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The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity [Paperback]

By Philip Jenkins (Author)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   288
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.1" Width: 6" Height: 0.8"
Weight:   0.9 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 31, 2003
Publisher   Oxford University Press
ISBN  0195168917  
EAN  9780195168914  

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Item Description...
By the year 2,050 only one Christian in five will be non-Latino and white, and the center of gravity of the Christian world will have shifted firmly to the Southern Hemisphere.
The Next Christendom is the first book to take the full measure of the changing face of the Christian faith. Philip Jenkins shows that the churches that have grown most rapidly in Africa, Asia, and Latin America are often more morally conservative and apocalyptic than their northern counterparts. Mysticism, puritanism, faith-healing, exorcism, and dream-visions--concepts which more liberal western churches have traded in for progressive political and social concerns--are basic to these newer churches. And the effects of such beliefs on global politics, Jenkins argues, will be enormous, as religious identification begins to take precedence over allegiance to secular nation-states. Indeed, as Christianity grows in regions where Islam is also expected to increase we may even see a return to the religious wars of the past, fought out with renewed intensity and high-tech weapons far surpassing the swords and spears of the middle ages.

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More About Philip Jenkins

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Philip Jenkins, one of the world's leading religion scholars joined Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion as Distinguished Professor of History and Co-Director for the Program on Historical Studies of Religion. He is the author of many books and articles, including the acclaimed The Future of Christianity Trilogy, consisting of The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity, The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South, and God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis.

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.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
observant but not complete  Jun 15, 2008
Jenkins points out demographic and sociological trends in Christianity that, sadly enough, do need to be brought to light for many North American Christians. He provides good back up and a thorough layout. What is most lacking in his book, from a Christian perspective, is that he posits the issue as one where Truth follows consensus as opposed to consensus following Truth. The thing that Christianity must be careful of, that Jenkins does little to warn against, is to believe that strength in numbers makes things right or true, leading too often to force. Instead, we ought to be sensitive to where consensus lies and give it much credence, without making the Truth of God something subject to democratic vote.
Book Review: The Next Christendom by Philip Jenkins  May 17, 2008
Philip Jenkins is currently Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Humanities at Pennsylvania State University. The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity originally went to press in 2001. The Next Christendom is a winner of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association's Gold Medallion Award, and named a top religion book of 2002 by USA Today.

Summary of The Next Christendom

Christianity of the West and Islam of the Middle East have become one of the central concerns for many of the world's current issues. Jenkins believes tensions are high between the two regions partly because of the globalization of the public square, and also because of a major religious shift that is occurring in these regions, including the growing fact that Christianity is increasingly moving south and back to where it began (p. 14).

In The Next Christendom, Jenkins provides a short overview of Western Christianity, saying that it found its Western niche during the post-Constantine days of Rome, and soon after became a part of European culture. But before that, he points out that Christianity was a new faith that was partly Jewish and partly Greek. Shortly after Christ's ascension, the gospel spread throughout the Roman provinces east to China and India, north and west to Europe, and south to Africa.

Following that, Jenkins then describes how militant Islam swept across Africa and western Asia and caused the church to eventually lose most of its grip in Africa and the Middle East, especially (pp. 25-38). With that being a major factor, Jenkins also suggests that other religious traditions competed with Christianity in Africa and Asia.

Though the book is not long, it is expansive in its scope. He covers the expansion of Christianity through colonialism and modern missionary efforts, suggesting that though Christianity has been largely defined by its Western believers, there were still Catholic and Protestant churches being planted outside of European Christendom (see p. 50, for example).

In chapter four, Jenkins then suggests that the dramatic secularization of Western Europe has changed the face of Christendom. At the same time, he points out that there are now nearly 50 million Protestant believers and over 400 million Catholics in South America (p. 57). More importantly, Jenkins makes the point that these churches-though their buildings often look Western-their congregations have developed indigenous nuances (including political, charismatic, and syncretistic) to go with the gospel message (pp. 39-53; 74-78).

From there, Jenkins suggests that the shift of Christianity from the West to the South and East is happening for several reasons. Among these, first, Western nations have largely developed an engrossment with tolerance and materialism. Second, Western populations are growing at a slower rate than developing nations. Though this does not mean other major religions are not growing in the South also, the point is: Christianity is growing at a phenomenal rate in the Southern hemisphere and in China, therefore making a profound impact on the global look of Christianity (pp. 81-85; 94-105).

If such trends continue, Jenkins claims Christianity will inevitably become increasingly Southern in style, culture, philosophy, and academics, and less Western over time. So the question remains: what will Christianity look like when it is no longer culturally European or Western? Will it still be Christianity? As the church population explodes in developing nations and becomes more indigenous to those cultures, will there be a conflict of orthodoxy and heresy like in the early church? Will the church become increasingly poor, libertarian, or spiritual? (see pp. 108-17; 145-56).

Critical Evaluation of The Next Christendom

I remember watching the news one night and hearing a Saudi Muslim complaining of the "American Christian Zionists" and their out-and-out lack of respect for Islam. This kind of thing will likely continue to wedge a rift between Western Christian ideology and missions and the non-Western world. Jenkins' projections do look as if they are better than conjecture here. Not only will the current Western and Islamic conflict have a profound impact on the global public square, it will also affect church planting and evangelism in Africa and Central Asia, especially in the 10/40 window.

