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From ELS12: BRICS of Faith

Sunday, May 20, 2012   (0 Comments)
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Dr. Philip Jenkins, Distinguished Professor of History

Baylor's Institute for Studies of Religion

Dr. Philip Jenkins

Scholars of Christianity have struggled to escape from the traditional obsessions of the Euro- American churches, the world of the rich and powerful, to acquaint themselves with the very different realities of Africa, with the world of the poorest. Perhaps, now, we need to think of another set of unfamiliar circumstances: that of the almost rich, almost powerful, and increasingly Christian.

BRAZIL, RUSSIA, INDIA and CHINA are now among the top leading global economies, along with the U.S. and Japan.  The term BRIC refers to the fastest growing developing economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China; and was coined by Goldman Sachs in 2001, who predicted that by 2050 the combined economies of the BRICs could eclipse those of the current richest countries of the world.

  • BRICS are on track to overtake developed economies in size by 2050.
  • By 2014 BRIC countries will contribute over half the world’s growth.

Let us think of the BRIC’s not in terms of economic power, but in the issues they raise for global Christianity and for prospects of mission. In each of the four nations, religion plays a critical role in political debate. Just from the Christian standpoint, the respected World Christian Database already lists Brazil, Russia and China among the nations with the world’s largest Christian populations (the U.S. heads the list).

However great their disparities, the kinds of Christianity that are emerging and growing most successfully in the BRIC nations have very distinct characteristics from what the Euro-American world regards as familiar or mainstream.

Dr. Philip Jenkins presented these findings among other trends at ELS12.  Other data from his session is available to ELS attendees only.

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