Five Things You Have Wrong About Christianity

by Tom Gilson

Which of these do you believe are true about Christianity in today’s world?

1. Christianity in our age is primarily a North American/European religion.

2. The typical Christian in today’s world is a Bible-belt American.

3. Missionaries are usually Europeans or Americans going out to upset other cultures.

4. Christianity is under siege and being squeezed out by science, modernism, relativism, and/or some other contemporary “ism.”

5. Miracles are rare: few people today have seen a genuine miracle in answer to prayer.

Here’s the truth about these five items. The first four go together to start with.

North American/Bible Belt/Under Siege?

Phillip Jenkins, Distinguished Professor of History and Religious Studies at Penn State, describes the situation this way:

The era of Western Christianity has passed within our lifetimes, and the day of Southern Christianity is dawning.

The fact of change is itself undeniable: it has happened, and will continue to happen.

Jenkins projects that Christians in Africa and Asia will increase by about 50%, from about 733 million in 2005, to 1.1 billion twenty years later. (His count includes nominal and cultural Christians, including many—especially in Europe—who would deny any belief in God.)

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It is of course believing Christians who comprise the great global growth in the faith. Nominal/cultural Christianity is on the wane. Perhaps most jarring to Western awareness of the world is that the 20th century’s most successful social movement wasn’t Marxism, feminism, or environmentalism, but Pentecostalism, which grew from a mere handful in the early 1900s to hundreds of millions a century later.

J.P. Moreland reports further numbers in Kingdom Triangle (written in 2007, and one of the more important books of the last decade, in my view ):

Some estimate that in 1970, there were around 71,000,000 born-again Christians with a vision to reach out to the entire world for Christ. By 2000, there were 707,000,000, roughly 11 percent of the world’s population! Up until 1960, Western Evangelicals outnumbered non-Western Evangelicals by two to one, but by 2000 non-Westerners (mostly Latinos, Africans, and Asians) lead by four to one, and the figure will be seven to one by 2010. Today more missionaries are sent from non-Western than Western nations.

Christianity is in excellent condition overall. God is clearly at work around the world…


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