The Decline of Established Christianity in the Western World: Interpretations and Responses, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Decline of Established Christianity in the Western World

Interpretations and Responses, 1st Edition

Edited by Paul Silas Peterson


296 pages

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Hardback: 9781138308152
pub: 2017-10-02
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315142852
pub: 2017-09-22
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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.


"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

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 Peterson

16 Exploring the Past for a Stronger Future: A Reflection on Meaning and Hope

Elizabeth Koepping

About the Editor

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).

About the Series

Studies in World Christianity and Interreligious Relations

The aim of this series is to publish scholarly works of high merit on relations between believers of various streams of Christianity, as well as relations between believers of Christianity and other religions. We welcome studies from all disciplines, including multi- and interdisciplinary studies, which focus on intra- and inter-religious relations and are non-denominational.

Editorial Board

Francis Clooney (Cambridge, USA)
Fatimah Husein (Yogyakarta, Indonesia)
Diego Irarrazaval (Santiago, Chile)
Robert Schreiter (Chicago, USA)
Abdulkader Tayob (Cape Town, South Africa)
Anya Topolski (Nijmegen, The Netherlands)

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / General
RELIGION / Christianity / History
RELIGION / Christian Theology / General
RELIGION / Christianity / General
RELIGION / Christian Church / General
RELIGION / Christian Church / Growth
RELIGION / Christian Church / History
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology of Religion