Christianity is Growing Around the World
-- In his book The Clash of Civilizations, Samuel Huntington predicts
that demographics will decide the clash between Christianity and Islam. And, as
he puts it, "in the long run, Muhammad wins out."
In this instance, Huntington
is wrong. For the foreseeable future there will be many more Christians than Muslims
in the world.
As Penn State professor Philip Jenkins writes in The
Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity, predictions like
Huntingtons betray an ignorance of the explosive growth of Christianity outside
of the West.
For instance, in 1900, there were approximately 10 million
Christians in Africa. By 2000, there were 360 million. By 2025, conservative estimates
see that number rising to 633 million. Those same estimates put the number of
Christians in Latin America in 2025 at 640 million and in Asia at 460 million.
According to Jenkins, the percentage of the worlds population that is,
at least by name, Christian will be roughly the same in 2050 as it was in 1900.
By the middle of this century, there will be three billion Christians in the world
-- one and a half times the number of Muslims. In fact, by 2050 there will be
nearly as many Pentecostal Christians in the world as there are Muslims today.
But at that point, only one-fifth of the worlds Christians will be non-Hispanic
whites. The typical Christian will be a woman living in a Nigerian village or
in a Brazilian shantytown.
And these changes will be more than demographic.
Jenkins points out that who he calls "Southern Christians" -- those living in
Africa, Latin America, and parts of Asia -- are far more conservative, theologically
and morally, than their counterparts in the West.
Thus, as Christianity
becomes more Southern, it becomes more biblically orthodox. While people like
Bishop John Shelby Spong and Templeton Prize winner Arthur Peacock insist that
Christianity must abandon its historic beliefs to survive, it is precisely these
historic beliefs that attract our Southern brethren.
And thats why in
Spong and Peacocks own Anglican Communion African bishops are ordaining missionaries
to re-convert the West.
This story of Christianitys explosive growth is
one of the great untold stories of our time -- a story that North American Christians
need to hear.
Its a story that repudiates those who say that Christians
must compromise their beliefs to remain relevant. The opposite is the case. Biblical
orthodoxy is winning converts while churches that have lost their biblical moorings
This shift of Christianitys "center of gravity" is also a reminder
to Western Christians that we are not the whole show, and we have to start thinking
differently about ourselves. We are part of a much larger community: the worldwide
Finally, its a sign that, no matter how bad things seem at home,
God is at work throughout the world. Everywhere its proclaimed, the Gospel is
changing lives and societies.
In this scary new world of globalization
one thing remains true: Its Jesus who people of every realm and tongue bless.
Order your copy of The
Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity
More from Charles Colson on CBN.com
Ministry, Copyright 2002 Prison Fellowship Ministries. "BreakPoint
with Chuck Colson" is a radio ministry of Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted
with permission of Prison Fellowship, P.O. Box 17500, Washington, DC, 20041-0500."
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