Christianity

Christianity is spreading in South-East Asia

 

From the Economist:

Evangelical and Pentecostal Christianity is growing more quickly in Asia than most parts of the world, with over 200m adherents in 2015, up from 17m in 1970. The largest congregations are in South Korea and the Philippines, where dazzlingly large mega-churches hold tens of thousands of people. But Christian zeal is also increasing in other parts of the continent, including Indonesia and Malaysia, where proselytising among the Muslim majority is well nigh impossible, but where Buddhists, Confucians and Christians of other denominations, almost all of them ethnically Chinese, are proving receptive.

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Christians in Europe — more dying than being born

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According to Pew Research Christians remained the largest religious group in the world in 2015, making up nearly a third (31%) of Earth’s 7.3 billion people. But the number of Christians in Europe, is in decline.

But among Christians in Europe deaths outnumbered births by nearly 6 million from 2010 to 2015. In Germany alone, there were an estimated 1.4 million more Christian deaths than births.

Demographics is destiny. Unless you start winning Europeans who are far from God.

Islam on track to become the world's largest religion

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According to Pew Research:

Over the next four decades, Christians will remain the largest religious group, but Islam will grow faster than any other major religion, mostly because Muslims are younger and have more children than any other religious group globally. By 2050, the number of Muslims will nearly equal the number of Christians.

The growth of Christianity is keeping pace with world population growth. All other faiths, except Islam, have plateaued or are declining in their percentage share of the world’s growing population. Even the percentage of religiously unaffiliated is declining.

The world is becoming more religious due mainly to the growth in Islam and Christianity. I don’t think anyone predicted this trend.

A generation ago the assumption was the ultimate triumph of secularism.

The top 20 countries where Christianity is growing the fastest

20 Countries where Christianity growing fastest

I’ve just stumbled on this report from the Centre for the Study of Global Christianity.

They identified the top 20 countries that have the highest percentage Christianity Average Annual Growth Rate (AAGR). The number of years for the number of Christians to double, based on the Average Annual Growth Rate has also been calculated.

Top 20 countries where Christianity is growing fastest table

Notice a few things:

  • 19 of the countries in the top 20 are in Asia and Africa.
  • 11 countries on the top 20 list are Muslim majority countries.
  • not a single country from Europe, Northern America or Latin America makes the top 20 list
  • the highest Christian growth rates are found among all major non-Christian religious groups: Hindus, Non-Religious, Buddhists, Muslims and Ethno-religionists (Benin and South Sudan)?
  • the majority of the top 20 countries are clustered in three areas: Eastern Asia, Western Africa and the Arabian Peninsula
I’m amazed by the figures out of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Oman, Bahrain,Yemen and Kuwait. Obviously the percentage increase is off a small base. Does anyone know if this growth is among Arabs or is it among migrant workers?
 
An interesting omission is Iran. I keep hearing stories of Iranians coming to Christ both in Iran and among the Iranian diaspora. Perhaps the growth has picked up since the report was written.
 
There is also some amazing growth among the people of north India. I’d like to see a list of the top 50 countries.
 
(Thanks to Grant Morrison for the heads up.)

UPDATE: Thanks to reader Tomas for providing this link to more details from the report. Table 3 shows the impact of immigration on the growth of Christianity in Arab Muslim countries. So some good news, but the figures look much better than they are.
 
Related:

Factors in the growth of Christianity in China

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My notes on some of the reasons for the growth of (Protestant = evangelical) Christianity in China given by  Stark and Wang :

Persecution was the single most important factor in the growth of Christianity in China since 1949. By expelling Western missionaries the Communists completed the transformation of Protestantism in China into an entirely Chinese movement.

Some Western Protestant missionaries had begun to lose faith not only in missions but in Christianity. Their expulsion protected the Chinese church from the debilitating influence of theological liberalism. Luke-warm liberalism cannot generate high levels of commitment.

Persecution results in a high level of member intensity. High levels of commitment are required for rapid growth. Committed people share their faith with others.

Most conversions occur through networks of interpersonal relationships. Conversion is not a very visible phenomenon. To deprive a faith of a public presence has little impact on its growth if members are engaged privately in converting their friends and family.

During the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) most churches were destroyed or converted into other uses. Thousands of clergy were jailed or forced into re-education camps. The Catholics were vulnerable due to their hierarchical structure and dependence on ordained clergy and sacred buildings. Soon their was an acute shortage of priests. Without priests there were no Masses and no baptisms.

In contrast, Protestants had a seemingly inexhaustible supply of preachers, male and female. Any devoted believer can conduct a church gathering. Protestants are able to pray, read the Bible and worship in homes.

In 1950 the Catholics outnumbered Protestants by 3 to 1. Today Catholics are outnumbered by Protestants 10 to one and the ratio is increasing.

China — the first post-religious society or the nation with the most Christians on earth?

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A few notes from A Star in the East: The Rise of Christianity in China ….

In the 1940s Western academics like Harvard’s John K Fairbank, were proclaiming it had “become evident that few Chinese people are likely to become Christians and that the missionaries’ long-continued effort, if measured in numbers of converts, had failed.”

In 1949 the Chinese Communists came to power and within a few years had expelled all Western missionaries. China was to become the model of a fully secularized post-religious society.

By the best estimates, in 1949, there were around 1 million Chinese Protestants and 3.2 million Catholics. From the beginning the Communist Party opposed all forms of religious faith, although the fiercest and deadliest persecution awaited the Cultural Revolution of 1966.

The death of Mao in 1976 led to a relaxation of persecution, and by 1979 one million Protestants had become 5 million and 3.2 million Catholics had become 5 million, mostly due to fertility.

By 2007 there were as many Christians in China as members of the Communist Party. Today Christians greatly outnumber party members, although increasingly there is an overlap between the two affiliations. [Yes, there are now many members of the Communist Party who are Christians.]

If this rate of increase continues for just ten more years, there will be more Christians in China than any other nation in the world.

It appears that faith in a coming post religious China has been revealed as the opium of Western intellectuals. The foolishness of God has shamed the wise. The weakness of God has overpowered the strong.