Christianity in the Twentieth Century: An Interview with Brian Stanley about His New Book

Attendees at this year’s meeting of the Yale-Edinburgh Group had a special treat in a book launch for Brian Stanley’s new book, Christianity in the Twentieth Century: A World History. Professor Stanley was kind enough to answer a few questions about the book for the CSWC blog.

Why did you decide to write this book?

Well, in a sense I didn’t! I would never have dreamt of attempting such an impossible assignment. Back in November 2011 I was invited by Princeton University Press to consider writing a broad-ranging history of Christianity in the 20th century for the educated general reader. After considerable hesitation I eventually agreed. Continue reading

Recap of Yale-Edinburgh 2018


Calida Chu is a PhD student at the Centre for the Study of World Christianity. Her research focuses on public theology in Hong Kong.

This year’s meeting of the Yale-Edinburgh Group (28–30 June 2018) was welcomed to Scotland with unusually warm weather. While we had the rare occasion to grumble that the Scottish weather was too warm for us, the three-day conference continued in a warm and friendly atmosphere. On the first day of the conference, some of our delegates attended the launch of our current director of the Centre for the Study of World Christianity Professor Brian Stanley’s new book, Christianity in the Twentieth Century: A World History, which he dedicated to Andrew F. Walls, the founder of the CSWC. Dr Emma Wild-Wood, who joined the CSWC in January, then delivered the opening lecture on the social meaning of baptism in Uganda between 1890 and 1910. Continue reading

Co-Editor Kenneth R. Ross on the Latest in the Edinburgh Companions to Global Christianity Series

2018 has seen the publication, on schedule, of the second volume in the series of Edinburgh Companions to Global Christianity from Edinburgh University Press. Co-edited by Mariz Tadros, Todd M. Johnson and me, Christianity in North Africa and West Asia offers an account of the Christian presence in every country within these two UN regions.

Building on the success of EUP’s best-selling Atlas of Global Christianity, this series takes the analysis of worldwide Christianity to a deeper level of detail. It offers both reliable demographic information and original interpretative essays by indigenous scholars and practitioners. It maps patterns of growth and decline, assesses major traditions and movements, analyzes key themes and examines current trends.

Besides country-level analysis, the volume on North Africa and West Asia examines each of the major Christian traditions. Continue reading

Yale-Edinburgh Group 2018 Programme #YaleEdin2018

In two weeks’ time (28-30 June 2018), the Yale-Edinburgh Group on the History of the Missionary Movement and World Christianity will be holding its 2018 annual meeting in the University of Edinburgh. The theme, ‘Scripture, Prayer and Worship in the History of Missions and World Christianity’, has drawn a strong number of excellent papers covering an impressive number of topics:

Papers from our 2017 meeting have recently been published in Studies in World Christianity 24.1, and a selection of this year’s papers will likewise be published in a future issue of the journal.

Book Launch: Christianity in the Twentieth Century

On the morning of June 28, 2018 at 10:30am, we will be launching Brian Stanley’s new book, Christianity in the Twentieth Century: A World History (Princeton University Press, 2018).

The event is co-sponsored with the Princeton University Press and will be held in the Martin Hall, New College. It will include a discussion by Professor Stewart J Brown (University of Edinburgh).

The event will be followed by a reception and is open to the public. For more details, please see the advertisement flier.

Mormonism and the Study of World Christianity

Jeffrey Cannon is a PhD student at the Centre for the Study of World Christianity, Edinburgh. His research explores Western conceptions of African Christianity. He was previously an archivist at the Church History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This essay continues our series discussing issues raised in the ‘Currents, Perspectives, and Methodologies in World Christianity’ conference at Princeton Theological Seminary held 18–20 January 2018.

Cameroonian Mormons pose outside temple in Aba, Nigeria. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

In a worldwide conference that will be noted for several historic announcements, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced on Saturday the appointment of Gerrit Gong and Ulisses Soares to its Council of the Twelve Apostles. Their calls represent a significant diversification in the church’s governing bodies. Gong, an American-born political scientist specialising in China, is the first Mormon apostle of Asian descent. Soares, a businessman from Brazil, is both the first from Latin America and the first from the Southern Hemisphere. Continue reading

Latin American Christianity in the US: A Window Into the Study of Migrant Christianity and its Theological Benefits

Iglesia Gospel Temple, Los Angeles, California, USA. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Matheus Reis is a PhD student at the Centre for the Study of World Christianity, University of Edinburgh. His research focuses on Brazilian Protestantism in the United States. This essay continues our series discussing issues raised in the ‘Currents, Perspectives, and Methodologies in World Christianity’ conference at Princeton Theological Seminary held 18–20 January 2018. Our series began with a reflection on the conference by Jason Bruner on 30 January and continued with posts from Elizabeth Marteijn on 13 February and 19 March.

