Book Review: From Times Square to Timbuktu
From Times Square to Timbuktu: The Post-Christian West Meets the Non-Western Church
By Wesley Granberg-Michaelson (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)
What does the future of the Christian church look like? The answer may surprise you. While Christianity is languishing in the United States and Western Europe, it’s growing in the rest of the world, especially the global south. In From Times Square to Timbuktu, Wesley Granberg-Michaelson confirms this trend with well-crafted research that is both credible and accessible. Worldwide, the future of the Christian faith is indeed bright.
Granberg-Michaelson opens his book (prologue) with an enlightening story of a taxi ride experience in New York, near Times Square. Though Wesley and his cabbie share a common faith, they know little of each other’s spiritual experiences. A huge gulf existed between them, a gulf between the faith practices of the global south and Christian systems in the United States. This book explores that gulf.
Statistically, almost 50% of Africa is Christian. More astounding, 70% of sub-Saharan Africa is Christian, with middle Africa’s Christian population now standing at 81.7%, up from only 1.1% just one hundred years ago. This astounding growth is not just in Africa, but also in parts of Asia and Latin America.
Similarly, he closes his book (epilogue) with another illuminating narrative, this time in Ghana—the home country of the cabbie—where Christianity is flourishing. (A bit north of Ghana is Timbuktu, Mali, which is near Christianity’s statistical center.)
From Times Square to Timbuktu paints an encouraging picture of the growth and vibrancy of Christianity worldwide, albeit with the United States and Europe as exceptions. But not all is lost for the former bastion of Christianity, as embedded in the book’s pages is hope for spiritual rejuvenation at home.
If you wonder about the future of Christianity, check out this book—and be truly amazed. “Our call is to link hearts and hands across all that would divide us,” concludes Granberg-Michaelson, “and walk together towards God’s future,” (page 161).
[From Times Square to Timbuktu: The Post-Christian West Meets the Non-Western Church, by Wesley Granberg-Michaelson. Published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2013, ISBN: 978-0-8028-6968-5, 175 pages.]
Read more book reviews by Peter DeHaan.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.