Christianity: 2000 – 2100AD
This final essay in my series tracing the history of Christianity over 21 centuries is an attempt at predicting the demographic, economic, spiritual, cultural and political future of the world over the next 85 years by using the current and emerging trends already in place. Most of these trends are well known if you know where to look. Some are already well established. Others are obscure at the moment but will have huge impacts in future years. For the period until 2050AD fairly accurate predictions can be made based on current trends. For the period between 2050 and 2100AD predictions are more speculative, but plausible, given what will happen between now and the middle of the century.
I have extensively used Patrick Johnstone’s monumental book “The Future of the Global Church” as it has the best Christian database in the world and extensively accesses official government and UN databases for any predictions it makes. I have also made use of Harry Dent’s “The Demographic Cliff”, David Garrison’s “A Wind in the House of Islam”, Jason Mandryk’s “Operation World” and numerous websites.
Part One of the essay deals with secular macro-trends that are in now place, emerging, or likely to develop in coming decades. It is very important to understand them fully in order to appreciate the material foundations of the religious turmoil unfolding presently, and how it will play out in future decades. Part Two deals with the spiritual changes that will take place in Atheism and each of the world’s four great religions. This section concludes with an in-depth look at probable future changes to Christianity, changes that build on the remarkable final 30 years of the 20th century.
Part One: Political Milestones: 2000AD to 2100AD
I will start with the all-important global demographic trends as these are the foundation of many other developments and allow us to make create fairly safe predictions out to around 50 years. This is simply because these people have already been born. Demographics drive economics, and economics drives politics, resource depletion and environmental degradation. So it makes perfect sense to study demographics first.
The population of the world is currently 7.2 billion. It is predicted to grow to 9 billion by 2050AD and 10-12 billion by 2100AD. This growth represents a slowing of current growth trends. However with the recent surge in birth rates in Africa, the 2100AD figure is up from the older prediction of a plateau of 9 billion around 2050AD followed by a gentle decline. The continental specifics of this growth are remarkably divergent. Much of the wealthy developed world goes into a disastrous demographic decline in the next decade or two. Asia as a whole tops out around 2050AD, but with a very different timeline for different countries, depending on their level of economic development. The Middle East continues to grow demographically but with a slowing trend. The world’s poorest countries continue to grow through to the end of the century.
First let’s examine those wealthy countries and continents that are, and will soon be in decline. According to the CIA World Fact Book, some 83 countries out of 224 already have a fertility rate less than 2 children per female. Given excellent modern healthcare standards, a fertility rate of 2.1 children per female is all that is needed to keep a wealthy countries population stable over the longer term. The first country that recorded a fertility rate less than two per female was Japan. Japan is now the poster child for terminal population decline.
If a large number of people were born in a short time frame, then the resulting baby boom will, like clockwork, create an economic spending peak some 47 years later. The age of 45-50 years is typically the peak for household earnings and consumption. Japan’s 1930’s baby boom reached that average age in 1980AD, creating a pronounced economic bubble at that time known as the “Japanese miracle”. After 1980AD the baby boomers of Japan started to age and spend less. Thirty years later, in 2010AD, its population finally peaked at 128 million and it is now collapsing by 240,000 a year, a figure that will continue to increase every year unless Japan starts to import people, something it has been culturally reluctant to do up until this point in its history. Some 25% of the population is already over 65 years of age and by 2050AD that figure will be 40%. Japan is expected to have only 108 million people by 2050AD and 50 million people by 2100AD if current trends continue.
The Japanese economy, like the entire global economy, is totally dependent on economic growth that is driven primarily by population growth. When this process reverses, so too does a nation’s wealth. This is why Japan has been borrowing heavily for two decades to support its current standard of living. The emerging demographic collapse will therefore decimate the Japanese economy, culture and its sense of identity in the world. Second world status will follow as cities drain, physical infrastructure collapses and people return to agriculture. Needless to say, the Japanese welfare state will also disappear, a template for the destruction of most western welfare systems.
China is set to join Japan in a demographic and economic death spiral, with a delay of forty years as its demographic peak does not occur until 2025AD. However, the economic dividend of the one-child policy is largely spent already with half the population now between the ages of 25 and 54 years. The total workforce actually began to shrink for the first time in 2014AD and this trend will continue as the population ages. After 2030AD China will begin to lose significant numbers of people and the economic miracle will be extinguished. In addition to this, China has created the biggest debt bubble in the history of the world with some $26 trillion in debt being added to the economy since 2000AD. A staggering $15 trillion has been added since 2008AD alone! Their economic model of growth via infrastructure roll out, instead of growth via consumption, is self-limiting, self-defeating and is already faltering. Because so much economic activity has been pulled forward via debt, I believe the normal boom into a demographic peak has come a decade early. Over the coming two decades China will enter its own economic death spiral. Various estimates of China’s population in 2100AD converge around the one billion mark, a loss of some 350 million from current levels.
South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong are set to join China and Japan and enter a terminal demographic decline in the next few decades. Korea’s current birth rate of 1.3 births per woman will lead to a population that is 50% lower than present levels by 2100AD. Singapore has a fertility rate of 0.8, the lowest in the world, Hong Kong has a fertility rate of 1.2, while Taiwan has a fertility rate of just 1.1. The economic implications of the coming demographic collapse of the Asian dragons are significant to say the least.
