Christianity in the Twentieth Century: A World History

Brian Stanley (Author)


A history of unparalleled scope that charts the global transformation of Christianity during an age of profound political and cultural change

Christianity in the Twentieth Century charts the transformation of one of the world's great religions during an age marked by world wars, genocide, nationalism, decolonization, and powerful ideological currents, many of them hostile to Christianity. Written by a leading scholar of world Christianity, the book traces how Christianity evolved from a religion defined by the culture and politics of Europe to the expanding polycentric and multicultural faith it is today--one whose growing popular support is strongest in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, China, and other parts of Asia.

Brian Stanley sheds critical light on themes of central importance for understanding the global contours of modern Christianity, illustrating each one with contrasting case studies, usually taken from different parts of the world. Unlike other books on world Christianity, this one is not a regional survey or chronological narrative, nor does it focus on theology or ecclesiastical institutions. Rather, Stanley provides a history of Christianity as a popular faith experienced and lived by its adherents, telling a compelling and multifaceted story of Christendom's fortunes in Europe, North America, and across the rest of the globe.

Transnational in scope and drawing on the latest scholarship, Christianity in the Twentieth Century demonstrates how Christianity has had less to fear from the onslaughts of secularism than from the readiness of Christians themselves to accommodate their faith to ideologies that privilege racial identity or radical individualism.

Product Details

Princeton University Press
Publish Date
June 26, 2018
6.1 X 1.7 X 9.3 inches | 1.9 pounds
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About the Author

Brian Stanley is professor of world Christianity at the University of Edinburgh. His books include The Global Diffusion of Evangelicalism: The Age of Billy Graham and John Stott and The World Missionary Conference, Edinburgh 1910.


"[This] book is an essential foundation for understanding the perilous times in which we live."---Diarmaid MacCulloch, Times Literary Supplement
"A finely crafted exploration of Christianity in the 20th century. Stanley . . . provides an ingenious and informative history of the Christian faith through the last century . . . A well-written religious history that is destined to become a standard classroom text."--Kirkus
"To outline the course of 20th century Christian history in one volume is a daunting task and it is not surprising that few have attempted it but it has to be said that Stanley has succeeded in producing a masterpiece that will be read for many years to come."---Paul Richardson, The Church of England Newspaper
"This ambitious work . . . surveys narratives of 20th-century Christian activity around the globe. . . . At times the array of Christian organizations . . . and the rapid jumps between locations can feel bewildering--yet the author provides reader-friendly transitions into and out of each theme."--Publishers Weekly
"Stanley's excellent book makes an original contribution to the history of modern Christianity. This is a fine piece of work from a master historian. It will stand the test of time."--Dana L. Robert, author of Christian Mission: How Christianity Became a World Religion
"An absolutely superb book. Christianity in the Twentieth Century succeeds admirably in illuminating an extremely complex historical phenomenon."--Mark A. Noll, author of The New Shape of World Christianity: How American Experience Reflects Global Faith
"One of Choice Reviews' Outstanding Academic Titles of 2018"
"Winner of a 2019 Award of Merit in History, Christianity Today Book Awards"
"One of First Things' Favorite Books of 2018"
"Shortlisted for the Catholic Herald Book Award in History"
"Winner of the 2018 Book Award for Excellence in Missiology, American Society of Missiology"
"This book is . . . ambitious in scope and . . . succeeds. If you want to know the Christian background to problems abroad or why the situation at home is not replicated elsewhere, then read this book."---Pamela Evans, Congregational History Society Magazine