The Next Pope: An African?
African Christianity is big news lately in the West. Philip Jenkins's recent book The Next Christendom is quoted everywhere—he argues, with great plausibility, that in 50 or 100 years the heart of global Christianity will be Africa, not Europe or North America. In a previous newsletter, we noted that the African wing of Anglicanism has been offering a persistent and influential conservative critique of that communion's liberal drift.
Adding his voice is author Phillip E. Johnson, in an article titled "The African Century?" in the current issue of Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity. For those unfamiliar with this magazine, it bills itself as both conservative and ecumenical. That is, its editors and readers come from Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox backgrounds. These disparate believers base their conversation on "shared belief in the fundamental doctrines of the faith as revealed in Holy Scripture and summarized in the ancient creeds of the Church."
Johnson, a Presbyterian elder and emeritus Professor of Law at Berkeley, is best known in evangelical circles as the author of Darwin on Trial, The Wedge of Truth, and most recently, The Right Questions (all InterVarsity Press), books challenging the naturalistic assumptions that dominate modern culture. His article begins with a quotation from Harriet Beecher Stowe's mid-nineteenth century classic Uncle Tom's Cabin. At that book's end, an escaped slave, George Harris, prophesies the destiny of his African homeland: "The development of Africa is to be essentially a Christian one."
That prophecy, says Johnson, has come to pass.
Johnson argues that this has been true even though the "Christianization" of Africa took place largely under the radar of the secularizing ...