Global Christianity & American Religious History

By Jenkins, Philip; Wacker, Grant | The Christian Century, October 14, 2015 | Go to article overview

Global Christianity & American Religious History


Jenkins, Philip, Wacker, Grant, The Christian Century


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Christian Higher Education: A Global Reconnaissance, edited by Joel Carpenter, Perry L. Glanzer, and Nicholas S. Lantinga (Eerdmans, 346 pp., $36.00 paperback). Even where their overall numbers in a society are tiny, Christians often establish their presence and status through the excellence of their schools and colleges. With surprising frequency, these institutions prove attractive to groups and families one would initially expect to be deeply hostile to the faith. The case studies in this book examine the upsurge of new institutions in the Global South and offer instructive comparisons with the older Christian world.

To Whom Does Christianity Belong? Critical Issues in World Christianity, by Dyron B. Daughrity (Fortress, 301 pp., $29.00 paperback). This volume is the centerpiece of the promising new Fortress series Understanding World Christianity. This well-written, accessible survey integrates the sociological and political with the theological.

The Spirit Moves West: Korean Missionaries in America, by Rebecca Y. Kim (Oxford University Press, 256 pp., $24.95 paperback). A powerhouse of the faith, South Korea has become the world's second largest sender of missionaries and is arguably beginning its own golden age of missions. Rebecca Kim offers an in-depth study of the country's thriving University Bible Fellowship on the basis of years of interviews and participant observation.

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Secure the Soul: Christian Piety and Gang Prevention in Guatemala, by Kevin Lewis O'Neill (University of California Press, 304 pp., $24.95 paperback). During the 1980s, a brutal civil war transformed Guatemala into a facsimile of hell in which many familiar institutions were wantonly destroyed. The prolonged crisis left tens of thousands of young men rootless, their lives revolving around extremely violent gangs and illicit drug networks. The only institutions with much hope of patching together something like civil society have been churches, especially Pentecostal congregations. In a superb piece of ethnography, Kevin Lewis O'Neill traces the churches' highly practical Christian work through a series of settings and scenarios, including rehab centers, prisons, and even call centers staffed by Christian ex-gangbangers. An eye-opening and sometimes frightening book.

Evangelization in China, by Kin Sheung Chiaretto Yan (Orbis, 208 pp., $30.00 paperback). The author confronts the peculiar dilemmas that the church--especially the Catholic Church--faces in China, particularly the delicate path it has to walk as it operates simultaneously in the global sphere and within China. How does the church avoid giving the impression that it is an agent of foreign intervention and imperialism? How do the overt Christians of the state-approved church and the underground believers relate to one another? The book benefits immensely from the author's firsthand experience.

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A Path in the Mighty Waters: Shipboard Life and Atlantic Crossings to the New World, by Stephen R. Berry (Yale University Press, 336 pp., $40.00). This learned and gracefully written book explores religious culture aboard 18th-century Atlantic sailing vessels. Most of the spiritual lives that unfolded on the ships have remained shrouded in obscurity. …

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