Europe is set to join the Asian Demographic decline, but at a much slower rate due to its openness to immigration. The populations of Italy, Germany and Slovenia already have already begun to fall. Since 2010AD all population increases in the European Union as a whole have been purely due to immigration. The EU is set to lose approximately 20 million people by 2050AD and its population will fall from approximately 500 million to 400 million by 2100AD, a 20% drop.
This trend will be fought with a massive program of immigration, and most of that will come from nearby Middle Eastern and African countries, with approximately 50% from each source. Europe is already importing young Muslims and Africans at a rate of 250,000 a year. Because the average age of a Muslim immigrant is 26, their birth rates are higher than European averages. In addition Islamic immigrants are not culturally integrating as expected, do not significantly intermarry, and they do not secularise to any great degree. If immigration continues and Muslim immigrant fertility rates remain just slightly above the European average for the rest of the century, we are on track to see 40% of Switzerland’s youth born into Muslim families by 2100AD. The figure for Austria is 54%. The
Europe of the last thousand years is disappearing before our eyes. What will emerge will be a much poorer and racially volatile region racked by civil unrest. Europe has prided itself on ethnic and racial purity up until the recent past. So it will face these demographic changes with little grace. Desperate for people to prop up its economy, Europe is therefore on track to become majority Muslim sometime in the middle of the 22nd century.
Europe’s old Caucasian colonies; America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand will survive, and perhaps even thrive, as they have a history of high immigration and successful assimilation. However, because of the woeful birth rates of the entire Western world, by 2100AD only 10-12% of the world’s population will be Caucasian. Europe had 25% of the world’s population in 1900AD, but by 2050AD it will be down to 7%. The era of white men in suites dictating global affairs is drawing to a close.
As already mentioned, the bulk of future global population increases will come from Africa and the Middle East. Africa currently has 1.1 billion people, but if current trends continue then this figure will accelerate to over 5 billion by the end of the century when it is projected to overtake Asia as the world’s most populated continent. However it is doubtful this figure can be reached as most African countries are poor and unstable due to tribalism, corruption and nepotism. Coupled with emerging and potential climate changes, these are the conditions that create great waves of forced emigration. Expect to see huge numbers of black and Arab Africans pushing their way into the more stable and developed nations over the next hundred years. They will be bringing their culture, spirituality and values with them. Amazingly, this has already happened in the distant past, when much of Eastern Europe was overrun in the fourth century by Euasians, led by Attila the Hun, fleeing famine in Central Asia.
The Middle East currently has 205 million people due and some of the highest birth rates of any region. This population represents a doubling of its population since 1990AD. Islamic cultures, like Catholic Europe until a generation ago, grow primarily through their birth rate and therefore encourage large families. By 2050AD the population of the Middle East is expected to double again, but on a sharply declining birth rate. The Middle East is also the driest region on earth and many Middle Eastern countries have no real first-world economies or history of economic development. They rely heavily on oil to keep their populations pacified and fed. To illustrate, Saudi Arabia currently receives 90% of its government revenue from oil. The combination of climate change, population growth and faulty economics, combined with perpetual political volatility, strongly suggest that this region will enter a period of intense energy wars, food and water shortages, military conflict, dislocation and desperate emigration. The future looks decidedly grim for the Middle East after their oil runs out. Given the Western world’s reluctance to accept illegal immigrants from this region, expect to see geo-political-Islamic conflict increase substantially. Like Japan, the heart of Islam is heading for an cultural crisis that will cause it to ask many existential questions about its place in the world.
Because of the various demographic trends listed above, migration will become an ever increasing phenomenon in the future. In 2013AD some 232 million people migrated, up from 150 million in 1990. These figures could accelerate to 400 or 500 million in the future, causing huge social unrest in the receiving nations, swamping their ability to cope. The 21st century looks like becoming the era when the 500 year era of Caucasian colonisation of the planet goes into reverse and the planet comes to them. Anyone alive for the next 50 years will have a window seat on one of the most unstable periods in world history.
Economic and Political Trends
The last forty years has been an unusual and unsustainable period in world economic history. The abandonment of the gold standard in 1973AD resulted in the unleashing of multiple fiat currencies on the entire world. Fiat is currency created out of nothing and relying solely on confidence in government solvency. It has been tried before in history and always ended in disaster. It has now become a global phenomenon. Fiat currency experiments, in combination with a massive baby-boom and the collapse of Communism, have allowed government, corporate and personal debt levels to be driven up exponentially to $200 trillion. Global debt levels now stand at over $30,000 per person, against an average global income at just under $10,000 per person. Veteran economic commentator David Stockman calls this aberration the “Great Deformation”, a once only event. This “deformation” began to implode in 2008AD as the Global Financial Crisis took hold, but was postponed by massively increased central bank intervention in the form of quantitative easing, or money printing. This simply added more debt to a debt problem that was trying to implode.
The now much larger debt bubble will burst before 2020AD, swamping central banks and ushering in a protracted era of extreme financial pain as the value of paper assets, such as bonds, derivatives, currencies and bank accounts shrink at an unprecedented pace. What happened in Greece and Cyprus will go mainstream throughout the Western World. This economic depression will dominate global economics and politics up to at least 2040AD, just as the Great Depression did in the 20th century. It could also start to reverse the incredible era of urbanisation that saw over half the world’s people move to cities by 2007AD.
