The Decline of Established Christianity in the Western World
Interpretations and Responses
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While Church attendance in the West is often cited as being in decline, it is argued that this applies primarily to the older established forms of Christianity. Other expressions of the faith are, in fact, stable or even growing. This volume provides multidisciplinary interpretations of and responses to one of the most complicated and controversial issues regarding the global transformation of Christianity today: the decline of "established Christianity" in the Western world. It also addresses the future of Christianity in the West after the decline.
Drawing upon historical research, sociology, religious studies, philosophy and theology, an international panel of contributors provide new theoretical frameworks for understanding this decline and offer creative suggestions for responding to it. "Established Christianity" is conceptualized as historically, culturally, socially and politically embedded religion (with or without official established status).
This is a dynamic volume that gives fresh perspective on one of the great social changes taking place in the West today. As such, it will be of great interest to scholars of religious sociology, history and anthropology, as well as theologians.
Table of Contents
Foreword, Robert J. Schreiter; 1 An Introduction to the Essays and to the Phenomenon of Established Christianity in the Western World, Paul Silas Peterson; Part 1: Background Issues and Theoretical Approaches; 2 Causes of the Decline: Historical, Empirical and Theoretical Perspectives, Paul Silas Peterson; 3 Analyzing Religious Decline: A Sociological Approach, Eva M. Hamberg; 4 Cultural Considerations in the Decline of Christianity, Neil Ormerod; 5 Interpretations of the Decline and Responses to it, Paul Silas Peterson; Part 2: Case Studies on Specific Regions and Groups; 6 More Than Just De-Christianization: Christian Mission in Face of Religious Indifference in East Germany, Eberhard Tiefensee; 7 Towards a Faithful Christian Community in Canada: A Missiological Response to Religious Change, Charles Fensham; 8 American Mainline Protestantism: On the History and Future of a Culture-Forming Confessional Identity, Richard R. Crocker; 9 An Evangelical Response to the Decline of Christendom, Timothy Larsen; 10 Going Big: Mega-Churches in the Midst of Declining Christianity in the West, Laceye Warner; Part 3: Perspectives from World Christianity and African Christianity; 11 An Opportunity to Foster Inter-Christian Reciprocity: The View from "World Christianity" and "the Next Christendom", Jorge Castillo Guerra; 12 Reframing our Experiences in the Light of the Cross: How African Christianity Sees the Decline, Esther E. Acolatse; Part 4: Contributions from Public Theology and the Philosophy of Religion; 13 Taking Sin Seriously Again: A Perspective from Theology and Public Life, Martyn Percy; 14 The Religion of Decline: A Perspective from the Philosophy of Religion, Olivier Abel; Part 5: Response and Outlook; 15 Christianity in the Western World after the Decline: Challenges, Opportunities and Outlooks, Paul Silas
Paul Silas Peterson teaches church history and theology at the University of Tübingen, the University of Heidelberg and the University of Hohenheim, Germany. He is the author of The Early Hans Urs von Balthasar: Historical Contexts and Intellectual Formation (2015), Reformation in the Western World: An Introduction (2017) and "The Decline of Established Christianity in Germany: Contemporary History and Protestant Responses," in Religion – State – Society: Journal for the Study of Beliefs and Worldviews (2015).
"Paul Peterson has put together an excellent edited volume which comes as highly recommended, if not required reading. The contributions are concise, well-written, and profoundly informative. This book will be useful not only for scholars and students, but also for pastors and administrators who are concerned for the future viability of the Christian faith in the world today, established or otherwise."
- David Andrew Gilland, Technische Universtität Braunschweig, Germany
"The book brings together authors mainly from the field of theology, but the fact remains that their approaches are diverse and adopt different perspectives: sociohistorical (Part 1), sociological (Part 2 and 3), and philosophical (Part 4 and 5). The result is a coherent book offering stimulating points of view that raise questions as much as they shed light on the question of the decline of Western Christianity and its future."
-Etienne Lapointe, Religious Studies Review