Christianity is ceasing to be a white Northern religion and is becoming mostly a faith for people of color in the Global South, according to an American Anglican priest.
In a just-published New York Times piece titled “The Global Transformation of Christianity Is Here,” Rev. T. Harrison Warren states that she attended a Texas evangelical service where people waved their arms, shouting “Glory to God” and “Amen.” However, there was an unusual feature: “Nearly everyone in the room was an immigrant and a person of color. We sang in English but also in Spanish, Portuguese, Igbo and Nepali.”
Pentecostalism is surging in less-developed lands — and when a Northern country acquires a large “holy roller” church, its members mostly are immigrants from the Global South, Warren says. She quotes Sam George of Wheaton College: “What is happening in America is just a part of a larger transformation because Christianity is getting a new face. It is getting more black and brown and yellow.”
The priest cites a recent book called The Unexpected Christian Century, which says that in 1900 about 80 percent of all Christians lived in the developed North, but by 2000, the Northern ratio dropped to 37 percent and almost two-thirds were in the Southern Hemisphere, mostly in independent “spiritual” churches. “There are around 685 million Christians in Africa now,” Warren remarks. She continues, “The largest church congregation in the world belongs to Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, an Assemblies of God church, which has around 480,000 members.” (“Full Gospel” usually means to accept the entire bible, including Christ’s mandate that believers “shall speak with new tongues.”) She declares: “The future of American evangelicalism isn’t white. … This ‘browning’ of the church in America, as some scholars call it, scrambles all the categories.”
To me, it seems that the world is splitting into two camps: Northerners have little need for supernaturalism. They ignore it — and even laugh at it. But the other camp of Southerners is enormous and growing. That seems to be the bipolar global picture in the 21st century.