In 1900AD only 10% of the world’s population was politically free. In 2000AD the figure was 50%. With the coming economic deterioration will also come a decline in the global influence of democracy and freedom. As people look to socialism or military dictators for answers to their financial pain, the Western world may no longer be seen as the standard for politics and freedom. This is exactly what happened in Germany a century ago. Desperate people fall for desperate answers. Wars are also likely to increase as nations fight over the world’s ever-dwindling supply of natural resources. One of the signals for the onset of these wars will be the breaking of the USA’s global military hegemony due to the shrinking of America’s military budget. Federal government spending in the US is currently running at a consistent $700 billion deficit. Martin Armstrong predicts that the interest bill on US government debt alone will exceed its $500 billion military spending by 2020AD, and that is with artificially low interest rates. Conclusion: The next few decades will be a field day for terrorists and dictators with global agendas.
This will also be the century where Asia takes over the economic leadership of the world and the world becomes more attuned to Asian political and cultural dictates. China eclipsed the USA as world’s biggest economy in 2014AD on a Purchasing Power Parity basis. However, China’s time at the top will be short-lived due to its unstainable debt levels and its working age population is expected to halve between now and 2100AD. Immigration, even if it was acceptable to the Chinese, could never be of a scale to reverse this trend. Asia as a whole, especially South East Asia, will grow demographically and economically until around 2050AD when its population begins to peak and taper. The exception will be India, which will peak demographically in 2070AD at 1.7 billion people and an average income of $10,000 per person. By that stage it will be one of the top two global superpowers, exerting tremendous influence on global politics and values. The Indian century has begun.
One of the recurring events in the 1,000 year history of capitalism is that during periods of economic contraction or turmoil, innovation increases and produces technologies that will come into use in the next economic up-wave. This will undoubtedly be the case again as this century unfolds. Increasingly these innovations will come from Asia and then India simply because it is usually young people who innovate. The aging Western world will begin to lag behind in technology and therefore lose its economic edge. Already China has overtaken the USA in patents registrations. This trend will continue.
Capitalism is a product of the Medieval Christian worldview in Europe and requires a delicate combination of social, political, financial and labour freedoms inside a safe and predicable legal framework. Because these freedoms developed inside the Judeo-Christian worldview and still today largely reside there only, the economic growth of many of developing countries will never match those of the West in the 20th century. Most will be caught in what is called the “middle income trap”. Unless Christianity becomes the dominate worldview of these countries as it did in Europe, the political and economic elite of these second-world countries, such as China, will simply not give up their privileged positions. The dream of living a 20th century western lifestyle will then become a thing of the past, or of a small elite.
Environmental and Resource Trends
Adding to this bleak picture is the now limited supply of natural resources available for the world’s people. Modern economic systems, in addition to being based on ever-increasing population growth and debt levels, are also premised on the availability of cheap energy as a substitute to human and animal power. The 200 year era of cheap energy is now over and this constraint will crimp the ambitions of any potential economic giant. Conventional oil production has not risen since 2005AD and alternatives, such as shale oil, are expensive to extract. The cure for the current low oil prices will simply be the current low prices! Production will slow and prices will rise again to reach a cost/plus level.
Perhaps the great breakthroughs coming out of the next economic depression will be economically viable sources of renewable energies. Some of whom are soon going to reach levels of efficiency approaching conventional energy production systems. Many metals will also see their peak years of production in the next few decades unless prices rise substantially. Science magazine expects copper and coal production to peak in the 2030’s. The world’s largest gold producer, Goldcorp, says peak gold arrived in 2015AD.
Another concern is global food supply. We are adding 1.14% to our population per year, but arable land is finite, and in many places in the world it is in decline due to overuse. We currently lose 20 tonnes of topsoil for every one we create. The World Resources Institute claims that 20% of all arable land already suffers from degradation. Water is another precious resource that is in decline globally. The Tigris-Euphrates, Yellow, Ganges, Mekong, Indus and Nile rivers are hydraulically tapped out. Aquifers are being drained and surface water extensively dammed. It is estimated that the massive South Asian aquifer, that covers parts of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, will be empty in several decades as it is currently dropping at an alarming rate. China faces the same future in its northern food bowl. How will the world respond to a future food crisis? These forces will make food production one of the crucial issues of this century, and will make many farmers rich. Will we see a return to the familiar pattern of famine and feast that existed throughout most of history until the second half of the 20th century? The answer is probably yes.
This leads to the next major issue facing the planet; climate change. 2014AD was the hottest year in recorded history, sitting atop a string of previous records. Human industrial and agricultural activity is warming the planet and the trend is expected to lead to a minimum of 2 degrees warming by 2100AD. Ironically, the current changes in climate we are now experiencing are the result of carbon production 30 years ago. It takes that long for the oceans to respond to higher air temperatures. We have therefore locked in an increasing cycle of flood, drought, extreme weather events and changing patterns of rainfall for the next 30 years at a minimum. Our response to this issue could determine the fate of up to 3 billion people who already spend over 30% of their income on food. Given past behaviour, it looks like many nations will be on their own and this will simply add to the mass migrations that will take place.