The recent conversation on this blog has been focused on World Christianity’s methodologies. Both Jason Bruner and Elizabeth Marteijn note that the quest for interdisciplinarity and openness is a mark of much current research. In this post, I look at how Latin American Christianity in the United States presents an opportunity for interdisciplinary study, and I offer some benefits that may arise from such a study. Continue reading

Looking Eastward: The Middle East in the Field of World Christianity

Elizabeth Marteijn is a PhD student at the Centre for the Study of World Christianity, University of Edinburgh. Her research brings together the methods of theology and ethnography in the study of Palestinian Christianity. Her post here continues our series discussing the conference titled ‘Currents, Perspectives, and Methodologies in World Christianity’ at Princeton Theological Seminary held 18–20 January 2018. Our series began with an essay by Jason Bruner on 30 January and continued with a post from Elizabeth on 13 February.

Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

In the field of World Christianity, scholars regularly speak about the ‘global South’ and the ‘global North’. But what about the East? By asking this question, I would like to elaborate on the recent post by Jason Bruner, where he excellently reflected on the thought-provoking World Christianity conference held at Princeton Theological Seminary from 18–20 January. Bruner rightfully highlighted remarks being made about territoriality in the field, that areas like the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and denominations like Orthodoxy and Eastern Christianity have a marginal position. Continue reading

Billy Graham (1918–2018): Prophet of World Christianity?

Billy Graham in 1966. (Photo by Warren K. Leffler, U.S. News & World Report Magazine Collection, Library of Congress)

Most of the notices and obituaries of Billy Graham, who died on 21 February 2018, have focused on his significance for Christianity in the United States. Dubbed ‘America’s pastor’ by President George H. W. Bush in 2007, Graham seemed to be the quintessential American preacher – handsome, dapper, eloquent, uncompromising in his presentation of the gospel, and apparently quite untroubled by modern questions about the reliability of the Bible. He was on first-name terms with a string of American presidents from Eisenhower to Obama. He was also a typical product of the Bible belt in the American south. At first he accepted racial segregation, even in Christian meetings, as a fact of life and his relationship with the civil rights movement – notably with Martin Luther King – was at times a fractious one. Continue reading

World Christianity and Interdisciplinarity: Combining Theology and Social Sciences in the Field of World Christianity

Elizabeth Marteijn is a PhD student at the Centre for the Study of World Christianity, University of Edinburgh. Her research brings together the methods of theology and ethnography in the study of Palestinian Christianity. She attended the conference on World Christianity at Princeton Theological Seminary from 18–20 January 2018 and offers the following in conversation with Jason Bruner’s recent essay on this blog.

Cornelis de Man, A Scholar in His Study

The goal of the recent World Christianity conference, held at Princeton Theological Seminary from 18–20 January, was to inquire into the state of the field considering the currents, perspectives and methodologies. One of the conclusions was the fruitfulness of the intersection between theology and social sciences, in particular ethnography and the anthropology of Christianity, within the field of World Christianity, as was highlighted earlier on this blog by Jason Bruner.

In this post, I will explore some of the reasons why the intersection between theology and social sciences is proving so popular. One part of the answer is that World Christianity has developed as an interdisciplinary academic enterprise, with historical, missiological, theological and social-scientific interests. In addition, there have been trends in World Christianity in which different approaches blended together. Firstly, after the publication of the seminal works of Robert Schreiter and Stephen Bevans in the 1980s and 1990s, a proliferation of contextual theological works appeared.1 With this attention to the context, theology becomes to a greater extent a matter of reflection on human life in view of the Christian tradition and opens up to social-scientific study. Secondly, there are trends to study theological reflection and engagement of ordinary people by interviewing them. Diane Stinton and Jason Carter have produced two such works.2 I consider these trends as preliminary to the recent interest in the intersection between anthropology, theology and World Christianity. Continue reading