Christianity Reborn: The Global Expansion of Evangelicalism in the Twentieth Century

Christianity Reborn: The Global Expansion of Evangelicalism in the Twentieth Century

Christianity Reborn: The Global Expansion of Evangelicalism in the Twentieth Century

Christianity Reborn: The Global Expansion of Evangelicalism in the Twentieth Century

Synopsis

"Christianity Reborn" provides the first transnational in-depth analysis of the global expansion of evangelical Protestantism during the past century. While the growth of evangelical Christianity in the non-Western world has already been documented, the significance of this book lies in its scholarly treatment of that phenomenon.

Written by prominent historians of religion, these chapters explore the expansion of evangelical (including charismatic) Christianity in non-English-speaking lands, with special reference to dynamic indigenous responses. The range of locations covered includes western and southern Africa, eastern and southern Asia, Latin America, and Oceania. The concluding essay provides a sociological account of evangelicalismbs success, highlighting its ability to create a multiplicity of faith communities suited to very different ethnic, racial, and geographical regions.

At a time of great interest in the growth of Christianity in the non-Western world, this volume makes an important contribution to our understanding of what may be another turning point in the historical development of evangelical faith.

Excerpt

Three religious movements in the world today can claim to be global faiths: Roman Catholicism, Islam, and evangelicalism. Of these three, it is perhaps surprising that the evangelical movement is so little studied and poorly understood. Though the corpus of material on its history in the West has been growing, evangelicalism still remains relatively unexamined for being such an influential religious and social phenomenon. If our knowledge of evangelicalism in the West is limited, our knowledge of how it has fared in the nonWestern world is, by comparison, far weaker; there still is very little available to scholars and serious readers on the nature and growth of evangelicalism beyond the English-speaking world.

Several reasons may be advanced for this neglect. Many Western historians and social scientists view evangelicalism as a spent force, more a movement of the past than the wave of the future. This assumption leads many to conclude that there is little need to treat evangelicalism seriously as an object of academic study. On an ideological level, an overriding assumption among many academics is the notion that “modernization” inevitably produces secularization. This view has led many toward the expectation that religion in general would become increasingly marginalized and moribund; evangelicalism would thus, in turn, cease to be a lively option for people in the modern world. This view was undoubtedly confirmed and strengthened in the minds of many in the English-speaking world by the apparent decline of evangelicalism in Britain and America during the interwar period.

1. Joel Carpenter has argued that this “decline” in America, at least, was perhaps more apparent than real. Joel A. Carpenter, Revive Us Again: The Reawakening of American Fundamentalism (New York, 1997).

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