cover image THE NEXT CHRISTENDOM: The Coming of Global Christianity

THE NEXT CHRISTENDOM: The Coming of Global Christianity

Philip Jenkins, . . Oxford, $25 (300pp) ISBN 978-0-19-514616-5

At the beginning of the 21st century, the World Christian Encyclopedia reported that out of the two billion Christians alive today, 820 million of them live in Europe and North America, while Latin America has 480 million, Africa 360 million and Asia 313 million. Given the current international growth of Christianity, by 2025 there will be 640 million Christians in Latin America, 633 million in Africa, 555 million in Europe, and 460 million in Asia. Jenkins (Hidden Gospels) quotes these numbers to demonstrate that Christianity is still alive and well in the world and that it is thriving most in Third World countries. In a meticulously researched study, Jenkins examines the reasons that Christian churches are booming in these countries. One of the main reasons, he argues, is that Christianity in these developing nations focuses less on doctrine and church politics and more on the ways that religion weaves itself into daily life. These fledgling churches, he says, are more likely to emphasize prophecy, miracles, mystical experiences and dreams than they are to become embroiled in arguments about the ordination of women. Moreover, Jenkins asserts, Christianity is developing alongside Islam in many of these nations, leaving open the possibility that religious wars like those of the 13th century might be a fact of life in the middle of the 21st. While there is little that is very startling or new in Jenkins's study, his well-researched claims nevertheless serve as a clarion call for anyone interested in the future of Christianity. (Apr.)