As I consider God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis (Oxford), it occurs to me that there are at least two kinds of contrarians.

The first attaches herself to popular ideas and counters them in a parasitic quest for publicity. The other looks for complexity in everything and (often aided by a group of research assistants) does the homework necessary to verify or challenge popular notions within his field.

Philip Jenkins, professor of history and religious studies at Pennsylvania State University, fits the second category.

His first tome in a trilogy on the future of Christianity, The Next Christendom, served Western Christianity an eviction notice from the corner office of global Christendom in order to make room for its darker-skinned and modestly dressed replacement. His second installment, The New Faces of Christianity, explained that Christians in the global North get a skewed perspective from African or Asian churches: We read their works of liberation theologies, womanism, feminism, and black theology, while the more representative works—on healing, spiritual warfare, exorcism, missions, and evangelism—tend to get ignored by seminary bookstores.

And now, in the trilogy's final tome, God's Continent, Jenkins issues a nuanced au contraire to prominent voices who have declared, in one way or another, that Europe is becoming Eurabia. Or, in the words of the Turkish immigrants Jenkins quotes yelling at their Catholic neighbors in Germany, "We're going to outbirth you!"

Not so fast. Jenkins tempers the fears of scholars, such as Bernard Lewis, who has predicted that by 2100 Europe will have a Muslim majority. "Nobody can deny that European nations in coming decades will have to take account ...

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Allah's Continent?
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August 2007

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