Philip Jenkins

Today I attended a seminar at the University of Aarhus by one of the most read religion scholars in recent years, Professor Philip Jenkins, from Penn State.

His main focal point, and thesis of his book, The Next Christendom, is that the centre Christianity is moving south. Demographic changes mean that in a not so distant future there will be more Christians in Africa, Latin America and Asia than in Europe and North America. This obviously has severe implications for the face of Christianity as a whole.

One of the interesting things to be aware of is the relationship between culture and theology. While discerning the two from each other has always been a matter of debate, it will become even more so when ‘third-world’ Christians start to point fingers at ‘first-world’ Christians for doing things the wrong way. It used to be the other way around, but this exchange has been gaining momentum in recent years and will, predicts Jenkins, increase in the future.

A more optimistic notion I got from his lecture is the power of the Bible. He pointed out how the parts of the Bible deemed important are very different from culture to culture. Agrarian societies can in a very real way relate to biblical ways of life, and genealogy turns out to be very important in certain cultures, while we in the west mostly skip these lists of names. Some would interpret these differences as flaws; I choose to be strengthened in my faith that the Bible is the Word of God, speaking to every culture and every generation.

Jenkins has certainly done some interesting work, and I enjoyed the experience. I have not yet read his book, but it is now added to my (ever-expanding) Amazon wish list.

Next week: Brian McLaren.


Author: Kenneth Mollerup Birch

Living north of Copenhagen, Denmark. MA in Information Science. Interests include communication, internet, sociology, language, politics, religion, theology, travel, music, and food.

3 thoughts on “Philip Jenkins”

  1. Well, I aknwoledge with you. And somethin else! This means that the gospel is reaching the whole world, so it is closer the moment when “this gospel would be preached to all the world, and then the end will come” (I try hard with my poor english, sorry). So, our salvation is at hand…

  2. Jo Thomas, jeg var til McLaren i Århus, men det gik op for mig, at jeg jo ikke ved, hvordan du og andre ser ud 😦

    Der kommer en post om arrangementet senere, har ikke lige fået taget mig sammen til det endnu.

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