The Future of Christianity

By Askew, Thomas A. | International Bulletin of Missionary Research, April 2003 | Go to article overview

The Future of Christianity


Askew, Thomas A., International Bulletin of Missionary Research


The Future of Christianity. By Alister E. McGrath. Oxford: Blackwell, 2002. Pp. xii, 172. Paperback $17.95.

Published in the Blackwell Manifesto series, this succinct, accessible assessment by Alister E. McGrath, professor of historical theology, University of Oxford, and principal of Wycliffe Hall, examines "trends that can be discerned within global Christianity" (p. 99). Drawing on sources reaching from Peter Abelard to evolving script changes in Star Trek and the explosive expansion of non-Western churches, the author forthrightly states his perspectives, while recognizing the limits of projecting the future.

McGrath starts with setbacks Christianity suffered in the twentieth century. Here he places the intellectual, moral, and spiritual changes of the 1960s alongside earlier losses such as the Armenian genocide, the failure of the churches to confront Nazism, and the Communist persecutions. Writing as an Anglican, McGrath maintains that the radical attempts to "modernize" Christianity in the 1960s set the stage for growing irrelevance of the mainline denominations, which he sadly sees as unlikely to last another century.

In contrast, the book traces the resurgence of traditional and evangelical forms of the faith. Christianity's future resides in Roman Catholicism, Pentecostalism, evangelicalism, and Eastern Orthodoxy, especially the former two as they advance dramatically in the Third World. …

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