Time does not permit an exploration of other major possible changes, events and trends for the 21st century. Issues such as global corruption levels, a future US dollar or interest rate crisis, the reversal of globalisation, wars and military chest beating, natural habitat destruction, rising sea levels, new and deadly pandemics, major volcanic eruptions, the current rapid increase in global levels of earthquakes, the rise of Islamic power, increased pollution, the rise of super-slums, or transitioning out of the fossil fuel age. Suffice to say the future looks very different to the past and this century will probably wind up as the polar opposite of the last as we are dragged, kicking and screaming, into a sustainable future.
Most Populous Countries by 2100AD
Part Two: Spiritual Milestones: 2000AD to 2100AD
This second section of the essay will attempt to map out the religious and spiritual changes expected to unfold over the next 85 years. The predictions will emphasise the evangelical Christian perspective. Once again, we can fairly accurately predict changes up to 2050AD, but from there to the end of the century figures are more estimates, based on the logical consequence of those trends that are visible out to 2050AD.
In the year 2000AD the world’s population was 32.5% Christian, 22.6% Muslim, 14.8% Non-religious/atheist, 13.7% Hindu, 6.5% Buddhist and the rest were classified as ethno-religious. However, it is almost an understatement to say that large changes took place inside Christianity, Atheism and Islam during the last three decades of the 20th century. These changes have set the scene for dramatic developments over first half of this century. What follows is my best attempt to map these changes, with a particular focus on the great commission given to the disciples by Jesus, creator of the universe, saviour of the world and to whom every human is ultimately accountable:
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
Broadly speaking, the world either fell in love with, or was forced into, the arms of Atheism in the 20th century. At one stage the majority of the world was under the control of Atheistic Communism. However any moral capital Communism possessed early in the century evaporated with the brutal death of some 200 million people as the century wore on. Militant atheism was morally bankrupt by 1990AD when it finally collapsed in the USSR. Atheism survives today in several countries including China, and as the more user-friendly evolutionary humanism of the Western intellectual elite who control the world’s universities and media.
This soft-sell atheism now dominates the social and political agenda of every Western country. However, this new version of Atheism has led to large scale moral corruption, family breakdown and some of the world’s lowest birth rates. Atheism therefore appears to be committing demographic suicide. It is safe to predict that the global influence of evolutionary humanism will wane with the coming decline of Western culture. It is inevitable that Atheism will lose ground to all religions in the coming decades. Europe, the intellectual home of Atheism, is already in the early stages of committing demographic and cultural suicide as it imports hundreds of thousands of religious people to make up for its declining population.
The USA is also fast entering the Atheistic fold as it slowly leaves its long-standing Judeo-Christian worldview behind. Most Christian denominations across the country are now falling in numbers, with only the Mormons growing consistently. The mass media and higher education facilities are now openly hostile to the Christian faith. Evangelicals number just over 80 million, but only a quarter of that number has a consistent Biblical worldview. Few young people are remaining in the church through to adulthood. What goes for the USA also goes for Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
The denominational model of Christianity that originated in Europe reached its peak expression in the USA. Fifty years ago the nation was awash with large and influential denominations and church buildings. The time for that paradigm has passed and the rest of the world is now taking up the mantle of church leadership, instituting new and more Biblical models of church. Until the USA and the West adapt to what is working well in the majority Christian world, Atheism will continue to grow and dominate Western cultures. The only cravat to this scenario is that the coming decline in Western financial prosperity should see a return to Christianity by large numbers of desperate people experiencing an economic depression for the first time in their lives and looking for non-material answers to life’s great questions.
From the Iranian revolution of 1980AD onwards, Islam has had a dramatic return to the centre stage of world politics and events. Because the state represents the mosque, Islam must always be seen as a political empire as well as a religion, a point usually missed by secular Western intellectuals. So it will be discussed here as both. Islam is on track to grow from 22.6% of the global population to 32%, or just over 3 billion, by 2100AD. From its inception Islam has always had one over-arching goal and that is the Islamisation of the entire world. The youthful demographic profile of the Islamic world, combined with the world-wide spread of strict Arabian Wahhabi doctrines has created a flood of radical young soldiers for its course. If the present is an indicator to the future, Western leaders will continue to ignore 1,400 years of aggressive Islamic territorial and global expansion, and do so at their own peril. This denial plays into Islam’s hands.
As mentioned in Part One of this essay, Europe has begun to import young Muslims and Africans at a rate of 250,000 a year. Europe will therefore be approximately 17% Muslim by 2050AD, while the world will be 27% Muslim. Europe is on track to become majority Muslim sometime in the 22nd century. Many centuries ago Islam first attempted to conquer Western Europe through Spain, then Italy and finally through Austria. Fortunately for world history, all of those attempts failed. Islam sees Europe as the heartland of Christianity and is very keen to try to take it again. The jury is out on this fourth attempt.
Islam has always been a violent and aggressive religion, with little thought for human rights and an in-built penchant for power and control. Their history is one of aggression, intolerance toward minorities, intellectual apartheid and territorial aggression. Any cursory examination of their history will verify this. This cultural and spiritual DNA was initiated by Mohammad and carried on by his generals as they violently destroyed Christianity in North Africa. It was then taken to extremes by Tamerlane’s deliberate execution of 7 million Christians in the 14th century. It was still in vogue when the Ottoman Empire besieged Vienna three times in the 16th century. It finally ended with the destruction of the Barbary pirates in 1828AD by the US navy after Islamists had abducted over a million Europeans into slavery. Because of this violent and unstable history, true capitalism and economic development in Islamic countries is rare. A simple search will find that most of the world’s most backward and despotic regimes are Islamic. It was only with the rise of Western imperialism on the back of Western capitalism that Islam stopped its aggression against Christianity in the 19th century.
