Thanksgiving Day

The Next Christendom (book review)

The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global ChristianityThe Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity by Philip Jenkins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I like reading the work of futurists and speculating alongside them about the coming events. Philip Jenkins is not a futurists, but his book The Next Christendom does make future predictions about the Christian religion.

His view is a shift in the religion from being ruled and dominated by the Global North to the South. Mainly Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

Lots of numbers in the book. Recitation of statistics, again, again, and again. Makes for some dry reading.

However the historical recap of Christianity is nice. He attempts to correct our view of Christianity as a Western religion by reminding us of it's roots in the East. In fact the history parts of the book were by far my favorite.

I do have an issue with his definition of who is a Christian and who is not. For his book and stats he counts anyone who claims to be a Christian as one. Also seems that he includes people as Christian if someone else claims they are Christian, like a parish priest or a government official. I would have preferred a more strict definition, i.e. the faith has to have caused some tangible change in your life.

He also avoids the financial issue. He spends a good deal of time discussing the shift of Christian leadership to the South, where the theology and practice are more conservative and Pentecostal in nature. His view is that this will cause change in the North, where we tend to be more liberal in our theology. Having lived in Kenya now for almost 6 years I do see this conservative and Pentecostal trend. However I don't see the church putting up much of a serious challenge to the north's liberalness. Primarily due to the need for funds. Money changes everything.

All in all a decent book for those interested in the future of Christianity.

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