Christianity 2010: A View from the New Atlas of Global Christianity

Article excerpt

This eight-page report is the twenty-sixth in an annual series in the IBMR. The series began in 1985, shortly after the publication of the first edition of the World Christian Encyclopedia (WCE; Oxford Univ. Press, 1982). Its purpose was to present, in summary form on a single page, an annual update of the most significant global and regional statistics presented in the WCE. The WCE itself was expanded into a second edition in 2001 and was accompanied by an analytic volume, World Christian Trends (WCT; William Carey Library, 2001). In 2003 an online database, the World Christian Database (later published by Brill), was launched, updating most of the statistics in the WCE and WCT.

In 2009 the team behind these earlier books published the Atlas of Global Christianity (Edinburgh Univ. Press, 2009), a visual quick-reference of the changing status of global Christianity over the 100 years since the epoch-making World Missionary Conference held in Edinburgh, Scotland, in June 1910. It is the first scholarly atlas to depict the twentieth-century shift of Christianity to the Global South. It is also the first to map Christian affiliation at the provincial level. The atlas is divided into five major parts.

Part 1 covers the world with maps on world issues and world religions, comparing the global context of 1910 and 2010.

Part 2 focuses on the Christian context, with thematic maps on major Christian traditions, including Anglicans, Independents, Marginals, Orthodox, Protestants, and Roman Catholics, as well as Evangelicals and Pentecostals.

Part 3 depicts Christianity by the United Nations regions (Eastern Africa, Middle Africa, Northern Africa, etc.). Each region (and continent) is described in four pages, including a historical essay, maps, graphs, tables, and charts.

Part 4 views the world by languages, peoples, and cities.

Part 5 focuses on Christian mission by analyzing data on missionaries, finance, Bible translation, media broadcasting, and other forms of evangelization.

A CD with an interactive electronic product is included in the back sleeve. It contains presentation-ready files of all maps, charts, graphs, and tables for classroom use. We present here three two-page spreads adapted from oversize (10 x 14 inches) Atlas of Global Christianity pages.

Missionaries Worldwide, 1910-2010

The first two pages offer an overview of the statistics of national workers and foreign missionaries around the world in 2010. For quick comparisons, estimates are made of the numbers of foreign missionaries in 1910. One of the challenges in this appraisal is that traditionally these assessments are confined to specific denominations (Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, Orthodox, etc.). Rarely are all Christian traditions combined such as they are on these pages. The growth in missionary sending from the Global South is apparent in these pages but lags behind the demographics of church membership.

World Christianity, 1910-2010

The next two pages offer a quick overview of the concentration of Christians around the world in 2010 in the context of the past 100 years. A comparison of the two years 1910 and 2010 is displayed in the line graph, the maps, and the tables. In areas that were strongly Christian in 1910 (Europe, Latin America, Northern America, and Oceania, except for Melanesia) the main trend appears to be secularization, with percentages of Christians decreasing over the 100 years. In Africa and Asia, most regions saw a profound transformation in terms of Christian growth. One can quickly see that the most dramatic changes in the period occurred in Africa as a whole, which was only 9 percent Christian in 1910 but nearly 50 percent Christian by 2010. Middle Africa experienced the greatest change, going from only 1 percent Christian in 1910 to over 80 percent Christian in 2010. In the atlas these demographic changes are put in context in narratives written by Christian scholars from each continent and region. …