This century will see Islam return to its core territorial drive and what it believes to be its destiny, which is global domination. In combination with this upsurge in aggression, we will continue to see abject poverty all through the Islamic world. However Islam’s desire for expansion and control faces many internal hurdles that will intensify in coming decades. Its growth is by no means assured and I have listed here a few of the hurdles it will face this century:
First: Its values are opposed to those of the modern world, which were adopted largely from 19th century Christian civil and human rights campaigns. The more time moves forward, the more Muslims are seeing a disconnect between human dignity and Islamist values. It is no surprise to find that the 9/11 disaster caused several million Muslims to become nominal Muslims or abandon their religion altogether to adopt a secret Christian faith. I have personally met a Muslim background believer running an underground church network Bangladesh who told me his network grew exponentially after the 9/11 attacks in America. Violent Islam is its own worst enemy, alienating its own moderate majority, as did the Communists last century.
Second: Islam now faces a formidable enemy in the strength of Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa. According to Islamic experts quoted on Aljazeera, Islam is losing up to 6 million African followers a year to a vibrant Christianity that understands spiritual strongholds, the power of prayer and the role of miracles in reaching Muslims. This is why there is so much conflict in that part of the world. Islam is losing its fight for the heart and soul of Africa and will continue to lash out violently in the century ahead.
Third: The internet has opened the world to Muslims once restricted in their access to new ideas. Islam is famous for restricting its people’s access to outside information. Many Christian leaders inside Islamic cultures now call the Internet the “Fifth Gospel”, or “St Google”. This has led to a broad-based questioning of Islam among middle class youth. Many internet networks of secret believers have sprung up in the last decade and there is a huge and growing hunger for the Christian gospel across the Islamic world. Jesus (Isa) is the second most important figure in Islam after Muhammad. In fact he is given a status above Muhammad on at least 20 occasions in the Quran and these references are being used to ignite interest in who he was. The Bangladeshi believer mentioned above came to faith in Jesus himslef simply by reading the Quran.
Fourth: Divine visitations, dreams and visions have caused millions Muslims this century to embrace Jesus as their prophet and leader. Approximately one third of all Muslims who come to faith in Christ speak of these experiences. In early 2015, I met an Iranian refugee to Australia who had unexpectedly experienced Jesus in a dream some years back. His cousin had the same dream the same night. A third person, who was a Christian, also had a dream that night and was told to visit these two men. This is typical of events taking place in the Islamic world and is taking place in response to concerted prayer for the Islamic world.
Fifth: There will be a catastrophe and crisis of confidence in Islam as it approaches the middle of the century. This will be caused by the collapse of Middle Eastern economies as a result of oil depletion. To give you some idea of the problem, Saudi Arabia has spent just under $2 trillion of its oil revenues since 1962AD in promoting Islam and mosque building around the world. More recently it also dramatically increased its welfare programs in the wake of the Arab Spring to buy loyalty from its disaffected youth. When the money runs out, so will Wahhabi Islamic evangelism. The collapse of the oil states will be exacerbated by over-population and a lack of natural food and water supply. This event is largely locked in and will cause many more million Muslims to question the divine favour they currently feel. Expect increased Sunni-Shia conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran to be part of this volatile mix.
Sixth: Cultural adaptation is not in the DNA of Islam. This is largely due to the fact that Islam itself is in many ways simply an organised expression of Middle Eastern culture and social structures, a culture foreign to much of the rest of the world. Converts are therefore few and must conform to the strict rules, culture and language of the Middle East, particularly the Saudi Arabian culture. This cultural imperialism severely limits Islam’s appeal to many of the world’s cultures. Islam will find it difficult to gain ground in South America, large parts of east and south Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa.
These issues, combined with great seasons of Christian prayer have led, for the first time in history, to many spiritual strongholds being broken over the House of Islam. In the 1200 years until 1870AD there were no recorded mass movements of Muslims into an evangelical faith in Jesus. A mass movement here is defined as over 1,000 believers or a hundred church plants. This was simply because evangelical expressions of Christianity were so rare, even in Europe itself. Then, between 1870 and 1920AD, there were two mass movements. One was in Ethiopia, led by Shaikh Zakaryas. The other was in Indonesia, led by Sadrach Surapranata. In the 20th century there were a further 11 movements recorded, mainly after the fall of Communism in 1990AD.
Amazingly though, in the first twelve years of this century there have already been some 69 such movements recorded, and they are popping up in ever increasing numbers in all parts of the Muslim Empire! These movements already represent one in every 400 Muslims on the planet, or some 5-8 million people. They are also completely outside Western denominational structures. In fact most Western Christians are totally unaware of their existence. These new expressions of faith in Jesus are culturally indigenous and often use the Koran to great effect in bringing others to Jesus. The century beyond this one is much harder to predict, but it is already clear that that era will be a time of great Christian harvest in the Islamic world, as these souls are finally introduced to their maker in large numbers. For further insight into this phenomenon I refer you to David Garrison’s monumental research project and book called A Wind in the House of Islam.
