What is the thesis of The Next Christendom?

The thesis of The Next Christendom is that Latin America, Asia, and Africa will be the key centers of Christianity in the years to come.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The thesis is the central point of a given work. In this case, one has to find the main argument of a book. Sometimes, the title of the book provides a hint about what the author will be contending. With Philip Jenkins’s work, the title has a direct connection to the point that he’s trying to make. The title and the subtitle—The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity—let the reader know that this book will be about Christianity. Specifically, it will focus on the future of Christianity and its role in world affairs.

While the title supplies an outline of a thesis, it doesn’t really provide a specific contention. To find Jenkins’s more detailed premise, head to the first chapter. In the book’s opening chapter, “The Christian Revolution,” Jenkins lays out the primary statement that will shape his book. He cedes that Christianity has been typically aligned with the West. It’s been seen as the religion of “the haves.” Now, Jenkins argues, Christianity’s center has moved to Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Jenkins claims that these regions need to be identified as the places where Christianity will grow in the years to come.

Jenkins spends most of his book expanding upon this point. He talks about how these new centers of Christianity differ from the West’s view of Christianity. He discusses how the rise of Christianity in these places connect to their politics, violent conflicts, and other prominent religions like Islam.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

"Christendom" is a term used in the Middle Ages to describe the part of the world dominated by Christianity. For the majority of medieval history, this meant most of Europe and few places outside Europe. In The Next Christendom, Philip Jenkins points out that, as Christianity has declined in Europe, it has become increasingly influential in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The thesis of the book is that the next Christendom, the sphere of Christian influence that is now rising in the world, will be anything but white and Eurocentric. This new globalized form of Christianity will play a vital role in politics in the years to come.

Jenkins regards the globalization of Christianity and its political influence as a source of much potential conflict, particularly since it is arising in some of the areas where Islam is also influential. While the moribund Christianity of Europe is notable for its tolerant liberalism, the faith of the next Christendom is often traditional, reactionary, and militant, with many believers who combine an uncompromising moral stance on such matters as homosexuality with an apocalyptic vision of the world and an intolerance of other religious beliefs. The final characteristic has already led to violent clashes in Nigeria, Malaysia, and several other countries and is likely to lead to more in the future.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial