Global Christianity & American Religious History

By Jenkins, Philip | The Christian Century, October 16, 2013 | Go to article overview

Global Christianity & American Religious History


Jenkins, Philip, The Christian Century


To the Ends of the Earth: Pentecostalism and the Transformation of World Christianity, by Allan Heaton Anderson (Oxford University Press, 336 pp., $24.95 paperback). Given the importance of Pentecostal and charismatic forms of faith in Christian expansion worldwide, Anderson's book is valuable and timely. He integrates historical and theological discussion into a remarkably concise account with an impressive global sweep and is properly critical of his subject where appropriate.

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The Missionary's Curse and Other Tales from a Chinese Catholic Village, by Henrietta Harrison (University of California Press, 279 pp., $26.95 paperback). Harrison's splendid book traces the history of Catholicism in one Chinese village over three centuries, a story of survival despite all the assaults of successive imperial and atheist regimes. It's fascinating to see how Catholic Christianity became fully integrated into the life of the village, in a friendly acculturation that often led to trouble with European authorities. The book also offers memorable biographical sketches of key individuals.

Escape from North Korea: The Untold Story of Asia's Underground Railroad, by Melanie Kirkpatrick (Encounter Books, 368 pp., $25.99). Journalist Kirkpatrick gives an inspiring account of the Christian-led efforts to help North Koreans escape from what may well be the world's worst country. It's hard to say whether the reader will be struck more by the heroism of the rescuers or the determination of ordinary Koreans to live and worship freely, whatever the risk. The book is a stirring evocation of faith in action.

Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians, by Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert and Nina Shea (Thomas Nelson, 416 pp., $16.99 paperback). Persecuted offers a stunning and often heartbreaking description of anti-Christian persecutions worldwide. Although the authors describe situations in which persecutors are Muslim, this is not a tirade against Islam as such. Several of the authors' examples concern the persecution of Christians by Hindus, Jews and other Christians, as well as by secular states. This is a rich and informative book, very upto-the-moment in its coverage. Harrowing and necessary.

The Global Diffusion of Evangelicalism: The Age of Billy Graham and John Stott, by Brian Stanley (IVP Academic, 283 pp., $24.00 paperback). In the history of Christian globalization, the era between 1950 and 1980 is particularly significant. These years marked the extinction of European empires and the massive growth of new churches, especially in their evangelical and charismatic forms. Stanley's wide-ranging history traces the formation of global networks, with an emphasis on new concepts of mission and innovative attempts to build bridges between cultures.

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Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat, by James D. Bratt (Eerdmans, 499 pp., $30.00 paperback). A hefty text, this book will stand for decades as the definitive biography of the near-legendary theologian Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920). Kuyper exerted unprecedented and unparalleled influence over Dutch--and Dutch-American --religious, intellectual, cultural and political life in the turn-of-the-century decades. Bratt's work not only does this titanic figure justice but also serves as a model for how to do biography right. He deeply contextualizes Kuyper in his age and place, including both sides of the Atlantic. Bratt's summary judgment about his subject--"Kuyper was a great man but not a nice one "captures the honesty, clarity and wit of Bratt's first-rate craftsmanship.

Sarah Osborn's World: The Rise of Evangelical Christianity in Early America, by Catherine A. …

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