If these mass-movements to Christianity continue, and there is no reason to suggest they won’t as they accelerating rapidly, then some 100 million Muslims will cross over into Christianity by 2050AD, with several hundred million more by 2100AD. Thus we can now predict that roughly 10% of the three billion plus Muslims alive in 2100AD will have spiritually moved into evangelical Christianity while maintaining their Muslim culture. From there it is a small step to see a very significant turning of the Islamic world to true Christianity in the 22nd century.
At the present time the greatest influx of Muslims to Christianity seems to be taking place in Islamic countries that have embraced radical Islamist revolutions and theocratic governing structures. It seems that as the revolutionary generation grows old, the next generation is repulsed by widespread religious abuse and political oppression in the name of Islam. A case in point is Iran, the first nation to undergo an Islamic revolution. The church there is now growing at 20% a year, the fastest in the world. In fact, if present trends continue then Iran is on track to be around 50% evangelical Christian by 2100AD. This extraordinary growth is in the face of some of the most severe persecution and human rights abuses imaginable. Other Muslim countries with fast growing churches where conflict has recently raged are Algeria (8.1% Christian growth per annum), Eritrea (4.6%), Libya (5.2%), Kuwait (7.2%) and Somalia (6.1%). The never-ending turmoil in Afghanistan has also seen the birth of an indigenous church there for the first time in 1,400 years, but figures are unobtainable. One thing is clear; for the first time in history the rise of the Islamists is seeing a parallel rise in a culturally indigenous Christianity. These Christians will be almost impossible to root out as they are deeply embedded within the culture of Islam and are some of the toughest evangelists in the world.
However, in the meantime the coming collapse of America’s military umbrella due to its own financial demise, combined with the relative youthfulness of the Muslim world will unleash a global wave of radical Islamist attacks and takeovers as young Muslims seek revenge for the injustices of Western imperialism, the two Iraq wars, military bases on Islamic soil and the war in Afghanistan. The rise of Militant Jihadist groups such as Al Qaeda, ISIS and Boko Haram is just the start of this wave. The decades ahead will become very tough and quite dangerous for the secular West before they get better. Demographics is squarely on the side of Islam until 2050AD.
To conclude, below is a table I have compiled using figures from Operation World that illustrate the growth of Christian believers inside all the world’s majority Muslim nations in the years ahead:
|50% Muslim +
Hinduism comprises some 13.6% of the world’s population. It is the dominate worldview of India, Nepal and the Hindu diaspora. When contemplating the future of the world one thing is sure, the influence of this religion will grow as India becomes a global superpower later in the century. The influence of Hinduism in the Western world is also significant and growing as the New Age Movement makes deep inroads into the mindset of many Western truth-seekers. This trend is expected to grow as Westerners grow disillusioned with secularism. However, among the large Hindu diaspora, 10% have now embraced evangelical Christianity, as have some 20% of the 10 million descendants of the Hindus who originally migrated to Europe a thousand years ago as mercenary soldiers. We now call them the Gypsies.
Christianity is India’s third largest religion, has been there since New Testament days, and the nation has been deeply impacted by 19th century Christian missions to the poor and outcastes. Christianity inside India is currently growing at three times the population as a whole. It is spiritually and socially dynamic and has a very mature evangelical focus, with at least 100,000 workers serving cross-culturally within the country. At the present time 3.7% of the population is evangelical and this number is growing at over 4% a year, one of the fastest growth rates in the world. Many religious paradigms are going to change this century as India’s 1.2 billion people quite possibly become the greatest global harvest field for true Christianity.
One of the great breakthroughs in India that has been emerging since around the year 2000AD is the embedding of the church into the Hindu culture and the resulting mass movement of lower-caste people into it. European structures and paradigms are being discarded by many parallel grass-roots discipleship movements that are working together to win the North Indian Hindu heartland. Indians have an innate affinity with the deeply spiritual nature of the ministry and life of Jesus, so this is being used to encourage Hindus to choose their own god (in this case the one true God) and adopt Jesus (Yesu) as their Guru, while keeping their Hindu culture. The result is an explosion of healings, miracles and strong new believers across the north.
I was a first-hand witness to this astonishing growth when I attended the first global house church conference in New Delhi in 2009AD. One movement alone has now won some 5% of the state of Himachal Pradesh to Jesus in the space of 17 years, with a goal of being North India’s first Christian majority state. Many other movements are experiencing between 10 and 40% growth per annum and are also making deep inroads into their Muslim communities. So far some 5-7 million Hindus have been won to Jesus through these movements. If Christianity continues to grow at its current rate in India several hundred million people will come into the faith by 2100AD and India could become at least 20-30% Christian. Indian nationalism and Hindu fundamentalism will not take these developments lying down so expect the great social unrest and violence against this strong indigenous church movement to continue. Also expect to see the millions of Indian guest workers take their new-found Christian faith deep into the Middle East and the Islamic heartland.
This new paradigm of Christianity emerging in the Hindu and Islamic worlds, a paradigm that concentrates purely on discipleship of believers into Christ, is foreign to Western minds but very popular in the emerging world. The model is now being exported to Africa with astounding results. One Zambian Pastor was also present at that first world house church conference in Delhi. Pastor Jacob, using the methods he saw operating in India, has taken his church in Lusaka from 50 to 30,000 in the last years.
