The Changing Face of Christianity: Africa, the West, and the World

The Changing Face of Christianity: Africa, the West, and the World

The Changing Face of Christianity: Africa, the West, and the World

The Changing Face of Christianity: Africa, the West, and the World

Synopsis

Over the past century, Christianity's place and role in the world have changed dramatically. In 1900, 80 percent of the world's Christians lived in Europe and North America. Today, more than 60 percent of the world's Christians live outside of that region.

Excerpt

One of the most important but least examined changes in the world over the past century has been the rapid rise of Christianity in nonWestern societies and cultures. In 1900, 80 percent of the world's professing Christians were European or North American. Today, 60 percent of professing Christians live in the global South and East. Christian thought and expression are being framed within these regions' cultures; they are by no means merely exported from the North Atlantic region. Christian people and institutions in places such as Brazil, the Philippines, and Nigeria are engaging the personal, social, and political dimensions of life and seeking to redirect them in light of the Christian gospel. Today, Christianity is a global faith, but one that is more vigorous and vibrant in the global South than among the world's richer and more powerful regions. It presents a remarkable case of “globalization from below” rather than an imposition from the world's great powers.

Christianity in Africa has become a salient part of this story because it poses perhaps the most dramatic case of rapid growth, local variation, and culture-transforming influence. In 1900, there were only about 9 million Christians in all of Africa. By 1945, however, this number had more than tripled to 30 million. By 1970, this number had more than tripled again to more than 115 million. Today, there are an estimated 380 million Christians in Africa. African influence on the world Christian scene is growing, and it is becoming much more common to see Africans leading Christian agencies and shaping Christian thought. The newly elected executive of the World Council of Churches is Samuel Kobia, a Kenyan. The chief . . .

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