Global south becoming more influential in church, study says
A new study shows that the ‘global south’ is gaining more power in Christianity and may redefine Christian culture in the 21st century.
The study by Oxford Analytica says that church leaders from the global south, namely Africa, Latin America and Asia, are becoming more outspoken and have gained more influence in Protestant and Catholic churches globally, according to their website.
The study also notes that the global south is more traditional, and has been outspoken against liberals and progressives in both churches, their website says.
The global south shift is being referred to by mission circles as “reverse-mission agenda,” Forbes says. They note that more missionaries are coming from India, Latin America and Africa, and are heading to Europe.
The global south is also becoming more active in South Asia and the Middle East. Of note too is that many church leaders from the U.S. and Europe come from the south, and are forming the laity and clergy of Methodists, Lutheran, Episcopal and Catholic churches, Forbes said.
Because of this, the global south is becoming a stronger voice on a number of church issues, and are taking a more traditional stance, Forbes said.
For example, among the British Anglicans, in 2005 an open letter was issued to the Archbishop of Canterbury from 14 southern members of the General Synod calling for action against the ordaining of priests who are openly gay, Forbes said.
Also cited in the study was harsh criticism from Catholics in Africa, Latin America and Asia when Pope Benedict XVI replaced Pope John Paul II after he died. The study noted that the global south argued for a southern pope, as they now comprise the majority in the world Catholic community, Forbes said.
The study suggests that more traditional views may come to pass on issues of homosexuality and abortion; and that the direction of the spread of Christianity now seems to be coming from the global south to the north, Forbes said.
The study also notes that while the church in North America seems to be in decline, a reversal is possible as more missionaries and immigrants move north from Latin America, and most especially from Brazil, Forbes said.
Noted too is the dramatic growth of Christianity in China, which has a higher church membership than that of the Party, and which exceeds the growth of other sects and religions. According to Forbes, these shifts will also influence the north’s political agenda and may alter Chinese Western relations.