianity is about to disappear. At least it has in Europe. Witness the Anglican church, its churches empty, its coffers empty, chasing vainly after every new leftist fad.

Jenkins wants us to turn our eyes now to the other Anglicans: the ones in Africa, staunch in their faith, their denominations growing, raging against the liberal skeleton of a church left in England. This, Jenkins insists, is the new face of Christianity. When "Sweden's liberal Lutheran church tried to enforce its views on traditionalist diehards, conservatives placed themselves under the authority of Kenyan bishop Walter Obare Omwanza, who denounced the official church...ordination of women as a 'Gnostic novelty'" )p 4).

Jenkins points to these facts: "Between 1900 and 2000, the number of Christians in Africa grew from 10 million to over 360 million, from 10 percent of the population to 46 percent. If that is not, quantitatively, the largest religious change in human history in such a short period, I am at a loss to think of a rival" (p 9). This explosive growth has also happened in Asia. Things are changing.

Jenkins posits many intriguing questions about why Christianity is so appealing. Here's one: "Because of their modern historical experiencem, many Southern Christians easily identify with the profoundly antistate and separatist texts in the New Testament" (p 128).

Another important chapter is spent on persecutions. Various Asian and Muslim countries are currently persecuting Christians. "Between 2000 and 2005, violence between Muslims and Christians in just one Nigerian province killed or expelled over fifty thousand people, mainly Christian (p 129). Not something our newspapers cover in depth.

You will find this an eyeopening book.
how to read the bible  Jan 17, 2007
In this sequel to his earlier volume, The Next Christendom; The Coming of Global Christianity (2002), Penn State professor Philip Jenkins shows how the majority of Christians in the world read the Bible with an authenticity, immediacy, and primitiveness that readers in the mainly white, rich, North American context would find strange and even naive. Most readers, Jenkins reminds us, "see things not as they are but as we are." That is, our reading and hearing of Scripture originates from our social context. Ordinary, poor Christians in Latin America, Asia and Africa know all too well about corrupt states, famine, unending wars, ethnic strife, brutal repression, crushing debt, and grinding poverty, and so they hear these themes of Scripture as directly relevant to their daily lives. Healing, liberation, dreams, visions, miracles, and prophecies are lived realities rather than deconstructed myths for these Christians.

After two introductory chapters, Jenkins shows how the Old Testament in particular resonates with these believers because of its themes of nomadic existence, tribalisms, animal sacrifice, paganism, agrarian economies, and polygamy. He then devotes individual chapters to the themes of rich and poor, good and evil, persecution and vindication, and then women and men. A final chapter compares and contrasts how Christians in the global south and in the wealthy north read Scripture. What constitutes a truly "authentic" reading of the Bible, and what might one dismiss as "cultural baggage" in both text and interpreter? Jenkins is not uncritical of the way global southerners read the Bible, but in both tone and content his "reading" of the global south exudes admiration and even gratitude. Clearly, and I believe he is right on this point, he thinks that sophisticated northern elites, jaded by secular and scientific worldviews, can learn from our sisters and brothers in the global south.

One special strength of this book is that Jenkins quotes copiously from third world theologians, both women and men, and incorporates true life stories into his narrative. Thus, he lets these ordinary believers, and not just the scholars, speak for themselves. We ought to listen to them, too, for as he documented in The Next Christendom, Christianity's center of gravity has already shifted from Europe and North America to Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Already, to take just one example, two-thirds of Roman Catholics live in the global south. This book ought to be required reading for any believer from the so-called "first" world who cares about or lives in the two-thirds world, or who truly believes that the Spirit of the living God speaks today in the catholicity of the saints.
The Bible Is Alive & Kicking  Nov 5, 2006
That's the beautiful reality you behold from another excellent book by Penn State Prof. Philip Jenkins. The Bible is very much alive and changing lives in the Third World (really the Two-Thirds World). In this book, Jenkins concentrates mostly on Africa and, to a lesser extent, on Asia. In my view, the most striking anecdotes emerge from Africa. If you want to rediscover the Bible for yourself or if you are a biblical student or scholar, you will want to take cues from what the Holy Spirit is doing with the Bible in Africa. To give you a flavor of the book, my favorite anecdote is the one about the Kenyan congregation who heard the reading of Paul's wishes to the Corinthians, "My love be with all of you in Christ Jesus," and answered in unison: "Thank you, Paul." Yes, Paul is still evangelizing. May we in the First World learn again to live the Bible.

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