What does the future hold for Christianity? Would Christianity be dead and obsolete? Would the prediction of Voltaire, the 18th century French atheist, considered one of the greatest authors of his generation and who particularly weilded a astringent pen against Christianity, in a moment of self-exaltation boasted that, “In twenty years Christianity will be no more. My single hand shall destroy the edifice it took twelve apostles to rear.” But Voltaire's arrogance bragging was swallowed up on his death, yet Christianity has relentlessly continued on its triumphant march, just as Jesus promised that “the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Mt 16:18). Voltaire died, in his own words, “abandoned by God and man,” but the Church is still astoundingly to the chagrin of many and the scorn of the Jihads, “favored by God and man.” And Jenkins’ well-researched book provides solid evidences of this fact. His main argument is that the “man” who professes Christ is no longer the stereotype white Western man but rather a non-white person from the Southern Hemisphere.
Throughout his book, Jenkins compellingly contends four propositions, namely that geographically the center of gravity for Christianity has already or soon will be relocating decisively to the Southern Hemisphere. Two, demographically, the majority of Christians are now or soon will be non-white. Most will be Africans, Latin Americans and Asians. Three, theologically the 21st century church will be strongly influenced by Evangelicalism and Pentecostalism. Fourthly, the tension between Christianity and Islam will intensify, and possibly leading to war.
On his first proposition, Jenkins confidently proclaims that Christianity will not only survive, but would be thriving in the future – just that the flourishing will take place in another area and not in the traditional Western world. If Jenkins’ prediction is correct, then by the year 2050, six countries (
In addition, theologically this Southern Hemisphere Christians will be characterised by its staunch conservative faith in Scriptures and yet vibrantly demonstrated through Pentecostal-Charismatic expressions such as prophecy, visions, deliverance, healing, and ecstatic utterances. The present rapidly declining Western Christianity has become more liberal and less literal, and more rational and less Spirit-empowered. The contrasting and distinct form of Christianity between the South and North has somewhat caused the more scientific-educated Western Christians to be extremely suspicious of these supernatural forms of spirituality. Some even considered it to be demonic and part of reverting to pagan practices of animistic religions. Yet, there is no denying that South Christianity is burgeoning and impacting many communities. It is estimated that there is more than one billion Pentecostals, cutting across denominations, regions, and ethnic groups. They are likely to be among the poorest and least educated in their various populations, but they will be the ones who are enthusiastically spreading their own Pentecostal-influenced beliefs to the rest of the world.
 Samuel Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996).
This is an excerpt from my book review of The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity (NY:
I would like to hear your views and comments about the implications for the ASIAN churches. If Jenkins prediction is correct, would do you think we need to do to prepare ourselves and/or to accelerate such transformations?