In nearby Nepal the growth of the indigenous church has been equally strong. From almost zero evangelical believers in 1960AD, the country of 32 million now has a million Christians and the growth rate is near 6% a year. At current rates this will mean Nepal could become a majority Christian nation by 2100AD. The astonishing developments in India and Nepal bode very well for the future of global missions, as Indians and Nepalese are great travellers. They understand both the Western and the Muslim worlds, they are from a spiritually attuned culture, they are becoming more wealthy and they are very entrepreneurial. I predict the Indian church to be the biggest in the world by the end of the century.
Buddhism originated in India as a protest movement against the uncaring and overt indifference embedded in the Hindu caste system, a system that was leading to great suffering. Buddhism was eventually defeated on its home soil a thousand years later by a resurgent, festival-focused Hinduism. Although much more compassionate than Hinduism, Buddhism does not address the issue of a creator so is strictly speaking a form of psychology, a lifestyle and a system of self-discipline. However it is classified as a religion here as many now worship Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha) and it has some 6.5% of the world’s people inside its worldview.
Large movements of people into true Christianity have already occurred in several Buddhist countries, and they should continue. China has seen the number of Christian believers rise from 1 million at the time of the Communist revolution in 1948AD to 80-100 million in 2014AD. During that period some 50 million people were executed or starved to death in the cultural revolution of the 1960’s. This caused massive disillusion with the concept of Communism and a searching for truth. The church that was left behind by the Western missionaries was purified of its Western culture during the cultural revolution and somehow survived this terrible furnace of suffering. The growth that came afterwards was staggering.
When I was smuggling Bibles into China in 1981AD we were told of the estimated growth from 1 million to 10 million believers at that time. Our hosts talked in wonder at the work God was doing behind the “Bamboo Curtain”. The church in China is now approaching 100 million, or 8% of the total population. It is now the single strongest church in the world. If the current 3% growth rate continues against a total population that is barely growing at all, China will see a tripling of this number by 2050AD. This will probably be the high point of church growth in China as its population will by then have shrunk back to a 1,100 million. The country also will be in terminal cultural and economic decline.
South Korea is another Buddhist country that has experienced a phenomenal movement of people into Christianity during the second half of the 20th century. However, its church growth has plateaued at around 17% of the population since 1990AD. South Korea is the home of the mega-church. Nine of the world’s ten largest church congregations are in Seoul and the largest has over 1 million in its congregation. South Korea will also enter a terminal demographic decline and consequent economic depression by 2030AD, so the days of large numbers of fulltime Korean missionaries to the rest of the world may soon be over.
Evangelical Christianity is also growing across the Buddhist heartland of East Asia at around 3% a year, while the population is increasing at only 1% a year. By 2050AD this will mean that some 10-12% of countries like Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam will be true Christians. Like the Hindu world, the Buddhist world is seeing a multiplication of uniquely indigenous expressions of the Christian faith, but at a slower pace. At the world house church conference in 2009AD I had the profound privilege of meeting the pastor of a fast-growing discipleship movement in Myanmar who had 1,600 house “churches”. However, each church only consisted of four people as they would arouse the suspicion of the military government if they met in groups any bigger than this.
One encouraging development coming out of the Buddhist world has been the vision of the Chinese church to reach out to its neighbours to the west, the “Stan” countries of Central Asia. This area of the world was 40% Christian a thousand years ago when the Nestorian Church was at its peak and was it was then the largest expression of Christianity in the world at that time, even larger than the Catholic church of Europe. The “stan” countries are now all Islamic, they are on China’s back doorstep, and they in desperate need of the Good News.
The last three decades of the 20th century saw a sea-change in global Christianity and by the end of that era the true church was 80% non-Western. This staggering fact is completely lost to most Western media and Western Christians. It provides us with a remarkable starting point when thinking about where the church will be in 2100AD. The batten of leadership has been passed and is now solidly in the hands of young and bold African, Indian, Chinese and Middle Eastern Christian men and women. This is the most significant change in church leadership since the fall of the Nestorian Church 600 years ago at the sword of Tamerlane. This new development takes Christianity back to its New Testament roots in culture, mission and geography. There are many emerging and future developments that result from this profound shift. Here are a few:
First: The entire Christian world will become much more evangelical in nature. The 32% of the world that call themselves Christian will slowly become much more active in their faith. By 2050AD it is estimated that evangelical “independents”, those Christians outside the Western denominational structure, will be the majority block in the Christian universe, even larger than the Catholic Church. The terms Fundamentalist, Charismatic, Pentecostal, independent and evangelical will merge into a more homogenous description of what a true Christian is.
Second: the future church will resemble the New Testament model much more than the 1,000 years. The era of denominations, starting with the all-powerful Catholic Church and then all its Protestant offshoots, were a European development and do not reflect the New Testament model given to us by Jesus. This century will see a significant demise of denominations as an expression of Christianity. Evangelical independents will take their place. This can mean anything from a large traditional church in a single location or with “franchised” daughters, house church networks, purely discipleship networks, undercover seeker groups, invisible networks that are culturally Islamic or Hindu, individual believers coming to Faith and living it out in secret, whole households and village churches, urban outreaches to the poor, or a myriad of online expressions of faith. The majority will be similar to the model Jesus gave us; a small group of people being discipled by the lifestyle and teaching of a wise and godly leader and networking with other small groups. This system of church does away with the need for buildings and most paid clergy. It is the essence of the early church.
