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The New Faces of Christianity: Reading the Bible in the Global South

What Jenkins’ analysis will do is to caution pentecostals against any uncritical apocalyptic or dispensational “reading” of the European Union, of Islam, and of the Christian encounter with Islam. Instead, those of us who might be concerned about the re-evangelization of Europe need to pay attention to the class, race, social, and economic conditions amidst which our missionizing efforts proceed since the underlying causes of terrorism are fundamentally intertwined with such realities. On the other hand, for those who might think about “reducing” the Christian mission to social justice activity, Jenkins’ analysis also calls attention to the importance traditional women’s roles and family values for a just and stable society. In other words, pentecostal mission theology focused on Europe can be neither self-congratulatory nor self-flagellating; rather, there is a need for a careful re-assessment of mission perspectives against both the biblical witness and the cultural (European) realities in order to discern the way forward.

Somehow since completing his PhD in history at Cambridge University in 1978 and while teaching at the Pennsylvania State University since 1980, Philip Jenkins has found time to write over twenty scholarly histories of nations (like the USA and Wales), crime (e.g., pornography, child molestation, pedophilia, serial homicide), cultural phenomena (like the “extreme right,” moral panics, Cold War tensions, cults/new religions, and terrorism), and prejudices (like anti-Catholicism), among other topics. Not only does he write books faster than most of us can read them, but he brings the accumulations of his prodigious learning, astute analyses, and tempered judgments into each successive volume. “The Future of Christianity Trilogy” and the two books in review in particular are no exception to these “Jenkins’ rules.” Pentecostal nay-sayers and yea-sayers would be well advised to read these volumes so that the criticisms of the former can become more informed and the triumphalism of the latter can be checked by reality.

Reviewed by Amos Yong

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Category: Biblical Studies, Fall 2008, Pneuma Review

About the Author: Amos Yong is Professor of Theology & Mission and director of the Center for Missiological Research at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena. His graduate education includes degrees in theology, history, and religious studies from Western Evangelical Seminary and Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, and Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, and an undergraduate degree from Bethany University of the Assemblies of God. He is the author of numerous papers and over 30 books. fuller.edu/faculty/ayong/ amosyong@fuller.edu Facebook

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