Is Christianity a Western religion? Where in the world do you find Christianity?
Christianity is the most evenly dispersed religion worldwide, and this is becoming more true in the decline of colonialism. It is still the largest religion in the world.
As this CBS article reveals, when ranking nations according to the number of Christians per capita, Ireland is 56th, while the island of Micronesia is 12th. The population of Armenia (5th place) is 97.9% Christian. Armenia is located in (or North of) the Middle-East, and was the first country to declare Christianity its state religion. 2nd place? East Timor, in Southeast Asia, whose population is 99% Christian. If you exclude the Vatican, which is really just the headquarters of the Catholic Church, East Timor would actually be the most densely Christian country per capita.
Christianity thrives where it does, not because of Western ideas, but because of something deeper and more transcendent in humans worldwide. As noted in an early post, churches are growing in restricted countries like China, while numbers in America are declining.
Sunday night during a Bible study with some saints in Blacksburg, we discussed the nature of the kingdoms of the world and the kingdom of God in accordance with a theme one of our ministry leaders, Frank Sullivan, has been carrying us forward on: The Real Jesus. On this night he brought up four things about Jesus we teach in particular that we must confront both the world and ourselves with:
Jesus is God
Jesus allowed people to choose to follow him by responding to testimony.
Jesus is a man (not that he is still walking the earth, but that he came in the flesh and that experience is in his “memory” today and he lives in his saints, who themselves live in fleshly bodies, today)
Hey, remember when people talked about the world ending in 2012?
A lot of disasters seem to have happened recently. Shootings. North Korea testing nuclear missiles. Earthquakes. Hurricanes. Celebrity marriages breaking up. Sports teams losing. Economies crashing. Twinkies dropping off the face of the earth. Continue reading →
I remember one time we were with some friends watching How to Train Your Dragon with some friends who had children. I said, “I wonder if there’s some critics who say this film is bad because it’s telling us to love terrorists or something.” The guy said, “yeah, can you believe people actually believe that?” I think he meant the loving terrorists thing. Of course the whole point was that the dragons weren’t the real enemy, but the monster they were serving. So is there a kind of person we are not called to love?
While the previous chapter focused on soldiery, in chapter 7 Greg Boyd asks, “Does God Expect Nations to Turn the Other Cheek?” We actually may be surprised by his answer. I had previously read Boyd’s book The Myth of a Christian Nation, a terrific read that asks us to reconsider the naive notion that America is “Christian” in any tangible sense, by looking at scripture.
He reminds us that Jesus’ instructions are unconditional, and that God has even the worst, most violent of our enemies in mind, not just meanies down the block, in Matt.5:38-48; Luke6:27-36; Rom.12:14-21; 1 Peter 3:9,14-18. Imagine, he says, that Al Qaeda ruled America, and you will know the animosity the Jews felt toward Rome. But since what Jesus did for isn’t just what he did, but reflects what he wants us to do (be willing to die innocently loving our enemies and not harming them), Christians don’t have the right to choose who they will and won’t love, will and won’t show loving action toward. Continue reading →