Third: Jesus said to “go and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19). For too long European and American culture has told people to simply turn up to a meeting on Sunday and discipleship will magically happen. As a result, people have not become like Jesus and have been ineffective at reaching and transforming their host culture. Discipleship in the future will be much more flexible and culturally sensitive. It will involve modelling and copying more than preaching and talking. It will involve doing life with people instead of giving them intellectual input. It will also involve teaching them how to walk in the supernatural ministry gifts of Jesus.
Fourth: Many believers will be unrecognisable to a Western Christian. They will be culturally embedded and look like a typical Hindu, Muslim or Buddhist. They will not mix with Westerners, nor will the Western church know of the existence of many of them.
Fifth: Baptism in the Holy Spirit will become a normal part of becoming a Christian, as is already the case in the majority church in the developing world. By 2050AD it is estimated that Charismatic/Pentecostal expressions of Christianity will be the normal Christian experience for 90% of believers. Signs and wonders, healing and miracles will therefore be much more common. This will usher in an era of relational/experiential Christianity as opposed to the intellectual/theological Christianity of the Protestant Reformation, or the liturgical traditions of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.
Sixth: Church growth will accelerate. The number of true Christians started the century at approximately 400 million, or just under 7% of the planet’s people. By 2050AD this number is expected to reach 1,000 million, or 12% of the global population. If this trend continues then the number of evangelical Christians could reach around 20% of a global population of 10-12 billion by 2100AD. Anything can happen to make these estimates invalid. However these are the current growth rates simply extended into the future.
Seventh: We will enter an era where, for the first time in history, the Catholic Church will begin to take on an evangelical flavour. This has already started in South America where the continent was largely un-evangelised until 40 years ago. It is now 20% evangelical and mostly Charismatic in flavour. The Catholic Church is responding to this new-found competition by becoming more evangelical and charismatic itself. This development will gradually filter back to its European heartland. It is expected there will be some 20-30 million Charismatic Catholics in Europe by 2050AD. The atheistic humanist elites of Europe will initially disdain this move, but will eventually welcome it as a counterweight to the rise of Islam, once they see that Islamic immigrants are not secularising in the second and third generations.
Eighth: Church leadership will morph from the top-down pyramid structure that has given undue power and prestige to professional leaders into a more bottom up structure where leaders are servant and sufferers for their flock. This is no different to the New Testament model and is already in place in any country where it is dangerous to be a Christian, which is the majority of the world. Leaders will be people who actually win the lost and disciple them, instead of teaching and preaching. Many of these leaders will be women. They are natural networkers who naturally fit the role of leading small groups. Most of the fast growing Indian house churches being led by women. The era of the all-male dominated church is coming to an end.
Ninth: The attractional model of church that exists in the Western world, where people are invited to “church”, will morph into a missional model of church. Today the Western world has a single style of church structure with a myriad of messages. This will change into a myriad of structures with a single gospel message. The mindset of the Western church is to maintain its position, while in the 80% majority-world church it is growth, growth, growth. Their focus is penetrating darkness by sending church planters and disciplers. This will filter back to the Western church as missionaries and migrants start to arrive in large numbers form the emerging world to re-evangelise the West.
Tenth: The inexorable growth in the Christian faith throughout the emerging world will see a parallel growth in social conditions. Starting with better quality family life, this will filter up through the slums and villages to the political sphere. Just as the large scale injustices of Europe withered under an assault of Biblical Christians in the 19thcentury, so they will decline in the emerging world as believers take their faith into the social arena. Institutional abuse and corruption in high places will naturally fight back as it did against the ministry of Jesus, and many believers will die for these causes. But just as the Roman world fell, so will the financial and political despots of the future. This will create the conditions for wider political freedoms in those places where they do not exist today. In combination with the above, family cohesion will also lead to increased education and financial advancement. Crime will decrease, the rule of law will increase and communities will become safer. This is already happening in those slums in Zambia deeply affected by the gospel.
The combination of all these emerging trends should lead to the following numbers of Christians in 2050AD:
|Number of True Christians
There are many other predictions that could be said about the future of global religions and the Christian church out to 2100AD. However, I believe I have given you most of the large scale trends and emerging indicators to allow you to see where God is taking the world, his world.
What has been plainly in view as I have written these 21 essays covering 21 centuries of Christianity has been the staggeringly amazing and absolute trust God has placed in the hands of his church. It began 2,000 years ago with the coming of Christ. It was then launched with a mandate for eleven men to take on the world. It then progressed well for several centuries until Christianity bogged down and became a cold and lifeless religion. It stayed that way for a thousand years until it awoke from its sleep in the 16th century via Jon Huss and Martin Luther. In the 18th century, beginning with the Moravians, the church finally developed a heart for the lost. Today it is now on the cusp of something very special. The mustard seed is about to become the largest tree in the garden (Matthew 13:31-32). The yeast is working its way through the loaf (Matthew 13:33). The glory of the Lord is in the process of covering the world, as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14).
I trust this overview gives you much hope for the future and encourages you to continue to pray for God’s kingdom to come and his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10). The mandate to go into all the world and make disciples of all the “nations” (which simply means “ethnos” or ethnic groups) became a possibility after the 18th century missions movement finally began to reach the non-European world. Today it is becoming more and more feasible each passing decade!
I pray God’s richest blessings upon your walk with him and may he infuse you with a passion for his kingdom and for the lost.