"New face" of Christianity

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by Helen, Nov 4, 2005.

  1. Helen

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    ToTheSource both permits and encourages its articles to be copied onto websites and to others. In line with that permission, the following article is of interest:

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    November 3, 2005

    Dear Concerned Citizen,
    Dinesh D'Souza


    In his recent book The Next Christendom, historian Philip Jenkins offers a provocative thesis. Christianity, he argues, is becoming a Third World religion. What this means is that both Catholicism and Protestantism, once anchored in Europe, with followers mainly in Europe and America, are now growing rapidly in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The new face of Christianity is no longer white and blond but yellow and black and brown.

    Philips has the figures to prove it. Of the 2 billion Christians in the world today, 560 million are in Europe and 260 million are in America. In comparison, there are 480 million Christians in Latin America and 313 million in Asia and 360 million in Africa. Non-Western Christians are already in the majority, their lead is substantially bigger when you consider not just nominal but active or “practicing” Christians, and demographic trends make it likely that the gap will become even greater in the future.

    The new face of Christianity is significant, Jenkins points out, because Asian and African and Latin Christians are overwhelmingly conservative. They are theologically conservative and socially conservative. The Catholics among them are not enthusiastic about women priests or allowing priests to marry. The Protestants among them are virtually “fundamentalist” in their reading of the Bible: they take it seriously and, in general, literally. Both groups are strongly opposed to homosexual ordination, homosexual marriage, and the easy availability of divorce and abortion.

    Recently there was a wave of anxiety in the American Catholic Church over reports that the Vatican is considering an outright ban on homosexual clergy. The Catholic Church has always opposed homosexual conduct, of course, but it has typically distinguished between homosexual acts (the sin) and homosexuals (the orientation). So homosexuals who take vows of celibacy are eligible for ordination.

    Now, however, Rome is reconsidering. Part of the reason, no doubt, is the so-called pedophilia scandals, which for the most part are not about pedophilia at all. Pedophilia—the attraction of adult males to young children—is extremely rare in the general population, and one can expect it is rare among Catholic priests as well. Most of the church scandals have involved adult male priests seducing young Catholic men, typically seminarians in their late teens or early twenties. Not unreasonably, the Vatican is examining whether the continued practice of ordaining homosexuals is likely to perpetuate this problem. American parishes—especially the “pink parishes” where gay priests make up an influential subculture—are reportedly nervous.

    Whatever the Vatican decides on this matter, it’s clear that the last few decades have witnessed a conservative tide in American Catholicism. This conservative era began with Pope John Paul II and now it seems likely to continue with Pope Benedict. But what are the reasons for this new age of Catholic conservatism? One answer, of course, is that the last pope and the current pope are theologically conservative, but that only begs the question: why are theological conservatives like this being elected to the papacy?

    According to Jenkins, the leaders of the major Christian denominations are quickly figuring out that their major constituencies are not in the West but in places like Manila, Seoul, Kinshasa, Buenos Aires, and Mexico City. In Jenkins’ view the new conservatism of the Vatican is partly a response to the realization that the new face of the Catholic faithful is conservative. Liberal Catholics may be a majority within the West, but Western Catholics are a diminishing minority within Catholicism. “Of course the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church are so very conservative,” Jenkins writes. “They can count.”

    Jenkins shows that these changes are also being felt in Protestant groups. A few years ago, at the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops, liberal figures from America and Europe introduced a resolution promoting homosexuality as compatible with Christian teaching. Not only was the resolution overwhelmingly voted down, mainly by the votes of Asian and African bishops, but the Third World Anglicans proceeded with their own resolution condemning homosexual conduct as antithetical to Christianity. So angry was liberal bishop John Spong of New Jersey that he accused the Asian and African clergy of advocating “a very superstitious kind of Christianity” not far removed from ancient paganism and animism! Thus does the veil of liberal multiculturalism and tolerance fall to the ground when liberal pieties are questioned by politically incorrect Third World people.

    The liberal project to tame Third World Christianity is bound to fail because most Asian, African, and Latin American Christians simply do not agree with liberals on the key religious and moral issues. Liberals will continue to be disappointed by them. By contrast, the moral conservatism of Third World Catholics and Protestants is very good news to theological and social conservatives in the West. And the long-term implications are huge.

    Conservative Catholics and Protestants in America are learning to put aside their quarrels of three hundred years ago in order to ally on important social and moral issues like abortion and gay marriage and the role of faith in public life. The next step, a crucial one, is for this new alliance of Western Christians to make common cause with their conservative counterparts in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Such a coalition would not only change the face of Christianity, it would change the face of the modern world.
     
