Reviews for The new shape of world Christianity : how American experience reflects global faith

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

Given the dramatic shift in world Christianity in the 20th century away from domination by Europe and North America, Noll (history, Univ. of Notre Dame) argues for a new historical perspective. Whereas in 1900 over 70 percent of Christians were white Europeans, the typical Christian today is African or Latin American. Noll, an evangelical Protestant, focuses on the relationships between American and global Christianity. With convincing interpretations of recent scholarship, he argues that the "template" of American Christianity rather than its direct influence has been the main American contribution to world Christianity, especially in its evangelical and Pentecostal forms. The American model of church growth includes voluntarism (rather than state churches), pragmatism, lay participation, and entrepreneurial initiatives. Voluntary societies, for example, successfully recruited and sent missionaries worldwide. Although scholars often have critiqued missions as serving American interests abroad, they usually have not asked why Christianity flourished. Noll answers that economic globalization has made large parts of the world look "more like America." Christianity has grown not from American imposition but because "parallel historical circumstances" have drawn converts to "the best means of explaining the world around them." Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through faculty/researchers; general readers. W. B. Bedford Crown College