In 1960, there were an estimated 50 million evangelical Christians in the West, and 25 million in the rest of the world; today, there are an estimated 75 million in the West, and 325 million in the rest of the world (representing about 20 percent of the two billion Christians worldwide), according to Robert Kilgore, chairman of the board of the missionary organization Christar. Other experts differ on the number of evangelicals (estimates range from 250 million to nearly one billion) but agree that the number is growing rapidly.
Evangelicals are among the fastest-growing segments of Christianity. Their global numbers are increasing at about 4.7 percent a year, according to Operation World, a Christian statistical compendium. By comparison, the rate of growth for all Protestants is put at 2.2 percent a year, and for Roman Catholics at 0.5 percent a year. The world’s population is growing at about 1.4 percent a year. Broadly defined, evangelicals are Christians who have had a personal or “born-again” religious conversion, believe that the Bible is the word of God, and believe in spreading their faith. (The term comes from Greek; to “evangelize” means to preach the gospel.) The term is typically applied to Protestants.
I was recently talking about the spread of the Gospel westward to Jerusalem, from its area of greatest growth in the world today, which is Asia, before the return of the Lord. More statistics cited in the article confirms the great growth rate I mentioned. But this news article, when speaking of the future, mentions a new clash between Christianity and Islam, far worse than the Crusades, because modern nations have nuclear weapons.
I can’t agree with that scenario. My optimism is based in my belief in the triumph of the Gospel. Where the uncompromised Gospel of grace is preached, lives are transformed. Revival follows. And if Christianity is growing because evangelical conversions are driving that growth, with its attendant adherence to a literal interpretation of Scripture, then I believe Christianity’s response to Islam will not be a new Crusades. The Gospel will conquer Islam because Christians will turn the other cheek. Forgive. Answer not their accuser. Lay down life.
We all just saw the End of the Spear. Yes, martyrs were made. But it was the love of Christ that conquered the Waodani. Fox’s Book of Martyrs teaches that it was the martyrs of the great Roman persecutions that eventually conquered the bloodthirsty Romans. Even Gibbon says the same (although disparagingly).
That is the ultimate future I see, informed by the truth of Scripture. The road may lie through the blood of the saints, but it is the Gospel: the blood of the Lamb; and the preaching of it: the word of the testimony of the saints; which will conquer the accuser of the brethren. For the saints loved not their lives even unto death. It is a future of hope, culminating with the return of the Lord Jesus in all His glory.