World Christianity Research Guide

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The study of Christianity has traditionally centered around Christianity in its Western context, particularly in Europe and North America. However, as secularization dramatically reshapes Western culture, the centre of Christianity has shifted to regions once considered peripheral to the faith. There are now more Christians in the Majority World than in the West; Christianity truly is a globalized religion. Indeed, the characterization of Christianity as a predominantly European religion only began in the twelfth century AD.

World Christianity is a multidisciplinary field with roots in “the disciplines of missions, ecumenics, and world religions” that draws upon the rich insights of history, theology, anthropology, sociology, communication studies, and other disciplines to explore how the Christian faith became and continues to be a worldwide and connected phenomenon (Irvin, "World Christianity," 2). It seeks to asnwer questions like, how has the prosperity gospel seeped into churches in the Majority World? How has liberation theology impacted social movements within the Western church? How has contemporary Christian music influenced the practice of worship worldwide? How do missionaries from the Majority world evangelize unbelievers in the secularizing West?

World Christianity is interested in both the global and the local, focusing on ways of lifting up marginalized and under-represented voices, whether that be Christian traditions, regions (especially Latin/South America, Africa, and Asia), or women (Irvin, 1-2). As leading historian Dale Irvin declares,

Christianity, long identified in world historical consciousness as primarily a western European religion, is so no longer. Christianity is now predominantly a religion of Africans, Asians, and Latin Americans, and of the descendants of these regions who now live in the North Atlantic world. It is estimated that as many as 60% of the world’s Christians are now living in the southern hemisphere. From a statistical point of view the average Christian is now better represented as living in Sao Paulo, Dar es Salaam or Manila rather than in New York, Geneva or London (Irvin, 10). 

Related to this, World Christianity also offers a correction to the propensity to artificially divide church history from World Christianity that leads to “an operative consensus that church history proper, or the history of Christianity, concerns itself with the history of church and theology in the West; while mission history studies the expansion of Christianity primarily in the modern period from the west to the south and east” (Irvin, 17). By looking at World Christianity, students gain a more comprehensive view of how the Christian faith has been lived out, paying equal attention to the centre and the margins.

The following sections in this research guide include preliminary bibliographies of important sources like introductions and books on missions, as well as regional-specific monographs on North America, Central/South/Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Australia/Oceania, ending with helpful journals and websites.

World Christian Encyclopedia: A Comparative Survey of Churches and Religions in the Modern World
David BBarratt, George T. Kurian, and Todd M. Johnson

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

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Christian Reflection in Africa: Review and Engagement
Paul ​​​​​​​Bowers (ed.) 

Langham Global Library, 2018.

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The Histories of the Latin American Church: A Handbook
Joel M. Cruz

Fortress Press, 2014.

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Global Dictionary of Theology: A Resource for the Worldwide Church
William A.​​​​​​​ Dyrness, Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, Juan Francisco Martinez, and Simon Chan

Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2008. 

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Introducing World Christianity
Charles E. ​​​​​​​Farhadian

Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012.

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“World Christianity: An Introduction” 
Dale Irvin

Journal of World Christianity 1, no. 1 (2008): 1-26.


A World History of Christianity
Adrian ​​​​​​​Hastings, ed. 

Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000.

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History of the World Christian Movement
Dale T. ​​​​​​​Irvin and Scott W. Sunquist

Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2001.

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The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South
Philip​​​​​​​ Jenkins

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

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The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity
Philip​​​​​​​ Jenkins

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

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The Future of the Global Church: History, Trends and Possibilities
Patrick​​​​​​​ Johnstone

Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2011.

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Christianity in the Twentieth Century: A World History
Brian Stanley

Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2018.

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Evangelicals Around the World: A Global Handbook for the 21st Century
Brian C.​​​​​​​ Stiller, Todd M. Johnson, Karel Stiller, and Mark Hutchinson

Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2015.

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Voices from the Margin: Interpreting the Bible in the World
R.S. Sugirtharajah, ed. 

Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2015.

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A Dictionary of Asian Christianity
Scott W. Sunquist, David Wu Chu Sing, and John Chew Hiang Chea, eds.

Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001.

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Missions

Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission
David J. Bosch

Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2011. 

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Protestants Abroad: How Missionaries Tried to Change the World but Changed America
David A. Hollinger

Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017.