  2. rsr

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    Jenkins also says that mainline Protestantism is becoming a tiny vestige of itself and the gains in Christianity will be among Pentecostals.
     
  3. gb93433

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    That has been known for years because the Pentecostals deal with poor people. The SBC grew for years when they decided to reach everyone they possibly could that waas mostly poor people. In 1995 a friend of mine went to a church growth conference in TX put on by the SBC and at the conference they told the people the best place to plant a church was among the wealthier. What they forgot was that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle then for the rich man to. . .
     
  4. Joseph_Botwinick

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    Three points of interest for me:

    1. I think this article would have been better titled: The New Face of Catholicism and Anglicanism. Is Episcopalian a protestant denomination? It always seemed more of a liturgical, Catholic type of church to me.

    2. I wonder what they used as a definition of Christian.

    3. We should work with secular entities such as the vatican to accomplish goals of moral consience. I am not quite sure I want to be united with them on theological issues, however.

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  5. Bunyon

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    "That has been known for years because the Pentecostals deal with poor people."--------------------------------------------------------------

    Or perhaps is is because pentacostals, not all but alot, promise wealth and health. Just give and claim it and you will be as rich and health as the preacher with the big mansion on the beach.
     
  6. Ben W

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    The point is that the future for the Christian Churches lies in these places and Russia. These nations will soon be the leadership of the global Christian churches by sheer weight of numbers.

    As for Catholics, I for one was extremley relieved when Ratzinger was given the Papacy over the chap from South America. With him in charge they would have likely grown at staggering levels.

    The Presbyterian Church is facing a huge split in the west beacuse of its Liberal attitude. The problem stems from the influx of right wing fundamentalist Korean members who will not stand for their current liberal attitudes. Resultantly they may well split and the Korean members will likely revive the denomination.

    The new move in Christianity will be the Evangelicals that place a focus on being theologically sound. Often in the Liberal churches it is the leadership that are Liberal not the congregations, resultantly people move congregations from established mainline churches into progressive evangelical community churches. If the evangelicals can get past the stumbling blocks of the Word of Faith movement and the Prosperity Gospel, anything is possible for the church in the west.

    As an aside it is interesting to note that the new movement of community churches are not afraid to be politically involved either. Many of these are streaming into established parties or founding Christian parties that there concerns may be considered and legislation changed. I think that the Christian influence over western politics will only increase as time moves on, and although minnows now, parties like Family First in Australia and the Constitution Party in the U.S will grow and become a major force in politics.
     
  7. Joseph_Botwinick

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    Ben,

    1. The future of the Christian Church will not be found in a place, or human beings, but in the Word of God.

    2. The Constitution Party may be Constitutional, but it certainly is not Christian. Don't know much about any of the Aussie parties.

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  8. Ben W

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    The Family First Party in Australia was founded by several wealthy members of the Australian AOG church. There is also the Christian Democtic Party who are more Methodist based.

    U.S political parties are not something I have heaps of knowledge of outside of Republican - Democrat - Constitution Party. Yet I found these Christian ones that all look pretty interesting.

    http://members.aol.com/fvparty/fvparty1/

    http://www.americafirstparty.org/

    http://www.theamericanparty.org/

    http://www.americanheritageparty.org/
     
  9. Joseph_Botwinick

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    Curious...is this the same America First Party that Lindberg was a member of during WW2 and that advocated for America to stay out of the war that the Jews were trying to push America into? I don't think they are Christian either. Just a bunch of heartless, immoral isolationists.

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  10. Joseph_Botwinick

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  11. Joseph_Botwinick

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    Look familiar? One could almost mistake this for modern day anti-war isolationists. Nothing under the sun ever really changes. They were wrong then and they are wrong now. Their ideology is wrong.

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  12. mioque

    mioque
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    Joseph
    "Is Episcopalian a protestant denomination? It always seemed more of a liturgical, Catholic type of church to me."
    "
    They are basically halfway between Catholicism and Protestantism.
    High Church Anglicanism being closer to the RCC in style, Low Church Anglicanism looking more Protestant.
     
  13. Squire Robertsson

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    John, the Episcopal Church is the American post-Revolutionary heir to the colonial branches of Church of England. Hence, it is part of the Anglican Communion.

    So, yes it is considered Protestant.
     
  14. Kiffen

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    I think the future of Christianity will be Asian and African Christianity (China, South Korea, Nigeria) that is growing in great numbers and are not materialistic as we in the West are.
     

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