Jenkins' book does provide helpful information. But, I do have a few issues with the book. For example, in a smaller part of the book, Jenkins describes the coming of the new global Christendom with a categorical applied definition of Christianity that is too broad. I think this should be addressed in order to make an appropriate assessment of the value of Jenkins' book. What is his applied definition of a Christian, according to the book? "A Christian is someone who describes himself or herself as a Christian" (p. 88). Later, he clarifies that "the term 'Christian' could be used only for someone who had experienced a personal born-again conversion" (100). To be fair, Jenkins' does explain why he chooses to use such a broad definition. He makes note of the evangelical tendency to unfairly deflate Christian numbers or ignore whether Catholics are to be included. Then he also admits that some groups make larger-than-life claims. So what definition can be better?

But such a definition is problematic. Overly syncretistic churches in Africa with a skewed view of the gospel of Jesus Christ and an unhealthy mix of traditional animism are not Christian churches. Jenkins' definition is broad enough to include the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Should those numbers be counted as Christian just because they consider themselves to be followers of Jesus? Though it is not useful to be excessively narrow, it does not help missionaries to accept that a people group is evangelized according to such a broad definition of a Christian. Be that as it may, as the newer Southern and Eastern churches continue to grow, they will begin to look less and less like a Western church and more like an indigenous church. The question is the book leaves is: what will they look like? Will they really be Christian? And, how will we know?


What should we think about Jenkins' book? For one, just as there is a growing secularization in Europe, North America is also a part of that trend (cf. pp. 166-67). What will believers in North America do about it? Join it? Or, reaffirm their commitment to the Great Commission and preach the gospel at home also? In summary, Jenkins' book can be both helpful and average at best. For that, I recommend The Next Christendom with only some reservation for missions or general reading.
eye opening  Jan 28, 2008
An important book for a perspective-adjusting view of worldwide Christianity. We Westerners (read, mostly Americans) tend to think our world is THE world and we represent the view and experience of the rest of the world -- or at least, that our view and experience is the correct and most progressive of the rest of the world. Fact is, the rest of the world has a much different perspective. Into that rest-of-the-world reality, Christianity is growing at a staggering pace. Reading this book made me grateful that the corruption and apostasy of the molding Western Church is not the world's norm. Thanks be to God, His people are strong, vibrant, healthy and growing. We have all heard about the fact that the Church is now more brown, black, and yellow than white, but the statistics and facts presented and the outlook for the non-western Church is startling and exciting. This should be required reading for all clergy and those interested in the direction the Church is taking in our modern world.
A fascinating and thought-provoking book  Dec 2, 2007
This book is an update of Jenkins' ground-breaking book published nearly a decade ago and is still a fascinating and timely read today. The book amply demonstrates that our idea of 'traditional' or 'mainstream' Christianity is the result of the situation of Western European society over the last millennium and is not a true reflection of the current situation. Philip Jenkins reminds us that the Western part of global Christendom is shrinking and its importance, numerically speaking, is waning; the new Christendom will probably consist of the Southern churches - Africa, Asia and South America - whose experience of Christianity is very different than ours. Much of their Christian experience is more akin to the early church with supernatural elements being part of daily life, healings and prophecies common and their concept of culture completely different to ours.

Jenkins provides much statistical evidence to back up his points as well as a thorough discussion of how global Christianity spread through mission work in the past and how it might change in the future. There is much encouragement in this book, mainly in the reminder that Christianity is still a growing religion globally and that perhaps Islam will have less of an effect than we think, but it was also occasionally sobering in discovering that the form of Christianity that many of the Southern churches use is not one that would be a comfortable fit with post-Enlightenment western Christians.
christianity north and south  Jan 18, 2007
A little over twenty years ago David Barrett published his book World Christian Encyclopedia (1982; 2002) that documented a growing change in Christianity's center of gravity. After flourishing around the Mediterranean perimeter, Christianity was overtaken by Islam by the eighth or ninth century. For the next millennium, Christianity migrated to Europe. Now, with Philip Jenkins's new book, we can say with confidence that yet another massive shift has occurred in Christianity, away from the wealthy and primarily white regions of the northern hemisphere, to the poor and non-white regions of the southern hemisphere.

Here in the wealthy west believers wrangle over gay rights, the role of women in ministry, declining membership in mainline denominations, increased secularity (at least by some measures), clergy celibacy and the like. But a counter reformation of sorts has already occurred among poor believers in the south, says Jenkins. Their orientation is theologically and socially conservative, with unapologetic belief in the supernatural, healing, exorcisms and so on. With so many failed states and dysfunctional governments in these parts of the world, the leaders of these ascendant Christian movements have gained increased power and prestige.

This upsurge of conservative Christianity runs counter to so much of the modern west, but according to demographics, in the case of the Gospel the modern west might matter less and less. In 1900 Africa was about 10% Christian; today about 46% of the population is Christian. In fifty years, half of the world's Christian population will be in Africa and Latin America, and only about 20% of believers will be non-Latino whites. A Nigerian pope? It might only be a matter of time. If you cannot read his book length version, Jenkins has an abbreviated version of his research in the Atlantic Monthly (October 2002), pages 53-68.

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