The Next Christendom

by Philip Jenkins

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Jenkins predicts in his book The Next Christendom that in the year 2050 the world will observe a form of global Christianity. However, he importantly notes that this will differ greatly from what the West understands Christianity to be contemporarily. He attempts to use data to back up his prediction. He is skeptical of some of the data provided by churches and believes that they may exaggerate their membership. As such, he defines a Christian as anyone who self-proclaims to be one.

He argues that in the coming years Latin America and Africa will see a sharp rise in self identifying Christians. He maps the geographic epicenter of Christianity over time and identifies that Europe did not become a central location for the religion until the 1500s. Jenkins explores the role of colonization and religion. He acknowledges that Christianity gained a reputation of being a religion for middle class whites. He believes that missionary work converted minorities into this framework. He believes that Christianity became a place of refuge for oppressed peoples and that new converts did the work of further spreading the religion.

Jenkins expresses frustration with the church for its failure to recognize the number of new Christians that exist. He notes how academia and the church focus their time and energy on the ancient history of the religion and not on the new changes that have been made to it. He sees this as the church not placing any importance on minority converts. He acknowledges the ways in which minority church members are changing the religion as the text gets translated to different languages and then reinterpreted. He predicts there will be much disagreement among Western Christians and non-Western Christians over the coming years regarding the “right” way to practice religion. In addition, he believes there will be a rise in conflict between Christianity and Islam, as he believes these will be the two largest religions in the world.

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