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A History of Christian Missions
Stephen Neill

Penguin Books, 1986.

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Christian Mission: How Christianity Became a World Religion
Dana L. Robert

Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.

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Gospel Bearers, Gender Barriers: Missionary Women in the Twentieth Century
Dana L. Robert, ed. 

Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2002.

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Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture
Lamin​​​​​​​ Sanneh

Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2009.

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Mission in the Early Church: Themes and Reflections
Edward L. ​​​​​​​Smither

Eugene: Cascade Books, 2014.

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Christian Missions and the Enlightenment
Brian Stanley, ed. 

Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001.

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Missions, Nationalism, and the End of Empire
Brian ​​​​​​​Stanley and Alaine M. Low, eds. 

Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003.

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The Cross-Cultural Process in Christian History: Studies in the Transmission and Appropriation of Faith
Andrew F. ​​​​​​​Walls 

Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2002.

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The Missionary Movement in Christian History: Studies in the Transmission of Faith.
Andrew F. ​​​​​​​Walls

Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1996.

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Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: A Reader
Ralph D. ​​​​​​​Winter and Steven C. Hawthorne, eds. 

Pasadena: William Carey Library, 1999.

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“The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy”
Robert A. ​​​​​​​Woodberry

The American Political Science Review 106, no. 2 (May 2012): 244-274.

North America

Salvation and the Savage: An Analysis of Protestant Missions and American Indian Response, 1787-1862
Robert F. Berkhofer Jr.

New York: Atheneum, 1972.

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American Indians and Christian Missions: Studies in Cultural Conflict
Henry Warner Bowden

Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981.

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Mixed Blessings: Indigenous Encounters with Christianity in Canada
Tolly Bradford and Chelsea Horton, ed. 

Vancouver: UBC Press, 2016.

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Dry Bones and Indian Sermons: Praying Indians in Colonial America
Kristina​​​​​​​ Bross

Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2004.

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The Indian Great Awakening: Religion and the Shaping of Native Cultures in Early America
Linford D. ​​​​​​​Fisher

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. 

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Moon of Wintertime: Missionaries and the Indians of Canada in Encounter since 1534
John Webster​​​​​​​ Grant

Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1984.

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The Jesuit Relations: Natives and Missionaries in Seventeenth-Century North America
Allan​​​​​​​ Greer, ed.

Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2000.

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Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry: Conversations on Creation, Land Justice, and Life Together
Steve Heinrichs, ed. 

Waterloo: Herald Press, 2013.

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Unsettling the Word: Biblical Experiments in Decolonization
Steve Heinrichs, ed. 

Mennonite Church Canada, 2018.

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A Native American Theology
Clara Sue​​​​​​​ Kidwell, Homer Noley, and George E. Tinker

Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2001.

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A Violent Evangelism: The Political and Religious Conquest of the Americas
Luis N. ​​​​​​​Rivera 

Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992.

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Missionary Conquest: The Gospel and Native American Cultural Genocide
George E. ​​​​​​​Tinker

Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993.

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Around the Sacred Fire: Native Religious Activism in the Red Power Era
James Treat

Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2007.

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Native and Christian: Indigenous Voices on Religious Identity in the United States and Canada
James Treat, ed. 

New York: Routledge, 1996.

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Rescuing the Gospel from the Cowboys: A Native American Expression of the Jesus Way
Richard​​​​​​​ Twiss

Downers Grove: IVP, 2015.

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Shalom and the Community of Creation: An Indigenous Vision
Randy S. ​​​​​​​Woodley

Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012.

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Central/South/Latin America

From Conquest to Struggle: Jesus of Nazareth in Latin America
David Batstone

Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990.

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Rethinking Protestantism in Latin America
Virginia Garrard-Burnett and David Stoll, eds. 

Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1993.

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Christianity in Latin America: A History
Ondina E. Gonzalez and Justo L. Gonzalez

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

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The Rebirth of Latin American Christianity
Todd Hartch

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

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New Worlds: A Religious History of Latin America
John Lynch

New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012.

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Tongues of Fire: The Explosion of Protestantism in Latin America
David ​​​​​​​Martin

Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1990.

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The History of the Catholic Church in Latin America: From Conquest to Revolution and Beyond
John Frederick Schwaller

New York: New York University Press, 2011.

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Jesus in Latin America
Jon ​​​​​​​Sobrino

Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1987.

