Last Sunday’s Charlotte Observer reported on A religious revolution in Africa described by Philip Jenkins, author of The Next Christendom: The Rise of Global Christianity, who spoke at Westminster Presbyterian Church there. Here are a few statistics from that talk.
In 1900, Europe and North America accounted for about 85 percent of the world’s Christians. By 2050, that number will have shrunk to about 25 percent.
During the same period, he said the number of Christians in Africa have, well, skyrocketed seems too tame a word. In 1900, there were 10 million; in 2000, 363 million. By 2015, Jenkins expects 500 million. And, by 2050, he predicted that Africa would become the first continent to have 1 billion Christians. Put another way: One of every three Christians in the world will be African – and that’s not counting the Africans who will have moved to the United States or Europe.
In the 20th century, about half of the people on the African continent moved from a tribal or pagan religion to either Christianity or Islam. And, Jenkins added, “Christians outpaced Muslims considerably” – by a margin of about 4 to 1.
The Welsh-born Jenkins, a professor at Penn State and Baylor whose books are lauded by both conservative evangelicals and liberal scholars, was brought to town by Union Presbyterian Seminary at Charlotte….
In 1900, Jenkins said, Europeans outnumbered Africans 3-1. But by 2050, he said, there will be three Africans for every European.
Meanwhile, in Europe, population is stagnant. In Italy, the median age is 40, Jenkins said. In Uganda, it’s 14.
And any growth in the ranks of the religious in Europe – the continent that was the capital of Christianity for millennia – tends to come from migrants: Muslims from Turkey or Pakistan and Christians from Africa or the Caribbean.