Religion is never static, at least not for very long and not in this day and age. About 30% of the world’s people is Christian, including about 75% of Americans. But, what will it mean to be “Christian” in 20 years, or 50? Given that our country alone has thousands of denominations, can we even begin to predict what Christianity’s future holds?
Fortunately, Steve, our resident CivCon religious scholar and local minister, will be on hand on Thursday to help us with this question. For my part, I figure the recent past can give us some insights into Christianity’s future. Globally, in recent years Christianity has been:
- Moving south. Christianity is booming in poor and middle-income countries, especially Africa.
- Evangelizing: The fastest growing sects have been evangelist denominations, such as Pentecostalism; and Mormonism. As Europe has secularized, the Catholic church has been reorienting to the global South, too.
- Changing focus. This evolution may be making many Christian sects more socially conservative; e.g., on sexual and family morality (esp. homosexuality), and the role of women. But, it may make them more liberal on social justice issues.
In the United States we’ve seen:
- Big growth in evangelical sects and a corresponding decline in mainline Protestant denominations.
- A sharp, recent rise in the number of people who self-describe as “spiritual but not religious.”
- Growth in Latino population, with its attendent effects on Catholisism.
- A large increase in the non-religious population.
- Christianity’s is at a historical pivot point, or so says this way cool Atlantic Monthly article. (David)
- “Post-Christianity” in Europe (Steve recommends).
- The “Emerging Church (Wiki):” According to Steve, a new movement of churches emphasizing doctrine less, and experience more. One of them is the Center For Action and Redemption (Steve).
- An iconoclastic bishop who believes Christianity must either “evolve or die.” (Steve)
And, finally, Steve thought we could use a quick tutorial on Dietrich Bonhoeffer.