It is common to make two claims today:
1. That the Church in Europe is in a steady decline and heading toward
The dearth of births to Christians — Italy’s birth rate is at 1.28 while 2.1 is needed to sustain a population — portends a future collapse of the Church.
2. That Islam is rising in Europe and will eventually do to Europe what it has done to the Middle East. Europe will, they say, become Eurabia.
Arabs, in the last fifty years, have grown from 80 million to 320! (10-14% of Russia is Muslim.)
But the amazingly wide-ranging scholar Philip Jenkins, never afraid to enter into the fray of scholarly assurances or popular claims, steps into this debate with his newest book, God’s Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe’s Religious Crisis (The Future of Christianity)
, and cautions both scholars and the populace. He summons folks to the table for some nuance and less apocalyptic rhetoric.
Well, yes, the Church is declining and you can see churches that are now museums and you can see boarded up churches, but there is plenty of Christian faith and a rise in small groups of Christians. And, yes, many Muslims have moved to Europe, and, yes, there is a genuine threat, but Jenkins seems to be saying it is not as serious as the doomsayers claim.
In fact, plenty of African Pentecostals are moving to Europe and many of the Muslims have become much more European. Millions of Europeans have been through the ALPHA course and there are a number of megachurches in Britain. Christianity will remain the majority for decades ahead.
Both Christianity and Islam are under threat because of the wide-ranging power of cultural secularism.