The Changing World of Christianity: The Global History of a Borderless Religion

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The Changing World of Christianity: The Global History of a Borderless Religion. By Dyron B. Daughrity. New York: Peter Lang, 2010. Pp. x, 290. Paperback $34.95 / SFr 35 /euro22.50 /£20.30.

This volume by Dyron Daughrity, assistant professor of religion at Pepperdine University, Malibu, California, joins the mushrooming rank of textbooks on what church historians and theologians now speak of as "world Christianity." In the introductory chapter Daughrity emphasizes the recent changes in Christianity, within itself and in relation to the other three "world religions." Within itself, Christianity, now claiming one-third of the total world population of just under seven billion, is undergoing dramatic changes. The bulk of its membership is no longer found in the Global West or North but in the Global South - Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Oceania. The other religions that can claim to have a global presence are Islam (20. 8 7 percent), Hinduism (13.41 percent), and Buddhism (5.78 percent), but their reach is far from worldwide. Both Hinduism and Buddhism are confined mostly to Asia, and even Islam is dominant only in the so-called Islamic Crescent. Of these three religions, only Islam is a real competitor of Christianity, which enjoys a decided advantage thanks to its intentional adaptability; this fosters genuine growth and a lasting impact in the places in which it is established. As Daughrity puts it, Christianity "is always changing, geographically, theologically, liturgically, and socially" (p. 17). As a result, we are witnessing "a universal, transcultural, multi-lingual religion" (p. 19).

How can a borderless religion such as world Christianity best be studied? …