Despite massacres, Christianity is on a roll worldwide

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Muslims greet Orthodox Christians leaving the church where Saturday's bomb blast took place in Alexandria, Jan. 6. / Reuters/Asmaa Waguih

In the past 10 days, Christian churches have been attacked in Egypt and Nigeria and improvised explosive devices have been placed on the doorsteps of Christian families in Iraq – which events, taken together, could mean a co-ordinated assault on Christians by Muslim holy warriors.

…. [However]  As U.S. political scientist Walter Russell Mead observed in a celebrated essay last year, Christianity is now “on its biggest roll” in its 2,000-year history. Many Christians, though, are only dimly aware of the faith’s phenomenal advance. You could call it the greatest story never told: the epilogue.

“In absolute numbers of adherents and in global market-share, Christianity is at an all-time high,” he says. “In the last 50 years, Christianity has surpassed Islam both as the most popular religion in sub-Saharan Africa and as the leading Abrahamic religion in China. The Roman Catholic Church alone claims as many adherents as the number of Sunni Muslims in the world.” Further, the global rise of Pentecostalism produced the fastest growth of any religious movement in history: This single church increased its membership “from zero to 500,000 million in 100 years.” All together, Christians now outnumber Muslims two to one.

Writing in the November-December issue of Foreign Affairs, British foreign-relations scholar Scott M. Thomas (author of The Global Resurgence of Religion: The Struggle for the Soul of the 21st Century) concurs. Prof. Thomas says that the most dynamic religious explosion in the world is not an Islamic phenomenon. It is an evangelical Protestant phenomenon.

In his own essay (A Globalized God), Prof. Thomas says that evangelical Christians now number as many as 688 million people – reaching strategic mass in such countries as China, India, Indonesia and Nigeria. Evangelical Christians, he says, will be a major religious, social and political force in the world for the next 100 years.

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