The following commentary is based on this article by Dave Bohon: Christianity Still Dominant Faith, But Global Makeup Has Changed. This news is now three months old, but that’s how life goes.
The Pew Forum’s just released study Global Christianity: 2011 Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian Population shows that at 2.18 billion adherents, or around a third of the world’s 2010 population of 6.9 billion, Christianity is still, by far, the predominant faith across the globe.
As this article begins with statistics, we must observe that “adherents” is a rather weak noun—as is the supposed “faith” of those counted as mere adherents.
But while a century ago the demographic center of the Christian faith was Europe, today “no single continent or region can indisputably claim to be the center of global Christianity,” note the Pew researchers.
I’m not sure how or why a region or continent would claim anything. I suppose that a sub-group inhabiting said region/continent might take special interest in asserting that its population is “Christian.” Those sub-groups might be found to possess a bias or a cause that could lead them to perjure themselves through statistics.
The Pew research found that Catholics make up around 50 percent of all who claim Christianity as their religion, with Protestants following at 36.7 percent, and Orthodox at nearly 12 percent. . . . (In the end, however, our culture concedes that a Christian is whoever says he is a Christian.)
Hmm. Our culture may concede that for census purposes, but I don’t concede it, from a spiritual assessment vantage point.
On the other hand, I would agree that, when speaking broadly of Christianity, Roman Catholics are to be included. However, their brand of Christianity is traditionally (i.e., not biblically) based and must be cordoned off when attempting to speak purely of New Testament Christianity.
According to Pew, the United States is numerically the most heavily Christian country, with 246,780,000 believers (79.5 percent of its population), followed by Brazil, 175,770,000 (90.2 percent); Mexico, 107,780,000 (95 percent); Russia, 105,220,000 (73.6 percent); and the Philippines, 86,790,000 (93.1 percent).
The word “believers” is one I’ve used more in the last few years than in the years before that. Many in my larger, current world may strike me as comparatively strong believers, but I might not class them all “Christian” when it comes down to a strict definition. In other words, I believe these people believe in God the Father and Jesus as God the Son, but they have not fully subscribed to New Testament Christianity. This distinction may or may not be significant in the final analysis — I will leave that to the Father — but if it does turn out to be significant, I would rather have been one who spoke clearly and definitively.
While Islam has garnered much attention over the last several years in the geo-political realm, demographers note that the numbers of its adherents— some 1.6 billion people, or a little less than a quarter of the world’s population — still run a distant second to those professing the Christian faith.
Someone commented that the Christian population “in terms of Christianity by birth” is distinct from what he finds to be a nearly non-existent group of “practicing Christians.” And I would agree, sadly: although I might find the group to number a few more than the interlocutor says it does, I sadly must agree that there are relatively few who take seriously the claims of scripture, the doctrine of Jesus and the apostolic writers, and a commitment to Christian behavior in all things.
The same person further commented that Islam has far fewer mere adherents. That fact—and I would imagine that it is a fact—is as sad as it is fearful.