God and the World

Philip Jenkins

in The Next Christendom

Published in print May 2002 | ISBN: 9780195146165
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834341 | DOI:
 God and the World

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This chapter discusses the implications of the very close association between church and state in the global South, which in some sense mirrors the lack of distinction between religion and ordinary life in medieval Europe, and contrast with the segregation of religion from everyday life in the West–the separation of church and state. The history of this close association is traced from colonial to the twentieth century, when Third World (Southern) churches came increasingly to be identified with the cause of reform or, frequently, revolution; differences are described in the liberation theologies adopted in the three Southern regions concerned –Latin America, Africa and Asia, where they took very different courses. Most of the rest of the chapter looks at the sorts of problems that are likely to arise in Christian nations where Christian political activism occurs: threats to a nation’s freedom, democracy, and constitution through the imposition of Christian regimes, uncritical support for new regimes supported by churches, violent acts by messianic, and prophetic, or apocalyptic groups; here, Latin America provides an example of many cases where religious change from Catholicism to Protestantism/Pentecostalism has led to instability. Last, the future implications and dangers of the clear hemispheric division between North and South in the role of religion in politics are outlined.

Keywords: Africa; Asia; association between church and state; Christian nations; Christian political activism; Christian regimes; constitution; democracy; division between church and state; freedom; history; instability; Latin America; liberation theology; North\endash South divide; political activism; reform; revolution; South; Southern churches; Third World churches; violence; West

Chapter.  9397 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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