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The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity (Future of Christianity Trilogy) Paperback – 13 Sep 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, U.S.A.; 3 edition (13 Sept. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199767467
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199767465
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 2.8 x 15.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 77,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


Gracefully written and skillfully argued, The Next Christendom shows the many changes Christianity has undergone and its capacity to survive. (CHOICE)

About the Author

Philip Jenkins is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of History and Religious Studies at Pennsylvania State University and Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University. He is the author of many books and articles, including the acclaimed The Future of Christianity Trilogy, consisting of The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity, The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South, and God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis.

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An extremely interesting account of the rapid growth of Christianity in the developing world, this book covers developments in all the different strands of Christianity. Written sympathetically, but with an eye to the weaknesses as well as strengths of the various movements, I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who thinks that Christianity is in decline, or who wants to put the liberal/conservative conflict in European and North American churches into a world context. The only reason for 4 stars rather than five is that I found the style of the book is a little frustrating - falling somewhere between an academic and a popular approach, so that in places you feel you would like more in depth analysis, while in others that you'd like the author to get on with the story.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars 86 reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Important Popular Book. It can't do everything. 11 May 2012
By B. Marold - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a response to the reviewers who gave the book between 1 and three stars. My primary observation is that there is no way that a book aimed at a popular audience can touch all bases, personalities, issues, and prognostications. Let us be thankful that Jenkins has made known to us something about "Christianity South" and "Christianity East."

I was quite surprised, for example, at the relative growth of Christianity versus Islam in sub-Saharan Africa (by the way, that is everything in Africa south of the Sahara, down to the Cape of Good Hope.) But like some of the complaints from the one and two star reviewers, there is not much said about the explanation for this fact, except to suggest that African Christianity has found its own source of inspiration, and grows on that. It is no longer driven by European and American missionaries. But there is no citation for "Liberation Theology" in the index, which I found odd. This is a sign that the author's primary interest is demographic and social, not theological.

If you order a used copy, you want to be sure you are getting the third edition. I compared the table of contents for the first and third editions, and there is much added, especially on "The Rise of the New Christianity". On a contemporary topic, you will be missing something if you don't have the latest edition.

If you are interested in world Christianity, you can hardly find anything as illuminating as this 3rd Edition popular book.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Case for Optimism 5 Nov. 2011
By N. Smith - Published on
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The Next Christendom is a much-needed antidote to the pessimism of so many American Christians about the future of Christianity in the world. Jenkins paints a compelling picture of a vibrant and growing Christian faith in Africa and Asia - a faith with many weaknesses, to be sure, but one that is in many ways on the right track and growing in the right direction.

Christians have confessional reasons to be optimistic about the future of the church - Daniel 2 says the kingdom will grow, and Jesus made it clear that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church he is building. He ascended to heaven as one who has received all authority in heaven and on earth. The church's victory is along the path of suffering and death - but it is victory nonetheless. Jenkins argues that we can see this growth happening around the world. Whatever weaknesses - and even decline - we may think is present in the West, Western Christians need to fight their myopic tendencies and broaden their sense of the kingdom. We should be able to be excited about what God is doing around the world.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What You Can Expect To Happen 2 Aug. 2013
By Floyd - Published on
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The book is very comprehensive and gives detailed insight into what will happen to Christianity in the world both good and bad. Also, it points out news and conflicts which are often neglected by the media but really has great importance in terms of what happens in the world in the future. The severity of the religious conflicts and where we are heading in the future is discussed. Good overview of the subject is given.
4.0 out of 5 stars A challenge to the western church 22 Aug. 2011
By Daniel Im - Published on
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The following is an analytical book review of Philip Jenkins, The Next Christendom.

Philip Jenkins, the author of 24 books, and 120 book chapters and refereed articles, has been on the faculty of Pennsylvania State University since 1980, and in 2007, he was appointed as the Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of History and Religious Studies. He completed his undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral work all at the University of Cambridge, but it is not his work in global Christianity that got him on the faculty of Penn State. He began as an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice in 1980. In fact, his early work consists of history, criminology, and pedophilia. It was not until his publication of The Next Christendom that his reputation as an expert on global Christianity came to the forefront. Since then, he has spoken widely around this topic of global Christianity [...].

The thesis of this book is that the center of Christianity has shifted southward to Africa, Asia, and Latin America (Location 36). As a result, in spite of the seeming decline of Christianity in the western world, Christianity is actually growing and flourishing in most areas around the world (Location 992).

The Next Christendom begins with an elaboration of the thesis by challenging the myth that Christianity is actually declining and disappearing in the world. It may seem like that in the western world, but soon enough, the center of Christianity is going to be Africa and Latin America (Location 170). After elaborating on that point, Jenkins begins to paint a picture of the history of Christianity and how it has expanded across the world. He makes a point to paint a picture of how Christianity was closely tied with the western imperial expansion. He then moves to explain how Christianity is flourishing in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, using many illustrations and case studies to prove his point. Throughout the book, Jenkins is subtly asking the reader to consider how this shift of Christianity should affect how one lives out one's faith. Since "Christianity is flourishing wonderfully among the poor and persecuted, while it [is] atroph[ying] among the rich and secure" (Location 3012), what needs to change in the western world for Christianity to once again flourish here? Will the global north change at all? That is the question that begs to be asked.

Although the center of Christianity is shifting south, the center of Christian thought seems to be staying in the same location - the western world. Perhaps this is because that is where the money and the publishers are. In either case, if Christianity is flourishing and growing abundantly in the south, whereas it is stagnant and declining in the western world, then would it not make sense to learn from the south?

What would happen if the western world began learning from their theologians, pastors, and Christians? Perhaps following the footsteps of southern Christianity with a deeper and more personal faith, more emphasis on "communal orthodoxy, mysticism, and puritanism, all focused on clear scriptural authority" would cause Christianity to shift and transform in the western world (Location 120)? If, as Philip Yancey states, "God goes where he's wanted" (Location 215), then should the western world not learn from the contexts that God is clearly blessing and moving in? It is precisely because of this that I love being a part of the M.A. in Global Leadership. I do pray that I would never lose sight of the fact that God is not tied to one land or one people, but that he is a God of all peoples and transcends any location. As a result, I pray that I would never be so prideful to think that I can only learn from the celebrity pastors and theologians of North America, while ignoring the work that anonymous Christians are doing in some place I have never heard of. God, please protect my heart and keep me humble, with my eyes continually focused on you.

In the end, I give this book 4 stars out of 5.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and Enlightening 19 May 2010
By Ky. Col. - Published on
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Having read a very interesting book by the author on the power and decline of Middle Eastern/Asian Christianity in the Middle Ages, I looked forward to this older work concerning the growth of global Christianity in the 21st century. I must give Dr. Jenkins credit for a particularlly well researched and generally very readable work. The author put effort into overviewing potential growth trends. However, some of the most interesting parts of the book dealt with the character of Christianity in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Needless to say it can very different from the Northern "mainline" scene and also shares some differences from more theologically conservative North American denominations. The possibilities of future theological shifts and rifts made for very interesting reading. The work's most disturbing chapter dealt with geopolitics and the potential for future religious conflict as Christian and Muslim nations (or regions within nations) in Africa or Asia experience dramatic population expansion. Jenkins provides readers with current examples of persecution and religious conflict. Even more chilling though is the thought that resources and ethnic situations could cause chain reaction conflicts (e.g. entangled alliances of WWI) drawing in major powers. Overall a fascinating book that is well worth a read.
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