Christianity’s fading ties to the West
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Christianity’s fading ties to the West

A look at where Christianity is thriving in the world

By Erika Norton | Echo

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Although Europe and the Americas are still home to a majority of the world’s Christians, that share is much lower than it was in 1910. (Photograph provided by Kober)

As Christianity begins the slow retreat from its historical strongholds in the West due to the rise of secularism and New Age spirituality, the Church in the “Global South” continues to thrive as the faith undergoes a rebirth and relocation in the world.

In the Global South—Africa, Latin America and Asia—Christianity is booming, so much so that in the next 50 years, the area could eclipse the West as the current spiritual home of Christianity, according to the Christian Post.

Just a century ago, the Global North (North America, Europe, Australia, Japan and New Zealand) contained more than four times as many Christians as the Global South, according to a Pew Forum study. Today, more than 1.3 billion Christians live in the Global South (61 percent), compared with about 860 million in the Global North.

Although Europe and the Americas still are home to a majority of the world’s Christians at 63 percent, that share is much lower than it was in 1910 when it was 93 percent. Further, the proportion of Christian Europeans and Americans dropped from 95 percent in 1910 to 76 percent in 2010 in Europe as a whole and from 96 percent to 86 percent in the Americas as a whole.

Interestingly, the Middle East and North Africa –the region where Christianity originally began– now has both the  lowest concentration of Christians (about four percent of the region’s population) and the smallest number of Christians (about 13 million) of any major geographic region.

While the Global North is becoming more religiously diverse, many countries in the Global South are actually becoming less so as Christianity and Islam emerge as the preeminent religions, according to a 2013 report by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity.

In 2020, the Center for the Study of Global Christianity predicts that South America will have the largest share of Christians worldwide and Eastern Africa will surpass North America as home to the second-largest Christian population.

Mark Hutchinson, the chairman of the church history department at Southern Cross College in Australia, believes Christianity is spreading in unexpected ways in the Global South, he told the Christian Post.

“What many pundits thought was the death of the church in the 1960s through secularization was really its relocation and rebirth into the rest of the world,” Hutchinson said.

That phenomenon can be seen in Africa, where the Christian population increased by 37 percent between 1900 and 2010, according to information from the World Christian Database.

As part of the Global South, China has the third highest number of Christians in the world (following the United States and Brazil), and its Christian population is continuing to rise, reported the Christian Science Monitor. Last summer, China’s religious affairs chief said 500,000 Christians are baptized each year in the country.

In addition, a joint study by Baylor University in Waco, Tex., and Peking University in Beijing, estimated that there are now about 70 million Christians over age 16 in China, according to the Christian Science Monitor. Put into perspective, there are 83 million Chinese people with Communist Party membership in the country.

If the high growth rate continues, the Center for the Study of Global Christianity predicts China may become the country with the world’s most Christians by 2030.

Although secularism is one reason for Christianity’s decline in the West, Gene Edward Veith, culture critic for World magazine, believes the problem is directly attributable to the theological liberalism of the once-powerful state churches, the Christian Post reported.

In addition, although it might be an odd idea for many Americans and Europeans to consider, Veith contemplates about the future possibility of non-white missionaries showing up on Western shores.

“What we need now (in the West) are missionaries from Africa to convert the heathen in Europe and America.”

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