Thinking Anglicans

Global Christianity

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has this week published a major report on the size and distribution of the world’s Christian population: Global Christianity.

A comprehensive demographic study of more than 200 countries finds that there are 2.18 billion Christians of all ages around the world, representing nearly a third of the estimated 2010 global population of 6.9 billion. Christians are also geographically widespread – so far-flung, in fact, that no single continent or region can indisputably claim to be the center of global Christianity.

A century ago, this was not the case…

John L Allen Jr has written about this for the National Catholic Reporter with The Laws of Christian Thermodynamics and concludes

Based on the study, here are three rules of thumb about Christian growth and decline — extrapolations which go well beyond the contents of the Pew report, but which can be supported by the data it contains:

  • If you want Christianity to shrink, give it wealth and privilege and back it up with the power of the state.
  • If you want Christianity to show surprising resilience, suppress its structures and persecute its people.
  • If you want Christianity to thrive, drop it into a free market environment and force it to hustle.

The Washington Post carries this Associated Press summary of the report: Study: Christian population shifting away from Europe, still largest faith group worldwide and this article by G Jeffrey Macdonald: Report shows Christianity shifting to Africa.

Myles Collier in Christian Today Australia writes New study: Christianity is the largest religion in the world, decentralized.

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Tim Chesterton Recent comment authors
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Tim Chesterton
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John Allen’s three points are worth reflecting on. ‘Establishment’ may well be seen in historical perspective as one of the greatest disasters that can happen to a church.