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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading, 15 Jan 2007
By 
Peter Stone "peterygwendyta" (N. Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South (Hardcover)
Another great book by Philip Jenkins re the state of Christianity today and about it's shift South. While I would fully endorse this book as good, informative and of journalistic quality I would have to disagree with the title. The Title talks about the Global south which includes Latin America, Africa and Asia, but Philip deals mostly with Africa. A better title would have been "The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in Africa" If it wasn't for this I would have given 5 stars. Still worth a read all the same to get a view of what African Christianity is like today.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating study of Christianity in Africa and the global south, 26 Dec 2007
By 
Helen Hancox "Auntie Helen" (Essex, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South (Hardcover)
This book is a companion volume to Jenkins' highly successful "The next Christendom" which looked at the position of Christianity in the global south. As numbers of Christians remain static or fall in the Western nations but grow significantly in Africa, Asia and South America, the Christianity that these nations exhibit can be very different to that with which we are familiar. Jenkins explores, mostly using Africa as an example, how Christianity is experienced in the global south, including the significant focus on healings, demons, witchcraft and persecution, all within a framework of a world like that of the Bible, marked by plague, poverty and exile.

Jenkins shows how Christians in the global south are reading the Bible with fresh eyes, taking new messages or highlighting areas that for post-enlightenment westerners have lost their power. Some of the behaviour and theology of these churches made for uncomfortable reading for me as a western believer but it was a fascinating reminder that Christianity is a global religion and that we are often very different from our neighbours on the planet, and yet the Bible can speak to us all in our own languages. It's a worthwhile and thought-provoking book and an excellent companion to "The Next Christendom".
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4.0 out of 5 stars North versus South?, 28 Aug 2009
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A. O. P. Akemu "Ona" (Rotterdam, The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South (Hardcover)
I bought The New Faces of Christianity after I had read his two other books, God's Continent and The New Christendom. Professor Jenkins, in the spirit of the other books, does not disappoint in The New Faces: his analysis is encyclopaedic, nuanced and fresh.

He argues that the centre of gravity of Christianity is moving inexorably from the North (Europe and North America) to the Global South (The Third World). This shift will have profound implications for the `face' of Christianity and the impact that it will have on social, economic and political issues. To illustrate this point, Jenkins examines how the `Southern' Christian denominations - in Africa and Asia - read the Bible, and how much authority they give to the Holy Writ. Southern Christians, who live in rapidly modernising - and sometimes agrarian - societies identify closely with the imagery and the social world of both the Old and New Testaments. Therefore, they have used the Bible to challenge and sometimes reinforce traditional values in their societies.

One example of challenging traditional values is the reading of the role of women in the Church. In many Southern Churches from Zimbabwe to India, women have read the stories of women in the Bible such as Rahab, Deborah, Sarah and Ruth to seek inspiration: Rahab, for example, a harlot was saved by Yahweh and eventually become an ancestor of Christ speaks to the power of Christianity to outcasts. Also, Ruth, a model of fidelity and virtue becomes for some Southern Christians a symbol of colonial oppression (Ruth, a Moabite, only `found' salvation when she abandoned her heritage and became Hebrew).

Apart from the way in which Southern Christians read the Bible, the most profound difference between North and South is the credibility that is accorded to demons and the supernatural. Jenkins argues that while there is an `ineradicable' substrate of superstition even in the advanced West, the credence given to the supernatural in African and Asian Christianity marks them distinctly from Northern Christians. Jenkins does not make light the African belief in the cosmic embodiments of evil. Instead, he argues that African Christianity has had to subsume pre-Christian animist beliefs in order to gain adherents among Southern populations.
Indeed, many white missionaries failed to convert Africans in the nineteenth century precisely because they (the missionaries) tended to downplay the African belief in the supernatural.African Independent Churches, in contrast to the European missionaries, co-opted African pre-Christian spirituality into Christianity. Therefore, they were able to win more converts to Christianity. (Many early African converts considered Jesus to be more powerful than any evil ancestral spirit) and succeeded beyond the missionaries' wildest dreams.

What does the shift to the South mean for Christianity? Jenkins argues that Third World issues will increasingly dominate the Church's agenda. However, he is more taciturn about the implications for `Northern' issues such as separation of Church and State; the Culture Wars; and the self-conscious definition of Christianity: who is a Christian and how is he/she different from a Muslim or a Jew? Only time will tell.

In conclusion, I enjoyed reading The New Faces; it is packed with page after page of personal accounts of the encounter between Northern academics and Southern stories and has an extensive bibliography. It was personal reflection on my childhood, growing up as a second-generation Christian in Lagos, Nigeria. Jenkins clinically captures the conflict between Southern spirituality and Northern rationality and left me wondering, "How does a Professor from the University of Pennsylvania have such remarkable insight into the religious world of my youth?" I could only conclude that modern scholarship is a beautiful thing for which Jenkins' The New Faces deserves 4 stars.
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