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The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity

Cover from the 2011 Third Edition.

Philip Jenkins, The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity, revised and expanded edition (New York: Oxford, 2007), 316 pages, ISBN 9780195183078.

Philip Jenkins’ award winning study of developments in Christianity outside of the Western hemisphere should be riveting reading for anyone interested in the future of Christianity and of Christian ministry. It particularly informs the global context of Pentecostal Christianity. Jenkins asserts that “one of the most transforming moments in the history of religion worldwide” is currently occurring as “the center of gravity in the Christian world” shifts south, that is, toward Africa and Latin America. In fact, while the West becomes increasingly secular, Christianity is growing rapidly in the global South. Jenkins notes that these developments have “countless implications for theology and for religious practice.” For one thing, the nature of Christianity itself is changing through synthesis with the thought of other cultures. In a word, Christianity is becoming much more diverse. Moreover, it is becoming much more “Pentecostal” or “Charismatic” as these groups lead the Church in global growth. Contrary to what may have been the expectations of some, Christianity is not dying, but it is diversifying. Yet notably, the “dominant theological tone of emerging world Christianity” is what Jenkins describes as “traditionalist, orthodox, and supernatural.” Again, this description fits much better with Pentecostal Christianity than with so-called mainstream, liberal Protestantism.

Philip Jenkins begins by explaining that the first edition of his book was released September 10, 2001—one day prior to the terrorist attack by radical Islamic extremists led by Osama bin Laden. Thus, unexpectedly many of his predictions were eerily and immediately fulfilled. He also explains and defines his terms in light of subsequent developments and offers this revised and expanded edition to his earlier work. Then in ten well-written and readable chapters, he describes the phenomenal shift the Christian faith is currently undergoing and its both exciting and alarming implications. The book also includes detailed chapter-by-chapter endnotes and a relatively complete index that will be helpful to researchers. Charts and tables are scattered throughout the text offering statistical analysis and support for Jenkins’ major claims regarding Christianity in various countries and contexts.

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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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