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Africa

Christianity in Africa: The Renewal of a Non-Western Religion
Kwame Bediako

Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1995.

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Jesus and the Gospel in Africa: History and Experience
Kwame Bediako

Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2004.

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Theology and Identity: The Impact of Culture upon Christian Thought in the Second Century and in Modern Africa
Kwame Bediako

Oxford: Regnum Books, 1992.

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The Church in Africa: 1450-1950
Adrian Hastings

Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994.

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A History of Christianity in Africa: From Antiquity to the Present
Elizabeth Isichei

Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995.

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How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind: Rediscovering the African Seedbed of Western Christianity
Thomas C. Oden

Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2007.

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The Changing Face of Christianity: Africa, the West, and the World
Lamin O. Sanneh and Joel A. Carpenter

New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

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West African Christianity: The Religious Impact
Lamin Sanneh

Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1983.

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On Their Way Rejoicing: The History and Role of the Bible in Africa
Ype Schaaf; trans. by Paul Ellingworth

Carlisle: The Paternoster Press, 1994.

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A History of the Church in Africa
Bengt Sundkler and Christopher Steed

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

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Asia

Christianity and the State in Asia: Complicity and Conflict
Julius Bautista and Francis Khek Gee Lim, eds. 

London: Routledge, 2009.

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A New History of Christianity in China
Daniel H. Bays

Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012.

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Christianity in India: From Beginnings to the Present
Robert Eric Frykenberg 

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

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Christians in Asia Before 1500
Ian Gillman and Hans-Joachim Klimkett

Richmond: Curzon, 1999.

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A History of Korean Christianity
Sebastian C.H. Kim and Kirsteen Kim

New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

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Christian Theology in Asia
Sebastian C.H. Kim

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

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Christianities in Asia
Peter C.​​​​​​​ Phan, ed. 

Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.

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Jesus in Asia
R.S. ​​​​​​​Sugirtharajah

Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2018.

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The Bible in Asia: From the Pre-Christian Era to the Postcolonial Age
R.S. ​​​​​​​Sugirtharajah

Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013.

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Explorations in Asian Christianity: History, Theology, and Mission
Scott W. Sunquist

Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2017.

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The Oxford Handbook of Christianity in Asia
Felix​​​​​​​ Wilfred, ed. 

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

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Asia in the Making of Christianity: Conversion, Agency, and Indigeneity, 1600s to the Present
Richard Fox Young and Jonathan A. Seitz

Leiden: Brill, 2013.

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Redeemed by Fire: The Rise of Popular Christianity in China
Lian Xi

New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010.

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Australia/Oceania

A History of the Churches in Australasia
Ian Breward

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

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The Island Churches of the South Pacific: Emergence in the Twentieth Century
Charles W. Forman

Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1982.

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Footsteps in the Sea: Christianity in Oceania to World War II
John Garrett

Suva: Institute of Pacific Studies, 1992.

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To Live Among the Stars: Christian Origins in Oceania
John Garrett

Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1982.

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The Hillsong Movement Examined: You Call Me Out Upon the Waters
Tanya Riches and Tom Wagner, eds. 

Palgrave MacMillan, 2017.

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Race and Redemption: British Missionaries Encounter Pacific Peoples, 1797-1920
Jane Samson

Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2017.

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Along with books, there are several major journals dedicated to missions studies and world Christianity that may be of interest, such as:

-International Bulletin of Missionary Research/International Bulletin of Mission Research
-
International Journal for the Study of the Christian Church
-
Journal of World Christianity
-Mission Studies
-Studies in World Christianity
-Transformation: An International Journal of Holistic Missions Studies

Publishers

Several publishers who specialize in releasing books related to the field of World Christianity, including Langham Publishing, Orbis Books, Acton Publishers, and Paulines Publications Africa. Additionally, popular Christian publishers such as InterVarsity Press and university presses, such as Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press, also release many books and whole sets (such as IVP’s Missiological Engagement series) dealing with aspects of World Christianity.

Websites

Several schools also offer excellent resources for students interested in studying World Christianity, such as:

 

Gordon-Conwell: Center for the Study of Global Christianity

https://www.gordonconwell.edu/ockenga/research/Resources-and-Downloads.cfm

 

University of Edinburgh School of Divinity: Centre for the Study of World Christianity

http://www.cswc.div.ed.ac.uk/