Weblog of a Christian philosophy student

Weblog of a Christian philosophy student. Please feel free to comment. All of my posts are public domain. Subscribe to posts [Atom]. Email me at countaltair [at] yahoo.com.au. I also run a Chinese to English translation business at www.willfanyi.com.

Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Friday, September 02, 2011

Is God pro-Western?

A while ago I had a conversation with a Chinese friend who is not a Christian about Christianity, and one thing she felt was that Christianity seems to be a mainly Western religion, and we discussed whether most people in heaven will be Westerners. Western people throughout history seem to have had the best chance to hear the gospel and therefore perhaps an implication is that God prefers Westerners?

There are various ways that one could take to answer this point. For instance, in Revelation 7:9 God emphasises His inclusiveness:

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.

But I think it is interesting to reflect on how the future may be very different to the past. It's possible that by the time Jesus returns, Christianity will have become a much more significant presence in the East and South of the world compared to its North and West. Some statistics on its growth in the East-South from here say:

"In 1900, Europe and North America accounted for about 85 percent of the world's Christians. By 2050, that number will have shrunk to about 25 percent.

During the same period, he said the number of Christians in Africa have, well, skyrocketed seems too tame a word. In 1900, there were 10 million; in 2000, 363 million. By 2015, Jenkins expects 500 million. And, by 2050, he predicted that Africa would become the first continent to have 1 billion Christians. Put another way: One of every three Christians in the world will be African - and that's not counting the Africans who will have moved to the United States or Europe."

…"But by 2025, as Europe continues down the road of secularism, "Africa and Latin America will be jostling each other for (that) title," Jenkins said."

And from here:

"By 1949, out of an estimated population of 450 million, there were just over 500,000 baptized Protestant Christians. Anonymous internet columnist Spengler speculated in 2007 that Christianity could "become a Sino-centric religion two generations from now."
The current number of Christians in China is disputed. The most recent official census enumerated 4 million Roman Catholics and 10 million ‎Protestants. However, independent estimates have ranged from 40 million to 130 million Christians."

As this is happening, Christianity is suffering in the West. When people from non-Western cultures come to the West they sometimes assume that everyone is Christian or that the West is essentially a Christian society. This impression is way off base, although somewhat less off base with America which is quite a religious society. The West is now a post-Christian culture where church attendance and rates of serious Christian belief is dropping overall. From here:

"Ireland is not an exception. Every major religion except Islam is declining in Western Europe, according to the Center for the Study on Global Christianity at the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass. The drop is most evident in France, Sweden and the Netherlands, where church attendance is less than 10% in some areas."

So I would say that there is evidence that the proportion of non-Westerners versus Westerners who are Christian is steadily growing, so much so that some commentators say that Christianity will become a mainly non-Western religion within our lifetimes.

A second important point on this is that it's only recently in human history that there have been billions of people living at any one time. See this chart.

In 1000 AD there were 275 million people alive, in 1650 - 500 million, in 1800 - 1 billion, at 1930 - 2 billion, which has skyrocketed to 7 billion now, with 9 billion people expected to be alive in 2025.

This matters because, to use a thought experiment, if 90% of Christians are Western in AD 1000 when there are 275 million people in the world, but 60% of Christians are non-Western in AD 2100 when there are 9+ billion people in the world, then which group has more Christians when you compare the two times? Obviously, the non-Western group would have more Christians by a massive margin, even though 60% is less impressive than 90%.

This indicates that if the population of the world keeps getting larger, and Christianity completes the shift from a very Western-associated religion to a South or Eastern-associated religion, then more non-Westerners will have been Christian in history. Evidence from demographic changes can support this general view.

So, in conclusion, it doesn't matter what the proportion of non-Western versus Western Christians are because, according to the Bible, God 'does not show favouritism' (Romans 2:11). And someone from every ethnic/cultural/linguistic group will go to heaven (Rev 7:9). But I think you can reasonably believe that at the end of history Christianity will not be considered a mainly Western religion.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I am from Melbourne too.

What a naive silly question!

Such a proposition is really just an extension of your own dim-witted religious provincialism.

Never mind that two thirds of the worlds human population are not Christians.

That having been said please find a completely different Illuminated Understanding of God, or more correctly Truth and Reality via these references.








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