The World's Christians: Who They Are, Where They Are, and How They Got There

The World's Christians: Who They Are, Where They Are, and How They Got There

The World's Christians: Who They Are, Where They Are, and How They Got There

The World's Christians: Who They Are, Where They Are, and How They Got There


Written by an award-winning author, this well-organized and comprehensive introduction to global Christianity illuminates the many ways the world's Christians live their faith today.
  • Covers the entire globe: Africa, Asia, and Latin America as well as Europe, North America, and the Pacific
  • Provides impartial, in-depth descriptions of the world's four major Christian traditions: Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, and Pentecostal/Charismatic
  • Utilizes the best available sources to produce an up-to-date profile of demographic trends in the Christian population
  • Blends history, sociology, anthropology, and theology to create a rich, multi-layered analysis of the world Christian movement
  • Features clear maps and 4-color illustrations throughout the volume


The Christian movement began with just a handful of people, maybe a few hundred, who had known Jesus while he was alive and who looked to him even after his death as their religious teacher and guide. Jesus was born in a remote part of Palestine at the eastern edge of the Roman Empire, and during his lifetime his following never extended beyond that region. Most of his closest associates were of modest means, and many – perhaps most – were illiterate. All in all, there was little to suggest that someday this movement would span the globe, yet it has. Today Christianity, the religion of Jesus, is the largest and most widely disseminated religion in the world.

All Christians seek in some way or another to follow the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. The term “Christian” comes from the honorary title “Christ,” which was given to Jesus by the early church and means the “anointed one.” Christians see Jesus as being the Chosen One who came to proclaim “good news” (the “gospel”) to humankind, to announce God’s love for the world and God’s desire to redeem the world from sin, sorrow, and all that is wrong. But Christians also believe that Jesus was more than a mere messenger. In some sense, he was the message himself. He was, in his person, the redeeming presence of God on earth, the Messiah foretold in ancient Jewish scriptures. And it is that belief that has been the main driving force behind the growth of Christianity through the centuries and around the world: that, in Jesus, God came to earth to help and to heal the woes of humankind.

The historical Jesus was an unlikely leader. He lived his first 30 years in relative obscurity as the son of Mary and her husband Joseph, a carpenter in the small town of Nazareth. Then, for just a few years before he was killed, he took on the role of a wandering Jewish prophet and teacher, first in the rural region of Galilee and later in Jerusalem.

His message was simple but profound. Jesus affirmed much of the Judaism of his day, including the Golden Rule (“do unto others what you would have them do unto you”), but Jesus frequently added his own twist to those teachings. Some of these additions – the

The World’s Christians: Who they are, Where they are, and How they got there, First Edition. Douglas Jacobsen.
© 2011 Douglas Jacobsen. Published 2011 by Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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