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The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity

Notably, a central theme is that in the South Jenkins predicts the possibility of “a new Christendom,” that is, the formation of new national alliances around the commonality of Christianity. If so, this development may portend increasing conflict between “Christian” and “Muslim” nations, especially neighboring nations. Of course, diplomats and other political leaders will need to be very informed about religions as well as common economic and political concerns if they are to avoid the horrors of religious wars. Historically, when nations with national religions expanded rapidly, “interfaith relations were transformed swiftly, and horribly.” Therefore, in the future, it will become increasingly important for policymakers to understand relations between and among the three major Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In fact, Jenkins says “the politics of the coming decades” will likely “revolve around interreligious conflict,” especially that between Christianity and Islam.

If, as appears likely, Jenkins is correct, then given the above, interreligious dialogue will become even more vital in the future, and not only for religious people but for the rest of the world as well. For a time, the religions, or even religion itself, may be made out to be the culprit for global conflict; but over time, it will probably become evident that not eradicating religion but rather improving interreligious relations is the track to take. Moreover, special attention will be advisable for relations between Christianity and Islam or, more importantly, between Christians and Muslims. Furthermore, whether positively or negatively, that is, whether in support or in opposition, the increasingly important place of Pentecostalism in the grand scheme of things among Christians, and therefore among others as well, suggests Pentecostals will likely play a major part in future developments among various faiths. Their role may be either unconsciously reactionary or intentionally visionary. The former could foster unintended but nonetheless just as hurtful strife, but the latter will help pave a pathway to peace. The latter is preferable. Pentecostals could and should play a powerful and positive role in the future of interfaith relations. To date, the patently obvious is that interreligious dialogue is a first, great step in the right direction.

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Category: Fall 2008, Ministry, Pneuma Review

About the Author: Tony Richie, D.Min, Ph.D., is missionary teacher at SEMISUD (Quito, Ecuador) and adjunct professor at the Pentecostal Theological Seminary (Cleveland, TN). Dr. Richie is an Ordained Bishop in the Church of God, and Senior Pastor at New Harvest in Knoxville, TN. He has served the Society for Pentecostal Studies as Ecumenical Studies Interest Group Leader and is currently Liaison to the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches (USA), and represents Pentecostals with Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation of the World Council of Churches and the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs. He is the author of Speaking by the Spirit: A Pentecostal Model for Interreligious Dialogue (Emeth Press, 2011) and Toward a Pentecostal Theology of Religions: Encountering Cornelius Today (CPT Press, 2013) as well as several journal articles and books chapters on Pentecostal theology and experience.

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