in an Increasingly Borderless World
by Hon. David Kilgour, Member of
Parliament (Edmonton Southeast) and
Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific) to the
Evangelical Ministerium at “The Place
Desmond Tutu has noted about our increasingly
borderless world: “We are bound up in a
delicate network of interdependence.”
Miram Adeney of Christianity Today
says, “we’ve been hit in the solar
plexus with the truth that we are globally
connected and cannot cut loose.”
Despite this, there is still a major lack of
attention in the media paid to the
relationship between globalization and
We Christians must also become
more fully acquainted with rapidly
changing global faith trends.
Another necessary step if other
faiths friction and violence is to be
reduced is more effective bridge building
between faith communities.
Next Christendom: The Coming of Global
I’d like now to turn to a book recently
published by Phillip Jenkins entitled: The Next Christendom:
The Coming of Global Christianity.
Jenkins, who is a professor at Penn State
University, argues that the present global
trends of Christianity will have an impact
on the world similar to major religious
movements such as the Reformation.
For Jenkins, the twenty-first century will be
seen as a time in history when religion
replaced the importance once occupied by
Christianity will have a major
impact on all of the world’s belief and
It barely registered on Western consciousness
until recently that Christianity is
growing with phenomenal speed in Africa,
Asia and Latin America.
In Africa, according to the World
Christian Encyclopaedia, the present net
increase of Christians on the continent is
an astounding 8.4 million a year, or
23,000 persons a day.
Put another way, there were about
ten million African Christians in 1900; in
2000 there were 360 million.
My friend Sam Okoro, from
Nigeria, asked why, says it’s partly
because Africans have lost confidence in
Only faith in God, he says,
Below the Equator, Christianity is moving
towards a belief system based on divine
authority, literal interpretations of the
New Testament, super-naturalism,
neo-Orthodoxy, mysticism, personal
devotion, and communal relationships.
This Southern approach is in
direct contrast to the liberalism of the
North both in a theological and ethical
perspective. In particular, Southerners are experiencing an exponential
rise in Pentecostal churches. Jenkins’s
notes, “...Pentecostal expansion across
the Southern Hemisphere has been so
astonishing as to justify claims of a new
reformation.” The sense of family and
fellowship that is felt within Pentecostal
communities is key to its attraction for
Southern membership in Pentecostal and
independent churches already runs into the
hundred of millions; within a few decades,
Jenkins thinks they could represent a
majority of Christians worldwide.
He notes that there were only a
handful of Pentecostals in 1900, but
according to some projections they could
number more than a billion by 2050.
Jenkins argues that as a result
of this phenomenon, the North will
increasingly be viewed by the South as
being heretic in nature and in need of
re-evangelization. Jenkins’s argues that
the current trends in Southern
Christianity will not be reversed.
In highlighting this growth, Jenkins notes: “By
2025, 50 percent of the Christian
populations will be in Africa and Latin
America, and another 17 percent in Asia.”
In other words, the centre of
gravity of the Christian world will be
deep in the Southern hemisphere, creating
new pockets of influence and power.
Until now, the foolish stereotype
in the North was, as Jenkins says, that
Christians are “un-Black, un-poor and
In fact, before too long, the
phrase “a white Christian” may be
something of an oxymoron.
A word about Asia, South Korea in particular.
The book notes that there were
only about 300,000 Christians in the whole
of Korea in 1920, but that today there are
In fact, when I was in Seoul
recently, I was told that almost half of
the population are now Christians, which
could put the figure above 20 million.
The Fall Goyee Central Church in
Seoul, notes Jenkins, now has half a
million members. The Presbyterian Church I
attended in Seoul last Sunday has about
7000 members and they offer five or six
services each Sunday.
of the consequences of the phenomenal
growth of both Christianity and Islam is
that the two great religions are competing
intensely for converts in many nations.
Unfortunately, this could lead to
civil wars and horrific international
conflicts. Says Jenkins:
“Imagine the world of the
thirteenth century armed with nuclear
warheads and anthrax.
In responding to this prospect,
we need at a minimum to ensure that our
political leaders and diplomats pay as
much attention to religion and to
sectarian frontiers as they have to the
distribution of oil fields.”
concludes his book with this:
there is one overarching lesson from this
record of changing fortunes, it is that
Christianity is never as weak as it
appears, nor as strong as it appears.
And whether we look backward or
forward in history, we can see that time
and again, Christianity demonstrates a
breathtaking ability to transform weakness
as Christians in the North should address
these global trends and play a useful
role. As Miriam Adeney of Christianity
Today argues, “of all people,
Christians are to love our neighbours.
When our neighbourhood expands to
include the globe, then we’re called to
Christianity should no longer be
viewed as being a European and North
American faith. In particular, we need to
reach this conclusion as a united
community and formulate an appropriate
response to this transformation.
communities everywhere should concentrate
on maintaining a dialogue on where the
future of the faith lies and as a result
become better qualified to address complex
issues of the future. Christians must
assume active roles in addressing whether
the level of global awareness present in
all of our institutions, including at the
educational and church levels, is
appropriate or needs to be improved upon.
expanding our contacts with communities
around the world, it is important to
reflect on the power of forgiveness in
past strained relationships.
As Bishop Tutu once said: “the
past, far from disappearing or lying down
and being quiet, has an embarrassing and
persistent way of returning and haunting
us unless it has been dealt with
Unless we look the beast in the
eye we find it has an uncanny habit of
returning to hold us hostage.”
Are these words not equally
applicable to Canadians?
example, at the time of Nelson Mandela’s
inauguration on May 10, 1994, he was
joined by numerous heads of sate and
prominent world figures.
Included was a former jailer of
Mandela demonstrated his capacity
to forgive and work towards achieving
reconciliation from those who had harmed
him in the past.
are not called to forget the past; we all
know that there is inherent danger in
We are called to drop the burdens
of anger and resentment
that weigh us down and direct our
will towards reaching forgiveness and