Returning to a Christendom of the South Print
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 02 April 2007 12:45
From the April edition of the ever illuminating Lausanne World Pulse

The twentieth century saw a radical shift in the Christian world, with a majority of believers now being found in the global South (Asia, Africa, Latin America, Oceania) rather than the global North (North America and Europe). This has not been the case since AD 923 (see graph). The shift has been well documented and presented by scholars over the past decade, most notably Philip Jenkins in his work The Next Christendom.

The graph below is fascinating, showing clearly that in the 16th century - the century of the Reformation and religious wars and Council of Trent, that 90% of Christians were to be found in Europe. But it was also the extraordinary missionary expansion of Catholicism to the west and the east in the 16th century that laid the foundation for our situation today.

The most staggering change took place in the 20th century when through huge increases in the south and equally huge losses in the north, we reached our current situation. Christians still only make up 33% of the world's population but the Christian body changed from 20% "southern" to 70% "southern" in a single century. In a sense, we are returning to our origins.

And I doubt very much whether any of us have fully grasped what that means.