Amy at Texas Faith: The Global South’s influence on religion

Amy/Moonlady on Texas Faith blog

This week’s question: Are the patterns of the Global South going to keep making their mark on various faiths, not just Christianity?

Amy’s answer:

The rise of Pentecostal and Charismatic religions in the Global South parallels the rise of the spiritually unaffiliated. Underlying it is a fundamental change in worship styles. There is a greater desire to be physically engaged in spirituality, to experience it directly, rather than be a passive recipient of spirituality as channeled through someone of authority. Areas of China and India are challenged by a plethora of languages and dialects that make detailed communication among large groups difficult, whereas a charismatic approach with an emphasis on experience helps alleviate that.

When the current reigning religions developed, humans existed in agricultural communities and toiled hard in the fields. More than 2000 years later, we live desk-bound lives lacking in physical activity and inundated with words, words, words. Now we are aware not only that there is an entire planet of people with radically different views of reality and the divine, but that there is an infinite universe that undoubtedly has other planets with intelligent life. This is the greatest challenge any religion must now face.


This week’s panel answers (answer listed as mine is not mine):


A central theme in the talk about who will succeed Pope Benedict XVI is the influence that the Global South has on Christianity. From Africa to Latin America and also to Asia, Christianity continues to flourish. That isn’t the same as what you see for at least mainline denominations in the United States. And it particularly isn’t so in Europe.

There’s been much talk before the pope’s resignation about the Global South’s influence on religion in general and Christianity in particular. Part of the growth is fueled by Pentecostal and charismatic Christians. The website of U.S.C.’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture describes the situation this way:

“Pentecostal and Charismatic religion flourishes at some of the most fluid and hotly contested boundaries — cultural, religious and economic — in the age of globalization. Broadly categorized as renewalist movements, these religious communities are experiencing their most dramatic growth at the frontier between Christianity and Islam in Nigeria; in the vast factory towns of China’s interior; among members of the rising middle class in Kenya; in the slums that ring the rapidly modernizing urban areas of Central and South America; in Muslim-majority Indonesia and Hindu-majority India. Encompassing more than half a billion adherents and blurring many of the traditional distinctions between Protestantism and Catholicism, renewalism is widely believed to be the fastest-growing religious movement in the world.”

Looking into the future, how do you see this movement affecting religion in general? Are the patterns of the Global South going to keep making their mark on various faiths, not just Christianity? If not, what trends do you see most affecting religion over the next decade?