Mark Noll, professor at Notre Dame and America’s foremost church historian (or at least close), has a new book called The New Shape of World Christianity: How American Experience Reflects Global Faith and I want to begin a series on it next Monday, June 8th.
Here are two tastes of what Noll’s new book will argue:
“But today — when active Christian adherence has become stronger in Africa than in Europe, when the number of practicing Christians in China may be approaching the number in the United States, when live bodies in church are far more numerous in Kenya than in Canada, when more believers worship together in church Sunday by Sunday in Nagaland than in Norway, when India is now home to the world’s largest chapter of the Roman Catholic Jesuit order, and when Catholic mass is being said in more languages each Sunday in the United States than ever before in American history — with such realities defining the present situation, there is a pressing need for new historical perspectives that explore the new world situation” (10; my italics).
“The book’s major argument is that Christianity in its American form has indeed become very important for the world. But it has become important, not primarily because of direct influence. Rather, the key is how American Christianity was itself transformed when Europeans carried their faith across the Atlantic. The American model rather than American manipulation is the key. … I am suggesting that how Americans have come to practice the Christian faith is just as important globally as what Americans have done” (11-12).