cover image God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis

God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis

Philip Jenkins. Oxford University Press, USA, $28 (340pp) ISBN 978-0-19-531395-6

Jenkins loves to skewer headlines, to the point that each new book seems to present nothing less than a paradigm shift. The Next Christendom and The New Faces of Christianity announced that Christendom is moving south, its face now less European than African, South American and Asian. Here he looks back at the old Christendom, and finds there a story more complicated than fading Christianity and triumphant militant Islam. Sure enough, many great cathedrals and once-charming village churches are spackling over the cracks on the states nickel. But a host of grassroots-based Catholic religious organizations are flourishing. Ours, Jenkins asserts, is actually a golden age of religious pilgrimage. And it is not only Muslims pouring into Europes borders: African Pentecostals lead thriving congregations across their adopted continent. Poles pack Englands Catholic parishes, and priests from Zaire and CoteIvoire bring new life to age-old churches in French villages. Despite world-transfixing incidents of terror, Jenkins says that Islams dramatic growth in Europe is actually largely a success story of integration and growth in toleration. Conservative and liberal cultural commentators each have their reasons for trumpeting Christianitys demise and militant Islams growth in Europe. Theyre not wholly wrongthe story just needs nuancing. And who but Jenkins could enliven this storyline with an ocean of sociological data poured into a novel-like book thats impossible to put down?