One of the biggest events in recent human history is not one that tends to get reported on SKY or CNN. It is the phenomenal growth of the Christian Church in what is called the ‘Global South’ or ‘majority world’ – Africa, Asia and South America. Of course this is not a new thing that has happened overnight. But maybe it is a reality that we in the West are only now widely becoming aware of and it raises hugely important issues and challenges in an ever more interconnected world.
Tomorrow I’ll post an interview I did with Chris Wright. In it he talks about (among other things) how Western Christians now make up maybe 25% of the global Christian population – a percentage that is shrinking all the time.
One person who has perhaps done most to raise awareness is Philip Jenkins and his bestseller The Next Christendom: the coming of global Christianity which tells the tale of the ‘shift’ of world Christianity from north to south. He says ‘Christianity is a religion born in Africa and Asia, and in our lifetimes, it is going home’
Whereas in the past you might read about curious forms of marginal Christian experience such as ‘African theologies’ or ‘Asian theologies’ – soon the boot will be on the other foot and we will know when the shift has happened when we start reading about ‘North American theologies’ or ‘European theologies’. In others words – the West is no longer the ‘norm’ – ‘the’ Christian perspective against which all others are measured.
A couple of years ago Jenkins wrote another book called The New Faces of Christianity: reading the Bible in the Global South. It’s a fascinating, thought provoking and hugely enjoyable book that makes you think afresh about both how we read the Bible and how much we have to learn from fellow Christians aroudn the globe. I want to use it to start a series on world Christianity.