Charlotte Observer: 'A religious revolution'
Leading scholar says Christianity is overtaking the globe, led by spectacular, ongoing growth in Africa and Asia
These times we live in have been called a lot of things. But perhaps the most surprising description came Sunday from one of the country's leading religion scholars.
"The most exciting time in Christianity ... since the 1st century."
Yes, even more thrilling than the Protestant Reformation, Philip Jenkins told about 75 people at Charlotte's Westminster Presbyterian Church.
The reason: The staggering growth in the number of Christians in Asia, Latin America and especially Africa - a phenomenon he called "a global religious revolution" and one that "reverses a trend that people had been used to for several hundred years."
To back up his claim, Jenkins - the author of a host of influential books, including "The Next Christendom: The Rise of Global Christianity" - offered a series of eye-popping statistics and projections.
In 1900, Europe and North America accounted for about 85 percent of the world's Christians. By 2050, that number will have shrunk to about 25 percent.
During the same period, he said the number of Christians in Africa have, well, skyrocketed seems too tame a word. In 1900, there were 10 million; in 2000, 363 million. By 2015, Jenkins expects 500 million. And, by 2050, he predicted that Africa would become the first continent to have 1 billion Christians. Put another way: One of every three Christians in the world will be African - and that's not counting the Africans who will have moved to the United States or Europe.
In the 20th century, about half of the people on the African continent moved from a tribal or pagan religion to either Christianity or Islam. And, Jenkins added, "Christians outpaced Muslims considerably" - by a margin of about 4 to 1. ...